The other day Little Man lay on the sofa while off school because of a tummy bug and he asked me, ‘mummy why do you have so many books?’ I had so many answers I wanted to give him but in the end I simply told him it’s because I love books. He asked if I’d read them all. I told him not yet. I explained that some books came from my many travels. I went through a phase of looking for novels by authors from the country I was in. A lot of the time I was feeling quite romantic and would buy the books in French. Other books I bought from one of the three bookshops I’d worked in; the National Theatre Bookshop especially will always hold special memories for me. And the rest of them? I simply like to collect titles and authors that grab me.
If there was another me in a parallel universe she would own a bookstore like John Sandoe Books off the King’s Road. It would be a bookstore for book lovers where your curiosity is sparked by the 30,000 titles that cram its shelves. And with nearly 100 years of bookselling under its belt, John Sandoe Books is an independent store where you can easily lose track of time while the mind wanders.
Other bookstores I love in Chelsea include Daunt Books on Fulham Road. I come here with Little Man to buy his stories. Since he could walk, I’ve enjoyed watching him make his way to the kids corner. As well as the great selection for children and young adults, there’s a great travel section along with all the general sections you would expect. The staff are so brilliant here too.
Peter Harrington on Fulham Road is a bookstore for collectors. Celebrating 50 years this year, Peter Harrington is filled with great literary treasures. Rare books and first editions line the shelves and they’re worth browsing even if it’s to let you know that you may have something precious at home yourself. The last time I was in there I found a copy of Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters, I was so excited to see if I could find my first edition at home too. I did but I also found my old mobile number scribbled inside it; ahh, those days when mobile phone numbers were such a novelty I felt the need to write mine everywhere.
Taschen at Duke of York Square is another bookstore for collectors. I own several Taschen titles and I’d want to own most of the store if I had the means and the space to. Taschen books are works of art; a couple of mine sit in a glass cabinet so I can admire them without Little Man’s busy fingers getting all over them.
Finally, we end on the King’s Road and Waterstones which has all the best selling titles and more in stock. I love coming here for the books on the lower ground floor. It’s great for kids study books and looking for gifts when you know what someone’s into.
Also on the King’s Road Worlds End Bookshop is a rare find in London. It’s a second hand bookstore that has been here for as long as I can remember. It stocks a wide range of subjects with a focus on the unusual. King’s Road is a long road and it’s worth the walk or bus ride to explore this part, called the King’s Road Curve.
I will always go to a bookstore first if I need a book but on the odd occasion when I do buy on Amazon, I buy through Smile.Amazon. When you buy through Smile, Amazon donate 0.5% of the net purchase price to a chosen charity. There are plenty of charities to choose from. I support Glass Door Homeless Charity who are based on King’s Road. It’s a way of making me feel like I’m doing something good because the rest of the time I prefer to support the local bookstores.