Best bookshops

I haven’t been on a good bookshop trawl for months.  There’s very little I love more in life than discovering a secondhand bookshop I’ve not been to before, and falling joyfully upon its shelves.  If the books happen to be reasonably priced and plentiful, then my joy is complete.  This was how I felt in bookshop after bookshop in the US, but I don’t think I’ve been to any since then.  Shameful.

So I’m probably going to treat myself with a day out to one before too long.  And I wondered if you had any recommendations – preferably for bookshops in towns which are near enough to Oxford to permit a day trip there and back.  On a trainline.

Yes, very picky, I know.

If they’re in London, that’s ok – but I’d prefer them to be in the countryside, or vaguely countrysidish.

Over to you!

(If you don’t live in the UK, please feel free to tell me about your favourite bookshops… but try not to make them sound too appealing.)

20 thoughts on “Best bookshops

  • February 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm
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    Well … there's the LibraryThing Virago Group meetup in London, 22 March. So, not the countryside. But visit the group for details!

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  • February 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm
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    I have many favorite bookshops and almost all of them are in the past. The only 2 left are behemoths: the Strand in NYC and Wonder Books in Frederick, Maryland.

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    • February 27, 2014 at 9:30 pm
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      I almost took Simon to Wonder Books in Frederick (my favorite WB location) but we ended up hopping around in NoVa instead.

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    • February 27, 2014 at 9:45 pm
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      Annabel, I second that. I think, though, that Simon has already been?

      Simon, someday, you need to come to the Pacific North West! Here in Seattle, we have Magus and Elliot Bay Book Co., but Portland has Powell's City of Books – the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world! Powell's is my happy place.

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  • February 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm
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    York is a bit of a long day trip by train, and not in the countryside, but a visit to Minstergate Books and Ken Spelman's is worth any such trifling exceptions. Take a large and sturdy rolling suitcase…

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  • February 27, 2014 at 10:37 pm
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    On my last visit home, my best friend and fellow readaholic took me to Second Story Books. Has locations in Washington, DC and Rockville, MD. The Rockville store is a warehouse with over 1/2 a million books. It's not beautiful, but it's fun. http://www.secondstorybooks.com/

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  • February 27, 2014 at 11:25 pm
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    Obviously you should come to my bookshop! It's not too far to Stratford!

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  • February 28, 2014 at 12:20 am
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    Between Bristol & Bath is the Book Barn, it's a converted farm shed (huge) that is full of second-hand books, I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at how many. They also have a nice little cafe! I think I'm right in saying that every book is £1.

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  • February 28, 2014 at 8:37 am
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    The Keel Row Bookshop in North Shields near Newcastle is a wonderful bookshop, and probably the best one I have been to in the UK. I purchased around 40 books there one afternoon, each only a pound or two, and then had to get them back to Australia. If you are near there on a Saturday morning there is also an undercover market held in one of the metro stations on the way to Newcastle which is a good source of cheap, old books. I don't think it is far from Barter Books, so perhaps it is a better option for a weekend rather than a day trip. Photos here: http://apenguinaweek.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/more-vintage-penguins-in-newcastle.html

    Camilla"s Bookshop in Eastbourne is also worth visiting.

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  • February 28, 2014 at 2:10 pm
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    My favourite nearby used bookshop is The Great Escape, on Kingston Road in east end Toronto. Not big, but so often has what I'm looking for, or not looking for.

    And I was thrilled one day last year as I drove past it with my grandson, who spotted it and said, Can we go to that bookshop? The car turned the corner and parked of its own accord, and he was delighted with how cheap the books were. He'd never been to a second hand bookstore in his life.

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  • February 28, 2014 at 6:03 pm
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    Well, apart from the obvious London ones, there's always Treasure Chest books in Felixstowe – but it's a bit of a trek!!

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  • February 28, 2014 at 6:46 pm
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    Just back from… Hay on Wye…amongst other places…. with books, of course!

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  • February 28, 2014 at 7:58 pm
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    My favorite bookshop is called Lobster Lane. It's located in Spruce Head, Maine, and has a beautiful location right on the water. The bookshop has been around since the early sixties. The books are very reasonable, and the selection is great. Unfortunately, the shop is open only on weekends from mid-May to mid-September. If you are ever on the coast of Maine,during the summer, definitely pay a visit to Lobster Lane.

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  • February 28, 2014 at 11:24 pm
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    The only brick and mortar options in my area are a Barnes & Nobel chain store, a Goodwill used book store and library book sales. If I were to drive into Los Angles, there might be more options, but I feel about L.A. pretty much the way you feel about London. So take pictures and post about your shopping experience so I can enjoy it vicariously!

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  • March 1, 2014 at 11:14 am
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    Stratford-upon-Avon if you can do it in a day on the train from Oxford, and of course my own suburb in South Birmingham, which has 9 charity shops, all with books, and some right old gems to be found. You're always welcome to visit!

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  • March 1, 2014 at 10:05 pm
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    Broadstairs is good for books/charity shops and a day out – can't recall names of the bookshops, though.

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  • March 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm
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    Oh Treasure Chest in Felixstowe seconded! Also – you'll need a car for this – Chapel Books in Westleton, Suffolk. Although it's ten years since I was last there… but there's a good range of books, some art, and a charming owner who, if you bang on an empty oil can, might make you a cup of tea. In all ways the most perfect bookshop I've ever visited.

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  • March 5, 2014 at 1:10 pm
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    My local bookshop is the Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley. It's a Georgian house set back from the road, amongst shops (lovely old town hall building opposite) and it sells second hand books and antiquarian ones as well as new ones, and has a lovely children's books room where you can sit at a table and peruse. On Fridays there's a market opposite, and a local nursery sells plants from the Old Hall's front garden. You can get a bus from Oxford.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm
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    Barter Books <3
    It's in Alnwick and is just magical. The whole atmosphere, the people, the place, the open fires, the trains chugging around above your heads and then the unbelievable amount of books of special editions and collections, and signed copies and swag. Amazing.
    Cora @ Tea Party Princess

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