10 crime writers pick their favourite bookshops
There’s nothing quite like a good bookshop, is there? For us, they’re a home away from home – an escape from the stresses of everyday life and a place where you can lose yourself for hours.
This year, on 8th October, the Booksellers Association is holding the first ever Bookshop Day for the UK and Ireland – a day filled with special events and parties to celebrate bookshops and the wonderful work booksellers do by sharing their love of reading and helping shape communities.
In light of the festivities, we’ve asked ten brilliant crime writers to pick their favourite bookshops. Make sure you let us know yours in the comments below – and don’t forget to head down to your nearest participating bookshop this Saturday!
10 crime writers pick their favourite bookshops for Bookshop Day:
Goldsboro Books has a sharply curated selection of titles. It’s a joy to come across so many rare and first editions, right in the centre of London.
Waterstones, Deansgate, Manchester saved my life. I met my mentors, my girlfriend and my favourite crime writers there. I got the best education in books imaginable – was recommended the favourite novels of dozens of old hands – I alphabetised thousands of titles thousands of times…
We’re lucky enough to have two independent bookshops in my seaside town. I would need to divide my vote between them! One is Winstones (its sister branch in Sherborne won Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2016) and the other is Paragon Books, the town’s oldest bookshop. My favourite bookshop abroad is Beckhams in New Orleans where tomes are stacked from ground to ceiling and there is a huge friendly marmalade cat wandering around. I bought a copy of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying there, and the smell of the pages take me back every time.
My favourite bookshop? Ideally, it should be welcoming, with an unhurried atmosphere, a community hub with (of course) lots of interesting books, coffee, cake and an events programme which attracts some of the best writers. It should also be in a rural village, a day out from the city. The Mainstreet Trading Company, St Boswells, in the Scottish Borders fulfils every condition. Oh, and it has a deli!
Bookshops are not like other shops. In fact, they are not really shops at all. They are instead entryways into myriad other worlds. Little wonder then that they have always felt so special, so ethereal. Few bookshops can claim this as thoroughly as my favourite bookshop, a beautiful little store in Mumbles, Swansea, called Cover to Cover. It’s a neat, cosy shop, a gorgeous gathering of books and associated paraphernalia. But, for me, the thing I love most is the owner’s passion for stories. Sarah is a fierce supporter of local authors, taking Cover to Cover beyond its snug interior out into the wider world, hosting huge numbers of events that help bring us authors and our readers together. If bookshops are not just shops, then booksellers are not just sellers, but rather propagators of stories, spreading our tales far and wide, and Sarah is an absolute master at this.
I love Herne Hill Books, my nearest bookshop, right by the station in Herne Hill, southeast London. It’s in a tiny Victorian building on a corner and even before it opened I used to look at the flat above and think it would be perfect for a Rear Window-type plot. Because of its tininess, the selection is limited, more of a collection, so I’m always a bit smug if I see one of my books in there. The buyer and I must have exactly the same tastes because I have never looked at the window display and not seen something on my own TBR list. Not once.
Whenever I am in town I love to drop by Waterstones Piccadilly. I think cumulatively I must have spent years in there, and several birthdays in the fifth floor bar drinking ludicrous cocktails! For some reason when I am in a good bookshop time just ceases – whole days can vanish in the blink of an eye.
My favourite is The Brick Lane Bookshop, which has a long history in the East End, and offers a great mix of popular titles with interesting stuff from independent publishers. Unbeatable, unusual, unlikely to disappoint. Second favourite, London Review Bookshop – simply cracking.
The place I really discovered books was my local library. One of the staff did children’s story time every Saturday, and she must have loved doing it, because often there were just two of us listening, me and my friend Rebecca, cross-legged, rapt, side by side on the carpet, while our peers created havoc around us. I’ve been hooked on storytelling ever since.
Riley Sager, author of The Final Girls
The Strand Book Store in New York City is a book lover’s idea of paradise. “18 Miles of Books!” the store boasts, and it’s likely true. Crammed from floor to ceiling with books new, old and rare, the Strand is heaven on earth.
Yet that’s not my favorite bookshop. Not quite. First place in my heart is the Strand’s outpost roughly fifty blocks north, just outside Central Park. That’s where savvy book buyers will find several sturdy green kiosks and tables selling a smaller, but no less diverse, selection. In this age of Amazon and megastores, there’s something charming about browsing for books outdoors. Seeing those kiosks whisks me to Paris and the booksellers along the Seine. It also makes me want to pick out a book, drift into Central Park, find a comfy spot under a tree and spend an afternoon reading.
What’s your favourite bookshop? Let us know in the comments below!