Friday, August 29, 2014


After work Wednesday I headed to the traffic-tangled intersection of Ludgate Hill & Fleet St. to visit Waterstone’s, only to find it had closed. What a let-down. It was a convenient and close to my hotel, not really inspired as bookstores go but serviceable for a poor ex-pat like me.

Thursday my colleagues directed me to Daunt on Cheapside, up behind St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was a stroke of luck that Waterstone’s closed, because Daunt was rich and gorgeous and peppered with fabulous books. 

Near the entrance was a display including NYRB novels and novellas from the Melville House series. And the different thing about Daunt is it organizes much of the store by country. I was skeptical, but it worked. In the France section, for example, they had all the de rigueur French writers, plus novels set in France, plus history and diaries, etc. Ditto Canada, India, Eastern Europe, etc. 

I sat a spell beside Italy browsing the Leonardo Sciascia titles. I’d heard of Sciascia with his tactile last name, but was never drawn to him. Daunt had five of his books, three from both NYRB and Granta. The translations were identical, only the packaging differed. I shelled out the two extra pounds NYRB wanted for The Day of the Owl just to acquire that odd, hot/cool cover. 

(I’ve obviously become a slave to beauty. I almost don’t care if the book is any good. While in London I also bought a dainty glass teapot and loose rosebud tea so I can watch the pale pink buds floating, and smell the heady flowers. The drink is secondary.)

At Daunt, I also bought Penelope Lively’s Heat Wave, JG Ballard’s Crash, Upamanyu Chatterjee’s English, August, and The Everything Store by Brad Stone, a book about Amazon. The cashier told me he and his colleague had been discussing how much they liked the cover of Crash, and I had to shove The Day of the Owl up in his sweet young face.


Kathleen said...

Oh, books! And their covers! Oh, bookstores! (Wish we had some....)

Ken said...

Someone I know needs a frequent flyer card for nyrb. Not naming any names are dialing up any addiction rehab centers or anything... I'm just sayin'.

SarahJane said...

Indeed, there's an addict building a wall of them.

Dave said...

Daunt Books is terrific, and I'm told it's the biggest seller of English-language travel books in the world. My dad's a huge fan of books about Central Asia, but I was still able to find a couple of titles that were new to him at the main Daunt location last year. I also liked the way they include so much literature by people *from* each country—it really helps balance the bias and shallowness inherent in books written by foreign travelers.

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