Most of us are very particular when it comes to the shelving of our books. Alphabetical order is generally a given, as is shelving by genre, but not everyone does things the same way, with the one common thread being order of some kind.
For instance, all of my books are in order but a significant number of my shelves no longer follow the alphabet. When I started this blog the books got placed according to when the bookshop they were from got written about. It's a nice reminder of my journey and also a lot easier than shuffling along the entire bookcase every week. And I'm not alone.
I've met people who order books by colour, by date read or studied or simply by height. So long as there's an order of some kind my bookish OCD can cope and I'm able to resist the urge to re-shelve all their books by the alphabet.
Which means I'm okay when I find myself in a bookshop that doesn't immediately appear to follow the alphabet either.
The journey to the bookshop itself is one of discovery as you leave the mainline train station to head in the opposite direction to the way most people are heading. I'd not previously heard of Lower Marsh, but it's a varied and interesting street of shops and places to eat* if you're looking for an alternative London experience. My trip was as part of a bookshop crawl, so I didn't have time to fully investigate all that was on offer, but I could easily have loitered nearby (and in the bookshop) for longer.
Staying in the main part of the shop, there's a bookcase for travel guides, a wall to journey around the world and a selection of recommendations, which at the time of my visit comprised books linking to an exhibition being held further along the road.
It was the world wall with its continental shelving system and clocks indicating different timezones that made my visit memorable. Seeing the books by country really did take me on a cultural journey, making me think beyond the alphabet and appreciate how little books care for borders or ethnic differences: a good book is a good book no matter where it originates from.
My purchase, thanks to a bookseller recommendation, came from Ireland: Anne Enright's The Green Road. Not a distant country geographically, I was surprised by how few books I knew from there and pleased to have some of them picked out for me during our conversation.
Its proximity to Waterloo railway station means Travelling Through... is a surprisingly easy bookshop to visit when you are travelling through or simply exploring the area. Best of all, thanks to those well organised shelves, it's a journey around this wonderful world.
131 Lower Marsh, Waterloo,
London, SE1 7AE
Tel: 020 7633 9279
*I also recommend walking along the back of the street, where a giant model camel can be spotted on the roof of a restaurant. Obviously.