I was so excited to participate as one of my favourite things in the world are independent bookshops; I always feel like it is a much more personal experience than popping into a Waterstones or Foyles (I have nothing against these two branches of bookshops, just so you know). Before, I never really made a conscious effort to visit an indie bookshop if I wanted to pick up a new read, but after discovering some lovely new stores on my crawl, I will definitely be visiting them from now on whenever I want a new book. Not only are the booksellers passionate about the books they sell and incredibly friendly and welcoming (in the case of the ones I have visited), but each bookshop has a different feel to it and it feels more like an experience, and less of a shopping trip.
I based my bookshop crawl in the borough of Richmond Upon Thames, and I visited four bookshops: The Open Book (Richmond), The Alligator’s Mouth (Richmond), The Sheen Bookshop (Sheen) and The Kew Bookshop (Kew). Armed with some maps and plenty of water, me and my best friend Megan (armed with a camera to record the whole affair) set off for the first bookshop on our list, The Open Book.
Having lived in the area for the whole of my life, I had always walked past The Open Book but had never, ever stepped inside. I always thought it seemed so small, and consequently I got a big surprise when I walked in! We were warmly welcomed when we entered and were instantly greeted with floor to wall shelves of lovely books. I could have spent hours in there, there was so much stock. After having browsed for a while I decided on Alexander McCall Smith’s The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Café, one of his latest in his series! I also had a nice little chat with the lady at the till about the sheer amount of books McCall Smith manages to write- the woman thought that he must write his novels in his sleep! This was definitely a signature trait of independent bookshops in general- in a Waterstones or any other mainstream store, the bookseller would have no time to chat because of a long, winding queue: it’s great to be able to chat ‘books’ with the people who are selling them to you.
The next bookshop I visited was The Alligator’s Mouth in Richmond, which I have visited before and I have been fiercely in love with ever since! This bookshop has the most amazing range of children, picture and YA books, and it didn’t take me long to find the book that I wanted- Sarah Dessen’s new book, Saint Anything. This store is so cool and airy and the shelves are clearly organised. There is also a lovely little sofa so that children can snuggle up and read a few of the books. Again, the booksellers were wonderful and friendly and I was asked several times if I needed any help. There was also chocolate cake on hand for all the book crawlers- top marks from me!
Next, I visited The Sheen Bookshop in Sheen and I did not even know that this bookshop existed! However, after visiting it on my crawl and I am absolutely certain that I will be paying it another visit in the future. The woman who worked here was SUPER friendly and welcoming and she had no idea we were even participating in the book crawl! The shop was so large and everything was well spaced-out and I felt like I could wander around at my own pace and not worry about knocking anything off. However tempting it was to buy another book for myself, I thought I should abide by the general rules of the crawl and therefore I bought a bike book for my Dad for my #giveabook tag.
Finally, I visited The Kew Bookshop in Kew and I remember visiting here when I was younger but I haven’t been in for a very long time. This is a very tiny bookshop compared to the other three I visited but nonetheless it is very well stocked and there are books in every corner you find! The YA/teen section was not very extensive but there were many sections like philosophy, biography and history that looked very abundant indeed. In this store I picked up a book I had never heard of before but loved the cover and the blurb intrigued me: Life Drawing by Robin Black. Can’t wait to give it a go! My mum also very much likes the look of it, so I guess I will have to wait to read it until she’s finished!
Overall, my IBW Bookshop Crawl was an amazing experience and it allowed me to discover and appreciate greater the independent bookshops in my area and beyond. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for booksellers and the hard work they do to inject the passion into their work, often without the economic benefits enjoyed by big companies such as Waterstones. Check out all the stores I visited below, along with my vlog of the day!
Did you embark on a bookshop crawl? Lemme know!
The Open Book: https://plus.google.com/110907753344051281406/about?gl=uk&hl=en
The Alligator's Mouth: http://www.thealligatorsmouth.co.uk
The Sheen Bookshop: http://www.sheenbookshop.co.uk
The Kew Bookshop: http://www.kewbookshop.co.uk
Until next time :)