Bookshops Off the Beaten Track

In just a few weeks, from the 8th - 10th February, more than 80 bookshops across Central and Greater London will be participating in the 2019 London Bookshop Crawl, a celebration of bookshops bringing book lovers together to explore the city. Because this is our fourth year of organising this awesome (free) event, we know that some bookshops can be harder to visit than others, and that the instinct is always to stick to areas you at least vaguely know. We're here to encourage you to veer off the beaten track and go outside your comfort zone - we promise it will be worth it!

Whether you're looking for beautiful children's books, second hand excellence, fantastic curation or a wine bar to end your day in, this list has you covered. We'll tell you how to find each shop & give you suggestions of where to go once you're done.

If you're starting your bookshop crawl in West London, new bookshop and first time participant BrOOK's in Pinner is a beautifully curated bookshop with a cafe and a fully licensed bar. For those bookshop crawling with kids they also have a wonderful children's section, plus accessible toilets and baby changing facilities! It would be equally great as a last stop on your way home from a long day of book shopping, as they're open til 10pm on Friday & Saturday.

FIND THEM: on the Metropolitan line! Maps: the Big List, Accessible Map, Children's Bookshop Crawl Map.

WHERE TO GO FROM THERE: Metropolitan Line to the city centre and visit Blackwell's at the Wellcome Collection (also a free museum full of curiosities), or Daunt Books in Marylebone (not an official participant but well worth a visit).

Also in West London, although a little closer toward the centre, is one of my favourite Oxfam Bookshops, about a 5 minute walk from Ealing Broadway Station. The selection in this shop is always fantastic and it's very hard to leave without buying something! Their window displays are also very well thought out and usually contain something you didn't know you really needed.

FIND THEM: on the District and Central Lines, 65 bus route (from Richmond/Kingston). Maps: the Big List, District Line, Central Line.

WHERE TO GO FROM THERE: Turn right outside the shop and get the 65 bus to Richmond where there are several other wonderful participants, or take the Central Line to the bookshops of Notting Hill (via Ladbroke Grove station).

Newham Books are obviously quite far out when you look at the map, but they're on the District Line and trust me when I say they are well worth the time spent getting there. Staff are friendly and the shop is absolutely beautiful and packed full of more books than you would have thought possible for the space, and they seem to go on forever! I bought my first Joan Didion collection here in the summer and I'm in love. Their children's section is a whole separate (but joined) shop and it's a magical place!

FIND THEM: On the District Line, a short walk from Upton Park station. Maps: the Big List, District Line, Children's Bookshop Crawl Map.

WHERE TO GO FROM THERE: Take the District Line & DLR (change at West Ham) to Discover Children's Story Centre, or District Line back into Central London.

This is the year that I will go to Tales on Moon Lane! Even the website looks magical, and if you're bookshop crawling with kids (as I will be this year!) it couldn't be more perfect. It's a dedicated children's bookshop and they seem to be regularly winning best bookshop and best bookseller awards. For a person like me, who's actually in a kid lit book club, it's a bit of a travesty that I've not yet managed to go. 2019 is the year...

FIND THEM: on the overground, a short walk from Herne Hill Station. Maps: the Big List, Children's Bookshop Crawl, Specialist Bookshops.

WHERE TO GO FROM THERE: down the road to Herne Hill Books & the Oxfam Bookshop!

One of my favourite bookshops to follow on twitter is West End Lane Books. They've been 'fiercely independent' since 1994 and often mention on twitter how much they appreciate good conversations with their customers. They're also really into giving recommendations, which is always a great part of the bookshop crawl weekend, so if you like a bit of bookish chat you should definitely stop off there.

FIND THEM: on the Jubilee Line. Maps: the Big List, Accessible Crawl.

WHERE TO GO FROM THERE: Jubilee Line to Green Park for Henry Sotheran's and Hatchards, Piccadilly.

Finally, not entirely out of the way, but a little further West than Centre, Notting Hill is home to several really fantastic bookshops, including Lutyens and Rubinstein, a really beautiful space owned by a literary agency of the same name. The core of their stock was sourced from the recommendations of a huge community of readers from all backgrounds when they first set up in 2009, meaning that all of the books in the shop are either loved by someone or a book that someone really wanted to read!

FIND THEM: on the central line, up the road from Ladbroke Grove station. Maps: the Big List, Circle Line.

WHERE TO GO FROM THERE: Round the corner to The Notting Hill Bookshop & Books for Cooks!

We'd love to hear where you're planning to go during the bookshop crawl! Don't forget you'll need your ID card to claim the special perks or discounts offered by lots of the participating shops, and you can find all sorts of bookshop crawl planning resources on the Plan Your Crawl page.


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