I continue my journey in Totnes. Here I review two more bookshops.
Totnes is incredibly lucky in the way that a reasonably small town, filled with some great history, is graced by three bookshops, two of which are second-hand. If you fancy a bargain, or perhaps a more battered and hard to find copy of a book, Harlequin is perfect: and if you want to be engulfed in the shiny, just out of the packet feel of new books, Totnes Bookshop is the one for you. The small bookshop down Castle Road is cosy and welcoming: imbued with the knowledge of its owner.
In Totnes two bookshops straddle the high street and grimace at each other: Harlequin Books, full of tatty old Penguins, and shelves marked ‘Collectable and Unaffordable,’ and Harlequin Books’ younger and more attractive cousin, the Totnes Bookshop.
Independents like Totnes Bookshop are ideal for all your book news, and help is at hand with the knowledgeable and diplomatic staff. The shop covers a wide range of subjects, and as I said, keeps up to date with new releases. Apart from books it sells picture frames, scented candles: a whole paraphernalia of stuff that seem to be picked out for the reader: these objects would be perfect next to a comfy armchair, your reading chair next to a shelf of books.
Totnes’ other second hand bookshop offering is the quaint bookshop found on Castle Road, just round the corner from the others. If Harlequin was middle aged and hippy and Totnes Bookshop young and hip, this bookshop is the younger’s old and mysterious, yet welcoming, aunty. Bravely displaying books on its narrow windowsill, it provides that intimate and friendly atmosphere that is akin to stepping inside the living room of your grandmother. Rugs
and wooden chairs aplenty, shelves bursting with old books, this is a place to browse in depth. Separated into two rooms one cannot help but feel that you are surrounded by books, and that any doors or staircases to the rest of the building are obliterated by books that seem carefully selected, that have the privilege of existing in this Aladdin’s Cave. It is a brilliant shop, with an exclusive selection.
Here ends my exploration of the bookshops of Totnes. Fiercely proud of the lack of chain stores and big brands, this town has something for everyone, and caters extremely well to the needs of the public.