My London adventure is coming to an end, sadly. As much as the whole Masters process was torture and exhausting, I truly did enjoy living in this beautiful city with its wonderful public transportation, friendly people from so many different backgrounds, and not to the mention the amazing, amazing bookshops!
Hence, this post is a tribute to the small number of independent bookshops I’ve visited in the past year. There are over a 100+ independent bookstores in London alone, but with my busy schedule, I could only manage around 10+. If you want to see the full list, I recommend visiting London Bookshop Map for more suggestions!
I hope if you ever visit London, then you consider visiting these beautiful bookshop! All photos here are taken by me 🙂
1. Daunt Books
Daunt Books in Marylebone is a very well-known independent bookstore specialising in every genre you could think of: fiction, classic, geography, history. Located in an Edwardian building with unique structure, this bookstore consists of a ground floor with a small balcony above and a basement downstairs filled with books! The interior is just gorgeous and I went there solely to browse inside 🙂
2. South Kensington Books
This bookstore has a special place in my heart since I pass by it every time I go to campus. It’s a quaint bookstore tucked in Thurloe Street right next to South Kensington Station. Specialising in arts, music and travel this is a good bookstore to get some unique reads. Their selection of fictions is also good and you get a 10% discount if you’re a student studying in Imperial College!
3. Foyles Charring Cross
Foyles flagship store in Charring Cross remainds one of my favourite places to visit and take photos! With over 4 floors filled with books, you could spend hours in here just browsing through the many, many covers of every genre possible. Browse alone or with a friend, you will enjoy everything Foyles have to offer.
The cafe is pretty great too, with moderate prices. But the space is a bit cramped for my liking. The cakes are yummy though!
4. Hatchard’s Piccadilly Circus
Hatchard’s located right beside Waterstones Piccadilly (London’s main big-chained bookstore) is London’s oldest independent bookstore. Once you enter the store, you’re immediately reminded of the vintage London you often read in English novels. With it’s grand staircase in the middle of the store, and many hidden nooks and crannies (filled with books of course!), it’s easy to lose yourself among the shelves. But that sounds like a pretty good deal to me 😉
5. London Review Bookshop
LRB is the kind of bookstore you go to when you want unique books that are not as hyped as books in big-chained bookstores. LRB is the bookstore you wish you had as your own freaking library. With all the unique titles in genres like music, cookery, play, teatre, travel, biography, literature….this is the bookshop that redefines sophistication in the book industry.
You can imagine how out of place I felt here LOL. But please visit this bookstore for a wonderful experience!
6. Old Spitalfield’s Market Book Pop-Up Store
Ok, granted this isn’t really an actual bookstore but it is an independent book shop nonetheless! This pop up bookstore sells new paperbacks at ridiculously cheap prices (£5 and below) and is open on weekends at the Old Spitalfield Market near Liverpool Street. I remember buying a copy of Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Grey for just £3 from here! The market sells other trinkets, antiques and wonderful handmade items. So you can always browse around once you’ve got your reading fix 😉
7. Word on the Water
Now this is one bookshop so unique you won’t want to miss out! Word on the Water is located at Granary Square, a short walk away from King’s Cross Station. It’s literally a boat housing many, many books ranging across genres, old and new. I truly enjoyed the spectacular ambience created by the owner by having live music and arranging the books neatly around the boat.
You can even enter the boat and browse more books inside. The interior is wonderfully done, but mind your head! The ceiling’s pretty low.
8. Any Amount of Books
Any Amount of Books is one of my favourite places to find second hand books at ridiculously cheap prices. Located at Charring Cross and 2 minutes walk from Leicester Square Station, this place is lined with endless shelves filled with books from floor to ceiling. Another London treasure housing many rare and vintage books along with some surprisingly new books too. I remember finding a proof copy of My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises by Fredrik Backman for just £1 in the bin outside the store.
I always recommend this bookstore to my friends if they want that vintage feel of old books and how authentic bookstores strive to survive the ever-moderning ways of London. The whole row of Charring Cross is filled with lots of antiquarian/vintage bookstores like Henry Porde. So do drop by them if you ever visit Any Amount of Books! And Foyles is just 6-10 minutes walk from here too. So ensure plenty of time allocated to explore this gem of London 😉
9. South Bank Book Market
This book market was such a lovely place to spend your Sunday (which is what I did)! It’s not a bookshop obviously, but the market has around 10 vendors and is open daily from 11am – 5pm and sells books specialising in genres classics, crime, mystery, comics, plays, travels, fiction and children. All books sold are used, ranging from £2 – £10 depending on age and edition of book.
I spent a good hour just browsing through each long table scouring for treasures. And got my beautiful copy of Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies for just £2 here! If you are fan of the vintage Penguin classics, there are a LOT of them sold here, and some of them are first editions 😉
10. Charity Shops (Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, etc)
This is a special secret I like to believe I unearthed during my time here. Charity shops sometimes sell a great range of used books for only £3 and below, and most of them are in really good condition (bless the Brits and their care for books)!
And now you know where my books are sourced from (I rarely buy retail!)
It is definitely worth checking out an Oxfam, BHF, Octavia, or any other charity/foundation you stumble upon on any street. Look at the back of the shop because that’s where the books are usually stored. Take your time to browse the books. I’ve found many a gem from the BHF near my place which is only 6 minutes walk from my accommodation.
I’m happy to see I’ve become a regular there despite the old lady who works there doesn’t know my name.
Books I’ve scoured from charity shops and book markets…
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post! I get so many questions to recommend bookshops I thought having a post like this would make it easier 😀 Please let me know what are your favourite London Bookshops, if you’ve been to any of those listed here, or what is it you love about independent bookshops! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I wish I could have visited more bookshops, namely Persephone Books and Libreria (which Jen Campbell, author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, helped with the set up and interior I heard!). They sound so lovely but unfortunately they’re quite far from my accommodation and I didn’t have extra time to visit them.
Hopefully, I’ll still get to visit them in the future. Thank you for reading and have a lovely weekend ahead!