Sunday, 7 February 2016


Back in September of last year I decided it would be really fun to go book shopping with lots of like minded people who wouldn't stop me from buying alllll the books. I also thought that since I know from my own experience that January and February are often slow months in retail, it would be great to go around this time and support lots of independent London bookshops, so I asked twitter and lots of people said they'd like to come, and here we are.

Yesterday was the first London Bookshop Crawl, and I think it's safe to say that it's going to become an annual event. A few things were learned from it - eight bookshops in a day is too many, maybe try to walk less than 7 miles over the course of the day next time, and definitely delegate to someone else to do the actual direction from place to place! Overall it was an absolutely amazing day though, and I want to say a massive thankyou again to all blogging and twitter friends who agreed to come book shopping with the crazy lady, and another thanks to the incredible bookshops that helped make our day wonderful!

Here's the blow-by-blow:

Having commandeered my book loving family to come with me in case everyone dropped out (and because I love them!) my sister, brother and I headed out to Foyles after saying goodbye to a wailing Sam and Benji (who couldn't care less - he got to spend the day with Grandma!). Because I'm usually slightly late for things I overestimated how long it would take to get there and we ended up arriving before the shop was even open! Hilariously another of my sisters, Ruth and brother-in-law Michal turned up a few minutes later and we had a somewhat blurry picture and much hilarity about how geeky we were!

At Foyles the lovely people in the cafe had reserved a couple of tables for our group, which I of course didn't notice until we'd sat somewhere else, but never mind! Ellie was the first to arrive, which was awesome as she's one of the bloggers I've been following for the longest so it was fantastic to finally meet her in the flesh! Over the course of the next hour people drifted in, and I actually recognised most of them from twitter or blog photos, although I think there were some Foyles customers who thought I was slightly strange as I stared at them trying to work out if they were with us or not! I didn't get to browse in Foyles, but I'd gone preparatory shopping there last week in anticipation of that, so after much tea, pastries and cake and books (for some people) we headed off to our next stop, Orbital Comics!

I think quite a few people in the group hadn't been here before, but most people ended up finding something to purchase, even if comics and graphic novels weren't their usual reading material! The staff were lovely and helpful in recommending things and made sure we all had a copy of the London Bookshop Map, which everyone was extremely excited about and will definitely provide inspiration for future crawls! I managed to narrow myself down to two graphic novels (leaving behind Y: The Last Man, Rat Queens, The Wicked + the Divine Vol 2 and another whose name I currently can't remember, which looks great and I need to ask Elena what it was as I want to add it to my wishlist!) and bought Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More! by Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez and Saga: Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I started reading Captain Marvel last night and feel a little like it might be the initiation into the world of superhero comics that I've been looking for! Orbital was also the only place I remembered to ask to stamp my sheet!

After rounding everyone up (sorry for the sheep comparison, people!) we headed back around the corner, where some of us went in to Any Amount of Books, and some headed off to Cecil Court. My sister bought a couple of beautiful Arthur Rackham prints from Marchpane, but other than that I think we just enjoyed browsing the beautiful antiquarian bookshops along Cecil Court, and I headed back to Any Amount of Books with Ailsa, Rachelle and Marc. I hadn't been in before and wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out that although it is a second hand bookshop the books are a mixture of more traditionally cloth/leather bound yellowed pages and newer stuff in really good condition! I ended up with four books: Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg (which I had to stand on a stool to reach! Thanks Cathryn for spotting me!), The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, Boy,Snow,Bird by Helen Oyeyemi, and The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E.L Konigsberg. 

Because I had no idea how long to allow for each stop, we ended up with over an hour for lunch and headed off to Costa (though I was a bit jealous when I saw that some of the rest of the group were having Byron!), after which we wandered to the National Gallery and killed a bit of time in their bookshop - an unexpected stop! 

After lunch we reconvened in Leicester Square, slightly oddly all arriving at pretty much the same time, and (led by someone else at this point! I feel like credit goes to Ellie Lit Nerd but I might be wrong) meandered towards Persephone, eventually arriving after an adventure on a crossing with a group of women with wheely suitcases who wouldn't move for anything. I feel confident in saying that Persephone was an unexpected high point of the crawl for a lot of people. Personally I have been there before and have owned Persephone books for a while before that, so I knew a little what to expect, but they had offered to give us a talk and I think it's important to mention that a lot of people only bought books there because of recommendations from Lydia who gave us a really interesting and informative talk about the publishing side of things and the books themselves and let us poke all around their offices! I picked up They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple just because she called her books 'hot water bottle books' and that was extremely appealing to me. I also bought The Children Who Lived in a Barn by Eleanor Graham, the first of two books that Katie is responsible for!

