This is a gem of a bookshop, luckily for me less than five minutes walk from my house. Consider it a more manageable, less touristy, less expensive version of Barter Books in Alnwick. Packed with thousands of second hand and antiquarian books, on all levels and in all corners of a victorian townhouse, with very knowledgeable and friendly staff. Great to spend some time here on a wet Saturday.
I do a lot of trekking across the countryside near Milton Keynes and have recently been posting about those hidden gems I come across.
The Griffin Inn has recently been refurbished and is a lovely little pub. There are eight pubs in Toddington and for me this is the best one! I had a lovely lunch there and the staff were very nice. My tip would be to drop in and have a bite to eat. I found out about this pub from a local community run web site called My Toddington.
2 station Road, Toddington, Bedfordshire LU5 6BN
Google map: bit.ly/ce8Ae9
The Griffin is on station road, the first pub on your left if coming from the M1
A gem of a bookshop, squeezed in a picturesque row of independent shops, in this seaside town more famous for oysters than books. Harbour Books is a tardis, crammed full of tempting titles. The wonderful staff have an amazing knowledge of the stock and every personal recommendation has never yet disappointed. A fair proportion of the stock is carefully selected remaindered titles, meaning great variety at a good price (many are under £3). This shop certainly stocks some best-sellers, but even more likely are many great reads that have just not made the mass-market. The children’s section has produced endless presents and its quality can be assured by my 10-year-old niece who asks in equal delight if we can go to the bookshop and traditional sweet shop next door. The most telling sign is that it is impossible to visit without a purchase (or so my own small scale research has found).
21 Harbour Street, Whitstable, Kent CT5 1AQ
+44(0)1227 264 011
Google map: bit.ly/dqM3fu
Allow a minimum of two hours to visit this bookshop. It is a three storey shop full from top to bottom with, suprisingly enough, books, as a bookshop ought to be. Expect a voyage of discovery challenging you to uncover new areas of learning, to become lost in a world of words. It is a beautiful sort of heaven, something from a most incredible dream, a treasure cave. When your brain and body need a rest from this unique experience, you can recover in the cafe where tasty food will delight you. There is nowhere else quite like Scarthin Books, the very best book shop, wherever in the world you start from.
A short walk from Ely Station, past the glorious cathedral rising out from the Fens, on the unpretentious High Sreet, you'll find this wonderful bookshop. Walk in through the modest frontage into the comfort of a labyrinth of aesthetic shelved rooms on three floors. Knowledgable staff are happy to help, recommend and advise; but equally happy to leave you to browse, even encouraging this by bringing freshly brewed coffee or tea. Regular, meet the author, events are also held.
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is a unique independent bookshop residing in a cosy Georgian building in the centre of Bath. Tucked behind the busy streets, you can put your feet up with a cup of coffee and browse through books at leisure. Staff offer a friendly, informed and personal service, helping you to discover new books from their fantastic selection.
Themed literary evenings are led by well known authors and enable readers to share their love of books over a glass of wine, sample food from around the world and listen to a local talented band. Other delights include reading spa treatments, a bibliotherapy room, reading groups, personalised gifts and the famous tin-tin wall. Whether you are nine or 90 enter here and you will be hooked.
One of the largest bookshops in Britain and most creative. You can browse endlessly in the several rooms, drink coffee in the 'waiting rooms', watch the blazing fire,admire the art work, stare at the miniature train as it weaves around the top of the shelves and immerse yourself in the quarter of a million second hand books-all lovingly catergorised and individually priced. Atmospheric music harmoniously enhances your receptivity to the surrounding feast of literature. The music section is particularly varied-with LPs in excellent condition. The children's section is vast - especially the annuals - a must for every reminiscant adult over 30! The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and baked muffins lingers heavily in the air. It's open seven days a week 9-5pm(7pm on Thursdays) but be warned if you are a real book lover you will have to be dragged out because it's that good!!
