Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Settling down with a nice book

Once the post-Christmas urge to get fit and healthy wears off (and let's face it, the cold snap has already put off lots of joggers), thoughts turn to more sedate ways of enjoying yourself - and you can still, with the right book, consider it an act of self-improvement - just one with no risk of a sprained ankle or torn ligament. Besides, I've still got some book tokens left from Christmas (yes, I have the kind of family that still gives me book tokens for Christmas. Clearly, they must think I'm still in need of self-improvement).

So, where to go? Here in Earl's Court, we've lost our only decent book shop - a former Waterstones, now M&S Simply Food. The nearest venue now is another Waterstones, on High Street Kensington, and further west there's one in Ealing. If you are feeling in need of something larger, then there's the huge Waterstone's (formerly Simpsons) on Piccadilly. For an alternative to Waterstone's - and they are becoming rather ubiquitous - you could try the huge Borders on Oxford Street.

For something a little more inteersting, you could always browse along the bookshops in Charing Cross Road. Even if it isn't quite as portrayed in that wonderful film '84 Charing Cross Road', there are still some wonderful little bookshops (as well as some chains and, of course,the venerable Foyles).

Of course, for something even more specialist you could try Gay's the Word in Marchmont Street, specialising, unsurprisingly in material about gay and lesbian life, but also including material by authors who just happen to be gay (and may not appreciate being pigeon-holed, I guess). It's one of those institutions (and this is an institution) that is under constant threat of closure, so your custom would be appreciated.

Travellers should look no further than Stanfords or the National Map Centre (NMC) for material to whet their travelling appetite (both sell a good deal more than maps) and the NMC is excellent for books about transport more generally too, especially the history of the London Underground. Politicos should find all they need in the Westminster Bookshop, including signed copies of many items if you want to impress someone. (Though I guess it depends who has signed it...)

There. Plenty of ideas - all you need now if the comfy chair, and someone to bring you cups of tea while you tuck in.

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