Shopping for books in London is a perfect way to pass the time. Here are some of our favourite independent bookshops in London – they’re ideal for Christmas presents!
Famous Foyles is a sprawling department store with books on every subject. There are four floors of books to choose from and a café to contemplate your books. You’ll even spot a few well chosen second-hand books nestling between the new ones to give you a comprehensive choice.
2. Grant & Cutler
Specialising in foreign language books (in more than 150 languages), Grant & Cutler is the place to go if you’re learning a new language or missing books in your first language. Grant & Cutler stock international classics for students, the latest blockbusters from around the world and any educational language material you might ever decide you need.
3. Daunt Books
Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street is a very satisfying place to buy books. The old-fashioned wood panelling and balconies seem to saturate the books with wisdom and gravitas. Daunt have a large selection of travel books and they sensibly place guidebooks, novels and travel diaries together by country.
4. My Back Pages
My Back Pages in Balham is stuffed with second-hand books. You can lose hours in this shop, get cramp from prolonged rummaging through boxes or unexpectedly clamber over some books and discover another customer sitting on the floor dreamily building a book castle of their potential purchases. If you leave My Back Pages without armfuls of books, you’re doing it wrong.
5. RD Franks
RD Franks stocks the most attractive books in town. Specialising in books and magazines about fashion and textiles, you’ll find imported and specialist glossy mags predicting cutting edge trends. RD Franks is worth a visit if you’re a stylish reader. Frustratingly, the shop is only open during office hours and not on Saturdays, so the majority of customers are students hanging about reading the magazines.
6. The London Review Bookshop
Visiting The London Review Bookshop will make you smarter. It’s the very antithesis of the bargain book selection in your local supermarket. Bookworms will be pleased to hear that the books at the London Review Bookshop appear to be chosen for their literary, imaginative and intellectual merit. And they serve cake.
7. The Riverside Bookshop
The Riverside Bookshops is tiny, but beautiful. There’s a good selection of the latest fiction, and a little bit of everything else. Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) recently said it was one of her favourite places in London to hang out. It’s also temptingly close to VL Towers and causes us much accidental lunchtime book buying.
8. The Persephone Bookshop
The Persephone Bookshop is a publishing house bookshop selling Persephone books. The books are exciting – re-prints of forgotten novels by female authors with vintage designs on the endpapers. So much love has gone into creating these books, it’s hard not to eulogise at great length about how comforting they are to curl up with. You’ll be back for more.
9. Quinto Bookshop
Quinto Bookshop is a traditional, second-hand bookshop on Charing Cross Road. The shop is packed with books on all subjects. Oddly, most of the fun seems to take place just outside Quinto’s front door. Bibliophiles have been known to queue up outside the shop after the monthly stock-take to get their hands on the incoming treasures, and we’ve spotted some fans of Zachary â€˜Spock’ Quinto posing outside for Vulcan salute photos (and probably heading up the road for another photo session outside Koenig’s bookshop afterwards!)
10. Ripping Yarns
Remember your favourite childhood books that inspired your love of reading? Ripping Yarns specialises in collectable children’s books so you can have more adventures with the Famous Five. If you can’t remember the title or the author, you can describe the creatures and the story to the bookshop staff and they’ll probably be able to find it for you. Ripping Yarns also sell vintage annuals, children’s compendiums and comics.
Did we miss your favourite London bookshop? Tell us about it!