Whiling away the hours in a bookshop stocked from the floor to ceiling with books from different eras, genres and authors from across the globe has to be one of my favourite Sunday morning activities. The excitement of finding a book that you don’t want to put down is rare but such a treat when you find it! I often make my best book purchases when visiting an actual bookshop, rather than an online site, where you can read the booksellers recommendations or chat to those who work in the shop who often know what would best suit you and your tastes.
If you’re living in London (or just visiting) then you are completely spoilt for choice, with so many incredible bookshops dotted around the capital.
Daunt Books (84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London)
No book-lovers’ guide to London would be complete without a visit to Daunt Books. There are a number of different branches in London but the Marylebone is a definite favourite of mine. They have a great selection of non-fiction books (I’ve had my eyes firmly on Life Honestly: Strong Opinions from Smart Women) and fiction books as you walk into this gem of a bookshop. The cookery selection of books also caught my eye straight away – I particularly like the look of The Roasting Tin which looks ideal for lazy cooks (like myself) who often resorts to cheese on crumpets when the fridge is getting a little low. The fashion and arts section was equally fabulous and I could have easily spent hours browsing the pages of a beautifully curated selection of books. If you like travel books though, this is the bookshop for you. The top level is dedicated to UK books and the first level is mostly European books. I spotted a gorgeous Cereal Guide to Paris (which I would have bought on the spot had I had an upcoming trip to Paris planned) as well as In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the City of Light by Jean Damas and Lauren Bastide. The lower ground floor had books on Africa, America and India – I’m hugely into Nigerian literature and African-centered literature more generally at the moment, thanks to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Adebayo’s Stay With Me. A really great find with lots of cozy nooks to lose yourself in a good book or two.
Book and Comic Exchange (30-32 Pembridge Rd, London)
No it’s not the one from that famous Hugh Grant and Julia Robert’s film Notting Hill (in fact it even says that on the till as you walk in) but it is a real treasure that’s just a stone’s throw away from Notting Hill Gate Tube Station. A little poky, with books stacked high (some of which are clearly very old and a little tattered), the sign of any brilliant second-hand bookshop. A lot of the books here are well-loved but there are others that look relatively untouched, a great place for bagging yourself a bargain. They also have a magazine section (I showed incredible self restraint here as there was a number of very tempting Vogue magazines from the 90’s) and shelves upon shelves of Penguin classics (this is the goal for when I have my own study one day). This bookshop takes a little more time to browse thoroughly as books are piled up and not necessarily ordered in a way you would expect! It’s one of my favourite bookshops to pop into after a trip to Portobello market.
Word on the Water (Regent’s Canal Towpath, Kings Cross)
If I won the euro-millions lottery tonight, I’d love to set up a bookshop like Word on the Water. It’s a 1920’s barge which has been lovingly transformed into the most gorgeous floating bookshop. It’s as beautiful inside as it is outside, with a cosy-looking woodburning stove and shelves full of inviting books at reasonable prices. I can’t think of a better way to spend a day then in this floating bookstore of dreams.
Cecil Street, London
Not a bookstore but a street full of bookshops, which is great if you’re more into your antiques, rare editions and specialist prints. It has otherwise been known as the new Booksellers’ Row. Pleasures of Past Times is well worth popping into, along with Goldsboro Books. A real gem of a street that looks as though it has popped up from the Victorian age and has avoided the commercialism of its surroundings.
Book Mongers (439 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton)
Sitting on the fringes of Brixton Market, Book Mongers specialises in the buying and selling of books on all sorts of subjects and also stocks a range of first editions and rare books, too. When I was researching which bookshops I wanted to visit in London, I came across this video which perfectly sums up the vibe and atmosphere of this brilliant indie bookshop.
Where’s your favourite bookshop in London? Where would you add to this post?