*This is something I posted on the Sunflower blog back when I was in London. Since the Sunflower blog is going to disappear soon AND I haven’t got anything new to say I thought I’d repost it here.*
Hello from London!
I’ve had a great time frequenting the many bookshops here. I loved the London Review Bookshop with the classy cafe and history titles arranged by time period. I loved the British Library bookshop with its wide ranging collection and Virginia Woolf dolls. (I super regret not buying one.) I loved the multi-storied Foyles with a great set of author events. Most of all I loved the sheer number of shops selling books! And so to narrow it down I thought I’d introduce you to ONLY the bookshops that were on my street.
THE SCHOOL OF LIFE
I don’t know if this quite qualifies but it is definitely the classiest self-help centre ever. Apart from running classes on improving your life (with talks from Germaine Greer among others) they stock a heap of self-help books you wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen reading on the train. But the real reason they make the list is because of the excellently designed How To series they publish by writers and thinkers (such as How to Think More About Sex by Alain de Botton).
GAY’S THE WORD
Apart from being painted a shade of blue guaranteed to brighten a grey London summer (rainiest in 100 years apparently!) this great shop has a great selection ranging from gay themed fiction, memoirs, non fiction, philosophy and more. Aside from the books and the friendly staff there are also CDs, DVDs and a notice board full of stuff going on in the community.
COLLINGE & CLARK
This little antique bookshop has a very quirky selection. As well as a larger collection of antique typography books than you would think possible, I found a multi-volume Chaucer set next to a pamphlet of greetings sent by famous fingers of the early 1900s.
Skoob is simply amazing. Down in a basement there are literally thousands of books on every subject imaginable – history, literary criticism, philosophy, learning music, art, a whole section of popular penguins, I don’t even know what else. There’s also a functioning upright piano! And plenty of nooks in which to sit and peruse.
While Skoob comes a close second, my favourite bookshop in the street would have to be Judd books. With fiction upstairs and non-fiction in the basement it had an extensive collection, but not so much as to be overwhelming. There are stacks of new books at bargain prices in the centre and a huge range of second hand titles in shelves up to the ceiling. But best of all was their silent policy! No phones, no ipods, talking frowned upon, no rushing. Such a lovely atmosphere to browse in.
So those are the bookshops of Judd Street! I hope you’re enjoying the lovely Sunflower back in Melbourne and I’ll catch you soon with more book related travel news!