10 of the Best Bookshops

Things have been a bit mad around here in recent weeks, and it's meant that we've not run to schedule on a lot of things, so huge thanks for your patience waiting for your August boxes and we hope that you're enjoying them!

I'm hoping to get some more bookshop stock listed this week (finally) as I have a big box of excellent books waiting for you all! In the meantime please feel free to continue shopping our existing stock. Today though I thought I'd write a slightly different post.

Part of the reason I've been distracted (a small part, but still) has been that we're in the very early planning stages for the fourth year of the London Bookshop Crawl. This is such a nice phase to be in as it's so full of possibility and this year I feel like I really know what I'm aiming for - it's going to be great! (You should join us. There's loads of events, free content, awesome bookshops & you can meet great new bookish friends) In celebration of being buried in lists of bookshops I thought I'd write about a few of my favourites throughout the country...

Word on the Water, Kings Cross, London

This bookshop is pretty much the ideal - it's a bookshop on a barge, and inside amongst the books there's a cosy fireplace and a sofa. They also have an excellent dog, and the owners are lovely and will talk to you about books and all sorts of other things. If the weather's good they sometimes have jazz and it's a lovely way to end a book shopping day!

photo credit Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Persephone Books, Holborn, London

The shop of a publisher, Persephone Books is set up somewhat unusually, as the majority of the books have standard dove grey covers and don't have blurbs so it can be hard to tell what you're buying. Persephone publish forgotten (mostly) women writers from (mostly) the interwar period and their books cover a huge expanse of genres. The shop is small and quiet and a bit of a haven really. The booksellers are very knowledgeable and give excellent recommendations, and you can pretty much trust all of their books to be fantastic.

Orbital Comics, London

Orbital is my favourite comics shop. I love the way it's organised with tables of new releases and stuff the staff like in the front of the shop and then organised by publisher as you move through the shop. The back is dedicated to single issue comics, but if you're intimidated by them for whatever reason the front and side rooms are full of graphic novels of all genres, from superhero stories to memoirs and children's books. It's easy to browse and far too easy to find new favourites!

Toppings & Company, Bath

This was my favourite stop on the Bath bookshop crawl a couple of years ago. It's literally floor to ceiling books with ladders that run along the shelves. Also when you visit you automatically get free tea and coffee and they have a really great selection of signed books. Thankfully we visited near the end of the day, because otherwise I'm not sure we'd have made it to any other shops!

The Alligator's Mouth, Richmond

The new incarnation of my childhood favourite The Lion and the Unicorn, The Alligator's Mouth is a gorgeous children's bookshop in Richmond. Tucked away down a side street it's absolutely jam packed with every kind of children's book going all the way through from birth to YA. Their range is unusual and their non-fiction titles are beautiful. Staff are lovely and helpful and children are actively welcome (not always the case unfortunately, even in children's bookshops...)

Blackwell's, Oxford

Another bookshop crawl discovery this a cave of wonders! We were lucky enough to be given a special tour of the building and got to see some of the secret rooms and hear all sorts of stories along with browsing what seemed like never ending floors and rooms filled with books! I love Blackwell's because the selection is great and I know that I'll be able to find more well known titles that I've been looking for and also pick up lesser known things. They also had a great selection of indie books which of course I always appreciate!

Daunt Books, Marylebone, London

It took me a really long time to actually visit Daunt Books. In fact in the first couple of years of the bookshop crawl it became a bit of a standing joke that I might never get there! Eventually I made it and it's super awesome. The books are primarily arranged by country rather than genre and it's been one of my primary resources for picking up titles for my Read the World Project. It's also one of my favourite places to find books I'd never pick up anywhere else, and it's really easy to find yourself spending hours here.

Gay's the Word, London

Another bookshop it took me way too long to visit, and another great place to find books you might not otherwise pick up. The shop is very thoughtfully curated and organised and although it's small there's a lot of books packed in! It's the country's only LGBT bookshop and the booksellers are fantastic.

Books for Cooks, London

A bookshop just for cookbooks and food writing with a test kitchen in the back serving amazing food (but only one dish per day and only until it runs out so be quick!). This bookshop is a gorgeous way to spend time and has the most cookbooks I've ever seen in one place!

Lutyens and Rubinstein, London

Notting Hill is pretty much where it's at for great bookshops, and this is another one. A bookshop founded by a literary agency, all of their initial stock was recommended by friends, staff and the local community, so that every book in there had been recommended by somebody. It's a beautiful space and very nicely laid out - it's easy to accumulate an unreasonably large pile of books!

My list is still very London centric and I'm hoping to branch out and visit many more bookshops across the country. If you're looking for a great resource in this respect then I highly recommend Erica's blog. She's visited a lot of bookshops all over the country and writes very thoughtful reviews of them. We'd love to hear about your favourite bookshops - tell us about them in the comments, and if you can join us for the London Bookshop Crawl in February 2019 we'd be really happy to meet you!

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