I consider London still uncharted territory. Though I’ve been to Central London a few times already, the short trips were not enough to explore the whole of it.
One time, as I was walking around Covent Garden, I have stumbled upon an alley of book shops at Cecil Court. I was delighted with my discovery, but disappointed to find out that most of them weren’t open yet (it was around 10 am). One shop was open so my curiosity led me to snoop around. I went inside and found all books to be covered in plastic and all in pristine condition though it all appeared to be old. I picked up a familiar book from the shelf (because I have read it before), looked at the price and was astounded to find it was £85 😮. Still curious as to why it was very expensive, I proceeded to check the book and find out myself. As it turned out, it was a signed copy and a first edition as well! I have discovered later on that most book shops in that alley specialises in antiquarian, first editions and signed copies. I meticulously returned back the book in the shelf (as I do not want to damage the book) and bid the shop keeper goodbye. I was too nervous to be around expensive books so I left the alley and instead looked for alternative 2nd hand bookshops.
Next, my feet led me to Charing Cross Road, and it was here I found Any Amount Of Books. I was so pleased that I didn’t waste any time. Prodding into the stacks and shelves, I bought my first book haul to take home: “The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto” by Mario Vargas Llosa, “Erotica: An Anthology of Women’s Writing” by Margaret Reynolds, and “Prayer Cushions of the Flesh” by Robert Irwin. As most second hand book shops, the prices of the books here are very affordable.
Still not satisfied with my bookscapade for the day, I checked Google maps for directions to another nearby book shop. This time I went to Judd Books . What I liked most about this shop is that it may be a little bit cramped on the top floor, but the basement is wide and spacious. They have a very extensive range on history, military and geography books downstairs. Before going down, I was asked by the staff to leave my bag behind the till (I guess this is to to protect the shop from theft). Luckily, I was able to find something for my dear husband: a Folio Society edition of “Magellan’s Voyage” and a vintage copy of “The History of South Africa” by C.W. De Kiewiet printed in the 1940s.
I know there are still a lot of book shops in London I have yet to discover. And I would love to go back again and again just to seek all of them out, hoping that each visit would be a one-of-a-kind experience.