A week or so back I was in London and so I pottered into one of the flagship bookshops that are around and about the place. There are several of these very large bookshops for different chains in London, and I always get a nice warm glow as I walk past, but rarely do I get the chance to go into one of them.
On this particular day, I had an hour or so to kill, and so in I went. I hadn't been in for a few years, and had forgotten just how vast it is. There was every section of fiction and non-fiction you could possibly want, shelves upon shelves over several floors of books all wanting to be taken home and read.
Fiction being my normal modus operandi, I headed there first. And stopped dead. There was so much choice I simply didn't know where to start. hardbacks, paperbacks, classics, literary fiction, science fiction, crime, romance, *ahem* erotica, graphic novels, children's fiction, Young Adult fiction... it went on and on and on...
I started to wander along the shelves, but there were so many tomes that I was starting to find it hard to focus. I got out my trusty "would like to read" list and started to look for those books, but I lost interest quite quickly. The normal joy of wandering along a book shelf and finding a wanted book was lost because the wander had become a hike across the store, only to find that the next book you wanted was back on the shelf you just left.
After a little while, I gave up and headed to the sports section to see if they stocked any good martial arts books for The Delightful Mr F. I found a couple of good ones which came home with me.
I left feeling rather deflated. A massive shop full of books should be my idea of paradise, but the reality was a disappointment. All the booksellers were lovely, and hearing snatches of conversation, they seemed to know their stuff, but still it wasn't quite right. I mulled all of this over on the train coming home, and came to the realisation, that what I like, and frankly need, is a curated collection of books to choose from. I know I bang on about Mr B's* a lot on here, but they are the best example of what I am trying to get at. The shop is a nice size, not too small, but not too big, and every book in there has been carefully selected to offer a wonderfully curated selection, which the booksellers then help the customers understand and choose from. I also find smaller independents have a cosier and friendlier feel. Reading for me is an escape, a pleasure, and a way to relax. Going to these huge shops makes it feel like a book supermarket, and I don't really like the experience all that much.
Well, who would have thought it? I found a bookshop I wasn't that keen on...
* I have no affiliation with Mr B's, just a very, very happy and loyal customer.