Gimme Some Oven

Used Bookstores Around the World #1

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There’s nothing quite like a good bookstore — especially one full of used books. I definitely enjoy finding an unexpected bargain book in a thriftstore or at an estate sale, but to be completely surrounded by lovely old books is even better.

I’ve been travelling abroad since 2001, but only in the past few years did it cross my mind to shop for books on my trips, and to note the sweet bookshops I found. Sadly, there are many shops I failed to find or stop in, though I have a smattering of photos (like the one above) reminding me of places I liked the look of, but didn’t buy from or note their address.

As it’s a new year and I’m attempting to be better organised, here is my beginning list of used bookstores around the world.

Used Bookstores in England, New Zealand, and the USA

Black Cat Bookshop – Queenstown, NZ (Camp Street)

I stayed in Queenstown for nearly a week. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been; but it rained or snowed practically every day, driving me indoors much of the time. One day, after using the internet cafe on the second floor of the O’Connell’s Shopping Centre, I noticed a small bookshop across the hall. They had a lovely selection of both antique and modern books; and the owner didn’t mind me taking photographs. I only bought one book (a 1947 hardback copy of Dauphne Du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek) but definitely wanted so many more.

Blackwell’s – Oxford (48-51 Broad Street)
I’d already been here one or two times over the years, but hadn’t noticed that they carried used books on the second floor — until this past December. Brilliant. I found an old Penguin paperback (T. S. Eliot’s Selected Prose) and also purchased a new Penguin paperback with a lovely letter-pressed cover (Tolstoy’s A Confession). I could seriously spend hours and hours here. The cover art on their new printings of classic books is stunning.

Daunt Books – London (83 Marylebone High Street)

Daunt Books (Marylebone High Street) | London 2012

Daunt Books (Marylebone High Street) | London 2012

When I was in London last July, a friend mentioned on Facebook that I should check out a certain bookshop. One day I found myself in the neighbourhood and decided to hunt it down. I was not disappointed. Old, full of worn wood and lots of light, with books set about prettily — ah. The wood floors are even set in a herringbone pattern! I actually can’t recall whether it was all new books or a mix of new and old; there might have been used books in the funny narrow balcony halls.

Daunt Books (Marylebone High Street) | London 2012

Daunt Books (Marylebone High Street) | London 2012

Dusty Bookshelf – Manhattan, KS (700 N. Manhattan Avenue)
My recollections of this place are a bit dusty, as I haven’t been since college (yes, I’m a K-State grad). I know there’s also one in Lawrence, KS, but I don’t recall going to that one (definitely need to remedy that!). I remember stacks of books everywhere, cozy chairs, and a resident friendly cat. My main purchases were those skinny Dover Thrift Editions; classics on a budget — perfect college student fare.

ever been to one of these? what’d ya think?
tell me about your favourite bookshops!

» Don’t miss previous {tuesday travels}: London Literary Walks #1#2#3HobbitonThose Who WanderAn Introduction.

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bet mercer

Bet Mercer is a poet-photographer who writes at Gimme Some Reads and Everyday Poetry. She loves quotes, reading her favourite books over again, great conversation, laughter, trees, films, and travelling the world. Follow along with Bet on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Etsy and Google+.

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11 comments on “Used Bookstores Around the World #1”

  1. Ah! As I started reading this post I was thinking of that book shop we went to near Baker Street! So glad you included it!

    • Yes! Didn’t you even find it listed in a book about great hidden treasures of London…that you were flipping through in the store? :)

  2. Definitely Dusty Bookshelf, but the Lawrence one. I also love a shop called ‘Second Story’ right off of Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.

    • Yeah, when I was thinking about the Manhattan one I was confused as to why I never go to the Lawrence one. Next trip, I will. It’s on Mass St., right?

      I will note the DC one, for if I ever go. Can you imagine doing a bookstore tour around the world. Yeesh.

  3. I’ve been to the Dusty Bookshelf in Manhattan, and in Lawrence.

    I’d recommend dropping in to Eighth Day Books. A true gem, new and used, and plenty of cool icons.

    • Ben, Eighth Day is on my list for next week’s post! I grew up in Wichita, but never knew about it or visited until last January. Shame. It’s lovely. I need to go back next time I’m there.

      As for the Dusty Bookshelf — do you have a preference between Manhattan’s or Lawrence’s?

  4. I’ve always been partial to The Dusty Bookshelf in Lawrence and The Raven bookstore is right around the corner– it’s small and well-edited. When in Paris, I love dropping by Shakespeare and Company.

    • “When in Paris…” what a great line to drop in conversation. :) Haven’t heard of The Raven; guess I’ll have to stop by when I go visit the Dusty Bookshelf.

  5. If you ask me, Prospero’s on 39th is a pretty fantastic used book store! Not a huge selection, but so much character.

    • I’ve been there a few times over the years, but it hasn’t made much of an impression on me. but it’s been a while, so perhaps i should give it another chance.