I have a "thing" (is fetish too strong a word?) for independent bookstores. (Indeed, one of my enduring fantasies is to be the owner of one someday.)
I love the idea of well-edited collections -- no trash, only treasures -- where bibliophiles can browse and find all of the books that they always meant to read. A friend says: You must read this book . . . and there it is! Rarities, classics and deserved best-sellers -- all beautifully bound and arranged.
There are lots of places to buy books in Oxford, but I doubt there is a collection as eccentric (and yet tempting to my tastes) as the one in Albion Beatnik. Reflecting the owner's passions, it has an excellent collection of jazz (books and records), Beat poets, and 20th century American and British literature grouped by decades. There is a really substantial section of Virginia Woolf and other Bloomsbury writers, both fiction and nonfiction. I was also really impressed by how many British female authors -- particularly those writing between the 1930s and 1960s -- were represented.
Did I need four new books? Well, that's not the point.
My new treasures:
I am increasingly aware of the mental cross-pollination taking place in my orbit of the blogosphere. All of these books (or authors) have been recommended to me recently by blog-friends.
Train Landscape, Eric Ravilious
Tomorrow I will be taking the long train journey from Berkshire to Devon. And although I've requested a window seat, from which to view the beautiful countryside moving westwards, no doubt I will be distracted by my travelling companions (Amanda Craig and Elizabeth Jenkins).