A shop like no other, Foyle’s was founded with the idea of providing a place where anyone can find anything they are looking for, and over a hundred years later, this still stands. A paradise for all book lovers with everything to be found, from Latin Primers to Bach’s Double Violin Concerto — in sheet music and CD format — it’s easy to forget about why you came here in the first place. The chic interior, pleasant staff, and miles of literature results in something akin to the Land of the Lotus Eaters in Homer’s Odyssey as your fifteen minute search for a dictionary turns into a two hour book binge in the blink of an eye.
A bell rings faintly as you step into the dimly lit interior of this unassuming little shop, happy to escape a bustling street packed with people always hurrying somewhere else. In here it’s another time. Books are stacked from top to bottom, with the gilded titles and leather tomes bearing names, some familiar and some forgotten, from centuries long gone. The romanticism of Jarndyce is hard to miss, and here, history seems to come together in a unique collection of literature that is both beautifully presented and delightful to read.
Jarndyce, 46 Great Russell Street, London, UK, +44 20 7631 4220
Waterstones — Gower Street
Though part of a larger chain, this shop deserves a mention in its utility. With the presence of UCL down the road, it caters to students’ needs as well as those of the general public. Dedicated to subjects as varied as Ancient Greek poetry, theology, and politics, it is clear why Waterstones deserves to be visited. Keep looking and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the abundance of reading nooks and quiet corners where you can immerse yourself in whatever subject may take your fancy.
Waterstones, 82 Gower Street, London, UK, +44 20 7636 1577
An oddly political addition, its presence on this list is precarious, but this shop’s novel nature, extremely niche market, and quality puns is enough to earn it at least a mention. A specialist bookshop, Bookmarks markets itself as London’s socialist bookstore, and it truly deserves this title. In addition to selling many political pamphlets, texts, and even tea towels, the bookshop also offers something called ‘Sherbet Lenins.’ It’s hard not to crack a smile when you realize even the name is a pun worthy of a round of applause.
Bookmarks, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London, UK, +44 20 7637 1848
The Book Warehouse
An excellent array of gift and souvenir books plus notepads accompanies a shop perfect for a quick browse. With a good selection of modern and classical literature, The Book Warehouse, is the place to go when searching for a holiday book, a small gift, or the recent bestseller. It won’t leave you out of pocket or out of time whilst at the same time being a comfortable step away from larger chain bookstores.