A blog raveled in randomness
I am sad to announce that this will be last bookstore hunt in London. There is just too little time to explore all the bookstore in this city. If you are a student like me who likes spending time in bookstores, I recommend you to do a bookstore hunt every month or so because in my experience, bookstore hunt does not only introduce to you an independent shop but also leads you to a way of exploring a new place. I realized while living here (and I think this applies to all locals in any country) that locals do not explore their own homeland because many assume that it is boring. I feel that way with Hong Kong. I feel like I know all the corners of the city so I knew that there was no more places to visit. We tend to walk more and try harder in finding destinations at foreign countries, and that is why I started this bookstore hunt in London. So I guess what I am trying to say is that, I explored different parts of London with the help of my personal side adventures and the time given was all worth it for me!
1. Antique and Bookstore Street near Trafalgar Square
As I was roaming around near Trafalgar Square, I saw this short pathway from National Portrait Gallery to the English National Opera. I was drawn to taking this path because of the first shop that was at the end of the street, which was a shop that sells postcards and mail stamps. As I looked through the window of the second shop, they had paper money with Harry Potter characters on it. It was unexpected to see as I contined to walk to see antique stores that sell books, posters, cardboard toys and music scores. There were a few stores that did sell modern books like ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, but somewhat old books on classical music, spirituality and fiction/crime were the majority. It was surprisingly quiet even though it was close to the crowded Trafalgar Square, and it felt like I was in a different part of the busy London city. To just walk along shops with big windows that display rows of antique books… it was definitely an experience worth having before I leave London.
As a lover of music, I had to look inside this music store full of music scores near Soho. Also it had red signs of big sale on the window so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to explore a little more. First of all, I absolutely loved this music street near Soho. The street has rows of music stores that had handsome guitars on display, which decorated this street with flashing guitars on a sunny day. It was beautiful to see not only a few but a lot of instruments in such a state in a busy city like London. The sky is not covered with numerous skyscrapers but it is open with small stores like these that create a different dimension for London city. I did not buy in this store because the books I looked at (which were mostly related to pop singers) were available on the internet, but this street is a beautiful one for music lovers.
I vsited Sotheran’s (www.sotherans.co.uk), which is near Piccadilly Circus station. I went there because it is the oldest bookstore in the world. It existed since 1761 opened in York and the bookshop in London opened in 1815. I was told that they sell a wide collection of antique books ranging from 16 to 20th century books, so I had to visit this place. Unfortunately it was not what I imagined it to be where I could walk freely because the books were enclosed in glass cupboards and there were only people who worked there. So I just entered, stood for 20 seconds and left. It was embarrassing though I doubt people at the desks noticed me. Maybe I was on the wrong floor? I saw staircases to the basement, but other than that, the atmosphere felt like I was not supposed to be there. Did anyone else visited or entered the bookstore Sotheran’s?
It was not the best episode of my London bookstore hunt series since I was distracted by the beautiful streets rather than concentrating on the actual books. However it was still fun despite my altered focus. I am going to miss London bookstores so much when I return to Hong Kong in June. It made my stay here more memorable with the smell of books and quite atmosphere of independent stores–no lie, these shops have a mystical power to create a different dimension away from the busy city. I send lots of love to all the bookstores in London!