Tag Archives: Beautiful Bookshops

Chapter One Books, Manchester

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Or little places to sit and write, should you be a budding author…

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Or should you be the fan of stationery, which lets face it most of us book lovers are…

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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.

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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.

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Browsing Bookshops…

I don’t know about you, but sometimes just browsing around a book store for a while (ok, maybe an hour or two) can be one of the best things to do when you are having any reading issues, or if you just want to calm yourself. I did this recently when my head was in a spin and it was just what I needed, a chance to gage where my ‘reading head’ is and let my eyes and mind wander over the spins.

As I went from A – Z, I saw authors I had been recommended only days before (Jenn Ashworth), authors that I had heard kerfuffle about and wanted to try (Leo Benedictus), authors I have started a book of recently and then not finished though I don’t know why (Jasper Fforde), authors I ‘really should have read’ but still ‘really haven’t’ but will honest (William Golding), authors I had never heard of but after the spine catching my eye, a read of the blurb and flick through I really fancy reading (Tama Janowitz), authors whose books have impacted your life (Harper Lee), authors who remind you of the excitement and reading possibilities in translation you haven’t as yet uncovered (Per Petterson), authors you seem to be hearing about all the time at the moment and have decided you simply must read them (Owen Sheers) and authors whose debut novels blew you away and you wish they would hurry up and write another one (Kathleen Winter).

As you wander the shelves, rather than be intimidated by the vast number of books you might not get to read, there is a certain joy in the books you spot be they the ones you love or the ones you might love in the future. Oh how a browse can be such bliss.

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Bookshops I Love; Simply Books

I haven’t really had a chance to get out and about quite as much as I would have liked of late what. However in between docs appointments, hospitals visits and generally feeling rubbish I did manage to find a bookish haven not a million miles away from where I am in the small village of Bramhall and as I know how much you like little virtual wanders around bookish places of delight I thought I would share this wonderful place with you all.

‘Simply Books’ is a shop I had heard raved about by several different sources, so naturally when I happened to be in the vicinity of Bramhall when getting from A to B the other week I had to pop round and have a snoop. Initially I couldn’t find it and instead spent a lovely hour wandering the high street and pooping into lots of charity shops, and then suddenly I turned a corner and look what greeted me…

I felt a little like I had found the Holy Grail on a random suburban road as round these parts and indeed in Manchester itself book shops, apart from Waterstones, are few and far between and I do love an independent book shop especially one that greets you like this…

And not only has a rather large fiction section for an independent but also has one of my favourite features in any book shop ‘the staff recommendation shelves’…

Not only that, and in many ways this is why this shop instantly became my dream ‘if I won the lottery I would have one of these’ sort of shop, but on the ground floor there is a small but perfectly formed café (though you can drink outside as you can see from the first picture) which I can personally testify does both great coffee and cakes…

I wasn’t expecting something so immaculate and yet instantly homely and cosy which the shop is, especially shown when you head up stairs and turn into the travel section and find this…

Who wouldn’t want a nice comfy chair to sit at when you have such a huge selection of non fiction and travel to choose from…

What’s more, and believe me there is more, there is another lovely relaxed sitting area and behind that a table and chairs which I thought would be perfect for any book group…

‘Simply Books’ is, quite simply, a little Aladdin’s cave/place of paradise for any book lover. If only you had one of these in every village and every suburb… or at least at the end of my street! Can you tell I am a little smitten? I think it’s because in many ways its my dream place, I might have to beg them for a job or something!

Do you have any marvellous local independent stores like this? Do let me know and if they have a website like ‘Simply Books’ do then pop a link as I do think we should all be supporting our local independents as much as we can, don’t you?

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Bookshops I Love; Waterstones 128 New Street, Birmingham

Wonderful WaterstonesI don’t like to plagurise but I do like to borrow, well unless its the library and I have loved the book then giving it back seems far too difficult! I have really enjoyed Paperback Readers book shop blogs which you can find here, here and here. Now what I thought I would do is as I find these dens of book delight, only ones that are that bit special, I would blog about them so if you end up in the area (they could be here there and everywhere) you can pop by! Ooh I have just remembered that Kimbofo did one too a while back!

My very first one in what will possibly be quite a sporadic series is one of the big guns in the UK, yes Waterstones which over here is the biggest chain (Borders may be overtaking now though) of book stores. I have always found Waterstone’s to be comfortable and yet classy and the one I found in Birmingham (which isnt the Teasing Tower I mentioned on Sunday) I think is possibly one of the most beautiful book stores that I have been in ever. In fact if Waterstones would be kind enough just to turn some of the top floor rooms into a lovely studio flat for me (sorry The Converted One) I would quite happily move in and spend the entire time browsing books and soaking up all of the atmosphere.

When you walk in you are hit by an amazing open space like a hall in one of Janes Austens novels, only instead it is filled with novels, some of which are Jane Austen’s.

Your entrance... and a grand one!

Its one of those book stores you can happily get lost in due to the multitude of stairs which have staicases coming of the staircases.

Staircases with their own staircases!

I don’t know what the building used to be (when am back will look it up, unless one or two of you have let me know) the ceilings are absolutely stunning.

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I didn’t want to leave I just loved wandering in the light airy and book filled palace. An utter joy!

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I didn’t buy anything either… well ok I did but only a £4.95 copy of a guide to Tel Aviv. I wonder if I will gind any gem book stores like this out here? I will hunt one or two down for you if I can!

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