Before we ever left for the UK, I knew that I wanted to bring back books. I am just a build-a-library, rescue the out-of-print books kind of person. I have been a reader since childhood, I majored in English literature at university and I’m currently working on a PhD, and now I homeschool my children, so my life is filled with books.
Many of the books we love were published in the UK and are now out of print and extremely hard to find inexpensively here in the US. (I know that is a reciprocal problem. We have a good number of books here that are hard to get in the UK.) So before I left, with the help of friends both in the US and in the UK, I made a list of books I wanted to search for there and also of secondhand bookshops to visit. As we traveled all around the country, made many new book-loving friends, and got involved with a UK Charlotte Mason home education community, I was able to add extensively to my list of UK bookshops. I wasn’t able to visit every single one of these, but we went to many, many bookshops over the months. Some were delightful impromptu discoveries and some were on my list of places not to be missed!
I’ve put all these UK Secondhand Bookshops together in a custom Google map to share with you. (You can zoom in and out on the map below, and each book icon will give you the clickable location of a bookshop.) I’m always adding to this map as I hear of other bookshops (and it should be updated every time you click or refresh). Also, almost every National Trust house has an area for secondhand books. There are far too many to include on the map, but just know that if you visit a place maintained by the National Trust, check for secondhand books!
There were so many excellent bookshops. There’s something to be found seemingly on every corner and in every charity shop (at least compared to the US). I could go on and on about many of these shops on the map, but here are a few favorites:
My favorite for atmosphere and overall selection: Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness, Scotland
My favorite for selection of classic children’s books: Bridport Old Books in Bridport, England
My favorite for great prices: British Red Cross Bookshop in Cheltenham, England
Also, if you’re strolling London, don’t miss the basement in Any Amount of Books on Charing Cross Road.
And I can’t not mention Blackwell’s in Oxford. It’s amazing and enormous and a must-stop. Though most of the books are new, they do have a secondhand section on one of the upper floors!
We bought a cheap suitcase in a charity shop at the end of our trip to transport all these books back home, and it was well worth the effort. I already have a list of books I want to get next time we’re across the pond (Lord willing, next March)!
Every time I read these books or see them on my shelves, I’m able to delight in not only their wonderful literary value but also the fond memories of their discovery in a crowded corner of a lovely old British bookshop.