Start Your New Year with Unique London Bookshops
By Shuangyue Zhao, Holly Presswell and Tamara Yamamoto
Make 2023 the year you step outside your literary comfort zone and discover exciting new books in alternative bookstores. Here are some of our favourite unique and wonderful bookstores that you can find in London.
Word on the Water – Regent's Canal Towpath, Kings Cross, London N1C 4LW
Floating on Regent’s Canal is the book barge, Word on the Water – a book lover's heaven. This 100 year-old barge is stocked full of new and used children’s, classics, fiction and non-fiction books. You can browse the array of books from the display outside from the canal path or step inside, take a seat and read your book by the fire. Beside books being the main attraction, Word on the Water hosts talks on subjects ranging from feminism, technology and art. If that isn’t your thing, look up onto the roof stage and find musicians performing their latest music or a poetry slam.
Books for Cooks – 4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill, London W11 1NN
If you're a fellow foodie book lover, then Books for Cooks is the place for you! London's best-kept secret – it's located in charming Notting Hill and filled with all the tasty recipes and speciality cookbooks your heart (and stomach) could ever desire. After picking out one of the thousands of cookbooks they offer, you can sit and read it on their soft, cosy sofa. Not only is this a bookshop, but it is also a cafe where they put their cookbooks to the test daily. On one of the handful of tables squeezed into an alcove between the bookshelves and the kitchen, you can sample their wonderful lunches, delicious home-baked cakes and freshly brewed coffee (or, sip on a glass of red wine if you fancy). Books for Cooks even offer cookery workshops that take place in their custom-built demonstration kitchen upstairs. To find out more information regarding Books for Cooks workshops, please click here.
Southbank Book Market – Waterloo Bridge 337-338 Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX
Nestled under the bustling Waterloo Bridge, you will discover a wonderful outdoor market stocked with hundreds of antique and second-hand books, ranging from classics to contemporary titles. Not only is there a wide range of books on offer, but also comics, posters, postcards, maps, vinyl records and more. The Market has something special and unique to offer for everybody. Don’t be afraid to chat with the booksellers, who are knowledgeable, friendly and happy to give recommendations and talk to you about books! If the weather permits, it might be a good idea to take a leisurely stroll along the bank with a nice warm cup of coffee and have a browse at the market. If you buy a book, you can sit on a bench nearby and read.
The Atlantis Bookshop - 49A Museum Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1A 1LY
The Atlantis is a century-old family-run bookstore. As the oldest independent occult bookshop in London, it is proud to be the home of a living history of magic. From hot-off-the-press proper old school editions to modern paperbacks, this bookshop offers a large and comprehensive selection of books. Enter into a world of magic and discover new books, second-hand books as well as good quality rare and antiquarian books (including dusty and leather-bound tomes). You can also check out a wide range of magic-ware such as candles, statues and ethically-sourced obsidian mirrors. Tarot conferences and talks, workshops and art exhibitions are held frequently in the shop.
Libreria Bookstore - 65 Hanbury St, London E1 5JL
This bookstore was designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano, with mirrored walls and ceilings that captivate you as soon as you walk in. The books are arranged in different themes than usual such as Wanderlust, Utopia and Enchantment for the Disenchanted, meaning you will constantly come across titles you would never normally consider. The catch – it is a no technology zone. With no WiFi available it is a chance to get off your phone and delve into the books in front of you.
The store is open from Tuesday to Saturday 10:00– 6:00p.m. and Sunday from midday until 6:00p.m.
Hatchards - 187 Piccadilly, James's Street, London W1J 9LE
Having beautiful appearance, classical structure and a unique vibe, Hatchards has become a bookshop deeply loved by people. Not only can newly-published books of all genres and for all ages be found in the shop, it also possesses good selections of rare books and first editions consisting of both fiction and non-fiction. In particular, this bookstore provides many books of bestselling signed, special and exclusive editions from history to art. In addition, you can always get useful stationery and lovely gifts there.