I felt slightly apprehensive, when we entered the posh part of Chelsea. After all, what kind of bookshop could they possibly have? ‘They’ of course being the faceless mass of the rich.
Well, they have John Sandoe.
It is charming, friendly, and stacked with books. One of those shops that need sliding bookshelves to be able to store them all; and beautiful bookshelves they were too. There was even a desk up there among them. I felt very strongly that this would be an excellent place to write a book in. John Sandoe – if you’re reading this, think about it. It would be perfect! Your very own inhouse writer – sort of like a library cat, although perhaps not quite as cute. I could even try to look serious and literary when customer walked buy, or earn my keep by rearranging your bookshelves, carrying piles of books around, asking anyone who passes by if the need any help. And no matter how bad my writing is going, I promise never to harrass the customers looking for advice.
I have already tried to convince them about this on Twitter, and I think I had some success:
“I’ve seen that one as a play!” is at least slightly better than having seen a book as a movie. The Master and Marguerite was Nomad books recommendation for me, and it happens to be the favorite book of a friend om mine. My friend doesn’t really share my all-consuming passion for books. He reads some, when commuting, perhaps, and some non-fiction, but it is always a struggle to recommend books to him. I always try, of course. With people like that, who doesn’t read much, I always feel a sort of admiration for their favorite books; like they have succeeded where I’ve failed.
Louise also loved the small, hand-written signs recommending different books, and I immediately bought a bonus-book with one in it. “See, they worked on you”, she said delighted, and I didn’t really have the heart to tell her that when it comes to books, anything works on me.
Louise Court, the organizational genius and mastermind behind The Schedule, as I lovingly call the word document that details which bookshops to visit, what day and time, how to get there etc., was determined to make me stick to my one-book-rule. Since I’ll visit approximately 44 bookshops in three weeks, I need some kind of limitation. One book per bookshop. And the bookseller gets to recommend it; no matter when it was published, or what genre, etc., just a book they themselves loved.
However, there were two people behind the till at London Review Bookshop, and they both immediately started throwing suggestions at me; one brilliant book after the other. I think I deserve some credit for just buying one from each of them.
Book birds! All over the window and the ceiling. That was my first impression of this great store, and what a first impression to get. Another interesting feature: no categories, strict alphabetical order; mixing fiction and non-fiction, crime and love stories. Sort of the opposite to the bookshop in The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. It must be a great way to get people to try books they might not otherwise have come across, and there’s a certain appealing simplicity in having just great books and great authors, with no categories superimposed by us.
Most interesting feature: sliding bookshelf-doors! Louise and I stood there for quite some time, trying to decide if they were doors. We knew that there was a literary agency somewhere downstairs, since we had been warned not to worry if we started hearing voices. Did the literary agency have an office with bookshelves-doors?
They did indeed. Unfortunately, the space and oxygen was not big enough to also take in a Swedish author, otherwise it would have been the perfect office. Even if I would have played with the doors a little bit too much (not to mention suddenly sticking out my head everytime I heard customers. Perhaps just as well they didn’t have room for me. How do the agents resist the temptation?)
Their recommendation: Ferrante, one of Louise’s personal favourite that she would have urged me to buy a long time ago if it were not for her respect of the one-book-rule.