Visit these 2 independent bookshops in London
Updated: Jul 7, 2019
In honor of Independent Bookshop Week in Britain and Ireland, I’m sharing two independent bookshops you should visit if you're in London.
Just as we celebrate independent bookstores in the US with Independent Bookstore Day, our friends in Britain and Ireland celebrate Independent Bookshop Week! We happen to be nearing the very end of it (June 15-22), but as a fan of independent stores, I want to give it its proper recognition.
First, cheers to the UK for making this celebration a full week long! As I mentioned in my post about Independent Bookstore Day, I think the longer the celebration goes, the better! It gives you more time to visit all the places you may want to go, and I’d be curious to know for sure whether it leads to more business for the stores when the celebration lasts longer. Sometimes when you only get a day to cram all your visits in, you’re less likely to purchase something from all the various spots.
The two stores I visited in London were Watkins and Daunt.
Watkins is an esoteric bookshop, with two floors filled of books on spiritual and mystical topics. But the books aren't all solely focused on deep spiritual topics. For example, I bought a book on how to use your own personal story to write better fiction. It had a spiritual angle in the sense that it involved some self-exploration, but it wasn’t solely focused on spirituality. That’s why I loved this store—its offerings were relatable regardless of where you might be on the spiritual spectrum. It reminds me of when I was a kid, and I only liked going to church if a certain pastor was speaking. It was the pastor who didn’t just quote or read ancient texts, but the one who related it to my life here and now. I’d say this bookstore was much like my favorite pastor. You are met where you are at, and not expected to soar up into the clouds right away. You’ll find something in this store that speaks to you.
I also got really excited when I saw Chicago-based writer Jen Weigel’s book on the shelf (see the third photo above). I was amused at how different the cover was from the UK to the US, and it was a great reminder of home. Clearly, some stories and ideas can break through regardless of where you live.
Daunt began with a focus on travel books, so you’ll find quite a large selection of them there. Their collection is impressive. Upstairs, downstairs, way in the back corner—books were there, wherever you turned! It was a truly maximized space, and I really enjoyed roaming the aisles at this one. Thanks to the London traffic, we didn’t make it to this store until late and only had a half hour to walk around before it closed, but it was worth the journey. If you’re a big traveler and looking for a large independent bookstore that you can spend a few hours in, this is the one. I’m sure you’ll leave with dreams of many new places you could go and explore, and hopefully you’ll leave with the perfect book to be your guide!
I barely scratched the surface of the many great independent bookshops in London, and I’m eager to go back. If you’ve been to London, let us know which independent shops you visited! We can add them to our list for next time.
Happy Independent Bookshop Week!