I feel like I'm cheating on the Boligbroke Bookshop by saying this, but My Back Pages is my favourite bookstore in London.
Local, ram-shackle, small and crammed with all the books you could hope and dream of, with the offer of ordering any they don't have in, this place is what book-worms wet dream about.
I sometimes come in just to browse, and am always staggered at the range of weird stuff they have. Also stock old cool looking books to sex up your book-shelves.
My Back Pages is quite large as second hand book shops go. Their stock quantity is also vast with the selves so full that some books are stacked on the floor in some corners of the shop. It does incredibly well with making use of the space it has. This means that the aisles are a bit narrow and so going in with kids, prams or even larger shopping bags makes browsing a little difficult.
Other than that, the shop is easy to navigate. All of the books are ordered into sections and signage around the store tells you where certain books can be found as you get towards the back. The staff are helpful and give you good advice both in terms of what stock they have and where it can be found. Upon my visit the man behind the counter was talking to a couple of regulars which shows how much My Back Pages is a favourite of the residents of Balham.
Being second hand books, the prices are very reasonable. There is also a bargain bin outside with titles starting from as low as 50p. The condition of a majority of the stock is good although some books are a little tatty or stained. If you're lucky you will find some earlier editions of books which have been reprinted. I managed to come across an early addition of Danny Wallace's Join Me which has been absent from the High Street shelves since he hit the big time. More recent or current titles are in stock but these are pretty much full price in most cases.
Getting to My Back Pages is easy too. It is a few yards from Balham Station or if you are going by car there is a small car park at Sainsbury's next door.
My Back Pages is a place where the souls of used books come to rest. It isn't purgatory, or a cemetery, it's a place where books wait to be reborn in the minds of new readers. It's a sanctuary. Genres of all kinds are housed here: history, politics, esoteric, poetry, French, Latino, American, German, 19th century literature. Whatever subject you're interested in you'll be sure to find what you're looking for.
They have a selection of new and old books all for really decent prices. I bought a Faulkner masterpiece and a book by a fledgling author for £5 total. I would have gotten more, but seriously, there was way too much to choose from. Hours were blown in that store as my sense of time was completely obliterated by the magic emanating from these books. So, don't go in there rushed; allow yourself time to let minutes evaporate.
A real gem and, I'll admit, a new discovery for me. Don't treat My Back Pages like a Waterstones; it's more somewhere to explore, and you'll be sure to find something ( or more likely, things) you didn't know you needed, but must now have, especially if you're a greedy bibliophile like me. The mix of new and old rather brings to mind Foyles in the bad old days; but this is on a manageable scale. Well worth a visit.
When I am looking for some holiday reads or just some literary inspiration this is always my first point of call. I always come away with something unexpected. Forget the Waterstones top 20 this place is packed to the rafters with everything from contemporary fiction, poetry, the literary greats to non-fiction history, science, philosophy or business books. They have got every genre covered. Second-hand is great for the environment but they also sell the latest new books too.
A kindle and the internet are no replacement for browsing through a fascinating bookshop like this one. It is a priviledge to have this on my doorstep in Balham and I just want more people to hear about it and experience it!
Having heard of this place, but never had the chance to visit it, one afternoon I decided to just check it out without buying anything. An hour later I walked out of My Back Pages with five books in my hands. That's what this place does to you. The selection of books on the shelves is very unique and diverse. There are some really strange and weird ones, which are just begging to be opened and once you start reading the first page you are doomed to buy the book.
Frankly speaking I haven't seen a place like that in London before. A few months ago in the Midlands there was a similar place I fell in love with and I secretly wished there will be something like that in London. Not too long after I came across this precious bookstore.
My Back Pages is a rabbit warren of books which are piled ceiling high. It's organised enough for you to find the sections you want, but disordered enough to remind you that they're not a sterile chain bookshop with the same boring stock as everyone else. I pop along regularly to browse my favourite sections and pick up some new stuff to add to the pile by the bed.
Just brilliant. Always leave with an armful of books it's got a great selection of old and new titles, old an new copies, arranged helpfully and in such a way that as soon as you think you've exhausted the possibilities you hit another stratum of treasures and you're off again. Their stock is also extensive enough that you can reliably find common titles they carry several copies of most of the classics and popular fiction. Only complaint would be that it's a wee bit pricey some popular modern novels aren't in great nick and are still charged at £3.50 but then, this is only high compared to, say, a charity shop and they don't have to pay rates. I would far rather spend my money here.
Having left with 6 books after my first visit only yesterday, I have to admit- this is one GEM of a bookshop. New bestsellers and old first prints, second hand books as well as real antique tresures, it has them all.
The books are piled up high on the shelves, neatly organized by genres and alphabet- however not in a sterile 'almost-too-afraid-to-touch' fashion. Whole- heartedly recommended, I shall be returning soon!
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