You can't get more heart of the community than a tiny little secondhand bookshop with a sofa and a range of random events.
bookshop crawling. At the time we'd simply chosen to visit because Offside Books in north London sounded like an interesting place to explore. We walked through the door and realised 'explore' was possibly a bit of an optimistic word, because this bookshop really is rather snug, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in personality.
At the time of our visit the bookseller was very enthusiastically chatting to another couple, discussing bookshop activities they'd like to make the most of and generally giving nosy me the impression this bookshop is the place to be if you want to know what's going on in your community. The limited space meant it was impossible not to listen in to their conversation, but I don't think that mattered – this was the place to arrive as a stranger and leave as a friend.
Even if you weren't interested in the extra-bookular activities, a table for two looked appealing for chess players and a comfy sofa dominated the centre of the shop, demanding to be relaxed on with a book. I think hot drinks were available too, so had we not been in the middle of an adventure I'm sure we could have comfortably wiled away the afternoon here, making friends and soaking in the atmosphere.
Instead we took to exploring the shelves, which covered two walls on opposite sides of the bookshop. the space was so limited I'd say a good 50 per cent of the stock could probably be reached from the sofa, but this simply added to the charm. A full fronted window also means the space didn't feel at all dark or cramped. Books were obviously limited, but there was still a nice variety and I had no trouble choosing a purchase: 10:04 by Ben Lerner.
The bookshop's popularity and our lack of time meant I didn't get the chance to make friends with the bookseller on this occasion, but from the experience of other visitors, and the atmosphere in general, I'd say the people of Kilburn are lucky to have such a friendly place to hang out in.
92 Willesden Lane, Kilburn, London, NW6 7TA
Tel: 020 7624 9340