Bristol has a fantastic reputation for its independent arts scene. The city holds a brilliant array of bookshops, many tucked away down quiet streets. Some double up as art galleries and others open their doors at night to become spaces for musicians to take centre stage, however, all possess a certain charm that is only experienced when entering a space that holds unadulterated love for the written word. So, whether you’re looking for a new recommendation, a specialist title or an antique first edition, here’s a list of Bristol’s best bookshops for you to get lost in.
Bloom & Curll is a magical haven of wonky shelves and books piled up in stacks with hand-crafted, cut out and illustrated section signs resting on top. Here, you’ll find a mixture of new and second-hand books, a strong literary criticism selection, a fantastic children’s book corner and a fiction section that is jam-packed with gems. Beautiful, unpretentious and gloriously higgledy piggledy, this bookshop oozes charisma and truly feels like one of a kind.
Dreadnought has a huge range of second-hand books, and specialises in history but also boasts a fantastic variety of other titles. The owner, John Sidwell, tells us about some of the best things about being in the second-hand book-trade:
‘Something I have really come to appreciate as I continue in the trade is how much people’s book collections evoke their character. I predominantly source stock in bulk from collections that have often been built up over a lifetime. Going through such a collection is itself a delight but furthermore it feels as if another soul has been brought in to inhabit the shelves alongside those already residing there. My favourite aspect of the job is hunting for stock. I will receive calls to view collections but can never be sure what to expect. Occasionally I will return disappointed but usually there will be some stuff of interest and sometimes real gems. There are often interesting discussions to be had as well.’