Daunt Books (there’s two of them)
If you know anybody who likes tote bags, then they are also, almost definitely, someone who has heard of Daunt Books. There are two of these shops in Hampstead – one by the heath and the other in Belsize Park – and they carry the same atmosphere the original shop in Marylebone has made the bookseller famous for. Curation is what you notice above all else when you enter a Daunt Books bookshop, so rest assured that whatever you find will not be a let down.
Do not come to Keith Fawkes if you are in a rush. Do come, however, if you want to explore and feel a little rush when you recognize something you forgot you had once upon a time promised yourself to read. This is a feeling made consummate by the bookshop when you enter. If the weather is nice, books lie outside as well, so, as we have already suggested, take your time and have a browse.
Karnac Books is something of a specialist shop, catering for those interested in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and sociological study. This is perhaps not a shop for your holiday reads, but if you have ever been even vaguely interested in the subject area, there is no better place to go.
West End Lane Books
If you roll down the hill from Hampstead, West End Lane Books is a great place to stop as you catch your breath in West Hampstead. The shop offers free events for talks, book launches and reading groups, alongside a constantly changing selection of titles. There is a particularly good children’s section here, which is to be expected alongside the storytime sessions for small tots.
Just over on the other side of the Heath is the consummate local bookshop, Highgate Bookshop. The knowledgeable staff and their keenness to impart their information upon anybody who might be interested makes this establishment stand out. It also has a very well-stocked children’s corner that proves a hit with regular customers.
While not strictly an independent bookshop, Oxfam’s bookshops feel like one nonetheless. Some branches are better than others, and Hampstead definitely stands out as one of the winners. Bargains galore and luck of the draw make it a fun place to go for inspiration.