Books, I love books. Walking passed a bookshop is a wrench, if I do then it means that I must be in a tearing hurry. Whilst I can find joy in almost anywhere that sells books, I do have favourites. Here are my top five London bookshops.
Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street used to be my local bookshop. Every week I would prowl its shelves seeking my next companion. Daunt is a stunningly beautiful shop, built round a central atrium with a large window at one end. In theory it is a travel bookshop but it sells so much more than mere guidebooks. Each geographical area has not only the Rough Guides but also cookbooks, histories of the country and novels. Reading books about the area which I am visiting or written by a local is something that I love, if you want the perfect Albanian novel (The File on H by Ismail Kadare) look no further than Daunt.
word on the water
Word on the Water is a bookshop on a barge, she chugs up and down the Regents Canal and can be visited at which ever part of the tow path she moors up. I found her just by Granary Square behind Kings Cross Station. Browsing through secondhand books is a joy. Sometimes you see old friends and remember the happy times you spent together, other times you look at the old covers and typefaces and realise that fashion even reaches into the world of books. Best of all is when you see a title that you have wanted to read for ages, I found THE DIARY OF A NOBODY by George and Weedon Grosssmith.
Waterstones is one of Britains biggest booksellers. The branch that I love is its flagship on Piccadilly, the building is a splendid Art Deco place. Sweeping staircases lure you upwards to ever more temptation. This branch of Waterstones is the Junior CW’s favourite bookshop. When they were very small I used to browse the shelves with them, then they wanted to make their own selections so I used to hunker down on a child-sized seat and read my own book. Now they are big enough for me to wander at will, until we meet and compare our selections. Waterstones also offers places in which to peruse your purchases, the basement has a booklined café and right at the very top of the building is a bar for more grown up discussions.
Stanfords on Covent Garden’s Long Acre is another travel book shop but unlike Daunt it specialises in maps. Once I have decided on a holiday destination, Standfords is my first stop to purchase a proper folding map, even the floors have maps on them. Nowadays Stanfords sells guidebooks and all manner of travel related books. If you love maps and books then head for Stanfords.
Maison Assouline is a temple to the coffee table book. It is housed in a perfect cube of room and is devoted to selling the luxury books produced by Assouline. I concede that I have never actually bought a book in Maison Assouline as the luxury books come with luxury price tags. It is also home to Swans Bar which will serve coffee accessorised with the most beautiful spoon I have ever seen. It is the perfect place to flick through my latest book haul from Waterstones just down the road on days when the Junior CW’s are elsewhere.
These are my top five London bookshops, which are yours?
TOP FIVE LONDON BOOKSHOPS
DAUNT BOOKS 83-84 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4QW
WORDS ON WATER Regents Canal Towpath
WATERSTONES 203-206 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD
STANFORDS 12-14 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LP
MAISON ASSOULINE 196 Piccadilly, London w1J 9EY