The words 'boutique bookshop' conjure up images of a snobbish exclusive, expensive store, and yet Mister B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath manages to be quaint without any of the negative connotations. With its Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Old-Curitoisty-Shop charm it is a delight to wander around and pick out a new novel from the white-washed shelves, wooden tables, or the ornate bathtub that displays the best in children's literature. There's a huge travel section, sofas to curl up on, and refreshments upstairs. The staff are incredibly friendly, and their favourite picks of the month are displayed if you want a gentle hint at what to purchase next. Plus their adorably scruffy rescue dog can sometimes be found sniffing around ankles and receiving pats from customers. It really is a home from home for book lovers.
Situated in the heart of the mind-bogglingly picture-postcard-perfect village of Alfriston in West Sussex (where Stella Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm), ‘Much Ado Books’ is a literary gem of epic proportions. Named Independent Bookseller of the Year in 2007, a recent move just up the High Street has achieved the impossible end of improving on an unsurpassable original; taking in the addition of an extra floor and a beautifully-appointed barn venue which plays regular host to workshops, talks and even Christmas card writing afternoons. Also remaining intact in the move is its trademark selection of happily co-existing new and second hand books, lovingly handpicked by the owners, and featuring the likes of rare Bloomsberry first editions and a shelf of recently-reissued Barbara Pymms. The upshot feels like a series of personal recommendations from a friend of impeccable taste - the perfect antidote to the ubiquitous glut of three for two bestsellers of its rivals.
Situated in the heart of the mind-bogglingly picture-postcard-perfect village of Alfriston in West Sussex (where Stella Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm), ‘Much Ado Books’ is a literary gem of epic proportions. Named Independent Bookseller of the Year in 2007, a recent move just up the High Street has achieved the impossible end of improving on an unsurpassable original; taking in the addition of an extra floor and a beautifully-appointed barn venue which plays regular host to workshops, talks and even Christmas card writing afternoons. Also remaining intact in the move is its trademark selection of happily co-existing new and second hand books, lovingly handpicked by the owners, and featuring the likes of rare Bloomsberry first editions and a shelf of recently-reissued Barbara Pymms. The upshot feels like a series of personal recommendations from a friend of impeccable taste - the perfect antidote to the ubiquitous glut of 3 for 2 bestsellers of its rivals.
A bookshop run with passion, spark and style in the most picturesque street of a town that the phrase 'quintessentially English' was probably invented for. Owner Sarah Meadham (one-time collaborator with artist Jeremy Deller, and ferret fancier) has previously managed bookshops in Brighton and Worthing, and has moved across the county of Sussex to this quirky shop, nestled under the walls of Arundel Castle. Odd little rooms, old fireplaces, vintage furniture and plenty of unusual books make this feel like a place that's been there years; it's actually only months old. The Book Ferret shows that small, independent shops with service and style are the saviours of the high street.
I was in Edinburgh for the festival, and oh boy was this place full of fun and all free. I stayed for two weeks and almost every night would end up there. They have live music and very delicious food ... but I think what made this place shine for me was the friendly staff. It is an Irish bar and you sense that throughout - be it the traditional design of the place, or Irish bar staff, or the fresh soda bread that you can have for lunch.
I have visited Cromer for many years with my family. However the weather isn’t always sunny, so on a rainy day we like to visit Norfolk’s Children’s Book Centre. It can be found in a small cottage tucked away in the middle of the countryside and you can only find it by a discreet sign by the roadside. However, you know when you have arrived because when the shop is full to the brim with an enormous variety of books. There are chairs to lounge in if you would like to have a read and if you are unable to choose the book that is right for you the lady who owns the shop, Marilyn Brocklehurst will kindly talk to you and show the books that fits your specifications. She is very knowledgeable because she has read almost every book in the shop! She is very passionate about children’s reading. I have never visited the shop without purchasing a book that I have found very exciting. Also she will bring you a drink and a biscuit if you would like, free of charge. Not only this, but it is a very friendly place to visit and you could stay there for hours. Also, many authors such as Michael Morpergo, Jacqueline Wilson, Andy McNabb, Anne Fine, Malorie Blackman and many more, have visited the bookshop. Visiting the Bookshop is one of my special highlights of my holiday! elliepellie (aged 13)
Climb up the hill to Topping's Bookshop in The Paragon, Bath. An appropriate address for such a wonderful shop.You will be welcomed with tea or coffee,and about 43,000 titles in stock. There is a quick ordering service and a great events programme. Above all it has knowledgeable staff who are interested in your requests and helping to find just the right books for you.
