I posted my first A Tour of London Bookshops post just a few weeks ago, when I visited Skoob Books, and I couldn’t have been happier with the response! I panicked slightly when I pressed the ‘publish’ button (and not only because the date was set to 2012) because I wondered whether anyone would read it, but hundreds of you did. I headed over to Bloomsbury again for today’s post, this time to visit London Review Bookshop.
London Review Bookshop is, at first glance, quite small, yet it holds over 20,000 books on two floors. I first heard about it while looking for lovely teashops to meet up with my friend Daphne, who was visiting from The Netherlands. As we’re both bookish and have a passion for, um, cake, it seemed like the perfect place to visit! It’s now one of my favourite bookshops and so I had to share it all with you. As I said before, Bloomsbury is a lovely part of London and, as you can see, there is no shortage of fantastic bookshops there!
As soon as you step into London Review Bookshop, you’re overwhelmed with books. They’re everywhere – on shelves (obviously), piled onto tables, stacked on the floor, on the counter, against the window, on top of each other. But what I especially like is that many of these titles you will not have heard of before. London Review Bookshop is curated and loved by the people who work there – they’re not just trying to sell bestsellers – each table almost has a theme to it. And books are not stacked up neatly like you might find in a chain bookstore, but fill every gap available. I enjoyed going from table to table with my friend, picking up pretty books and talking about them.
Can we all stop for a second to admire this dumbwaiter? It’s a lift. For books. I work for a book publisher and we’re on the third floor. What I wouldn’t do to have one of these in our office… In London Review Bookshop, unlike most bookshops, you’re confronted immediately with non-fiction titles, rather than fiction.
But this does not mean that they do not have an excellent fiction section. For such a tiny space, it’s pretty impressive. It’s more literary than most, too. This again means that you (or maybe just me!) come across a lot of titles that you wouldn’t have necessarily heard of before. It’s a lovely section to browse!
And now we’re downstairs, with even more non-fiction and wonderfully curated tables. They have quite a large selection of poetry, which is just not for me, but my friend became rather engrossed and I had to keep hopping around her trying to take photographs. Downstairs is also where the children’s (and some teenage) fiction is kept. As you can probably guess, it’s a section I always look forward to visiting, and I do wish it was a little larger in London Review Bookshop, but they do have a selection of children’s classics, which I like to browse. I quite like it down here because it’s always much quieter than the first floor and you can really appreciate being surrounded by books.
I quite enjoyed this quirky selection of essays, letters and diaries. I thought Tumblr would appreciate it too! London Review Bookshop really does have a ‘proper bookshop’ feel to it as opposed to a large, impersonal warehouse or a cold newsagents-like shop that just happens to have a few bookcases at the back. It’s a bookshop where the smell of paper reaches you as soon as you walk in, that’s quiet without feeling empty, with wooden floors that make that lovely sound as you walk down them, and serves as a platform to discover books you never knew existed, because they’ll never be displayed on the front page of a website. Luckily, it was full up with people who felt the same – although you cannot tell by these photos! – I had to avoid walking into people browsing the shelves.
And lastly, London Review Bookshop has made sure it’s a popular destination by having its own cake shop. It does not contain a Starbucks, or a Costa, or a Cafe Nero, but London Review Cake Shop! It’s always immensely busy and people were queueing in the bookshop, waiting to go in, when my friend and I had finished our lunch. It’s known for its delicious cakes and impressive tea selection. I opted for fresh Sicilian lemonade, quiche with rice salad, and a salted pistachio and lemon cake.
London Review Bookshop is well worth taking a trip to visit, especially if you’re hungry!
Purchased: My friend bought The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, which she saw on the half price shelf.