Booksellers are very important people. We rely on them to keep us in books, offer a friendly haven on the high street and, in my case, help us get from A to C, adding a B in the middle for good measure.
Which is what happened during my visit to last week's bookshop. Not being sure of my route, I asked the bookseller for some help. He admitted he didn't know how to get me to my proposed destination, but why not take a trip to the Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town? It was at least in the direction I wanted to travel and someone there might be able to help with the next part of my journey.
From across the street, Owl Bookshop is huge (my photo doesn't do it justice). Inside, it's even bigger. So big that before I'd even looked at a shelf I found myself approaching the bookseller to confirm it really was an independent.* Satisfied with the answer, it was time to get shopping.
Two shops opened up into one, this really is a large bookshop. One whole side is mostly given to fiction, with some non-fiction which then spills over to the other side, half of which is also a spacious children's department. From current affairs to psychology, childcare to education, just about every subject you could anticipate appears somewhere, with sweeping displays of recommendations meaning it would be easy to lose several hours browsing.
This variety continues among the fiction, with the main shelves stretching along one wall, complemented by a long table display and further stands for the likes of science fiction, film, poetry, etc. Ordinarily, such choice should have seen me dawdling for hours, salivating over every book and struggling to choose between five or six, and I'm certain a return visit would see me enjoying just such an experience. However in this instance my purchase took a matter of minutes to decide. Because the size of the shop meant it had the luxury of stocking a book I've spent the last few months searching for: Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind.
Thrilled with both my book and my bookshop find, it was time to return to the bookseller for a friendly hello and help with my continuing journey. Owl Bookshop united me with a brilliant book, but it was my encounters with the booksellers that helped my afternoon take flight.
207-209 Kentish Town Road,
Tel: 020 7485 7793
*It would've been fine if Owl Bookshop was a chain, but I like bookshops to be honest.