South Kensington Books

Location: 22 Thurloe St, SW7 2LT
Services: Independent Bookshop
What I bought: Thin Air by Michelle Paver

If ever I find myself in London, I try to pop in to an independent bookshop. Previous visits have included Libreria and West End Lane Books, and most recently I went to South Kensington Books.

I am often around South Kensington because I am a regular visitor to the V&A Museum and its fashion exhibits. I have fallen into a routine whereby I go to the exhibition, cut back to the underground station and have lunch at Brompton Food Market, (they have a really tasty salad bar). Just around the corner is South Kensington Books, so I went to browse off my lunch.

Working in a small-town independent bookshop, I find it interesting to see the difference in stock in big city shops. Being in such a high-footfall area, there were multiple copies of plenty of books – something we simply don’t have the demand for based on our location and environment.

The shop stretches back further than appears from outside (always a bonus!). It has some brilliantly varied fiction shelves that kept me well occupied. I was set to buy Tony and Susan by Austin Wright, which was adapted for screens in Tom Ford’s 2016 film Nocturnal Animals. Even though it was published in 1993, they had four copies on the shelf, confident of sales. It was low down on the shelves, but the front cover has a clever cut-out car that caught my attention.

However, at the last minute I happened to look up, and I saw Thin Air by Michelle Paver. Having read her ghost story Dark Matter a few months previously, I immediately reached for it. I could only buy one book, and on this occasion I went with an author I know (and whose writing completely got under my skin.) I will return for Tony and Susan….

As I was browsing, the manager was helping a customer to choose some books, and recommended David Sedaris’ Calypso. The customer was unfamiliar with him and, as she was standing next to me, I couldn’t help but chime in that it is such a funny read and well worth buying. After she left, Sedaris in hand, a gentleman asked what it was that we had been raving about, and it was again recommended.

Job done, I paid for Thin Air and headed back to the underground.