Bookish London

I received a lovely e-mail the other day from Nancy, whom you may know from her blog comments as Juna. After introducing herself, Nancy asked my advice for some places to visit during her holidays. She says …

“Over our upcoming winter holiday, we will be coming to London. This is a first trip for my daughter, and my first in (gulp) almost 25 years.  Besides doing the round of various tourist attractions, I would love to visit some less well-known book stores or book related sites. So far my list includes Charles Dickens’ home and museum, the LRB bookstore, and the shops on Charing Cross Road. (I’m also hoping to make a day trip to Darwin’s Down House and my daughter and husband may make a pilgrimage to Liverpool as she is deep in Beatlemania.

I’m wondering if you have any suggestions…”

I replied with a few interesting places to buy books – The Persephone Bookshop, Slightly Foxed in South Kensington, and the Southbank Centre Book Market for starters.

Then I offered to get you all involved in suggesting some more. So can you help further with some other great London bookshops or bookish places to visit?  We look forward to seeing your ideas. Thank you.

15 thoughts on “Bookish London

  1. If Nancy has any interest in second hand books, I would suggest Camden markets early on a Saturday morning. It is an interesting place to visit anyway, but she will find Black Gull Books near Camden Lock, and also several cheap stalls on the lowest level of the Stables Market. And Skoob Books is worth visiting as well.

    • I haven’t been to Camden Lock and its environs for so long… I used to love going up there when I was a student in London.

  2. I suggest visiting Daunts bookshop in Marylebone. A beautiful building, a great selection of books And as it is on Marylebone high street there are other unusual shops and coffee stops close by too.

    • Daunts is another of those famous London bookshops that I’ve still never been to. I’ve seen many photos of its spectactular galleried interior though. One day…

  3. I had a wonderful visit to London recently which I blogged about and I would heartily recommend Henry Pordes and Any Amount of Books in Charing Cross Road plus Skoob off Marchmont Street. All of these were kindly recommended by members of LibraryThing VMC group and I found some lovely treasures.

    And you can’t beat a visit to the British Library if you like books – they have an exhibition of their treasurers which I’m dying to see!

    • Y’know, it took me a minute to work out Skoob! :)

      In some circles I can pass as a Londoner, but while I actually lived there, I was only interested in reading SF&F, so didn’t explore any bookshops other than Forbidden Planet, so my knowledge of London bookshops doesn’t extend far. Thank you.

  4. London Walks (www.walks.com) does some pretty neat literary-themed walking tours. I’ve done a Shakespeare one, a Lord Byron one, and a Bloomsbury one. The guides are usually really knowledgeable and entertaining.

  5. Thanks so much to all for the wonderful suggestions, and to Gaskella for posting this entry. I have a weakness for second-hand books, haven’t visited Marylebone–which has connotations of Dickens for me–or the British library, and a literary-themed walking tour sounds like something my husband and daughter would enjoy as well. I now expect to have a list long enough for two vacations and to need a second suitcase for the return home.

  6. I hope I’m not too late for Juna’s trip….

    One of our favorite walking tours took us to Highgate Cemetary which is a wonderful, not crowded stop. It’s a beautiful, slightly gothicy, site, and the final resting place of George Eliot, Karl Marx and a few other authors. I think it was even free.

  7. I loved walking down Charing Cross Road when I was studying in London, and stopping into Foyles was always a must! (That’s really the only bookish place I’ve been to in London.)

  8. thanks for mentions of other shops I often struggle to know where to go and always end up at lrb as I know where it is and on whole has lot of books of my taste ,all the best stu

  9. Not a London recommendation, but one for Liverpool. There are fab books available to guide you around the Beatles highlights but a pleasant time can be had in and around Woolton Village. St Peter’s Church Hall is where John and Paul met, the graveyard has Eleanor Rigby in it and the village has lovely coffee and eateries that are friendly and happy to talk.

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