Authors celebrate their local bookshops

As independent bookshops reopen, authors tell us about their favourites – and why they love them.

A photograph of stalls of books outside a bookshop
Back in business: bookshops re-open. Image: iStock

This week we celebrated the reopening of bookshops, with staff and readers using #BookshopAreBack to share their joy at finally be allowed to browse once again.

Here, to extend the celebration, we've asked some of our leading authors to share their favourite bookshops they can’t wait to get back to, and the hidden gems within.

Sebastian Faulks: Lutyens and Rubinstein, London

Lutyens and Rubinstein is a great bookshop, near where I live. The upstairs has a literary bent, but all new books are available and there’s a big children’s choice. The real glory is downstairs, where the ‘permanent collection’ of old and modern classics lives. It is brilliantly curated and hardly ever found wanting. If it is, they’ll provide what’s missing in 24 hours. Nespresso comes as standard.

Full disclosure: my wife had kept the shop on the road as an online service though the last three months. It will be nice to see a bit more of her at home now lockdown is over... 

Nell Frizzell: Blackwells, Oxford

As a mozzarella-looking child, a trip to Blackwells in the centre of Oxford wasn't just a treat but the height of everything I knew about sophistication. The navy blue sign; the quiet shelves full of serious, academic and beautiful books;  the people who looked like they spent their weekends doing quadratic equations or writing modernist poetry lining up at the till: it was my slice of the grown-up, thinking, dreaming world and I loved it. Coming back to the city, over 20 years later, I felt joy the first time I walked through the door with my two-year-old son, him screeching towards the picture books, toys, rocket-shaped bookshelves and wrapping paper in the children's section at the back. In a city stuffed full of institutions, this is one we all can enter and millions love.

Claire Fuller: The Book House, Thame

I lived in Thame when I was teenager, and The Book House (or The Red House Bookshop as it was called then) was a favourite place to visit. For many years in a row, I won the art prize at school, and the prize was a book token. I can still remember the shop’s newly printed books smell, the little corners to sit in (it is a beautifully higgledy-piggledy bookshop), and the amazing crazy fact that any of the books on any of the shelves could be mine. The only problem was, which book to choose?

Jo Thomas: Book-ish, Crickhowell

I love Book-ish in Crickhowell. It's like a great big cwtch the moment you walk in there! Books, coffee, cakes and a wonderful space for bookish events with a bar, with amazing views! What's not to love? I could happily settle in for the day there.

I’m so delighted that bookshops are open again. Stepping over the threshold of a bookshop is just like passing through passport control, security and being ushered into your seat on a plane, handed a glass, ready to take you wherever you want to go. The smell of new books, it’s the smell of adventures waiting to be had.

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