Hidden Bookshelf 9: A Guide to Interesting Bookshops in London

Hidden Bookshelf 9: A Guide to Interesting Bookshops in London

As the new academic year starts, so many students flock to London, many for the first time. I love discovering new parts of London but navigating your way through the busy streets can get overwhelming. There are so many interesting and unique bookstores in London, whilst it’s great to explore new places, it’s also comforting to know some good spots you can always return to. Here are five of my recommendations.

1) Libreria

Located in the trendiest bit of East London, Libreria has a refreshing feel and atmosphere with low yellow mood lighting, wooden shelves, and clever mirror tricks, all to “maximise serendipity” whilst browsing, and it does exactly that. What makes this bookstore so unique is their style of arranging the books around the store, the categories are broad and somewhat ambiguous, for example, “Wanderlust”, it’s an interesting way of organising books, as you get to browse through an eclectic selection of books that you may have overlooked which is a fantastic way of discovering and reading new literature.

2) The Second Shelf

Tucked away in Soho, this amazing intersectional feminist bookstore aims to increase the representation of female literature, specialises in rare and antiquarian books written by women and non-binary writers, but also stocks plenty of modern, first-editions and affordable literature. The store has a range of diverse and inclusive feminist writers and it’s a great place to discover feminist voices that are often silenced, it’s also a beautiful store to browse around in as you discover stunning vintage editions of books. They also release an annual magazine to celebrate the works of women and non-binary writers and artists.

3) Word on the Water

Self-proclaimed ‘bookbarge’, Word on the Water is an incredible floating bookshop on Regent’s Canal near King’s Cross, it’s a great place to stumble upon after a long walk on a summer’s day. It’s incredibly quaint, with books displayed in every nook and cranny, you can also pop into the old barge and browse their big selection of new or second-hand books. As well as being a bookstore, they host lots of different events on their roof stage, from musicians to poetry slams.

Check out the interview the previous Hidden Bookshelf columnist, Emily had done with them here.

4) Gay’s The Word

Opened in 1979, Gay’s The Word is the UK’s oldest LGTBQIA+ bookstore in England, where you can find queer non-fiction and fiction books. What is special about this bookstore is the fantastic community fostered around the bookstore, on their website alongside discussions and recommendations about books there’s are so many resources, information and organisations linked to helping the LGBTQIA+ community. They also host weekly lesbian, trans and LGTB book clubs.

Check out the interview the previous Hidden Bookshelf columnist, Emily had done with them here.

5) Notting Hill Book Exchange

A fantastic second-hand bookstore located in Notting Hill, perfect if you’re on a budget but still want to find some great reads. New stock is added daily, so you’re always guaranteed to find something interesting, they mainly stock fiction, however, they also have a huge section on music, art, film, and fashion, so worth wondering about it if you’re a creative reader. They also accept donations of second-hand books, so if you’ve got any lying about it’s definitely worth checking out. 

All the bookshops are independently owned and scattered all about London, so it’s a chance to explore a new bookstore as well as a new area of London. They all offer a unique selection of books, so there’s always something for everyone, however, niche! Let us know if you have any suggestions that we should check out!

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