Persephone Books for book lovers

LONDON – One of my favourite things to do is find bookshops and wander through them, while perusing new and interesting reads. I’m a big fan of Daunt books, which has a few branches around London, and I recently stumbled upon Persephone books, located in Lambs Conduits Street, while out and about shopping in the neighbourhood of Bloomsbury.

Persephone Books has differentiated itself from other bookshops. It reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly women) writers and has 102 books in its collection.

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Most of the books you haven’t heard of. The only one that was vaguely familiar to me was “Miss Pettigew lives for a day” by Winifred Watson. And the only reason I know about this book is because it has been made into a film staring Amy Adams! It’s a cute film so you should definitely check it out.

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So I think for most people, purchasing a book from Persephone is a risk as you’re relying on a few scant reviews and not word of mouth.

The shop itself is small in size. As you open the door, and hear the strong ring of the doorbell, you step inside and realise that half of the shop space is actually taken up by what seems to be their ‘office’ and storage area – there were brown boxes of books everywhere. The actual books on display only fill up a room the size of your lounge.

I went on a Saturday and so it was busy. The crowd is bookish and academic but I imagine they are loyal to the shop as they find the concept charming and a nice bit of reprieve from the hustle of London. As the space is tight, I didn’t stay too long. I like a bit of privacy when I’m in a bookshop. There’s none at Persephone’s – no alcove’s to hide in…Persephone6

But the charm of this small and peculiar bookshop had me quickly purchasing the book “The world that was ours” by Hilda Bernstein. This book is part of the Persephone Classics collection (there are ten in total) and it appealed to me as it’s set in South Africa and a reviewer said it ‘reads like a thriller page after page…’

I’ll let you know how I get on with the book. I’m still making my way through “How green was my valley” by Richard Llewellyn. It’s taken me a while as my attention span has shortened – I spend too much time online reading short snippets of information…Anyway, let me know if you recommend any bookshops in London. I’d love to hear about them.

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Undaunted

LONDON – It’s true. Bookshops are on the decline and there’s not much we can really do about it as modern technology takes over our lives. It sort of makes me sad, but to tell you the truth, I am thisclose to purchasing a kindle because it’s a much better fit in your handbag and lighter to carry around. I’ll succumb soon enough.

But before I do, I still love to wander into bookshops and I have a few that I want to recommend. But today I’ll just highlight this one on Cheapside called Daunt books. It’s actually a small franchise here in London but I head over to the one in Cheapside as it’s nearest to me.

For me a good bookshop needs to have interesting variety and knowledgeable sales staff. I’ve often wandered into this book shop with a query and had it resolved quickly. So they always get return business from me.

I find that their windows are filled with pop culture books that are more plot driven (Think the Hunger Games) than character-driven stories, which sell less well. But if you’re a book snob, like me, just head downstairs.

Here you’ll find a lot of the classics, old and modern, and more quality-written literature. I’ve purchased several books after spending a lot of time here and although it’s underground, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic in the least. Now I don’t personally like the ‘so-quiet-you-can-hear-a-pin-drop silence’ of libraries, but then I don’t like a book shop to be so loud that you can’t think. Daunt seems to get it right. There are a few low-key conversations taking place here and there, but you can also find a small corner to just think a bit deeper as you turn the pages of an interesting book.

Although I’ve never purchased travel books, they do seem to have a lot of variety here, and they also have a lot of cookery books too. I still want to get Jamie Oliver’s USA cookery book as well as a British baking book. Maybe something like the ‘Bake for Britain’ book below, or the Hummingbird Cafe baking book would be good choices.

If you do have the chance, do stop by this book shop. You’ll be glad you did.

What’s the next book you want to buy?