If you know me, you’ll know my love of Oxford knows no bounds. It’s home. Well, it isn’t, not really. It’s not where I spent my childhood or went to school (that’s a much longer story), but it is where I grew up, where I discovered who I am and what I love, and where I spent 9 glorious years soaking in Dickens, Tolkien and Lewis.
So join me as I walk you round the best bookshops the city of dreaming spires has to offer…
No trip to Oxford is complete without a trip to Blackwell’s. Arguably one of the most famous bookshops in the UK, if not the world, it’s an Oxford institution and home to over 250,000 books (and that’s just their Broad St store!). The Norrington Room also holds the Guinness World Record for the largest single room selling books in the world and at 10,000 square feet with three miles of shelving, it’s not hard to see why! There are now multiple stores across the city (and the country) but the Broad Street store is still the one you have to see.
Albion Beatnik is a Jericho institution and is about as far away from a chain bookshop as you can get, which is precisely why I love it. It’s a quirky bookshop with a difference that serves tea, coffee and cake, making it the ultimate place to spend an afternoon or evening (it’s open until 11 pm most of the time) browsing the shelves.
Off all the Waterstones, the Oxford branch is one of my all-time favourites. Not only is it five floors of bookish heaven, but there’s also a cafe with one of the best views in Oxford!
The Last Bookshop
Not your typical discount bookshop, The Last Bookshop stocks books covering a big range of topics from art and music, to fiction and philosophy, all at amazing bargain prices. It’s hugely popular with students and with good reason. There’s even a café here for you to sit down with a mug of tea as you explore new worlds. (Anyone else starting to see a theme here?)
This two-storey shop situated in the heart of the city was the very first Oxfam bookshop to open back in 1987. It’s the absolute best place to go for second-hand books on all sorts of topics, with everything from well-thumbed cookery books to hefty, academic tomes. Don’t be surprised to find the odd pricey literary gem on the shelves – they sold a rare Graham Greene for £15,000 in 2008!
Okay, okay, not technically a bookshop, but if you can tear yourself away from them, the Bodleian is one of the best libraries in the whole darn world and no visit to Oxford is complete without a trip inside!