Bookshops are my heaven. True, over the last five years or so, most of my reading had been done on the Kindle, but this is only because it's so convenient for a travelling bee like me – packing my suitcase with a year's worth of books would leave very little room for clothes and other necessities. But I'd always rather have a real book. As such, bookshops are somewhere I feel very much at home – they have a calming atmosphere that I love, whether I've money to purchase books or not. So here are a few of my favourite book shops, in a variety of places...
Chapter House Books
This place is absolutely, to the core, what a second hand bookshop should be. A nooks-and-crannies kind of building with treasures and gems hidden away. This place is somewhere you could easily get lost for hours browsing the shelves. Not only that, they have a lovely little cafe attached (chai latte was questionable but cake was delish) and they have a 'Book and Bed' AirB&B flat to rent out. If you're looking for a booky holiday in a quiet location, this is a top choice.
What I bought: The Midnight Kittens by Dodie Smith – author of 101 Dalmatians. (Actually, I didn't buy it. I wanted it very much but decided not to break my 'don't buy any more books right now' rule. But then I couldn't stop thinking about it and had to get my other half to go back and buy it for me the following week.)
Shakespeare and Company
One of the most famous bookshops in the world, Shakespeare and Co has become a Mecca for aspiring writers, hippies, students,tourists and tumbleweeds. Opened in 1951 by George Whitman, it was at the heart of the ex-pat community in Paris and among its early regulars you can find names such as Allen Ginsberg, James Joyce and Henry Miller. You can stay at the bookshop in exchange for volunteering behind the counter – more than 30,000 'tumbleweeds' have passed that way, including many artists and writers whose names are now in lights. A truly inspiring place.
What I bought: The Paris Review – a literary magazine.
Found on 4 Station Street, this old bookshop is so 'old school' that it doesn't even have a website. Walking along the road I was instantly drawn to this shop, and particularly liked the literary postcards I found by the boxful. Second hand books on a variety of topics, specialising in local maps. Well worth checking out to find a bargain. While in the area, visit the Pencil Museum!
What I bought: Let Us Be Glum by A P Herbert, poetry from 1941. Very much of its time! I was drawn to it because of the amusing title and cover artwork.
Kutak Knjiga – The Book Corner
Guess where I've been recently? It wouldn't be a holiday (or a honeymoon!) without visiting at least one bookshop. We were drawn to this place because, through the door, we saw signs for books in Chinese. This is a tiny little slice of a bookshop, yet it manages to stock books in a variety of languages, including English, French, Swedish, German, Italian... and of course Croatian. As well as books, they have local music, maps, posters and more. The lady behind the counter was very friendly and helpful – one of the highlights of our trip!
What I bought: Sweet Korcula: Sweeties of Korcula Grannies by Franica Milatt – a recipe book of local sweets and biscuits.
Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights
Known locally as Mr B's, this bookshop is tucked away off the main streets of Bath but is well worth seeking out. For starters, the children's section is awesome – Mr B's has innovative displays throughout the shop, but none so cool as the 'book tree'. Extra services include the Book Spa where you can have a one to one session with a member of staff who will recommend books specifically chosen for you – a great gift idea for a bookworm friend who owns all the books you'd think of buying them!
What I bought: Scarlet and Ivy: The Lost Twin by Sophie Cleverly, the first in a series I've been reading all summer.