Bookshops have a smell don’t they? It’s a mixture of leather, dust, mildew, ink and page and they tend to have a very specific noise to them too. It’s not so much noise at all really is it; people tend to whisper as soon as they enter, don’t want to disturb the books I suppose.
All of this can be overwhelming, intimidating, boring and offensive to the senses, to some. For me, however, a bookshop makes me take a deep breath. I actually feel calmer when running my eyes along haphazard shelves of multi-coloured spines. I even like the smell and yes the older the book the better-it’s true. If only this was the case for people. Something to look forward to in old age. Bookshops, for myself and countless others, are a place to lose yourself in pictures, font, blurb and scent.
If you buy books online you are missing out. Simple. And there is no need to miss out; the north of England has a repartee of independent bookshops that not only support writers, publishers and local communities but often they have the facilities to make an excellent brew. So, in celebration of these literary havens, here is just a taster of what’s out there…
Take the stairs to the third floor and prepare to lose a few hours of your life. Upon entry you’re greeted with charmingly illustrated children’s books from past and present; the nostalgic pull has you leafing through pages of your own childhood and before you know it you’re in the palm of their hands. The buyer and the merchandiser know what they’re doing. A little further on and you have everything from DH Lawrence to The World of Karl Pilkington all at your fingertips. This well stocked, national heritage site is an absolute must if you are passing through. They do a great milkshake, too.
If you have attended a college or university in the Leeds area you have been here. You’ve stalked the shelves for titles on your reading list in hope of finding a cheaper alternative to Blackwell’s. This haunt is the ultimate carboot-sale of books. It may not be ordered, it may not have exactly what you are looking for and wow does it need an air conditioner, but I challenge anyone who likes a read to walk out empty handed. It has a great habit of surprising you with things you didn’t know you wanted to read or stare at. Definitely worth a pit-stop.
The Bookshop Kirkstall
The Bookshop Kirkstall looks like it belongs in a storybook itself. Its hand painted, blue front and carefully arranged window are emphatically traditional- if someone asked you to draw a second hand bookshop in the heart of West Yorkshire, you’d probably draw The Bookshop Kirkstall. And the inside doesn’t disappoint: crammed on every wall and shelf is row after row of antiquated and contemporary second hand books. If you like a smelly book like me, this shop provides.
Hatchard and Daughters Bookshop Haworth
Blink and you miss it. Established in 1988, this second hand bookshop is in the heart of the picturesque town of Haworth, infamous for its literary heritage, cobbled streets and breath-taking moorland. Antiquarian books are sold alongside modern first additions as well as a range of literature specifically focused on the Brontes, of course.
There’s something for everyone in Yorkshire, and these bookshops will definitely not disappoint.