Both recommended shops are new to me but definitely sound as if they're worth visiting. They also take online and phone orders.
Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Five Leaves is buried away in the centre of Nottingham, a quiet oasis amongst the hustle and bustle. The owners have been supporters of the local independent literary scene for years, so it is great to see them standing on their own two feet and offering their expertise directly to the city. The shop (and in its guise as a publishing house) is passionately left-wing and is an advocate for the more marginalised sectors of society. The children’s section reflects this. It is wonderfully diverse, and each visit sees the collection of books sprawl just a little more up the walls and across the floor. The shelves are bursting with colour, with a variety of authors known and less so, and it is clear that the buyers have their finger on the pulse, as picture books from the US sit alongside new titles from UK publishers like Knights Of and Tiny Owl. Every visit is a joy, and leaves me a little poorer, but more than a little richer too.
Sam Read Bookseller, Grasmere
Sam Reads is, for me, the kind of bookshop that is what a bookshop ought to be: tight, wall-to-wall with titles, warm, and welcoming. Perched on the corner of a main intersection in the charming Lakeland village of Grasmere, the first thing to notice is its windows, full to the brim as they are of the most up-to-date titles. It is an ever-changing cast that showcases the treasure that lies within.
At the back of the shop, after a couple of nooks and crannies, is the children’s section, with books somehow balancing between perfect precision and precarious positioning. The titles are practically falling off the shelves, with a good poetry section, rows and rows of fiction, and a wall full of picture books to browse. This is another bookshop that clearly knows its stuff, and always seems to be one step ahead of its customers – which I think is how it should be. I always find what I am looking for, and, tellingly, always come out with something unexpected too. Sam Read's is always a pleasure to visit, but the service they offer online is just as personal. I have made the most of their service over the last few months and am looking forward to getting back soon.