It’s the second ever annual Bookshop Day, with more than 2,000 bookshops around the UK and Ireland hosting authors in residence, parties and competitions to celebrate the role bookshops play in local communities.
As it happens, it seems they might have a role to play in our love lives too – according to dating site eharmony, book lovers receive 10.7% more messages from would-be suitors.
With this in mind, what better place to go on a date than a bookshop?
Meryl Halls at Books Are My Bag, who run Bookshop Day, says: “What could be more romantic for a book lover than a date in a bookshop? In the UK, we’re incredibly lucky to have a diverse and vibrant bookshop scene, and with so many bookshops offering cafés, restaurants, and wine bars, there are even more reasons to spend time in your local bookshop this Bookshop Day and beyond.”
Here are 10 perfect bookshops worth travelling to this Bookshop Day…
Europe’s largest bookshop, Waterstones Piccadilly occupies a beautiful art deco building in the heart of London’s West End. With over 200,000 titles on eight miles of bookshelves, as well as a selection of first-edition books, it’s a book lover’s paradise. The Café W is a great spot for a casual coffee, or the 5th View restaurant and cocktail bar on the top floor is the perfect setting for a romantic evening with superb views of London.
This beautiful bookshop with a bustling café overlooks the Market Square in Chipping Norton. Stocked with Aga-baked cakes, so visitors can fuel their bodies as well as their minds, the menu spans classic Victoria Sponge, delicious gluten-free Clementine Cake, and their epic Fifty Mile Fruit Cake – the ideal sustenance for romantic walks in the Cotswolds.
Notting Hill’s famous cookbook shop is crammed with thousands of tasty titles for cookbook junkies. But what makes this bookshop perfect for a bookshop date is the Test Kitchen, where recipes from the cookbooks on the shelves are tested daily by one of the resident chefs, with seasonal ingredients sourced from neighbouring Portobello Market.
On Charing Cross Road, in the heart of London’s theatreland, Foyles is one of the UK’s largest bookshops, with 200,000 titles housed on four miles of shelves. The shop is filled with natural light, and it’s easy to spend hours exploring the four floors of books. The airy fifth-floor café serves delicious breakfasts, lunches and teas – ideal for a romantic stop off.
This bookshop, café and deli in the Scottish Borders is a destination in itself. Founded by Bloomsbury’s former marketing director, who worked on Harry Potter from the beginning, the shop is a book lovers’ haven, while the café serves delicious food (think butternut and cinnamon soup and wild boar sandwiches), locally sourced wine and craft beer, as well as homemade cake (their famous chocolate & Guinness cake and gluten-free Tunisian cake are firm favourites).
Surrounded by ancient Herefordshire hills, Aardvark Books is set in a 19th century barn and has a large selection of new and rare books (with 50,000 titles and counting), as well as a cosy café with lots of tasty treats, including light lunches of soup and toasties, fair trade teas, melting hot chocolates and homemade cakes. And with regular author events and art exhibitions, there is plenty to do on a first date.
This award-winning independent bookshop is at the heart of the thriving market town of Oswestry, on the border of Shropshire and Wales. A destination bookshop, renowned for its quality book collection and range of author events, this boutique bookshop also has a café serving coffee, teas and delicious homemade cakes. The ideal setting for a relaxed date.
In the heart of Cardiff’s creative quarter, Octavo’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has an extensive wine list. They also hold Sunday Sessions of music and poetry every fortnight – ideal for a romantic afternoon out.
In the heart of Bloomsbury, this is a place for people who love books to meet, talk, drink excellent tea and coffee and consume delicious cake, and, of course, browse. Ideal for a laid-back date, the ‘Cake Shop Gallery’, the modern answer to London’s long-lost literary coffee-houses, serves show-stopping book-inspired cakes, and ‘out of the ordinary’ lunch options.
With a cosy cinema, regular events and a bookshop café serving a changing daily menu, this Hay-on-Wye bookshop in Wales is a great date location. And with an eclectic book collection, and over 20 more bookshops to browse in this ‘town of books’, book lovers will be in heaven.
For more information on events, visit booksaremybag.com