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Book Nerd Tourism: Book Loot of London

book loot of london

My sister and I have been in London for a week and have been keeping ourselves busy. We’ve seen most of the major sites, walked all over the place checking out famous buildings, and visited several London bookstores. There’s a ton to write about – our visit to Warner Brothers studios for the “Making of Harry Potter” tour will be it’s own post – so for now I’m just going to share some of the bookstores we visited.

In an effort to keep my luggage from getting out of control, I tried to follow a couple of rules for bookstore shopping: one book per store and the book had to have some connection to London or the store itself. I didn’t quite follow that at every store, but pretty close! Here’s where we visited:

Lutyens & Rubinstein

On our first full day, Tuesday, we headed up to walk around Notting Hill before a visit to Kensington Palace. Lutyens & Rubinstein was the first store on my list that we happened to find. It was so cute – really small, but a pretty excellent selection of fiction in the basement. I picked up a copy of The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante, the second of her Neapolitan Novels, which was on a staff picks table.

notting hill bookstores

The Notting Hill Bookshop

The Notting Hill Bookshop was another cute and crowded store on a quiet street in Notting Hill. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t find many staff picks, so I grabbed a UK copy of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Waterstone’s (Leadenhall Market)

On Wednesday, after rain cleared up in the late afternoon, we went on a walk through London’s financial district to see some famous buildings. We also visited Waterstone’s in Leadenhall Market, a really cool indoor shopping area, because I wanted to get a tote bag for carrying around. I also grabbed a book, Hotel Alpha by Mark Watson, one of Waterstone’s Book Club picks.

waterstons hatchards


On Friday we stumbled across Hatchard’s, London’s oldest bookstore, while walking along Picadilly. I really liked this one – five floors with an emphasis on history and a lot of new fiction. I grabbed one of their staff picks, Metroland by Julian Barnes: “Barnes writes with an extraordinarily accomplished style that successfully combines humor with a coming-of-age storyline.” They’re in the middle of voting on favorite novels of the last 200 years – the list to choose from is pretty great!

Any Amount of Books

On Saturday, Jackie (Farm Lane Books) came down to London to meet and visit some bookstores – it was so fun to meet a long-time blogging friend in person! Our first store was a used bookstore called Any Amount of Books. It was totally delightful – crowded, tall shelves, mixed up sections. Jenny found me a great-looking book, Jambusters by Julie Summers.



Next we headed over to the Foyles flagship store on Charing Cross Road. Wow, was this place beautiful! It’s five enormous stories with, apparently, 200,000 titles along four miles of shelves. It was incredible… and I broke the rule there, grabbing two books – Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman and Underground Overground by Andrew Martin. The Freeman book was a staff recommendation: “This collection of essays by one of the Guardian’s wittiest columnists had me ‘LOL-ing’ throughout. Be Awesome is like chatting to a friend, it’s warm and funny and points out all the things you already know.” The Underground book was an impulse buy because I am obsessed with the Underground. 

Persephone Books

After a traditional lunch of fish and chips, we hiked over to Persephone Books, a publisher and bookseller. Persephone Books reprints “neglected fiction and nonfiction my mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers.” I picked up two titles, Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield and The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The store is just beautiful – and so fun to see all the matching titles stacked up together.

Forbidden Planet

Yesterday we made a quick stop at Forbidden Planet, a “cult entertainment megastore” with books, memorabilia and comics. It was really crowded and we were both pretty tired, so we didn’t browse much. I bought Sisters by Raina Telgemeier because the description is about two sisters on a three week trip – so accurate.

forbidden planet

Flourish & Blotts

And I couldn’t, in good conscience, end this post without a shout out to the most exciting bookstore of the entire trip, Flourish & Blotts in Diagon Alley! This was part of our Harry Potter studio tour – more later, I promise – that was just too delightful for words.

flourish and blotts

So there you have it, nine bookstores in seven days! At the moment, all of the books are piled in my suitcase for travel to Bath tomorrow. I think we’ll end up at a post office to ship some home before we head out to Greece at the end of the week. If you want to follow our adventures I suggest following me on Instagram. And I’m hoping to do a few posts on other and highlights when we get back in mid-September. 

