I recently took part in Ninja Book Box’s London Bookshop Crawl and, judging from the weight of my backpack as I eventually headed home, it was very successful. I didn’t join the main group as they headed around London together but by following and using the hashtag #LondonBookshopCrawl I was still able to feel connected to my fellow booklovers and take things at my own pace. To prepare, I plotted out the participating bookshops on a map and dug out the biggest backpack I owned. I decided to start at Waterstones in Piccadilly.
As first impressions went, I was most impressed. Before even entering the shop, I was stopped in my tracks by the brilliant window display. It certainly would’ve been enough to pull me off the street had I not already planned on visiting. Using props, wires, and quotes Waterstones had brought a book to life. Inside I was met with well-presented shelves and a staggering number of books.
Starting from the top and winding my way down the levels I explored the vast range of titles. I felt myself drawn to the little islands of tables each with a sign proclaiming some unusual theme. I found the couch area particularly useful as I settled in to consider the armful of exclusive editions I’d accumulated as I browsed. I’d given myself a limit of one book per bookshop so that I wouldn’t run out of funds too soon. After painfully narrowing down my choices and making my selection I moved onto Hatchards.
There’s something so satisfying about a beautiful staircase in a bookshop. I immediately fell in love with the one twisting its way through the centre of Hatchards. The soft carpets, framed portraits and the royal seal of approval hanging proudly on the wall created a charming old-fashioned atmosphere. This is definitely a shop I would’ve like to spend more time in. I certainly appreciated the 10% discount I received as a member of Ninja Book Box’s London Bookshop Crawl.
After a quick lunch break I was off to Foyles. I was happily overwhelmed with the extensive range of books. The modern open plan and white décor let the books pop from their displays. Upon further exploration into the towering shelves, I was also pleased to find a few secluded areas with chairs for peaceful reflection of the books. The shop’s famous quote, ‘Welcome book lover, you are among friends’ was exciting and heart warming to see. I made sure to snap a picture for #LondonBookshopCrawl before moving on.
My final stop for the day was Any Amount of Books. Filled to the brim with second-hand titles, some of them wonderfully rare, this shop seemed perfect for a wide range of readers. With so many books crammed into shelves, stacked to the side and on top of every surface I spent quite a bit of time pulling them out to take a look. There was such a thrill of discovery in finding a book that spoke to me among piles of others. I may have broken my one book per shop rule here, but given the prices and the 10% bookshop crawl discount I left very happy.
It was great to be able to experience so many different bookshops and their unique atmospheres. There were so many more shops I wish I’d had time to visit but I will certainty be doing another bookshop crawl in the future! As for my now substantial to-be-read pile – I think a DIY reading retreat is in order.