London's literary scene is steeped in tradition, resulting in a culture that has allowed prominent writers and poets to prosper amongst the city's numerous offerings. Continuing this age-old love for books and writers into the present century are the many bookstores in London. Storing collections that celebrate the impact of words on our lives, these bookshops are captivating destinations; places of unimaginable knowledge intertwined with a sense of magical escapism that fervent book lovers will find infinitely alluring.
Clapham Books has a pleasant neighborhood feel to it. While the shop exterior might make it seem small, the bookstore packs in quite a diverse and extensive assortment of genres, with space for children's books, fiction novels, cookbooks, gardening guides, and travel journals. Inside, the skylight in the center brightens up the bookstore during the daytime. At the same time, the ever-present friendly staff is happy to help you find that perfect read. A lot like other independent bookstores in London, Clapham not only "hand-picks" the books they sell but also hosts public events, such as a weekly story-time session for kids, that adds to its warm appeal.
Address: 26 The Pavement, Clapham Common, London SW40JA
Photos: Clapham Books Facebook Page
Run by Stephen Foster, Foster Books is a rare bookstore in London, very much like the books that it sells. Bibliophiles strolling inside the 18th-century building that houses this decades-old establishment might find its green façade intriguing. Still, the real magic is in finding out-of-print first editions casually displayed on the shelves in the city's most beloved bookstore. Foster Books, however, is not limited to just the classics, for they are happy to trade books, old or new, with customers. As a result, vintage book hunters can often find real gems amongst Foster Books' bargain buys.
Address: 183 Chiswick High Rd, Chiswick, London W42DR
Photos: Foster Books Facebook Page
Bright yellow bookshelves, a contemporary flowing design, and books from floor to the ceiling, Libreria is amongst the most cherished bookstores in London. Its uniqueness, though, lies in its old-fashioned ways, which juxtapose beautifully with the interiors. The store has a no-phone policy, enticing nooks and corners apt for a respite with a book, and an atmosphere that makes you want to linger around for a little while longer. One of Libreria's most enchanting features is its eccentric classification system that lists books under labels like "Wanderlust," "The Sea and the Sky," and "The City," encouraging book lovers to browse freely for their next new find.
Address: 65 Hanbury St, Spitalfields, London E15JP
Photos: Libreria London's Facebook Page
London bookstores don't get any more elegant than Daunt Books at Marylebone. A beautiful bookstore, it has stunning Edwardian features, including a beautiful stained-glass window, oak balconies, and a skylight. Daunt Books' emphasis is on travel books, and it creates a delightful ambiance that attracts everyone from Instagrammers to seasoned explorers, making the shop a must-visit literary destination in London. Furthermore, the bookshop's varied collection, which does expand beyond travel, is still displayed according to countries, no matter the genre of the books.
Address: 83-84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U4QW
Photos: Daunt Books Facebook Page
Dating back to 1968, Hurlingham Books claims to be "the oldest independent bookshop in South West London." Not only that, but along with a warehouse a mere 10 minutes away, this rather unique bookstore in London has "over a million books" available, covering every genre possible. That's not where the unconventionality of the bookshop ends. In Hurlingham Books, readers come not just to browse and buy, but also to form a deeper connection, especially with the owner Ray Cole, who has a literary personality unlike anyone you might know. Hurlingham Books does have regular opening hours, but they still tend to be irregular sometimes, so check before visiting.
Address: 91 Fulham High St, Fulham, London SW63JS
Browsing through its five rooms, brimming with books, time spent at The Bookshop on the Heath is equivalent to rummaging through a treasure chest full of literary delights. London's lesser-known, yet inherently charming second-hand bookstore, it retails a selection of eccentricities ranging from popular novels and children's books to maps, original film posters, local art, and ephemera in the form of postcards and football programs. A warm and friendly staff completes the picture, making The Bookshop on the Heath a genuine hidden gem for book lovers to discover.
Address: 74 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath, London SE30BW
A playground for geeks and fans of graphic novels, Forbidden Planet's London bookstore demands a few hours of your time. Stuffed with thousands of comics, it also carries an enormous assortment of must-own bookish paraphernalia such as Funko Pop, Lego, action figures, props, tees, and pretty much everything comic book related under the sun. As the "largest science fiction, fantasy, and cult entertainment retailer" in the world, their bookshop in London is particularly known for hosting engaging events, including book signings and talks. Graphic novel admirers, who prefer a slightly more intimate book shopping experience, might find Gosh! and Orbital Comics in London more to their liking.
Address: 179 Shaftesbury Ave, West End, London WC2H8JR
Photos: Forbidden Planet's Facebook Page
Book addicts with a weakness for nostalgia will find the 1920s canal barge setting of Word on the Water to be the idyllic spot for a bit of book hunting. Moored permanently on Regent's Canal, this novel bookstore in London sells a hearty mix of both second-hand books and the latest bestsellers. The spread of books, on the boat, mimics the surrounding water as it flows effortlessly from below the deck all the way to the pavement, allowing the space on top of the barge to be used for music performances and book talks.
Address: Regent's Canal Towpath, Kings Cross, London N1C4BZ
Photos: Word on the Water Facebook Page
Wander around London, and you'll come across plenty of quaint independent bookstores that can excite and amuse the most ardent of book lovers. John Sandoe Books is one of the oldest and has been in the business now for over 60 years. During this time, it has amassed an envious collection of over 30,000 books, luckily available for sale, along with the type of loyal following that London bookstores dream about. Books inside John Sandoe cover three floors, across three shops, with literary gems spread out in every direction, waiting to be discovered. The bookstore is especially proud of its staff, a bunch of passionate bibliophiles, who are known for recommending the perfect book based on the customer's reading preferences.
Address: 10 Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, London SW32SR