Edinburgh Bookshops

Whenever I travel, one of the most important things I do is research and plan a little bookshop itinerary. Earlier this year I wrote about all the bookshops I visited while I was on holiday in Brighton. When I spent a few days in Edinburgh at the end of July, it was only inevitable that i’d do the same thing again.

Edinburgh was lovely, with some (very welcome!) rain and cooler weather, delicious vegan food, great craft beer, and wonderful old buildings and architecture. There were also a boat load of bookshops! So many, that I couldn’t get to them all in the three full days I was there. But here’s a run down of the ones I did get to.

My first stop, and one of the few I really wanted to get to, was Lighthouse Bookshop. This is a radical bookshop selling all sorts including politics, history, fiction, travel, and more. The shop is light, bright, and airy. All the books were fascinating to browse and I could have spent a while there. I left feeling motivated and upbeat—with three new books!

Next door to Lighthouse is Deadhead Comics, which on the day we stopped by didn’t open on time. Talking to the person in Lighthouse, we were told the owner is actually who the character Bernard Black is based on. We decided to photo and run, not waiting for it to open—I didn’t want to meet him and ruin the illusion.

Next up was Till’s Bookshop. This is a one-room secondhand bookshop and it’s just lovely. That perfect old-and-friendly vibe, with so many great books packed into one room. I thought I was done, but managed to swiftly snatch up another book on my way to the till!

I thought I was going to miss Main Point Books, as google has the wrong opening hours, but thankfully I made it. Another single room, this time with piles of books all higgledy piggledy. It felt like a treasure hunt, searching through all the books. I didn’t get anything here, but enjoyed the rummage all the same.

Edinburgh Books (not to be mistaken for The Edinburgh Bookshop) is around the corner from Main Point. I loved this one a lot. There were old and new books, side-by-side on shelves reaching all the way up to the very high ceilings—this shop has step ladders. There were also several beautiful special edition hardbacks that tempted me, but I resisted. If there’d been any of my most favourite books i’d’ve snapped them up without hesitation. There was also the intimidating presence of a large bull’s head…

Across the road and down the street from Edinburgh Books is Armchair Books. This one was, for me, the quintessential bookshop. Narrow aisles, crammed bookshelves, weaving up and down the entire space of the shop. I had to limit myself to only properly looking at the sci-fi section, or I literally would have been there all day. There was a disappointing lack of armchairs, though.

The single bookshop I didn’t want to miss out on was Transreal. (Though I very nearly did; thankfully google was once again wrong on the opening hours.) Transreal specialises in science fiction and fantasy books, and it was wondrous. I looked at every book on every shelf, and then did another lap of the whole shop. I had expected it to be dark and claustrophobic—moody and eerie. Instead, it was as light, airy, and welcoming as Lighthouse. I loved it. I limited myself to a single book, though I was tempted with many!

I find all Oxfam bookshops have a similar vibe, and Edinburgh’s one was no exception. I love a good Oxfam bookshop—they never fail to have something of interest. I left with a couple of books.

I haven’t been in many Amnesty bookshops, but this one was large and well-stocked. Spacious, it was lovely to wander and browse the books lying face up on tables and filed neatly on the large shelves. After turning down a gorgeous copy of Vonnegut’s Siren’s of Titan in Armchair because I already have a copy, I saw the same beautiful edition here—in better condition and at a lower price. I felt it was the universe telling me I should definitely buy it, and who am I to say no to the universe?

Being a cat guardian I couldn’t not poke my head into the Cat’s Protection charity shop, and while not exclusively a bookshop, I did find an interesting-sounding Margaret Atwood book for a measly £2!

There was also a Barnardos bookshop, which i’d never come across before. Of course I popped in, though didn’t find anything to bring home.

There were at least three or four bookshops a little further from the city centre that I didn’t manage to get to, so i’ll definitely have to have a trip back in the future to tick them off my list. But all told, between my partner and I, we came home with 21 books. Not too shabby.

Have you been to any of these bookshops? Do you know of any towns or cities with a great selection of independent bookshops? I need ideas for my next bookish holiday destination!

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Brighton Bookshops

I recently had a few days away in Brighton, and while researching places to eat and sights to see of course I looked up where all the local bookshops were. Finding the bookshops is what I always do in new places (what self-respecting bibliophile doesn’t?), but this was the first time I thought of documenting visits and sharing it on my blog.

Brighton was awesome, with so many places for this vegan to eat, loads of little alleyways and streets to explore, and some really amazing graffiti art. But this blog isn’t about food, exploring, or pretty walls. It’s about BOOKS, so let’s get to it!

The first bookshop I went in was Brighton Books, located on a wonderful pedestrianised street along with clothes shops and cafés. Once inside the hustle and bustle of the people outside faded away. I had a blissful half an hour browsing the bookshelves, eventually picking out a book of essays by William Golding i’ve had on my ‘to acquire’ list for a while.

Next on my list of bookshops was Books for Amnesty, which was hard to miss as it’s painted bright pink! I loved this colour choice—it makes the whole shop stand out, but isn’t at all out of place in the colourful arty Brighton vibes. Although I didn’t buy a book here, the feeling inside was welcoming and put me immediately at ease. I could have browsed there all day, had they had enough books!

A bookshop that really caught my interest, and was backed up by a recommendation from a Brightonite bookstagrammer, was Colin Page Antiquarian Books. Immediately I could tell it was one of those wonderful bookshops, rammed full of books to get lost in, and that old book smell. It didn’t disappoint. The books are down a mental spiral staircase, and the space is quite and still, almost library-like. Most of the books are hardback, with only a table out front covered with paperbacks. There were also boxes of literary magazines on the floor, including one full of old pulpy science fiction—if I hadn’t been getting the train back, that entire box would have come home with me!

