Thursday 4 September 2014

Lost in a good bookshop

Stepping into a shop with floor to ceiling books is nothing unusual when you've a hobby like mine, but every now and then I encounter somewhere that brings new meaning to the word crammed.

Set in a former railway station and found almost at the western end of the Picadilly Line, Osterley Bookshop is one such place. But despite the tightly packed bookshelves – placed so close together politeness is required if you want to squeeze past a fellow browser – a large front window ensures sunshine floods the room. And that sunshine lights up a treasure trove of books.

I mean it kindly when I say this felt like the equivalent of a good quality junk shop, one of those places with gems to be found in every corner if you're prepared to have a bit of a rummage - but without the dust and much, much better.

My favourite thing was the way the books were piled up. Sure, lots of secondhand bookshops resort to stacking texts in convenient corners, but in Osterley these piles feel much more deliberate. With paper signs advertising the likes of 'Henry James heap of', 'Bond, James Bond' or simply 'Wales Overflow', it was impossible not to enjoy looking at the floor as much as the walls.

And should you struggle with your eyesight, a box of glasses sits in the doorway for customers to use. I love such thoughtful quirks.

Not needing glasses, I instead dawdled in the entrance as I lost myself in the classics and then the science fiction before moving on to rummage through the piles on the floor ('Sci-fi O\flow' and 'Hardys heap of'), with a classic eventually being chosen from among the five or six I desperately wanted to take home. Indeed, I'm not sure I'll ever see so many Philip K Dick titles together in one place again, but Edith Wharton's The Custom of The Country won the day in the end.

How I left with just the one book is still something of a miracle though, because the fullness and brightness of Osterley Bookshop make it perfect for losing yourself in. For squeezing between the shelves, delving through the piles and collecting armfuls of books to take home and enjoy.

Which is why I'm writing about the bookshop now. I'll always encourage people to visit bookshops I've loved, but September sees Osterley Bookshop hold its annual Revamp and Renewal Sale (see image below), so if ever you needed an excuse to hop on the tube and explore one of my recommendations surely now is as good a time as any?

Osterley Bookshop,
168A Thornbury Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4QE
Tel: 020 85606206


  1. I went there today. Such a joy to visit!

    1. It is! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.


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