London is a paradise for readers and lovers of bookstores. Walking through central London, we seemed to walk by (and into) a bookstore every few blocks. I know London is a much larger city than Boston, but books seem to have a more central place in London’s culture. For example, there are ads promoting books in Tube stations, this summer’s Great Western Railway’s advertising campaign is based on The Famous Five, a classic children’s book series by Enid Blyton, and the bookstores are focused on books. By comparison, my local Barnes and Noble feels more like a pop culture toy store than a bookstore.
We spent most of our time in four bookstores: Daunt Books, Foyles, Hatchards, and Waterstones.
My favorite sign was in Foyles:
Foyles has the widest range of titles of any of the stores we visited. This is the store directory which made me feel a little rattled:
Not knowing if I’d ever again be in a store with a dentistry section, I decided to start there. After looking at a few books about dental diseases, I quickly moved on!
Hatchards has a wonderful window featuring children’s favorites, including The Famous Five (look at the bottom shelf):
In Hatchards, this section title struck me as more necessary than ever.
Daunt is a beautiful store, the kind of store you want to spend the night in to have all to yourself. The picture below is a wonderful invitation to explore the world:
Of course, there were other stores.
We sought this one out, a store I had read about in the New York Times, and then a friend who lives in London recommended it as well. Word on the Water sells used books and, while we didn’t buy anything, it is a very unique setting.
Sitting outside on a bench outside the boat, I caught this sweet scene:
Octavia’s Bookshop is in a village in the Cotswolds. It was closed, but a sign near the door reads: 2013 Best Children’s Independent Bookshop in The Bookseller Industry Awards. I was tempted to “test” their alarm system, but my husband convinced me that we did not want to start an international incident.
After all of our bookstore visits, we came home with a heavier suitcase. Between the two of us, we gave 20 books a new home in Scituate. Here’s my stack, an eclectic mix of new and old. And yes, there is a short biography of King George VI. Being in London does that to a person – I was getting curious about the Queen’s father!
I already have a copy of Jane Eyre, but could not resist this beautiful cover:
Of course, I also read a lot during our trip – long plane rides and evenings while my husband watched the World Cup. I’ll write about those – and other book related adventures from our trip – in my next post!