I first visited Hungerford Bookshop many moons ago. An old friend of mine used to live on the outskirts of Hungerford, in a cottage surrounded by woodland and trees, and it was a place I used to visit often, and one I still try to when I’m back on home soil. A small market town nestled in the heart of the North Wessex Downs, Hungerford is one of my favourite places in England; its high-street is freckled with antiques arcades-aplenty, within whose four walls I can spend endless hours perusing the shelves of paintings and jewellery and hardback books whose spines are worn and pages dog-eared. The rest of its retail offering is made up of independent boutiques, and the type of country stores you might find in other picturesque market towns; selling Barbours and leather bound A-Zs and scented candles and patterned tea towels. The high street curves down to the canal before reaching Great Grooms of Hungerford; an antique showroom housed within a prestigious Queen Anne town house on three floors; and a building so beautiful I like to pretend I’ll live there when I’m older.
But the gem of this town is undoubtedly Hungerford Bookshop. The quaintest of stores, Hungerford Bookshop is located on the high-street and boasts an inviting window display that draws even the most infrequent of readers inside with its promise of stories unread and tales to be told.
Inside you’ll find a haven of books – both new and second hand – shelved along side other bookish gifts such as literature themed candles from Literati and Lite, and a good selection of stationary. It’s the type of shop that is simply impossible to leave empty handed – however frugal or lacking in shelf space you may be. From a stack of second hand paper backs retailing at just a couple of pounds, to hard back tomes that are beautifully bound and would make the prettiest of presents, there’s something for everyone.
I’ve visited twice this year while on home visits to nearby Midgham Marsh; the first (despite the fact that I was flying back to LA the following day with hand luggage alone and already seven packed books), I bought Susan Hill’s brilliant memoir Jacob’s Room is Full of Books: A Year of Reading, and How to Be a Travel Writer by Don George; the second, a signed copy of Operation Wansdyke; a gift for my dad.
Joint owned by Emma – whose favourite part of bookselling is the swapping of book recommendations, coffee in hand, during ‘Book for All Seasons’ consultations – and Alex, a bookseller of twenty-two years who reads mostly fiction, rotating between crime, contemporary, historical and sci-fi and often has a packet of cookies stashed behind the counter to keep his blood sugar levels up, they’ve together done a rather brilliant job of creating the shop’s cosy atmosphere and a welcoming space for book-lovers.
A literary treasure trove in the heart of Hungerford, Hungerford Bookshop is the best kind of local shop; warm and welcoming with friendly staff on hand to give personal recommendations, author signings and a literary festival to boot, you’ll no doubt leave with a well-chosen book, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done your bit in supporting not only the local community, but also a rather brilliant bookshop.
Find out more about Hungerford Bookshop here.
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