During the holidays before my daunted exams arrived, I went to visit Persephone Books in Holborn, London with a friend, as a nice break from revision.
Persephone Books acts as both a publishing house and a bookseller, focusing on ‘neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers’. They currently have 132 books in their collection, complete with a sleek grey book jacket and bookmark matching the jacket’s inside, the design especially selected for their reprinting. They add two new editions to their collection every year, meaning that in the rare event you manage to get through all their titles, you won’t be short of a good read for long (although you may be just a tad out of pocket).
When I first stepped into their store I immediately fell in love with their whole atmosphere. It was bustling with women of various ages (but mainly 20s and 30s) flicking through the pages of the novels and sampling the collection they had their. Having not researched them prior to my visit, I was initially surprised to find that they mainly stocked books that they themselves had published – the exceptions being a few classics such as Jane Austen and the like – meaning that their filled shelves were beautifully uniform and colour coordinated, making for a simply gorgeous aesthetic.
The titles that Persephone Books stocks are nicely diverse – they have novels, short stories, memoirs and cookery/recipe books, meaning that you’re nearly certain to be fretting over which novel to get rather than if you can find one to fit your mood. The former was my dilemma when browsing on my trip, but I enlisted the help of the store assistant there who was able to help me whittle it down to the one quite impressively. We also then had a chat about the other books that they stocked and her love for the titles and the store was really clear in her enthusiasm, which for me is yet another reason to want to come back to the store, as you can never be short of other people to discuss about books.
The majority of the authors in the store are pretty unrecognisable and in my case I only recognised two, the first being Virginia Woolf, the second her husband Leonard. This meant that it’s pretty hard impossible to avoid discovering new authors and hopefully gets you out of your comfort zone as well. The book I ended up buying is The New House by Lettice Cooper, a story set in a day in which a family moves into their new house with aspects of a coming-of-age novel for the daughter in the family (or so I was told).
There are a couple downside to the store, the first being that the books aren’t the cheapest, each novel priced at £13 with a small discount available if you buy 3, the second that they only have the one store, meaning that if you live outside London you are only able to buy their stock online via their website. That being said, if you’re ever in London, or looking for a unique present for a book lover, I can’t recommend Persephone Books enough.
Have you been to Persephone Books before, if so what books did you pick up? Also, if you know of any other equally gorgeous bookstores in either London or other cities in the UK I’d love to know so I can bookmark them and give them a visit.