The thing about being in Oxford is, you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from a good book. (You’re also never more than a stone’s throw away from a good pint, but that’s a different story.)
Between the Bodleian Library, the beautiful bookshops, and the stacks of books being read by Uni students every day, Oxford is a city crammed full of books.
Here are three of Oxford’s totally beautiful bookshops.
Oxford University Press Bookshop looks smallish from the front, but it’s not. This is not a tiny university press shop, it’s a big beautiful bookstore that is dangerous to enter because you’ll never want to leave.
It’s hard to find pictures that do it any kind of justice, so let’s just say this – when I think of this bookshop, I think of that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer says he’s going to transform his apartment by buying wood & building a whole bunch of levels.
This is what you see when you walk in:
And if you go straight ahead and down those stairs, you’re basically heading down a rabbit hole of bookishness.
Here’s level two (and there’s more over that railing):
Like I said, pictures really don’t do justice to the coziness of this bookshop, which is filled with nooks and crannies and lots and lots of books. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it… or, you know, stop by next time you’re on High Street. Don’t leave anyone waiting for you outside though, just in case you forget to emerge for a few hours.
This was my bookshop when I lived in Oxfordshire; I spent a lot of hours wandering around it’s FIVE FLOORS (!) of books and sitting in it’s Costa Coffee.
Waterstones is a huge chain in England and one of my favorite bookstores anywhere. It was in this bookshop that I first discovered The Inklings of Oxford, one of many great books about C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their friends who met regularly at The Eagle and Child pub; which, incidentally, is just down the street from this Waterstones.
This is another bookshop that looks modest from the front but is truly cavernous once you step inside. It’s cozy and seemingly endless and there’s this thing called the Norrington Room…
Blackwell’s is another of England’s big beautiful chains, and this was it’s very first shop. It’s across the street from the Sheldonian theater and as you walk up the stairs you pass a haphazardly hung snapshot of Clinton, from the last time he was in Oxford and stopped by Blackwell’s. There’s a beautiful Cafe Nero upstairs and more books than you could read in a lifetime.
So those are three of my favorites. If you want more, here’s our tour of bookish Oxford, here’s a pile of good books about the Inklings and a Reading Pathway for C.S. Lewis, and here’s a whole bunch of good posts about bookstores. Or check out our Literary Tourism column, which is full of great bookish places all over the world.