Hello hello hello!
Last weekend I was lucky enough to be in one of my favourite places in the world: London. I had a fabulous couple of days seeing a bunch of shows with my gorgeous pal Amy, then reunited with Michaela who you may know from A Novel Idea (go check her blog out for amazing reviews and bookish content!).
We then did what we do best – troll through bookshops! It was a Sunday, so we were on a bit of a time constraint, but we still managed a good rummage through three amazing bookshops in the city!
First up, we went to Persephone Books!
Not only is this shop absolutely gorgeous both outside and inside, it also is an incredible publishing company. They find underappreciated books written by (mostly) female authors from the 20th century and reprint them in beautiful new editions.
They all have the signature Persephone grey cover, but each has its own design printed on the inside which is also featured on a bookmark which you receive with your purchase! Some books also feature introductions by well-known authors such as Jilly Cooper and David Kynaston.
It is definitely a shop to find underrated, hidden gems and I was sorely tempted by a couple of titles I spotted while browsing including Guard Your Daughters by Diana Tutton and They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple. My budget ultimately made me hold off, but I do think I will be indulging in the future!
Their website also features ebooks and audiobooks, as well as a subscription service where the shop will send you a book a month for as long as you wish! In store, they also have a selection of great books that they ‘wish they had published’ including Emma by Jane Austen and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi for sale too.
This is an absolutely beautiful store doing amazing things, and I highly recommend you check it out if you’re ever in London!
Next, we stumbled onto an underground, secondhand bookstore called Skoob (“Oh, I just realised its called that because its ‘books’ backwards.” – Michaela).
This store was absolutely stuffed from floor to ceiling, wall to wall with books! The shelves are arranged so you have little blocks to squeeze into for different topics which gives it a cosy air and it’s so much fun wandering through the vast variety they offer.
As well as fiction, they had a huge array of academic books and I can imagine it would be a student’s dream! I know I’m certainly thinking of going back once I start university to scout out books relevant to my course at a much more manageable price.
Finally, after a coffee break that may have made me a little giddy, we headed to Gay’s The Word!
I absolutely loved this store! I was literally sat on the floor, paging through books at some points during our visit.
Gay’s The Word specialises in writing by and featuring LGBTQ+ people and it has an amazing selection. Fiction, biography, history, cookbooks… every genre you can think of with a wonderful queer touch. We spotted Andy Mientus’ Backstagers comic and got very excited:
We didn’t catch the name of the lovely gentleman who served us, but he was very sweet and had a long discussion with Michaela about queer films after she very kindly bought us badges based on the film Pride. I hope he’s having a lovely day and managed to get over to Persephone Books to find the novel he was after!
Whether you’re looking to read more diversely, or identify anything under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, I really recommend visiting Gay’s The Word. It has such a lovely, warm feeling to it! I also loved the little notes on the shelves advising if a book had a rarer form of representation that is hard to find in fiction – I distinctly remember one highlighting an intersex bisexual characters – which was a great touch as it made me feel like someone was really looking out for underrepresented sexualities and advertising them where they could. I’m a firm believer that everyone should be able to open a book and see themselves and this gesture from Gay’s The Word seemed to me like they feel the same!
I also gave in and finally bought some books:
Proud is an anthology of stories and poems with corresponding art from gay, lesbian, bi, trans and ace authors and artists – I just finished Karen Lawler’s lesbian retelling of Pride & Prejudice and it was my favourite piece so far!
Jack of Hearts (and other parts) is a novel about a gay high schooler who begins an online, painfully honest sex advice blog that I first noticed on book twitter and have wanted to read every since!
I absolutely loooooooooooved visiting this store, it honestly felt like an inclusive little pocket in a big scary world.
What are your favourite bookshops? Have you visited any of these shops? Do you have any you recommend checking out? Let me know in the comments!