Back in April of this year, my boyfriend and I travelled up to London with the purpose of watching Muse perform at the O2 (which was an incredible night!!). We decided to make the most of the mini break and stay for three nights, which of course meant that an obligatory shopping trip had to ensue. As usual, my purchases largely consisted of two things; food . . . and even more books.
One of the first places we hightailed it to was the Piccadilly branch of Waterstones. My expectations were flying through the roof due to the store’s impressive title of ‘Europe’s largest book store’. Thankfully, I was not disappointed! This Waterstones boasts a highly impressive seven (yes seven!) floors, sure to increase the heart rate of any bibliophile. There is even a bar and restaurant located on the top floor! Without even realising it we had quickly spent close to a blissful hour perusing their many shelves. Needless to say I was extremely glad I had the foresight to bring along my trusty Lush tote bag, which was certainly easier than navigating seven floors with a hefty amount of pages balanced in my arms. Plus, it left my hands free to gather even more!
I am a huge fan of the Penguin English Library books and I am slowly collecting as many of them as I can. You can therefore imagine my complete excitement when I spotted a display beautifully showcasing some of the best pieces of classic literature within this range. I somehow managed to control my all consuming desire (many thanks to the BF), and limited myself to just four of these fantastic editions. These were:
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Villette by Charlotte Bronte
- The Monk by Matthew Lewis
- The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
As well as these four books, I also picked up:
- A brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
- Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Both of these books can be classed as Literary Fiction, and both have received a huge amount of press coverage, making me very excited to see what the pages contain.
The second book shop we decided to visit was a shop which I have been wanting to visit for a very long time. Sadly, Persephone Books only have one book shop, located in London, which is a bit of an issue when you live in Wales. They do, however, have a fantastic website at: www.persephonebooks.co.uk
For those of you who are unaware, Persephone Books is an independent publisher who publish both fiction and nonfiction books which may have been previously neglected or forgotten. These books mainly consist of women writers, and are all published with a stunning, minimalist grey book jacket. Inside, however, the endpages truly come to life, with each book containing (usually) colourful endpages based upon a fabric in fitting with the context of the book in question.While the shop itself is rather small, every space and piece of furniture is utilised to hold their entire collection of books. The staff were very friendly and helpful, and I came away thrilled with my first ever purchase from Persephone:
- The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski
As you can see in the above image, the endpages of this book are truly stunning,and, like all of their books, comes with a free matching bookmark. Likewise, the actual jacket of the book, in its elegant pale grey (see below image), is something which provides a striking contrast to the often busy and loud covers which also reside on my shelves.
The last place in which I made my final purchases was the iconic Foyles flagship store, located at Charing Cross Road. With an impressive five floors, one of which even hosts a Cafe, Foyles once again set my bookish desires alight. Having already made seven rather hefty purchases, my shoulder was beginning to succumb to the pressure, and perhaps that should have been a warning sign. Yet had I travelled all the way from Cardiff, having saved a large portion of my money, to be stood in a bookshop I had never before been able to visit, just to have to abstain from book buying? Absolutely not. The outcome: three more books, with the justification that I still had another shoulder on which the burden could be placed. These were:
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (pictured above)
- The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
- The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Whilst I may have spent a small fortune on this trip, every single penny was money well spent. Not only did I finally purchase books which have been on my to-read list for a long period, I also visited shops which I do not normally have access too. In addition, this haul contains a varied mixtures of genres (classic, modern classic, literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction) which I feel is an accurate representation of my reading habits. Each book now has a memory imprinted upon it of a fantastic weekend away, which will come to life once again through the pages.