In January this year (2016) was the first time I visited Daunt Books in Marylebone. I have previously visited their location in Belsize Park , quite a posh area of London. I guess when people think Marylebone, they imagine Baker Street (for the initiated) and Madame Tussauds, however, if you walk past all of these usual tourist attractions (which are also quite nice, as Bridget Jones would say), then you’ll find an absolute gem of a place.
You would find this place even cooler, if you like physical copies of literature works. Daunt Books is an independent bookseller in London. It is a chain, but this particular branch is located in an Edwardian house, which means it was built from 1901 t0 1910 (not so long ago), which wasn’t an extremely nice era for women, as they could not vote back then, but 1910s were also the years of the first womens’ suffrage societies, and also the days when Beatrix Potter tried to make it and made it as a real writer, not without obstacles, of course.
Peter Rabbit anyone?
So I’ll stop with the history now and just tell you what this place means to me. As you know, I’m a huge anglophile, or a person who’s in love with all things England, but I also love other parts of the UK, just to make things clear.
Anyway, when you walk in here, the staff greets you with a short but friendly “Hello” and a quick nod, something you would expect from a neat British man working behind the counter (and possibly one of the managers). You make a few steps inside and you are in a place of wonder.
The old wooden oak panels screech when you go up or down. Everyone is whispering, there’s only a few people flipping the pages of vintage books that contain words and sentences about everything imaginable and unimaginable in the world, and you just start doing the same. I tiptoe to the Australian section and start looking at book names. I run my fingers on the carefully packed editions, I’m sure many people love the touch and smell of centuries like I do, so most of the books are put into plastic, but you can barely notice it, so it doesn’t ruin your whole “I’m in another era” experience. Yes, this place breathes and lives history.
I walk all the way to the huge stained glass window and decide to purchase the book. The book.
I go downstairs to the modern books section and find the new Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone edition. My eyes light up with excitement and I take the book to the checkout. I did contemplate buying one vintage book describing hidden gardens in the City of London, but it was slightly over my budget, it was around £150, so I thought I would pass this time.
I purchase the book, I get the plastic bag for free (always a bonus in UK’s economy nowadays) and next time I’m here I’ll definitely get my hands on one of their tote bags that have been flooding London for a few years now. Do come to Daunt Books, it’s absolutely lovely.