Post-lockdown bookshop experience

Louise Cusine takes us on a journey through bookshop re-openings

Louise Cusine
11th May 2021
It has been a month since bookstores reopened and let me tell you bookworms have been thriving! You could consider me the odd one out on April 12th; while you were most likely soaking up the sun and enjoying a pint (don't blame you), I was bookshop hopping like there was no tomorrow.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my post-lockdown bookshop experience, I want to mention a book subscription that opened my eyes to a whole new world of literature during lockdown 3.0, and that is Books That Matter. Thanks to this subscription, I have delved into the fascinating works of Black feminist authors such as Audre Lorde. Whilst this subscription was always a pleasure, it didn't really cut it for me; what can I say, the vibes in a bookstore are unmatched.

Keel Row Books

The OG, which is Waterstones (no sh*t, Sherlock), was my first port of call... The multitude of books there is surreal; I always feel like I've been transported to Matt Haig's fictional Midnight Library! My parents kindly offered to buy me two new books, and since I'm into Japanese translated fiction, I chose Sayaka Murata's ''Earthlings'' and ''Convenience Store Woman''. I would've loved to treat them to a tea/coffee as a thank you but the café was closed. When the café reopens soon, I'm looking forward to some atmospheric reading in the nook where you can see sublime views of Grey's Monument with limitless cups of tea! Ever since April 12th, I've been in and out of Waterstones to the point where I've filled out my loyalty card and received £10 credit as a reward for spending £100 on books, oops!

Keel Row Books

Next up, Oxfam; charity shops are underrated but that doesn't mean you can't find books on your TBR list there (for reference, I bought 5 books on my TBR from Oxfam for £10)! My current read is amongst that collection and it's Celeste Ng's ''Everything I Never Told You'' - a poignant piece of fiction surrounding the death of a Chinese-American girl. As aforementioned, Books That Matter planted this seed of stepping out of the white narrative, hence I also picked up my first James Baldwin novel from Oxfam (''Giovanni's Room'').

Leaving the best until last? My flatmates and I had a wholesome day out at an independent bookstore, and to cut to the chase, Keel Row Books is in our good books! This quirky bookstore which is approx a 5-10 min walk from North Shields Metro station is Insta worthy. Although the reputation of Keel Row Books is built on its rare range of antiquarian books at the front of the store and special edition Penguin classic books which are located upstairs, I found many books which were in perfect condition; in fact, the spine of my copy of ''City On Fire'' by Gareth Risk Hallberg doesn't have a single crack in sight and I saved myself £7.50. Likewise, Lauren got lost in the myriad of Lee Child crime novels which were brand new-ish. Old or new? Take your pick; this bookstore has something for all booklovers and is worth the Metro trip.

If I've inspired you enough, visit a bookstore and let the (don't) judge a book by its cover games begin again!

Featured Image: Keel Row Books, Louise Cusine

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