During one fine weekend in London, Richard and I went to see a charming store called Daunt Books. Like in any good book shop, we felt insulated from the outside world the moment we stepped through the door. More recently, we had a pit stop in Oxford and came across an iconic store called Blackwells. The small shopfront deceptively hides an enormous and expansive store you could easily get lost in. Since both of these stores were so great, I decided to follow up on my first bookworm post to tell you about them and also give an update on some books I’ve read recently.
Daunt books has three branches but it really does not feel like a chain. The Marylebone store we visited was the first to open more than 25 years ago, and it’s straight out of an old manor with it’s a warm oak interior. At the back of the store is a gallery with a round window at one end, allowing in soft light. We happily wandered through the Edwardian-style store, browsing interesting titles and checking out a collection of maps. The area of Marylebone itself is also nice to wander around in. With a farmers market just around the corner on Sunday’s, Daunt Books makes for a nice relaxing weekend of cosy-ness.
Blackwells on Broad Street in Oxford is in a different category of book store. It was founded in 1879 and has since swelled to a 45-store company which employs around 1000 people. The store in Oxford was originally tiny at only 12 square feet – allowing only 3 people in at a time! It’s now expanded significantly in all directions and includes a ‘Norrington Room’ that holds the record for the largest single retail room for books. We were impressed by the expansiveness of the room that has a floor space of 930 square metres and includes 5km of shelves! There really is something for everyone inside. With much difficulty, I’ve resisted buying books while in London to save on space. It was even harder than usual to be disciplined while in Blackwells but I made it! We left with one small trinket – a very useful pair of advice dice from the legal section!
Since my post last year on book store explorations, I have gone through a few books and here are some that I would recommend. I’d be keen to know what you think of these too!
- Neither Here Nor There, Down Under and Made in America – Bill Bryson (can you tell I’m a fan?)
- Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
- Cooked – Michael Pollan
- Why the Dutch are Different – Ben Coates
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
- The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
- The Land Where Lemons Grow – Helena Attlee
- Eating Up Italy – Matthew Fort