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.
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.
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…
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.