Bright and early on Saturday February we caught the train and headed to London for the #LondonBookshopCrawl. Long-time readers of this blog will know that this is something I have been participating in for a number of years (you can find my 2018 experience here). It’s always such fun, that I enjoy sharing it with you guys. So I hope you enjoy my thoughts on this year’s crawl.
This year we changed things up a bit, and decided to visit some of the bookshops in the Piccadilly area of London first. Mainly because they were open the earliest of the bookshops we wanted to visit, but we also thought it would make a nice change to see the area in full daylight as in the past this is one of the areas we’ve visited last.
Our first stop was Waterstones Piccadilly. I can honestly say that it was the quietest I have ever seen the store. When we arrived there was hardly anyone in there and it almost felt like a library with how quiet it was. Still, it did make browsing the shelves a bit easier. They have a great Young Adult section, and a not bad Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy selection.
After Waterstones we popped into Costa to grab some breakfast. We had intended to eat in one of the Waterstones cafes, but nowhere appeared to be open. I really enjoyed breakfast, and the wait wasn’t too long.
We then popped further along Piccadilly to Hatchards. Now this is a gorgeous looking bookstore, that I’m sure all book lovers would enjoy exploring. It’s full of surprises.
Although not a bookstore, Fortnum & Mason is just next door to Hatchards so how could we not pop in for a quick exploration of the ground floor? There are definitely a lot of interesting things to be found.
After this we popped on the underground and headed to Notting Hill Gate. Getting there was not as easy as first appeared, as we thought we’d be able to get the Circle Line there but they were working on the line so we had to do a few line jumps but eventually we arrived.
Notting Hill was just awash with people. It was how I’d expected the start of the crawl to be. There were just a lot of people. That being said, I can see why the area is so popular with fashion bloggers – there are some really pretty streets just off the main roads that would be perfect backgrounds for photo shoots.
I wanted to visit Comic Exchange. It’s a small shop packed with mainly comics. It has, I think, a reasonable selection – though nothing I was looking for.
After we stopped for a drink at one of the pubs in the area, we headed back to the tube and on to Tottenham Court Road. From there we headed straight to Foyles. Foyles’s Young Adult and Children sections are huge, and well worth checking out as are the Fantasy and Comic sections. We tried to stop for lunch here, but alas the café was packed.
We popped down Charring Cross Road to Orbital Comics, a great place for comic lovers and just graphic novels in general. It’s much bigger on the inside than the outside.
We then headed back up Charring Cross Road to Shaftsbury Avenue and then the Forbidden Planet megastore. If you love a particular fandom – whether that be gaming, DC, Marvel, Harry Potter and lots more – then if you get the chance you should definitely check this place out. Downstairs its book and graphic novel/comic sections are brilliant. In the book section you can find not only signed copies but occasionally US editions that haven’t made it to the UK yet. I also really enjoy browsing through the manga selection.
After this we headed along Neal Street towards Covent Garden. Along the way we stopped at ARTBOX. Now this isn’t a bookstore, but it sells a lot of cute Japanese kawaii items and I was curious about it. When we got there I was a little disappointed as nothing really caught my attention.
Once back on the underground we headed towards St Pancras/King’s Cross where we finally managed to grab some lunch in the Prêt. By this point we were really tired and honestly debating whether we wanted to head home or not. The late lunch gave us the energy we needed to visit the final two bookstores of this crawl.
We headed out of St Pancras towards Granary Square. Walking that way was an interesting experience. There has been a lot of building work going on, and there are a lot of shops that people can visit – everything from sportsware, to shoes, to clothes, to Google, and I believe there’s a YouTube place somewhere in there as well. But we passed all this and kept going until we reached Granary Square where, although it was drizzling by this point, there was a gorgeous water and light display.
Then our penultimate stop on this book crawl was Word on the Water, which is a bookshop in a barge on the Regent’s Canal. There are a lot of books crammed into it from a lot of different genres. Before we left on of the sellers recited a poem from Edward Lear’s Nonsense collection.
Finally we visited the House of Illustration. We had a quick poke around their shop, deciding not to explore their galleries. It’s not really a bookstore, but there are a few picture books and lots of illustrated cards to browse through. Once we left there we had a quick look at the market behind the gallery before heading back to the train station, and then heading home.
By the end of it, although it wasn’t particularly late, we were very tired and looking forward to sitting down and having something to eat. Although most of the bookshops we visited were ones we’d visited before, I did really enjoy the fact that the three new ones allowed us to explore areas of London we’d never really been in before. We might have only picked up six books (including a freebie) but we still had a really great time.
Thank you to Bex at Ninja Book Box for organising the crawl again this year. It’s amazing how it’s grown from just Saturday to Friday to Sunday. I can’t wait to take part in it again next year. For those of you who can’t wait that long, I believe Bex is organising one for the summer. I’m not sure where it will be, so keep an eye out on @LdnBkshopCrawl for more information.
If you’ve managed to reach this far down the post, I thought I’d share the books that we collected during the crawl. There aren’t too many, which is a good thing as I’m trying to keep control of my to be read pile. We didn’t manage to find something at every stop, but we had fun exploring the bookstores.
Congrats on making it to the end of this post, thank you for reading. I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books, and if so what you thought of them. I hope to see you time.