The last bookshop I went in was City Books, which is a typical independent shop selling new and modern books of all genres. I loved it. I saw many books i’d never heard of, but was enticed to pick up, read the back, and have a flick through. It’s exactly the kind of bookshop where I could easily spend a lot of money. On this occasion I limited myself to a single book—City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer. At over 700 pages, it was the best value for my money!

On my last, very early, morning, on the walk to the train station, I passed another bookshop that I had somehow managed to miss! Raining Books wasn’t open at the ungodly hour I passed by, but it certainly looks interesting and fun—I can’t wait to explore it the next time i’m in Brighton!

Have you been to any of these bookshops? Are there any more awesome Brighton bookshops I missed!? Let me know so I can add them to my visit list!

Prudence and the Crow: December 2016

img_20161218_145356After last month’s parcel—how much I loved it and how much fun I had making the little stop motion video—it should come as little surprise that I ordered a Prudence and  the Crow parcel for December. A little Christmas present to myself, I decided, was a brilliant idea.

It came mid-December, and I filmed and made another little video. However, December was a pretty hectic month for me, and I’ve only now really found the time to sit still with my thoughts and actually get myself together enough to share it all online.

As with the first parcel, I chose sci-fi as my genre. I also tried to complete their form a little more, giving them extra scope and suggestions for book choices. Specifically I mentioned that I would like to read more female science fiction authors, and that if they knew of any in some way similar to John Wyndham (my fave), i’d be a happy bunny.

Below is my silly little unboxing video and details of what was inside my parcel…

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img_20161218_145514The envelope this month had a woman and a bird on it, under the stars. I don’t know the reference, but I love the artwork, and it wouldn’t look out of place in a frame on the wall.

There was a winter-themed ‘this book belongs to’ label and two unusual stamps. I especially like the one with the constellation on.img_20161218_145544

More tea and nibbles; I love them!

img_20161218_145829A Prudence and the Crow pencil, and adorable little doily and—thanks to the little video I made last month—i was rewarded with a rare merit badge! I shall wear it with pride! ♥

There was also a collection of postcards, one of which included a personal message, which was very lovely and much appreciated!

img_20161218_145943img_20161218_150105The star of the show, of course, I the book. And as requested, I received a female science fiction author I had not read before: Anne McCaffrey. The books is called The Ship Who Sang’; the title alone intrigues me! It also came in a beautiful and festive holly-patterned book bag, which I love.

This subscription box is such a delight, I can’t wait to order and receive more in the future. Thank you Prudence, and thank you Crow! ♥

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Prudence and the Crow: November 2016

p1160827 Prudence and the Crow is a monthly vintage book subscription box which offers the choice of classic, sci-fi, thriller or children vintage fiction. I found them when searching for bookish subscription boxes about a month ago. None of the boxes i’d come across were really my thing; most focus on contemporary new releases, any within my genres were YA, and i just wasn’t willing to pay their prices for books i would likely never read. Then, then i found Prudence and the Crow. Not only do they focus on vintage, rather then new release books, but one of their main genres is science fiction. I fell in love instantly.

Their prices are lower than most other subscription boxes i saw (£15, with free postage in the UK), though they don’t go overboard with the extras. This is fine with me, as I don’t want a lot of tat cluttering up my house (only books are allowed to do that!). I ordered a one-off box pretty much instantly, and it arrived this week. I was a liiiiiitle bit excited, but managed to hold off on opening it immediately. On Saturday, with daylight and time to my advantage, i slowly–teasingly–opened my package bit by bit in front of a camera. I took careful, composed photos of the process that i then later strung together to music. I uploaded my little stop motion unboxing to youtube, and it can be watched here:

I had such a good time making that video! The original quality is much better, but unfortunately youtube does some kind of converting and compressing, making a messy blur of the thing. Sigh. It’s still cute and fun, though.

p1160850Let me show you what’s inside! (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

It all comes parcelled up inside a decorative envelope. These are different every month, and i loved this month’s image. I need writing motivation as much i need more books to read. I will likely pin this up my on notice board. Your name is also handwritten on the envelope, and really, the small personal touches like that are wonderful.

p1160830Once I got the envelope open and the contents laid out, it gave me a little thrill to go through and examine it all.

p1160840There are a few consumables, namely tea bags and sweets; i can’t wait to try the gingerbread green tea, omg. There are also random little bits including used stamps, a bird card, a playing card and a sticker; i plan on using these in crafty ways, like making greeting cards and in scrapbooks.

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p1160845Of course the main attraction in the book. This is, as is the nature of vintage books rather than new releases, different for everyone. I find that wonderful and exciting, because no matter how many photos you might see of other people’s boxes, you’ll still never know what exactly is in your own! The book comes with its very own Prudence and Crow library card (which include the date and start at number one. They increase with each subscription, so you’ll always know when and in which subscription you got each book – another adorable little detail). The book also has its own little bag to keep it safe and looking cute, and the material for this will also be different every time.

p1160846Of course, when i signed up my chosen genre was science fiction. There is a little questionnaire to fill in, in which you’re asked things like what your favourite book is and who you like from a given selection of authors. In this sign up, I was asked for an author i would like to receive a book by. I am sure there are dozens I would love, but i specifically chose an author from the same era as my favourite (my favourite being John Wyndham ♥) who i currently own no books by. It was, then, not a huge surprise for the book i received to be an Arthur C Clarke. I was quite delighted to discover it was a book of short stories, though. I adore short story collections!

And with that, i’m off to sign up for the December box!