Topping & Co,3 Bladud Buildings, The Paragon, Bath BA1 5LS
Google map: bit.ly/di27p8
Although it's small, this shop makes up for its lack of size in many ways. The stock is always fascinating, with a great range, which makes it difficult to resist buying something everytime you visit. The staff are really helpful, knowledgeable and with (often needed!)a great sense of humour. The shop is very much part of the active community of Richmond, organising a Walking & Book Festival annually. The highlight of my visit is always the enthusiastic welcome received from the owner's Westie!
Largest stock of new and second hand books on Mind, Body, Spirit, Health and the Unexplained that I know of in the UK. Good for browsing and also internet service.
This is a fantastic independent bookshop, with a brilliant music and CD collection on sale. Quirky, original, friendly and unexpected among all the pudding and tart shops and outdoor clothing stores. One of Bakewell's treasures, and featured in 'Last Shop Standing'. Don't miss it if you are in the area.
Stanfords is simply the best bookshop in the world for anyone with a love of travel. It's a London landmark to get the pulse racing of any would-be adventurer. Trading for over 150 years, it was from Edward Stanford Ltd that Sherlock Holmes bought a map in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and both Dr Livingstone and Cecil Rhodes started their journeys. More recently Kenneth Williams trained as a map maker here — before going round the Horne and carrying on up the Khyber.
Today pick your way through three floors of books, maps and travel paraphernalia on offer in this Edwardian labyrinth. Sitting alongside big name guides like Lonely Planet, look out for specialist handbooks on climbing, caravanning, canals, caving, canoeing and kayaking. Thumb through a guide to battlefields or customs and etiquette in Turkey. For a real Anatolian adventure, don't miss Kate Clow's idiosyncratic "The Lycian Way" — one of the world's Top 10 walks — and while you are there pick up a novel by Turkey's Nobel Laureate, Orhan Pamuk. Farther afield wander into Tajikistan, Togo or Tuvalu.
Closer to home Stanfords stocks the full range of OS maps and has guides to every village, town and county in the UK.
There are flags, wall maps, street maps, atlases and globes. If choosing between a cuddly toy globe or chocolate globe is impossible — or you find yourself wrestling with the desire to own a hanging Christmas tree globe — stop for a break at the Sacred Café. You might discover that after a reviving cup of ayurvedic loose-leaf tea what you really want is a jacket from the new Bear Grylls range of clothing.
Before you leave grab a signed book from perky world girdler Michael Palin, or even stay for a travel lecture. Stanfords has it all.
12-14 Long Acre
City of London WC2E 9LP
+44(0)20 7836 1321
Nearest Underground: Leicester Square or Covent Garden
Open Mon-Tue 9am-7:30pm; Wed-Sat 9am-7pm; Sun 12pm-6pm
Google map: bit.ly/9Ax6Eg
A disused railway station converted into a large-scale bookshop, set against a backdrop of Northumbrian landscape. Admid a maze of bookshelves and a model railway, you can truly disappear into whatever plot line, biography or non-fiction text you happen to be reading. With its stunning interior and authentic waiting room and cafe, you could spend forever browsing through its unique library of editions varying from victorian to present day: it is by far the best bookshop in Britain.
Voltaire and Rousseau is a bit of a mess. Books are piled floor to ceiling with no sense of hierarchy or order. Some books are buried so deep that it's unlikely that anyone will ever buy them. But that's also what's so great about the shop - you never know what literary treasures you might uncover. Watch where you step, though - the owner's cats are as much a part of the shop as the books and love to wander around the stacks.
12-14 Otago Lane, Glasgow, G12 8PB
+44(0)141 339 1811
Near Kelvinbridge Subway
Google map: bit.ly/cqCN4a
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