Hundreds of enthusiastic book lovers hit the streets of London yesterday in pursuit of books. Organised by the ever amazing Bex, I was put in charge of one of the guided groups. I managed not to get everyone lost, except for a tiny detour round Victoria because everything is roadworks there. The tone of the day was a little different from last year, where we all went round together and most people vaguely knew each other off the internet. I hope everyone had a good time and wasn’t expecting a professional “tour”!
We all met up in Foyles again, in which I never buy anything because I never want to be weighed down too early. One day I will just go there and buy lots of books. They were really accommodating, allowing all four of the guided groups to meet there. We collected our lovely tote bags and set off in the direction of Daunt Books.
Last year we never made it to Daunt, even though it was on our schedule. It’s a gorgeous shop and well worth a visit. The majority of the shop is organised by country or part of the world. There are a lot of travel books (so I took the opportunity to get a book for my holidays this year) but also books from and about those countries. I loved the layout and I could quite easily have filled up my ten book quota there.
Instead I limited myself to It Can’t Happen Here, which was on my list of things to buy as well as being everywhere at the moment, and also The Dog Who Dared to Dream. I do want to read the one about the hen, but I saw this next to it and liked the sound of the dog more. As a bookshop crawl perk, I also got a free copy of The Trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
I ended up not buying anything else in the morning. The second stop was Blackwell’s in Holborn. I was quite tempted by the Out of Print socks they sell there. They had a lot of books I had read and loved already, so I would generally recommend it, but it just didn’t have much of what I was looking for this weekend. It was also super quiet but we did get a chance to sit down.
Next up was the shop most people were most excited about, Persephone Books. Now I bought three books there last year and still haven’t read them, so I didn’t feel I could justify getting more. The publisher is based in the shop and they specialise in forgotten classics by women. I did like that they were selling items made with the fabrics they use for the end-papers. Although the cushions were a bit too pricey for an impulse buy.
Those of us who knew Bex, met up for lunch. It was nice to briefly see everyone again. I kind of missed that bit being split up for most the day. After lunch we regrouped (partially) at Word on the Water, a wonderful barge on the canal behind Kings Cross station. The weather was soooooo nice by this point, as we did spend a while just sitting there, chilling out to the live jazz. They are a second hand shop (and I imagine by the afternoon some of their stock had been depleted by all the crawlers) and they have a lovely dog who wanders round, checking out who has the smelliest bag…
So quite a few people wanted to stay by the canal (I repeat, it was so nice), so a much reduced group headed onto Belgravia Books, one of the places I had put forward for the crawl. This is attached to the publishers Gallic Books and Aadvark Bureau, and has a lot of translated fiction but also plenty of other interesting stock. I could have bought loads in here but decided to go with one of their own titles, The Children’s Home as well as The Power, which was on so many people’s best of lists last year. Belgravia kindly gave us a 20% discount too (and they have a loyalty scheme, I really should have thought to offer my card to a Londoner).
We were meant to visit both Gosh! Comics and Orbital Comics but some people wanted to go straight to Waterstones. As we were starting to flag, we just went to Orbital which is very close to Leicester Square tube. They were handing out free comics, recommended based on what you like, which was so kind of them. They gave me Doctor Strange, which is written by the writer of Saga. I was looking forward to browsing their graphic novel room and, whilst I didn’t find anything from my wishlist, I did find one about Laika the space dog. I also picked up the first trade of Ms Marvel which I have been meaning to try for a while.
The final stop was the massive Waterstones at Picadilly. They were putting on a quiz for the group which I didn’t stay for, but I did go and buy some books before I left. I had a plan to buy lots of things from my wishlist that I’d been putting off buying, but then I couldn’t really find anything. I was quite mentally drained by this point, so it was probably partially my ineptitude. Though afterwards I found out that someone else bought their last copy of one book I’d been trying to find. So I’m either reading super popular or super obscure stuff!
I did think their graphic novel section was excellent though, and I bought The Motherless Oven which was on my list. Tina had bought Names for the Sea in an earlier shop and I had added it to my wishlist a few weeks ago. I took seeing it on a table as a sign. I had wanted a few of the Wellcome Prize longlist titles and I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t see a display for this anywhere (again, I might just have missed it).
I said my goodbyes and headed home to Hampshire, at least with less sore feet than last year! I think we did a lot of tube travel over walking, and it would be nice to have more of a wnader round, but it is really hard to organise so many people. I appreciated getting the tubes gave me less opportunity to get everyone lost, but it was also too nice weather to be underground so much.