Some are large and sparse, some so densely packed it’s hard to see how you’ll ever make it out. All the times I’ve joked ‘I could spend all day in here!’, and all the blurbs of never-bought books I’ve scanned, I still don’t think I appreciate independent bookshops enough. Christy Clark shares why you should support independent book shops and his favourites you should visit.
Like most shops, they come in all shapes and sizes, and yet are united by the knowledge of the multitude of stories dwelling within them, waiting for purchase. Waiting for someone, like you, to take a chance on them.
What differentiates the independent bookshop, though, isn’t just the atmosphere, or the fact that every customer shares an appreciation for writing (or, at least, is buying for someone who does.) It’s in the community of these spaces, the literary life that passes through them.
Some host literary events for self-published authors; others offer a relaxed place to sit and read, or for book groups to meet. They bring a breath of life into a society so often dismissive of books, of creativity. The Government have long targeted the arts, society has long targeted the arts, but it’s in these imaginative havens that it feels as though the arts are fighting back.
If you’re new to Nottingham, don’t worry, the independent bookshops here are alive and thriving. The Five Leaves Bookshop, off a side street near Old Market Square, is a perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon browsing. They also regularly host events, giving voice to a range of writers from different backgrounds, including a talk on LGBTQ+ writers later this month. The events are a good price and offer an excellent chance to get to know the literary heart of the city.
Another of my favourites, Bookwise, is a second-hand bookshop in the city centre. If you’re looking for something cheaper, yet still stacked with books of all kinds, this is perfect. The money also goes to Money for Music, a local charity providing ‘music participation opportunities for people of all ages and abilities across Nottingham and the region.’ A great excuse to buy books, and support local business and charity.
Yet it wouldn’t be a piece on independent bookshops without mentioning Barter Books. Whilst it’s a while away from Nottingham, in the town of Alnwick, I think Barter Books is the epitome of the independent bookshop. Cosy fires, endless books on endless topics, and a rustic, traditional design, it’s what I think of as the perfect place to not only buy books but spend all day browsing through them. Definitely worth a visit up north.
As though the prize of a freshly bound or donated book isn’t enough, buying from independent bookshops directly supports them, and the literature of their respective communities. If you don’t read as much as you think you should, try spending an hour or so in your local bookshop, and you’’ll probably find a reason to. If you read more than you think you should, you probably already know the perks.
As surely as there will always be a need for books, I strongly believe that there will always be a need for independent bookshops. Pay one a visit. They’re depending on you.
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