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  • Care August 31, 2015, 2:48 pm

    Wonderful!! And you bought the SAME book I did at Persephone.

    • Kim September 20, 2015, 11:36 am

      Which one?

  • BermudaOnion(Kathy) August 31, 2015, 3:17 pm

    It looks like you’re having a blast! Is your sister buying any books? I bought a book in Northern Ireland years ago and haven’t read it yet. Since I bought it, it’s been published in the US.

    • Kim September 20, 2015, 11:36 am

      She bought quite a few architecture books. I should have her do a guest post on them!

  • Jenny @ Reading the End August 31, 2015, 8:21 pm

    Aw, Foyles. I am so, so fond of Foyles. Did you go to Henry Pordes while you were over on Charing Cross Road? My lovely, lovely Henry Pordes? Oh I am so fond of that bookshop.

    • Kim September 20, 2015, 11:37 am

      We missed that one, I’m afraid. There are a lot of things worth going back for, I think 🙂

  • tanya (52 books or bust) September 1, 2015, 4:36 am

    How are you going to get all those books home? I’m so glad you made it to Foyles, a London landmark in it’s own right! Daunt Books is another favorite of mine, but you’ll have to go there next time. Lucky you for meeting up with Jackie!

    • Kim September 20, 2015, 11:37 am

      We ended up shipping a big box home. That was… not cheap, but worth it.

  • Maria September 1, 2015, 7:05 am

    Looks like a perfect time in London visiting these bookstores. I have saved your article as a guide for future visits.

  • Michelle September 1, 2015, 2:46 pm

    I wonder if I can convince my husband to go on a tour of London bookstores one day. It sounds so amazing!

  • Shaina September 1, 2015, 3:03 pm

    It looks like you’re having SUCH a great (and bookish) time. I don’t know if I could have restrained myself to one book per store. Can’t wait for more details about the studio tour! 🙂

  • Leah @ Books Speak Volumes September 1, 2015, 5:35 pm

    I’m so glad you got to go to Foyles! It’s basically heaven — and Charing Cross Road is just so pretty. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

  • Julie @ Smiling Shelves September 1, 2015, 8:10 pm

    Those are some great finds! The only one I’ve been to is Foyle’s. And interestingly, the book I picked up there was also about the Underground – Walk the Lines by Mark Mason. Enjoy the rest of your trip! 🙂

    • Kim September 20, 2015, 11:39 am

      I’m really excited about that book. The London Underground is a pretty remarkable system. Jenny and I caught a couple of BBC One documentaries on the Underground that made me super curious about it.

  • susan September 2, 2015, 6:44 pm

    Oh wonderful bookstores and post! Love the photos and descriptions of the bookshops. I’m interested to hear your take on the Ferrante novels, do you like them?

  • Belle Wong September 5, 2015, 2:46 pm

    What a great post! I love how bookish your trip is. And I really enjoyed Diary of a Provincial Lady.

  • Katie @ Doing Dewey September 14, 2015, 8:20 am

    How fun! Persephone Books sounds especially awesome. I only left myself room for a three or four books on my trip to Dublin and only visited one bookstore, but I think I might try to do something more like your trip on my next visit 🙂

    • Kim September 20, 2015, 11:40 am

      It was awesome, but also a pretty expensive little venture, since we had to ship a big box home. But as I’m unpacking them and putting them on my shelves, they make me really happy. So, worth it.

  • Jackie (Farm Lane Books) October 9, 2015, 5:09 am

    I can’t believe I missed this post! I’m so slack at blogging at the moment 🙁 It’s lovely to see all the other book shops that you went to – I’m so happy you managed to ship all your books home – baggage weight limits are so annoying for us book lovers! It was great to meet you after so many years of blogging. xJ