Otherwise known as…
The places that got me into this mess in the first place.
A second hand bookshop is a dangerous place. A place of good intentions ruined and willpower left by the wayside, somewhere between crime fiction A-Z by author and a pile of orange old Penguin classics.
It is my favourite smell, and one of my favourite ways to spend my time. I once went for a weekend in Hay-on-Wye with my friend, both of our previous book buying trips there having been curtailed by husband fed-upness. We managed a solid seven hours of second hand bookshop perusal before we thought we might fancy doing something else. And that was mainly because I was pregnant and my legs hurt. We reckon we could break that record given half a chance.
It is unsurprising, given this addiction, that I found myself in the predicament which prompted the writing of this blog. Shelves and shelves full of beautiful, but unread, books that deserve better. They deserve my love and commitment, not to be constantly and literally left on shelf while I flit out to buy more.
Part of the problem is that I live in Derbyshire, which happens to have a ridiculously good selection of fine second hand bookshops.
I have chosen my top three here to form an amazing golden triangle of bookshops. If you’ve never been to the Peak District in Derbyshire before, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. If I were you, I would immediately book a holiday here to do nothing but walk up hills, and buy and read books. (In fact, if I were you, you would live here – but a visit sounds like the next best thing).
This is a gorgeous bookshop in a tall and higgledy-piggledy building opposite a beautiful swan-inhabited millpond. Second hand books rub shoulders with a good selection of new titles. They have a great children’s books room, although this is mostly new books. They also have a nice cafe as part of the bookshop. Scarthin is a real hub of local literary and arty interest, with all sorts of events and even their very own artist in residence.
I love Scrivener’s. There is a ghost in the genuinely spooky cellar, and you can make your own cups of tea to drink while you curl up on the sofa and read a first chapter or five before choosing what to buy. The people who work there are friendly, and the book selection is amazing. This one is my daughter’s favourite of all, I think largely due to the comfy chair in the children’s section set amongst piles of Enid Blytons. A snatched hour or two at Scrivener’s is our idea of a good time.
With the possible exception of Murder and Mayhem in Hay, this is my favourite bookshop in the world. It used to form part of Bamford garden centre, but for the last few years has been housed in a beautiful building in Tideswell that started life as the village’s House of Correction. Piles and piles of unclassified books line the corridors and rooms with signs saying ‘Tim has been buying too many books again’, as well as great crime, children’s, classics, travel, food, art and every other conceivable section. They frequently knock a couple of quid off your total bill “because you’re helping me free up shelf space”. And the last time I bought five or so at once (all for other people of course), I spotted a book called Satan In St. Mary’s in one of the precarious piles by the till and said “That sounds cool,” only to be given it as a free gift. Peak Volumes is also ridiculously little-known, even in the surrounding villages. And it has no idea how good it is, which always makes things even better: a wonderful, unpretentious, treasure trove of joy.