Not everybody makes excursions to secondhand bookshops whenever visiting places. Perhaps it doesn’t easily cross people’s minds. This is a pity because plenty of places have them, and not just major towns or cities, but also smaller places where secondhand books wouldn’t normally come to mind. Smaller bookshops in smaller places can struggle. And sometimes they need to be sought out. But what a characterful addition it is to a visit, break or holiday when popping in for a browse. It’s worth doing a quick bit or research every time you plan your day out or holiday. There could be some surprising and rare finds just around the corner from where you’re heading.
A while ago I re-found the Keswick Bookshop in Keswick, Cumbria. I’d been out for the day on a walk and returned to Keswick for my bus when I happened upon the place again after missing it for a few years. The owner told me that they’re open seasonally, so I may have previously been in on days when they were closed. So she handed me a leaflet for the Dales & Lakes Bookshop Trail. This has all the area’s privately run bookshops on it, including those helpful opening times for Keswick Bookshop. The advice in the shop’s section in the leaflet to telephone first before making a detour could be applied to any bookshop visit when you’re not sure the place is open. I notice to my disappointment, for example, that the Fireside Bookshop is no longer in Windermere. Boo! At least the leaflet saves a wasted detour.
A secondhand bookshop can also make a change from those gift shops that sell nothing you’d normally buy. On my day out I bought a book as a gift for someone. Giving one as a gift is something very personal. It can be a bit of a gamble – the recipient might already have it, or may not be as interested as you thought. But getting it right requires a time and thoughtfulness that the receiver will appreciate even if you’re a tad off the mark. And it’s enjoyable as gift-buying goes.