of the bookshops of Oxford

When I have an hour or two to wander through the city, I never choose the district below. It’s not the summer crowds, it’s not even my lack of interest in McDonald’s or the Gap. It’s the lack of old bookshops.

I say “old” because Blackwell’s, that revered Oxford landmark, doesn’t really qualify in its updated shiny newness. I like Blackwell’s on Broad in its many outposts–but it isn’t where I take my cappuccinos.

These are the ones I love: the narrow shops with wooden shelves and doors propped open, selling books new and old but mostly the latter. Oxford abounds in these hidey-holes, I know of them all over the city. They appear mostly on quieter streets, away from the smoke and crush. One can wander in and stand staring at titles indefinitely, thinking faraway thoughts and thumbing through used copies of the greats utterly undisturbed or even acknowledged by the (usually solitary) staff person reading behind the counter. One can deliberate for ten minutes whether to spend a pound and a half on Brideshead Revisited or once again postpone reading it in favor of another.

{sigh} When I think of Oxford in years to come, there will be teacups and bicycles and colleges all floating around the edges of my memory. And in the middle will be the bookshops.

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One Response to of the bookshops of Oxford

  1. Mert Tabbut says:

    I bet those will be Laura’s memories too! Enjoy your time left there!

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