A Walking Tour of London Bookshops
Recently, I met up with two friends from my old university, intending to catch up and wander a little bit. That “wander” turned out to be a trip to every bookshop within the area — and there are quite a few within walking distance of each other. So if you have an afternoon to spare (and a little money if you, like me, are prone to buying more books than you can read), then stop by some — or all — of these book nooks in London!
We started the afternoon at Skoob, a secondhand bookshop near Russell Square. Every nook and cranny in this place is filled with books of all sorts; I could have spent the whole day just there. They also have a student discount until the end of October, so stop by quick if you’re eligible!
Here’s how well I did:
- Willpower: broken
- Books bought: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
- Excuses: nostalgia (I enjoyed Riordan’s books in younger years)
- I liked the Percy Jackson/Lost Hero series, and haven’t read the Kane series yet
- I am internally about 10 years old
- The Masterpieces of Shirley Jackson
- Excuses: Halloween is coming up and I wanted some spooky reads
- It will photograph well for my Instagram (Did you know I have a bookstagram? *shameless promotion*)
- Student discount!
Yes, one of each, please
2. London Review Bookshop
Next up, we headed to London Review Bookshop. There is a quaint little cake shop attached to this one (which may or may not have been one of our main incentives to meet up). After a bit of cake and tea, we took a quick look around the actual bookshop.
- Willpower: sustained (with some difficulty; they have signed copies of several books). My friends caved though!
3. Oxfam Bookshop
After that, we walked over to Oxfam. This particular one is on Bloomsbury Street, and has Oxfam’s usual mix of books, CDs, old magazines and papers, and pretty much everything in between. They also have books in different languages, which leads me to my stats:
- Willpower: shattered once again
- Book bought: La Fête du Poitron (Halloween Party) by Agatha Christie, translated by Claire Durivaux
- Excuses: I want to practise my French
- The story is about Halloween (see above point about spooky reads)
Before I could spend too much money here, we headed off to Waterstones on Tottenham Court Road. A giant two-storey shop, this one is a double-edged sword with both books and stationary — which basically doubled my chances of spending money. We spent some time admiring the different collections, which have some impossibly beautiful covers.
Again, one of each please
They also have a clearance section with discounted books. I nearly bought a damaged copy of It by Stephen King here, but managed to resist for some mysterious reason (possibly because one of my friends told me she cried by the end of the first chapter).
Willpower: almost wavered, but managed to hold it together because I’m a scaredy-cat
Our next stop: Foyles on Charring Cross Road. If the vast and expansive Waterstones is the opposite of a nook, this shop is as much a nook as it is a potato. It has six storeys worth of books — good luck getting out of there unscathed.
Foyles also offers a student discount. I caved the last time I was there, so this time I held it together in an effort to redeem myself by proving that I have some semblance of self-control.
- Willpower: Hunted down a book I really wanted to get… then walked away
6. Henry Pordes Books
Finally, we made our way to Henry Pordes Books, which has secondhand books as well as rare and first editions. I got totally absorbed in the fantasy section before I could explore the whole shop properly… so I’ll probably be going back at some point.
- Willpower: Sustained for now
That ends our walking tour of bookshops! If you’re planning to embark on one of your own, I recommend bringing a comfortable pair of walking shoes and a sizeable bag to carry your newest acquisitions (and a pair of stretchy trousers if you’re also going for the cake).
Let me know: what and where your favourite book nook? Have you been to any of these before, or are you planning to visit sometime?
Thank you for reading, and until next time!