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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Daunt Bookshop, London

For a while now I've been wanting to visit the Daunt bookshop in London. I had read about it a long time ago but never had the opportunity to make the visit. Yesterday I had a couple of hours off so I headed to Baker Street Station and walked over to Marylebone High Street to see it.

Although it has sections with fiction, non-fiction and reference books, Daunt is first and foremost a "travel bookshop". The books are arranged by country or geographical region, and each section contains not only travel guides but also books about that country/region. So if you're looking at Israel, for example, you will find not only the ubiquitous Fodor's and Lonely Planet guides but also books about Judaism, Jewish History, etc. Very interesting set up. I also like the fact there were several tables spread around the shop with books of all types set on them, in no particular order.

The shop itself is famous for being an original Edwardian shop, complete with dark wooden galleries and a big skylight roof that lets in natural daylight (it was a nice sunny day). All so very quaint.

I spent an hour or so browsing through the store and experiencing that familiar high-low feeling I get whenever I'm in a bookstore. There are so many books to read, on so many interesting subjects, books of all sizes and shapes and colours, all beckoning you to pick them up and lose yourself in the world the author has created just for you. But so little time! What to choose? Why would this book take preference over that one? Plus there's the constant fear of getting yet another disapproving look from my wife, a look that says: "More books?! At this rate we'll run out of space once again... And why on earth would anyone in their right mind want to keep every book he's ever read?" So, sadly, I left Daunt's without purchasing even one small volume.

By the way, I had to smile when I saw where the US section was relegated to at Daun'ts: at the very end of the gallery on the right, all the way in the back, way after books about places like Cambodia or Kuwait. I guess the shop's owners were keen on making a statement about their view of tourism to the US...

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