Where to start with this post? If you've been around the blog for a while you'll have seen that the bookshop crawl I started last year to brighten up February, support bookshops and meet fellow book lovers got a lot bigger this year. Because of that I've been busy madly co-ordinating everything and organising groups and haven't had time to worry about how it was actually all going to work. As we got closer to Saturday I found myself getting a bit apprehensive...
However Saturday morning hit and we headed out to Foyles, the meeting point for the people who were in the four groups we ran during the day. Many other people took part in the crawl across London and it was amazing seeing tweets of where they'd been and all the bookshop love going on - one of my favourite things about the day!
We were a little late to Foyles due to some train/breakfast issues so lots of people were already there when I arrived - some familiar faces and a lot of new ones. If you were feeling overwhelmed I was totally there with you! It was lovely to meet so many people though, and we spent a little while chatting and handing out books (some of us had posted books we wanted to rehome on social media beforehand so it was fun to put faces to names and make some shelf space all at once) and the tote bags we'd had printed for the day.
Rhys and I were leading group 3 and headed off to Orbital Comics. Personally I love and adore Orbital, and they were giving away free comics to bookshop crawlers which was amazing. Rhys got Doctor Strange and I picked up volume one of March by John Lewis which was recommended to me by Elena (and many others). I've actually already finished it and it's just as brilliant as everyone says it is - I highly recommend it! I'm not sure there were a huge number of comics fans in our group, and so we thought it would be good to split up, as our second stop according to the itinerary was Gosh! Comics.
Rhys took most of the group off to Oxfam Books in Bloomsbury where they were given free chocolate and badges and generally seem to have had a whale of a time! Katie, myself and Jane (who it was awesome to finally meet after a while of Ninja Swapping and chatting online) headed off towards Gosh where we found Katheryn, Hanna, Charlotte and Laura (and Peter). This was particularly exciting for me since I last saw Charlotte and Hanna three years ago, before Sam was born, and we've been trying to meet up again ever since! I think I did a good job of creeping up on them and generally involving myself in conversations that didn't involve me, whilst accusing them of bitching about us. Excellent friend, me.
Anyway, at Gosh I decided to theme my comics buying for the day and got volume 2 of March. I'm slightly kicking myself now for not having bought volume 3 as well, but never mind! I've never been to Gosh before and I'll definitely be going back - I loved the layout as the upstairs is laid out much more like a bookshop than other comic shops I've been to, and I found it really easy to browse. Their selection was awesome and the staff were great - the 10% discount for bookshop crawlers helped too!
After we'd rounded up all the people we were supposed to have we made our way over to Persephone. After a couple of minor mishaps (we got split up from a couple of people but found them again at the other end) we finally made it, to find the rest of our group had already finished! Agreeing to meet them at Blackwells we went for a browse. I love Persephone books. They're a small (teeny) bookshop with a publishing house in the back and they publish books by forgotten writers, mostly women. I've yet to read a Persephone book I didn't like so my choices this year were mostly random. Taking advantage of the 3 for £30 offer (they're usually £12 per book) I grabbed High Wages by Dorothy Whipple, because I bought and adored They Were Sisters on last years' crawl, William - an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton, because it's Persephone Book 1, and Miss Buncle's Book by D.E Stevenson.
The last stop before lunch was Blackwells, where I picked up Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta, with some encouragement from Jane! Those of us who'd met last year, plus a few people I was particularly looking forward to meeting, met up for lunch at Pizza Express. It was really nice to chat with everyone and have a little bit of time off from being in charge of everything!
After lunch we embarked on my big mistake of the day. Our next stop was Libreria, which is a really cool little bookshop - really quirky, beautifully and very cleverly designed, but absolutely miles away from the rest of the crawl route and really not big enough for a group! I grabbed The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan which I'd heard good things about, and we were on our way over to Word on the Water.
This was the stop most people were most excited about I think. It's a bookshop on a barge in the Regents Canal and it's amazing. They had a great selection of second hand books, live jazz and a really lovely owner who gave me a book (Bookshops by Jorge Carrion) as a thankyou for organising the crawl and generally enthused about how brilliant it all was so much that it really reminded me why I was doing it in the first place. Independent bookshops are the best. With the last of the unseasonal sun on the water and the saxophone, plus the friendly dog sniffing all of our bags, it was the perfect penultimate stop. I also bought Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop, as it's about a bookshop on a boat and seemed fitting.
We merged the remainder of our group with the remainder of Louise's group at this point. Our final stop of the day was Waterstones' Piccadilly where we had a chance to sit down and have a drink while attempting to remember obscure bookish things and doing a quiz organised by Stephen (thanks again!). Everyone was pretty much asleep by this point, but after some lemonade and a chat I felt sufficiently revitalised to spend my book tokens on A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, the only thing besides March that was actually on my 'must buy' list, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, and the beautiful hardback Victor Gollancz Guards! Guards! to add to our collection.
After that we said goodbye to everyone who was still around and wearily made our way home. Of course being me I'm already thinking about the summer crawl (if you have an idea for where you want it to be - it roams, and isn't in London - please let me know on twitter. At the moment the front runners are Canterbury and Brighton) and ideas to make the 2018 London event even more excellent. If you missed out on the event but would like info about future ones you can sign up for updates here.
I'm sending out a feedback survey this week, but so far all the feedback I've had has been really good. It seems like people had a brilliant day and I'm so thrilled to have met so many book lovers and made so many bookshops happy by pointing people in their direction. This is the stuff I live for guys. It makes me happy.
|My eventual haul plus awesome tote bag & badge. The left hand pile were given to me by fellow crawlers, the right hand pile are my purchases...