The Lamb Bookshop, 40 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3LB
Lamb’s Conduit Street is one of those classic Bloomsbury roads with al fresco cafes and independent shops selling all kinds of useless and lovely things. You can almost hear Virginia Woolf’s footsteps on the cobbled streets… Bloomsbury bookshops are the greatest and The Lamb Bookshop is no exception.
This shop is decidedly and undeniably sweet. I truly don’t know a better way to describe it; it’s just sweet. The window display of children’s books (featuring, of course, a very fuzzy-looking toy sheep) made me “aw” against my will as soon as I saw it. The little man who sold me my books wrapped them in a plastic bag, “to keep them dry…for a while anyway” and proceeded to engage in one of those classic awkward British conversations about the weather. Which, incidentally, is horrid.
Annoyingly, this bookshop has a lot of things in it that aren’t books. This always irritates me, but of course I understand that it’s better to have little bookshops that also sell a couple of toys (although thankfully in this particular shop, it’s mainly just puzzles and board games) than to not have any at all.
Despite the fuzzy sheep and the Travel Scrabble, this is a shop that is, at its heart, all about the books. It grabbed my heart at first with an amazing selection of children’s books, including some lesser-known picture books by Oliver Jeffers that made me very happy. The Lamb Bookshop, as I learned, is known for its remarkably good range of children’s books and toys. The next thing I found to love was the sheer number of beautiful books. There was a whole table full of beautiful hardcover books by classic English poets like Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth and Coleridge (William Blake was conspicuously missing which was a bit disappointing but I’m over it) with beautiful illustrations of birds and flowers and such (oh the Romantics) on their covers. There was also another range of lovely (if slightly girly) editions of classics like Wuthering Heights and…well let’s face it, everything Jane Austen or one of the Brontes ever wrote.
In the end I opted for two classics, resisting the urge to buy a kids’ book, much as I love them. I first went down the hipster route and bought The Master and Margarita for £4.50, slightly cheaper than the cover price since it was in one of the several deals the shop does. The second was a book of short stories by Katherine Mansfield that are part of Penguin’s “Great Loves” series for £1.50. Apparently the shop’s sugary sweetness is a bit contagious.