World Book Day is upon us! Hurrah! And seeing as you all love reading so much (why else would you be here, aside from our good looks and charm…) we thought we’d treat you some secret spots in London that every book worm must visit. From libraries to cafes, and most importantly, bookshops – after all, as Jerry Seinfield once said: “a bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking” – there is a perfect way for everyone to spend World Book Day the way it should be. With a book, that is. Simple, really.
1. Daunt Books
This incredible independent bookshop has stores all over London. Whether it’s enjoying the intimacy and personality of their smaller shops, or soaking in the grandeur of the long oak galleries in the original Edwardian shop in Marylebone, Daunt Books effortlessly inspires literary discoveries in everyone that visits. Founded in 1990 by James Daunt in the Marylebone store, which was originally built for antiquarian booksellers Francis Edwards in 1910, Daunt Books is technically a travel specialist shop, although it is now far more general. Arranging the books by country whatever their nature, be it fiction or non-fiction, biography, history, guide or novel, and with circular tea tables, wicker chairs and a musky smell that modern bookshops just do not have, the reading (and browsing) experience at Daunts is truly special.
83 Marylebone High St, London W1U
2. Far Rockaway, Shoreditch
Ok, ok, so it’s more of a bar/restaurant…but Far Rockaway actually has a massive comic book selection, which you can explore while enjoying a signature cocktail from the bar. Inspired by urban street art and culture, there is New York (and seriously yummy) food served from the open kitchen as well as street art and funkkyyyy DJs!
97-113 Curtain Rd, London EC2A 3BS
3. Bloomsbury Square and Gardens
Where the legendary Bloomsbury Group once roamed, the Garden Squares of Bloomsbury are somewhere every book lover should visit. Perhaps more suitable for picnic weather, there are benches and beautiful hideaways to curl up in…but regardless of weather, you’ll most definitely be in good company! Gordon Square is full of blue plaques marking the homes of Lytton Strachey (51 Gordon Square), John Maynard Keynes (46 Gordon Square), and Virginia Woolf (50 Gordon Square). Tavistock Square Gardens features a bust of Woolf as it was where she wrote To The Lighthouse (probably an appropriate choice of book, then), and you check out where T.S. Eliot once worked, at Faber & Faber. Yep, a book lover’s DREAM!
4. Ziferblat, Old Street
‘Everything is free inside; Except for the time you spend’. Yes, you read that right. Free. Ziferblat is a pay-per-minute place situated in East London. Inspired by its Russian forefathers, this ‘anti-cafe cafe‘ (they prefer, ‘free space’) has everything you need for a productive day of reading and writing. The innovative pricing model means that customers pay just 3p a minute, with a maximum payment of £9 to stay as long as they like (bargain). And, in exchange everything else – from unlimited tea, coffee, biscuits, cake, wifi and books – is free. By paying for your time, you’ll be making a donation towards growing this brilliant concept. Good books, good company, good idea!
388 Old St, London EC1V 9LT
5. Any Amount of Books, Charing Cross
This is by far one of the best second hand bookshops in London. With books ranging from £1 to a few thousand, the variety on offer is overwhelming. They also do tooled leather binding for only 10-15 pounds! The outside and basement is almost entirely dedicated to bargains, (we repeat, £1), with rare books, first editions, modern literature, art, poetry, scholarly/academic, antiquarian and leather bound sets littering the main floor. We give you our word, you won’t be disappointed.
56 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0QA
This is a new concept bookstore built with readers and writers in mind. The interior was inspired by The Library of Babel, a 1941 short story by the Argentinian master of mystification Jorge Luis Borges, which was based on the idea of an infinite library-universe in which hexagonal galleries contain all the books ever written and all of those to be written. Sounds pretty cool already, right? And you haven’t even heard half of it yet. In order to avoid the modern day problem (stemming from Borges) of information overload, Libreria arranges its books not according to standard categories – fiction, biography, science, and so forth – but in suggestive themes designed to provoke browsers into making unexpected connections. For example, the sea and the sky, family, love, and enchantment for the disenchanted. Libreria features a no-phone policy, private reading and writing nooks built into the shelves, occasional extremely late-night opening, events that range beyond the standard author Q&A and a printing press in the basement on which customers can sign up for courses and print their own work.
65 Hanbury Street, London E1
7. Persephone Books
This beautiful bookshop and publisher reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly women) writers…hence the name ‘Persephone’ we’re guessing. The initial idea of Nicola Beauman when founded this bookshop was “to publish a handful of “lost” or out-of-print books every year, most of them interwar novels by women, and to sell them by post” and it has since taken off, becoming one of London’s most treasured and unique bookstores. There are only 115 books, including novels, short stories, diaries, memoirs and cookery books available, and each is published with an elegant grey jacket, a ‘fabric’ endpaper with matching bookmark. Simply stunning.
59 Lamb’s Conduit St, WC1N 3NB
Featured Image Credit: Selgascano