I had the pleasure of heading to Manchester earlier this week and after one of my meetings was cancelled last minute I decided to spend the time, before my train back, doing one of my favourite things and meandering around a bookshop. The bookshop I headed for was Chapter One Books in Manchester’s Northern Quarter which I fairly new and has moved into the city since I lived there for a year and a half.
In a time where independent bookshops are in decline it takes a brave person (or in this case persons, as two sisters opened the shop) to take on a venture like this. On entering Chapter One Books you know that you are in safe hands as the whole place is absolutely stunning from the moment you enter, when you are greeted by a selection of cakes – my kind of bookshop, and then turn the corner to discover an almost magical world of books.
I use the word magical as you feel like you are in a hidden book haven. There is a fountain and a tree hanging from the roof in what would be a rather industrial space which makes you feel like you are at once indoors and out, as well as being in a fairytale yet dystopian space, where only books have survived. It is marvellous. This is before you discover there are secret shelves all over the place hidden under balconies, which also conceal more shelves of books to discover.
The space also seems to just keep going, every time you turn another corner there seems to be more space where shelves are hiding waiting for you.
Or little places to sit and write, should you be a budding author…
Or should you be the fan of stationery, which lets face it most of us book lovers are…
Of course you are wondering what the sort of books are aren’t you? Well this is what I found so interesting, and loved about Chapter One Books, is that it feels like the selection of books has been really well crafted. (Yes, I held off the buzz word ‘curated’ though this would be true.) There are some of the well known and slightly obvious books (because every shop needs punters and to appeal to the passerby) yet they remain a small minority and tend to just be the really good ones surrounded with many more that you have yet to discover, and this said by an avid reader. With a limited space there are only a few authors who are there in abundance, in this case Atwood and Atkinson which thrilled me, but you can find a hardback of almost every book that is also in paperback which I liked. It felt like a den for collectors. I also loved the fact there were quite a few imported books which seriously tempted me. It is a collection clearly chosen by keen readers, books that you just really want to read if you haven’t before because of some of the better known pointers that you can gage your taste by. I picked up these two which caught my eye and I had never heard of but instantly felt I would love.
So this was all utterly joyous. I am only annoyed at myself for not having the Bonbon coffee (carnation milk and coffee nom) but that just means I have to go back, which I shall be doing every time I find myself in Manchester from now on. So a big hoorah for Chapter One Books! If you are in Manchester at any point make sure you head there, or else.