Thursday 21 April 2016

Any amount of books are within easy reach

It's not a cool thing to admit, but this week's bookshop is one I take for granted. It's somewhere I visit almost without thinking. I gravitate towards it and have bought countless books from it and yet it only appeared on this blog because of a visit during The London Bookshop Crawl.

Part of the reason for this absence is because the bookshop is such a gem I selfishly wanted to keep it to myself (impossible), but it's also because my visits are often so quick I hardly have time to slow down long enough to take photos.

Any Amount of Books is a secondhand bookshop found towards the bottom of Charing Cross Road. It's near many other excellent secondhand and antiquarian bookshops, and around the corner from Cecil Court, meaning it probably shouldn't stand out from its neighbours. But for me this is the bookshop I imagine when I think of the famous book by Helene Hanff.

I was first drawn in by the boxes of discount books outside. Large enough to have variety, small enough to not be overwhelming, the boxes offer a random selection to tempt browsers in, or simply remind travellers they'll have a much better train journey if in the company of a good book.

My visits generally involve diving in the front door, scanning the fiction shelves to the right, grabbing a book and rushing off to catch my train. I love the way I can quickly dash in and out, rarely needing longer than a minute to spot something unexpected and wonderful. This ease of bookshopping, along with Any Amount of Books' long opening hours, mean it's pretty much a guaranteed quick stop for me during any visit to London.

Go beyond that front door, look left, discover the stairs and you find out how much more there is to this bookshop, which isn't nearly as small as its front – or my brief visits – would imply.

On the day of the bookshop crawl, our group explored every nook and cranny of both floors, taking in the non-fiction, hunting out the discount titles and spotting a few of the more expensive books on offer. I believe I was the only one among us able to limit their purchase to one book (and only because I've had practice). For me the book of choice was The Search Warrant by Patrick Modiano, but as a group our purchases ranged from classics to crime to non-fiction.

It was a great way to visit a bookshop I usually go to alone. Having people to pick out things I'd miss, rejoice over the discovery of titles I'd not previously heard of or simply marvel at the amount of books on offer meant it was even more fun to find myself in such a favourite destination. It reminded me how much I love to share the bookshop experience and made me determined to stop taking this gem for granted.

As for you, dear fellow bookshop fan, should you find yourself anywhere near Trafalgar Square or Leicester Square with five minutes to spare there are any amount of books waiting for you nearby...

Any Amount of Books
56 Charing Cross Road,
London, WC2H 0QA
Tel: 020 7836 3697


  1. I've been reading your blog for at least a year. I love it which, of course, means I love books and bookshops. I live right next to the south end of Morro Bay on the Central Coast of California in a mobile home. I love to travel to London and England alone so I can do just what I like without worrying about pleasing a traveling companion. That sounds selfish but there it is. I'm a retired teacher with limited funds. Your blog gives me great ideas for my next trip. I realize now that in March, 2012, I walked right by Any Amount of Books on my way to Foyle's where I bought an autographed copy of a book about Shakespeare by Simon Callow. That was a thrill and that book occupies an honored spot in my home. I hope to visit Much Ado Books in Alfriston, Persephone Bookshop (again!), this one and the shops along the canal in Camden next time before I head north to put my feet upon a point of fascination since childhood--Hadrian's Wall. Newcastle and Durham sound interesting, too. So many book shops and other sites to see and people to meet!! Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I really appreciate your blog. Now I'm off to dive back into Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies trilogy. Cheers.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Diane. It's really lovely to know this blog is helping to inspire bookshop visits and to hear from a regular reader. You've really made my day.

      Your bookshopping plans sound very well thought-out and remind me of a few places I'm yet to visit. Should you ever feel like sharing some of your bookshop fun (either side of the Atlantic) I'd be thrilled if you wanted to contribute to the Your Bookshops guest section.


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