Bibliophiles' Bliss: Glasgow's Best Bookshops

| Photo by Nadya Filatova on Unsplash
Emer Ní Chíobháin

Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, has served as the setting for some of the most important works in Scottish literature. Even the city’s George Square is populated by statues of literary greats including Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Thomas Campbell. And so, with its rich literary heritage, we set out to explore the hidden gems that this city has on offer to Glaswegian bibliophiles and visiting bookworms alike.

Photo courtesy of Young’s Interesting Books

Young’s Interesting Books

A wee shop, with the emphasis on quality rather than quantity.

This small, quirky, bookshop is the stuff of bookworm dreams. Located on Skirving St., with an eclectic collection, Young’s Interesting Books surely lives up to its title. One of the South-side’s few independent bookshops, Young’s stocks a range of strange and interesting books, from penguin collectables and vintage erotica to modern pulp and Scottish classics. Their shelves are filled with curiosities and standards with second-hand paper and hardbacks galore. This bookshop is run by passionate and knowledgeable owners who are more than happy to help you find what you’re looking for.

Voltaire & Rousseau

An Aladdin’s cave of second-hand books and rare editions

Open for over 40 years, Voltaire & Rousseau, hidden away down a side street off Glasgow’s bustling West End, is a perfectly disorganised treasure trove. Deemed by many to be the best bookshop in all of Glasgow, this quaint little shop has a reputation that proceeds it, and rightly so. The shop consists of two parts, an entrance where everything is £1 and the main shop where books upon books cover every surface. Shelves are stacked several layers deep and it seems only the resident cat truly knows his way around! Whether you are a student looking to pick an affordable book or simply want something to read at the coffee shop, this Aladdin’s cave of curiosities, with thousands of reasonably priced books piled high, is for you.

Thistle Books

A second-hand book Mecca

Located in Glasgow’s West End, Thistle Books is well-hidden, tucked away down an alleyway off Otago Street. While the afore-mentioned Voltaire & Rousseau is famed for its untidiness, Thistle books should be lauded for being exactly the opposite. This little shop is brimming with literary gems including well-stocked history and crime sections as well as a plethora of lit crit for the local university students. This bookshop also boasts an impressive selection of sheet music from its co-tenant Alba Music. You’re sure to find rare, antique and out of print books in the clearly demarcated stacks, and they even have a shelf beside the counter for Scottish first editions.

Aye-Aye Books

Independent, contemporary art bookshop

Located in the foyer of the Centre for Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall St., Aye-Aye Books has all you need to keep up to date with current developments in art, and much more. However, Glasgow’s only specialist contemporary art bookshop also offers fiction, poetry, cultural and critical theory, radical writing, magazines, journals and exhibition catalogues as well many obscure zines and books from independent publishers around the world. This wee shop has an unrivalled selection of publications by and about today’s Scottish artists, limited edition artists’ books, radical books, sound art, music, and world cinema DVDs. Prices vary, with stock ranging from pamphlets costing all of 50p, zines around the £3-£5 mark, theory books from £6.99 upwards, and weighty monographs coming in at the £30+ A trip to this shop is a must for any art-lover, student and tourist alike.

Hyndland Bookshop

Stylish independent bookshop set in Hyndland

Set among the quiet streets and red sandstone tenements of the bourgeois bohemian Hyndland is this small, stylish independent bookshop. The owners of Hyndland Bookshop have been in the book business for 40 years, first meeting as librarians before opening their first store in the area in 1983. The shop offers a fine selection of fiction, poetry and travel writing with some surprisingly obscure choices gracing the shelves also. Here, digital refugees are welcome to ditch their e-readers and instead browse the well-stocked shelves for hours, perhaps coming away with something they didn’t expect. However, there is an impressive DVD collection, for the more tech-savvie types, featuring well-known 40s and 50s Hollywood classics as well as the best of arthouse, modern classics and world cinema.
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