I love bookshops. They’re one of my favourite places to while away an afternoon. Nothing beats being able to pick books up and flick through them. Not to mention the smell of books, especially old ones, the mustier the better (or is that just me…?) The other day I had the best time exploring some of the independent bookshops in Bath and here are my top picks.
Bath Old Books
9c, Margarets Buildings, Bath, Somerset BA1 2LP
Specialising in second hand and antiquarian books, Bath Old Books, is tucked away on a corner near the Circus. It might appear small from the outside but inside it’s crammed with books and a twisting staircase leads to a large basement. A treasure cove of second hand books, all in good condition, they have a variety of specialist areas including Bath, Jane Austen, travel, art, architecture, literature and more.
Bath Old Books is a quirky, cosy little shop and it’s easy to spend hours in there. Run by specialist dealers who have collated a collection of rare books and first editions, you never know what you might find…
14/15 John Street, Bath, Somerset BA1 2JL
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is very aptly named. As soon as you step in through the door you can’t help but feel excited at the prospect of exploring three floors filled with books. The staff are very welcoming and are eager to help you find what you’re looking for or recommend books. Set in a Georgian townhouse, the top floor has a cosy room with a fire place and comfy arm chairs. It feels very homely and I could quite happily live there!
In their Bibliotherapy room they offer Reading Spas where a member of the team chats to you about what you like to read over tea and cake before picking out books for you to take home. Described as “book pampering” it sounds like the ideal gift for book lovers! They also run literary events including author interviews with nibbles and wine which you can find out more about here.
6 North Parade, Bath, Somerset BA1 1LF UK
If you’re looking for a deal on non-fiction titles then Good Buy Books is your first stop. From art to gardening, cooking to history they offer a wide range of books at half price, or even cheaper. They do have some fiction books but only a small selection of the classics and contemporary reads so it’s not necessarily the place to go if you have something in mind but it’s perfect for bargain hunting. A popular spot for tourists near Pulteney Bridge, they also have an extensive range of books about Bath and one of its most famous inhabitants, Jane Austen.
The Paragon, Bath, Somerset, BA1 5LS
I can’t believe I’d never been to Topping & Company before but it’s one of my new favourite bookshops. It’s like walking into a bookworm’s paradise. The walls are lined with floor to ceiling book shelves complete with Beauty and the Beast-esque sliding ladders – the dream! They have a wide selection of non-fiction and fiction books, organised alphabetically within subject areas so it’s really easy to find a book If you’re looking for something in particular.
They also run lots of events all year round and have an impressive programme of authors and speakers lined up, which you can find here. If that wasn’t enough, they even offer tea or coffee to have whilst you browse books, what more could you want?!
Skoobs Books at the Guildhall Market
40 – 42 Guildhall Market, Bath, Somerset BA2 4AW
Located in the Guildhall Market in the centre of Bath, Skoobs Books is a hidden gem. The permanent stall is stacked with shelves of second-hand books and always has the most popular recent titles belonging to a variety of genres, from crime to romance, as well as the classics.
I can’t visit the indoor market without having a (not-so-quick) browse of the books. Even if you’re not intending to buy a book, they’re so cheap with most of them only costing £1, that you can’t help but be tempted!
I’m a strong believer in supporting independent businesses and in an increasingly digital world, it’s good to show the publishing industry some love. Why not pop to your local bookshop this weekend and treat yourself.