Monday, 9 April 2018

In which the boy falls in love with a bookshop

When it comes to bookshops I'm a bit like a puppy. I see the word 'bookshop' and I get all excitable, race off towards the door and mentally run around the shop trying to enjoy as much of my surroundings as possible all in one go. In contrast, the boy sees a bookshop and is a lot more reserved. He'll point the place out and will generally enjoy exploring and seeing what treats he can find, but instances of full-blown excitement are few and far between.

Kemptown Bookshop is one of those instances. I pretty much lost him to the books, as he first explored every inch of the ground floor before progressing upstairs and down to make the most of everything on display. From popular science to art, poetry and a wealth of high quality fiction, I don't believe there was an area of the bookshop he wasn't engrossed by and even though we were on a bookshop crawl there was no way I could possibly consider rushing him out of a bookshop he was so obviously enjoying. When someone's as happy that, it should be considered illegal to disturb them.

Walking in to the bookshop, you discover a good-sized, square-ish ground floor of floor-to-ceiling fiction. Colours are muted, leaving the smartly shelved books to do the talking, and talk they do. From an aesthetic point of view they look perfect, all the same height on pale grey shelves reminiscent of the beauty of Persephone, while the content is varied, intelligent and packed with books we both love, own or want to read.

Everywhere I looked was something I've long had on my to-buy list, accompanied by others I regularly recommend. More unusually, everything my boyfriend looks out for was also on a shelf somewhere in this room of fiction. There was no way we were only buying one book here, and that was just looking at the bookcases along the walls. Cast your eye across the recommendations – including a book first aid kit – and tables of miscellany and there's even more to appeal.


Upstairs we find art and travel, with stationery bits and bobs and a selection of discounted books (the only hint of disarray in this immaculate bookshop), while downstairs is children's and more non-fiction. The stairs themselves are also variously graced with art and tasteful children's toys, meaning something for everyone without offending anyone's sensibilities. All levels continue the general feeling of lightness in look tempered by intelligence in stock, and I felt certain I was likely to find any book that might come to mind, so well-filled were all the shelves. They even have signs advertising free coffee for browsers. Kemptown Bookshop is obviously a very civilised place to visit.

We eventually had to think about leaving, so I chose Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson as my purchase. This author's massive books aren't often found on the shelves of indie bookshops so I was pleased to see not one but two of his titles here (I already owned the other or I might have broken my one book per shop rule). As for my boyfriend, he has no such limits and picked up Ted Hughes' The Crow, Steffen Kverneland's Munch and The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. It was the latter that saw him delay us longer, as the boy and the bookseller ended up deep in conversation about Mann and other much-loved books. As it's usually me who holds us up I wasn't really complaining.


Kemptown Bookshop
91 St George’s Road, Brighton, West Sussex, BN2 1EE
Tel: 01273 682110
@KemptownBkshop


Want a second (third after the boy) opinion? Here's a Your Bookshops guest post.

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