I've been bullying chatting-up my London Walks colleagues for their top London Bookshops tips and I'll be sharing their recommendations here on The Daily Constitutional. Be sure to ask them for directions to their favourite bookshops at the end of their London Walks tours!
I have been shopping at Any Amount of Books on the Charing Cross Road since the 3rd of June 1992.
I arrived in London on the 2nd of June 1992 and on the 3rd of June I headed for Charing Cross Road. Any Amount of Books was the second bookshop I visited there – the first is now some dreadful cake and coffee shop where I have NEVER eaten, and NEVER will because it replaced a perfectly good bookshop. This I do not forgive.
Charing Cross Road is, of course, world famous. But it was a personal recommendation from a friend who had returned from London having done a stint as a stage manager in a West End theatre that really captured my imagination.
"There's this street," he enthused, "near all the theatres and it has nothing but bookshops. You'd love it."
And with that he gave me a copy of Jack Kerouac's The Subterraneans - in Greek! – that he'd bought for me in said street and I was hooked, sight unseen.
It's been quite some time since Charing Cross Road has been "nothing but bookshops" I'm sad to say. But the bookshops that remain are, for me, part of the glory of London.
Any Amount Of Books is my favourite for a variety of reasons. But I think the main one is this: when I am in there, time stands still. I can switch off my phone and browse browse browse to my heart's content.
To illustrate what I mean by "time stands still", I was shopping there last Christmastime – Christmastime being the period between the 1st of September and January 10th – when I noticed that they didn't have any decorations. I Tweeted the following picture…
Sanctuary! No tinsel! You need never know it's #Xmas in a Charing X Rd bookshop #stopthemadness @AnyAmountBooks pic.twitter.com/jet3VlTMwd— London Walks (@londonwalks) December 9, 2015
Like I said: time stands still, whatever the season, whatever the issues of the day, when the door closes behind you at Any Amount Of Books, everything else has to wait. I love it there.
Ask me and I'll point you in the direction at the end of my Rock'n'Roll London Walk on Fridays, or follow the map here…
Catch up with my amble along Charing Cross Road on The London Walks Podcast…