Week 5: The London Review Bookshop

London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, London, WC1A 2JL

Oops, I did it again.  I ended up in Bloomsbury one more time.  I had a bit of time to kill this morning in Russell Square and ended up on Bury Street, just opposite the British Museum, at the London Review Bookshop.  It’s one of my new favourite bookshops.  It has a shaded little courtyard in the back and a coffee shop attached to it.  The London Review Cake Shop describes itself as “connected to the bookshop by a passage in the History section.”  I think that’s just such a lovely way of phrasing it.  If you ever have some time to kill, I can’t recommend fervently enough giving the bookshop a peruse and then admiring your new purchases in the cafe over a cup of tea and a cupcake.  Oh yes, today was a very good day.

The bookshop is quiet and (and I’m not just saying this because I like the quiet) that is the best thing about it. This quiet gives the bookshop its peaceful and almost, dare I say it,  sacred feel.  Walking through this bookshop feels a little bit like walking through a museum or a cathedral.  But not in that scary, intimidating way where you feel awkward and a million times stupider and less significant than everyone else; it’s more like walking around in your favourite museum where the staff recognise you or revisiting the church you went to every Sunday as a child.  It’s the perfect combination of “it’s okay, I belong here” and “but I’m still not going to shatter the quiet”.

The selection in this shop is absolutely amazing; I was able to find books I’ve been looking for for ages that have somehow not made it into second hand bookshops.  The only thing that one might find objectionable here is the fact that the books are at their full retail price as the shop doesn’t sell second hand books.  But in the same way that I continue to subscribe to a newspaper as it gets more and more expensive, I think it’s important that we continue to support the publishing industry even as cheaper options get more and more ubiquitous.  And besides, with all the money second hand bookshops have saved me over the years, I feel okay about the fact that I bought two full-priced books today.  Incidentally, I finally managed to track down Light in August for those keeping track of my book-hunting escapades and also bought The Complete Cosmicomics, as I’m re-reading If On A Winter’s Night A Travellerat the moment and know that when I re-finish it I’m going to re-experience Calvino withdrawal.  Make sure you don’t miss out on the difficult-to-locate downstairs, where all the poetry, drama and children’s books are.

Perhaps the coolest thing about this bookshop is that it’s associated with The London Review of Books (http://www.lrb.co.uk/) and stocks all the books that have been reviewed in that publication recently.  When I learned this I suddenly understood why the tables in the shop were filled up with books that I hadn’t heard of or that didn’t seem like they’d be the best-sellers but each of which seemed more interesting than the last!  Imagine having a team of literary critics and high-calibre book reviewers picking out the cream of the crop, including the weirder crop you mightn’t have heard of otherwise, for you every day and bringing them to you with tea and cake.  While I await the day when I’m a millionaire and that fantasy can actually be realised, the London Review Bookshop is pretty damn close.

2 responses to “Week 5: The London Review Bookshop

  1. Your explorations and revelations about unique bookshops are the best! I enjoy your reflective thoughts and please know that I’m an avid reader or your bookstore blog. Now…all I have to do is get to London and visit these gems. Thank you for your insight.


  2. Pingback: In Which I Petition My Lovely Followers to Do Me a Favour | The Matilda Project

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