It took a while to get everyone back out of Persephone, but once we did we had a little debate about which direction to go in to get to London Review Bookshop and I eventually deferred to my sisters' judgement, which turned out to be a good call as she got us there! I was probably the most excited about visiting this bookshop as I've never been there before, and because of the way they go about selecting their stock I was expecting to find some brilliant stuff. It's really nicely laid out and I could have spent way longer in there, but I eventually picked up St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised By Wolves by Karen Russell, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and headed to the till to redeem my discount and awesome goody bag they had generously provided for us. Ellie (and various other people) were very excited about my purchase of Station Eleven and I am planning to read it really soon!

By this point we were all pretty knackered, and as we'd been advised, the cake shop was extremely busy so only a couple of us had managed to get seats. The rest of us were fairly strongly in need of a cake stop and so we decided to leave Daunt Books for another time and head over to Waterstone's Piccadilly, which I visited for the first time with Laura and Katie almost exactly a year ago and really like. Once there we squidged as many people as possible around a teeny table for two and Laura and I consumed slices of cake as big as our faces, while Ellie, Tina and Cathryn were much more moderate. After a rest and a chat we resumed our browsing and as usual I picked up too many books. I did have an almost full stamp card though, meaning I got £10 off and as I wanted to buy a book for Rhys and something for the boys I don't think I did too badly! I ended up with The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (I'd mentioned to Katie that I wanted to get it after she'd raved about it and she shoved it into my hands, along with everyone else who stood near her for long enough! It's almost like she works in bookselling...), Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M Montgomery, which I've had on my wishlist a while but never actually seen in a shop before, and The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman which was the thing to finally take me over my budget, but it's Neil Gaiman and it's Sandman and there was no way I was leaving it on the shelf. Then I got Tintin:Explorers on the Moon for Rhys and Oh! The Thinks you can Think! by Dr Seuss for the boys to add to their collection (we already read it, they love it). 

After we'd had a sit down and a bit of Laura-Bex-Katie chat time we headed off to Pizza Express with the other people whose feet hadn't fallen off yet and had a really nice, low key dinner where we all basically looked at each other dazedly and tried to make sentences. Then we ran back through the rain to the station and after many hugs went our separate ways. 

clockwise from bottom left: Katie, Laura, Ailsa, Cathryn, Ruth, Michal, Esther, me and Rachelle
Personally I had a brilliant day. I loved pretty much everything about it, had waaaay less anxiety than expected and generally feel like I didn't make toooo much of an idiot of myself! The twitter hashtag exploded a little towards the middle of the day, with people disappointed they'd missed out, bookshops tweeting us to come visit them, not to mention crawlers themselves sharing their pictures, thoughts, purchases and trying to track each other down! Matt's storify of the day was a brilliant thing to look through once I'd settled myself with a cup of tea at my parents. I also seriously cannot say how much I appreciated the support of the amazing bookshops that I got in touch with and who really made the day special. People kept thanking me but the day wouldn't have been anything without all of you guys agreeing to come book shopping with a random stranger and being brilliant and making it what it was.  Bring on the next one! 


  1. Awwwwww this is the best recap except you missed out the part where I called you a drug dealer a lot haha. Besssssst way to spend a Saturday!

  2. The pulp-fiction Indiana Jones-esque comic? It was Five Ghosts! I was telling everyone to buy that comic! I like Captain Marvel too. I'm just gonna give my my fave superhero comics now btw - Ms Marvel (the Kamala Khan version) is awesome, Matt Fraction's Hawkeye run is my favourite thing ever, and if you don't mind violence the current Black Widow and The Punisher run (both by Nathan Edmondson) are really good and have great art styles. Ahem. Back to the Bookshop Crawl.

    You got a lot of books! I'm impressed you managed to carry them all! It's lovely reading about your experience on the crawl - I think that's one of my favourite things after the crawl, checking out peoples hauls and posts and seeing what they got up to during the day.

    Thanks again for organising it all, I really did have a wonderful time!

  3. Off to check out that Storify over breakfast! Sounds like you had the most wonderful day. I really need to read my copy of Station Eleven soon, and I want to read Delusions of Gender, AND I'm finally about to read my first Persephone book. I read the first chapter a couple of weeks ago and it was PERFECT, so yay for that! :)

  4. It sounds like a perfect day! Glad you had such fun :)

    Something that I'm wondering about is how you were all able to carry such an amount of books for a whole day. It's impressive!

  5. It was such a good day, Bex, so thanks again for organising it. It went really smoothly, everyone was awesome and friendly and easy to talk to, it really was a perfect day out. :)