Frequent visitors to this blog will know my penchant for visiting book stores in far flung places and writing about them here. But occasionally I like to showcase some of the more interesting shops in London, and for that reason I visited Belgravia Books, a longish stroll from Hyde Park Corner, for a bit of a look around today.
I've been meaning to visit the shop — which was founded by the independent publisher Gallic Books — ever since it opened last Autumn. And as anyone who follows my Facebook page will already know, today's visit was the second in the space of a week.
My first visit was last Thursday night, to attend the launch of the latest novel, The Brothers, published by Peirene Press. Despite the fact that the Finnish author, Asko Sahlberg, was unable to attend because of illness, it turned out to be a lovely evening. The translator talked eloquently about her work with the publisher Meike Ziervogel, while the staff of Belgravia Books supplied plenty of wine and nibbles. I was too busy talking to people to look at the stock, hence my return visit.
The first thing to note is how gorgeous the interior looks — the main colour scheme is blue and white reflecting the Gallic Books branding. Everything is so neat and ordered — just check out how well thoses shelves are stocked! But there's a relaxing feel to the place as well and if you wanted to stay all day, there's a few reading chairs scattered about the place to make you feel right at home.
Bu this isn't a shop for those looking for celebrity memoirs or commercial fiction.The emphasis is on quality literary fiction, much of it in translation. I like to think it's a bit like the Reading Matters blog come to life, because, honestly, pretty much every title in stock appeals to my tastes. And that table in the photograph above is filled with books already reviewed here or in my TBR pile!
I especially liked the section devoted to hardcover classics, primarily those Everyman's Library books I covet so much, and I couldn't leave without purchasing the Patricia Highsmith volume that features three of her Ripley novels. I also bought a crime novel — Petra Hammesfahr's The Lie — which has been translated from the German.
Of course the shop stocks more than just fiction — there's poetry, food and drink, humour, history and politics and so on. And there's a terrific children's section, complete with a fake tiger to clamber upon.
If you fancy visiting Belgravia Books you will find it at 59 Ebury Street, London SW1W 0NZ. Tel: 020 7259 9336. It is a short walk from the tube stations at Victoria and Sloane Square and a longish, but pleasant, walk from Hyde Park Corner. Alternatively, visit the website to buy books online. Note that the shop also hosts literary events.