Step into seven of the best indie bookshops
15th June, 2018
Saturday 6th October marks Bookshop Day and we’ve highlighted our favourite shops to get lost in. Be prepared to come away with more books than you can carry!
The best bookshops don’t need to have fabulous coffee, or a particularly eclectic range, or striking architecture, in my opinion. They just need to be there. They need to exist. Then, books and reading become part of our neighbourhoods and communitities, and children living there grow up with books and reading as a normal part of their lives, rather than something exotic, for other people.
I spent every Saturday of my childhood either at the local library or at the only bookshop in Derry, Bookworm. I’d sit on the floor in the kids section, inhaling Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang until my legs fell asleep and I had a crick in my neck. Without Bookworm, I wouldn’t be the reader (or the person) I am today.
Very sadly, Bookworm closed in 2008, so in honourable second place I nominate Charlie Byrne’s in Galway: my grandparents lived there, so during the summer holidays I’d take my usual Saturday activity there, instead. Thank you for existing, Charlie Byrne’s and Bookworm!
Stone Trough Books, York: You can lose yourself for hours in this Tardis of a shop. The brimming shelves house an eclectic and surprising collection.
Caravansérail, London: Caravansérail has an amazing selection of contemporary English and French language books, it is a beautifully architected space where you can discover books you didn’t know you wanted, and they do amazing live events too, just off Brick Lane.
Burley Fisher Books in Dalston is my favourite new place to find new voices in literary fiction, and they are constantly thinking up new events and initiatives. The most recent of which is the micro-press, Peninsula Press, which just published a stunning essay by Will Harris called Mixed-Race Superman.
Ink@84, London: It was a happy day when on my way back from the bus stop after a long day at work, I spotted the sign that a new independent bookshop was opening right around the corner from where I lived. This is a bookshop where browsing is encouraged – you can order coffee (or something stronger) at the bar and sit back with a new read, or discuss recommendations with knowledgeable booksellers. I particularly love the ever-changing displays dedicated to underrepresented writers.
Daunt Books Marylebone: This is every book enthusiast dream. With its oak galleries, skylights and seemingly dimensionally transcendental proportions, this is the kind of book shop I could happily lose hours, if not days, just looking around.
I also love Owl Bookshop as it is my local. It has is a great selection of books, helpful stuff and a friendly atmosphere.