Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Book Shop Adventures & Illustrations

Book sales seem to be a common thing amongst book bloggers and readers these days. I’m not surprised we’re always on the hunt for the best deals or cheapest books with the amount we buy, collect, and read. Whilst there’s plenty of places online to find deals, sometimes it’s easier to look closer to home and show some love for our local book shops.

And that’s what I’m going to share with you today. I’ve been exploring Sheffield to find smaller book shops to encourage you to find the hidden beauties your city has to offer or even come and visit these ones if you’re local.

Rare and Racy
164 - 166 Division Street, S3 7SG

Rare and Racy is a lovely gem found in the city centre on Division Street so its super easy to get too whilst you’re out and about. I can only compare the inside to that of a treasure chest as its walls are piled high with second hand books from poetry, classics, and general literature. There are boxes and boxes full of records ranging over genres suitable for any music lover and art covering the walls from local contributors. My favourite find in this shop is the boxes of recent comics for only £1 and as it’s the only shop I’ve seen recently selling comics it took a lot of self-restraint to not purchase every single one that caught my eye because that price is amazing.

Whilst the atmosphere here is great, with uncommon music and the towering stacks of books, it is unfortunately closing down sometime this year due to a council development project. I’m absolutely gutted that I hadn’t taken the time to browse the shop until now, my flat mate and I have walked past this multiple times throughout the past two years and always commented how we’ll have to visit but never did.

JC Books
The Moor Market, Earl Street, S1 4PF

I always thought the Moor Market only sold fish, meat, fruit and veg which I guess is my own fault for never bothering to go in. I mean I wasn’t too wrong, there are about 15 different butchers (perhaps a slight exaggeration on my part here, but I was seriously confused why there were so many under one roof) but there is also a book shop! 

JC Books selection of books is smaller than all the others I got to visit but that’s expected when it’s a little market stall. But if you’re a huge fan of romance books this is definitely a place to check out, and I’m using romance as the huge umbrella term here because there were romances of all kinds – historical, paranormal, urban fantasy. You name it, it was probably represented here somehow.

Tilley's Vintage Magazine Shop
281 Shoreham Street, S1 4SS

On side street not far from the football stadium is the little blue shop that is Tilley’s Vintage Magazine Shop. Every time I’ve driven past the window has been stacked high with books but I’ve never managed to have a proper nosey in. That still remains true today because both times I went to visit it was shut, there was a sign up that points out they not open up for regular times and you can phone up to find when they’re open or book a time for them to open. I super hate talking on the phone and didn’t even attempt this oops.

Their website however, whilst not the prettiest or easiest of websites to use out there, tells us how they sell collectable books, magazines, annuals, and memorabilia. I imagine there are some absolute treasures in there and a collectors dream to explore.

Porter Book Shop
227 Sharrow Vale Road, S11 8ZE

Further out of the city is Porter Book Shop, sat on the corner and opposite a cute looking caf√©. Outside the shop is a box of books but inside is amazing. I had a backpack on when I entered and struggled to move between the shelves because it is so tightly packed of books. The first half of the shop was full of historical and informative books, I don’t usually browse the non-fiction shelves in bookstores and as the shelves are labelled it easy for me to do so but I didn’t know my way around this tiny second hand book shop and it was super interesting seeing them for a change.

The second half of the book shop was home to all the fiction books, only organised by author last night. The book shelves nearly touched the ceiling full of anything from the Assassin Creed books to really old leather classics. It was a dream. I ended up browsing these shelves for what seemed like hours, the only book I purchased though was a heavily annotated copy of Cat Eyes by Margaret Atwood, I usually hate defacing books but just something about this copy drew me to it. It’s the one of a kind books like this that allow shops like this to have such charm to it, I mean who else knows what else is hidden away in those thousands of books?

Books on the Park
749 Ecclesall Rad, S11 8TG

Across the road from Endcliffe Park is Books on the Park, its atmosphere is very similar to Porter Book Shop but a little bigger on the inside allowing it to have a room dedicated to fiction books and another for records. The front section of the shop is crammed with non-fiction books, all neatly organised and labelled from War to Movies and Religion, as this shop was pretty spacious I had a decent browse and my favourite thing about this shop is it has little trinkets placed around that you can purchase – like really old postcards, leaflets, maps and mugs with literary designs on. Below every book shelf is a box full of more books, its feels never ending.

The room full of fiction books consumed even more of my time and with a huge selection of books and comics I had to make really tough decisions on what to buy. Did you know that Nausica√§ of the Valley of the Wind is also published as comics? I didn’t but I found 2 volumes of it published in the early 90’s here. This is why we all need to go out to explore and love our little book shops more because I bet they’re just full of hidden gems that need our love.

The Last Chapter
7 Rustlings Road, S11 7AA


Also across the road from Endcliffe Park is The Last Chapter which looks super modern compared to the other book shops. Its window display was very neat and tidy, featuring a typewriter, some lovely art prints, and very pretty leather bound books. 

Unfortunately this is all I got to see of the shop as it was closed, which really sucks because I found out from their website that inside there is a little art gallery which changes installations every 4 weeks and the work is usually book or text related too. Looking at that would’ve been great! This is quite far away from the city centre though so next time I’m in the city centre with free time I’m going to have to catch a bus up here because I was really looking forward to going in.

Rhyme and Reason
681 Ecclesall Road, S11 8TG

The last book shop I visited for this was also the only book shop that didn’t sell second hand books! Rhyme and Reason has books for children on their sign so I wasn’t really expecting to buy anything from here but they actually have a huge variety of new books. 

They have a huge shelf full of young adult books and a small section for adult books too, but do you know my absolute favourite thing about this shop? It’s that they shelve stand-a-lone books away from the books in a series. 

Best. Idea. Ever.

I have so many series to start or finish reading that I’ve been purposefully avoiding any new ones for the time being as they end up being so time consuming. But here I didn’t have to double check every book I picked up because I knew I was looking only at stand-a-lone ones. Perfect. 

Another lovely thing is they shelve all the special editions together too so if you’re looking for something that you might collect or a gift for someone they’re easy to find. I definitely spent a little too long looking at this shelf and wanting more than I could afford.

So that’s it for now. If you guys end up liking this I’ll go out and look at some more small bookshops to share my journey and thoughts about them. Oh and just in case you didn’t guess, the illustrations are all mine too so I hope you liked them as much as I enjoyed putting together this feature for you.

I hope this has inspired you to see what your city has to offer in the shape of small book shops, or even reminded you to go and visit one that you’ve not been to for a while. They’re definitely a favourite of mine because the atmosphere and selection of books is so different to that of the well-known bookstore chains.

If you want, you can download a copy of this post here for reading on the go!