Ode to Second Hand Bookshops

Books are great, aren’t they? (Yes, they are). I LOVE books. So a bookshop, a place filled with books, is a wonderful place to be if you are me. And second hand bookshops can be the best. They smell of books. The books aren’t uniform. Sometimes the books will have the name of a previous owner scrawled inside, or a page turned down at their favourite passage. I love the potential to find a little treasure hidden amongst the jam-packed shelves of a second hand bookshop.

Here are a few of my favourites…

Edinburgh Books, 145-147 West Port

There are stacks of books around this shop, a basement, and a mounted stuffed bull head on the wall. Last time we were there, there was also a sleeping dog lying across one of the aisles.

I picked up a lovely children’s book for £1, The Enormous Turnip. I remember this book from my childhood and I love the inside illustrations for this Ladybird series. I thought I’d send it to my twin nephews as one in particular, Sam, is fussy with food. Maybe vegetables would seem more exciting?

 

This is the beautiful inside cover…

Barter Books, Alnwick

Housed inside an old Victorian railway station, Barter Books has a great café inside the old waiting rooms, a neon light display, giant writer’s mural, sofas galore, and a model train set. We took a trip to Alnwick a couple of weeks ago especially to visit the bookshop and I had to snap a few photos. It’s an amazing shop, but I found prices for the books to be higher than you may expect elsewhere – I bought a few novels but had to leave a beautiful typography book behind on discovering it was almost £40.

Barter Books is also famously known as the home of the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ posters that have taken over the design world in the last couple of years. I strongly dislike the extreme overuse of the ‘Keep Calm’ trend in design and fashion, but the simplicity of the original is brilliant.

Dumpshop, Schoonhoven (western Netherlands)

Ok, so this one is slightly further afield! Laura lives in Schoonhoven and we visited the town’s ‘dumpshop’ when I was over there at the end of June. It sold everything you could imagine, with bits and bobs stacked high, spread over multiple rooms and three stories. Two back rooms had floor to ceiling bookcases. I discovered this brilliant book, ‘Groot Brittannie’, a book all about Britain from the Dutch perspective. It included photographs that had been printed separately – when the original owner bought the book they had to stick them in themselves (the backs of all the photographs have page numbers and locations marked on them).

My favourite thing about it is the inside cover, a beautifully illustrated map of Britain showing the key geographical features, landmarks or trades of prominent British towns and cities. All for only 1 Euro – bargain!

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