M R James

Second-hand Bookshops

Second-hand bookshops are great, aren’t they? There’s something lovely about spending a few minutes browsing the shelves in a good second-hand shop, just seeing what’s there and keeping an eye out for anything unusual or unexpected. It’s a very different experience to shopping in a high street bookshop, and I think the main difference is that I don’t tend to go into a second-hand shop with anything in mind that I’m looking for. More often than not when I pop into Waterstones or Foyles I’ll have at least one book in mind that I want to have a look at, or see if it’s on special offer. You can’t really do that with a second-hand shop, simply because you have no idea what’s going to be on the shelves, and that’s a lovely feeling. Every time you go in there’s going to be a different range of books, and you never know when something special is going to show up!

Yesterday I popped into a particular favourite shop of mine, near the British Museum in London. It’s not a big shop, but there’s often something there that catches my eye and I do generally leave with a heavier bag than when I entered. I’ve ended up picking up all sorts there, from sci-fi and fantasy to books on clouds and neurology. This time was no exception, and I left with a beautiful Folio Society edition of Ghost Stories of M. R. James (see picture above). Having only recently been to the Gothic exhibition at the British Library this seemed a most appropriate book to find, and at the princely sum of £5 it couldn’t have been much more of a bargain! It also had a bookmark left in mid-way through from its previous owner…I wonder if they left it in there on purpose or by accident?

A Ghostly Bookmark

A Ghostly Bookmark

I wonder what I’ll find next time I pay the shop a visit?


  1. I second your sentiments. Second hand bookshops are amazing. I love them equally as much as I love Foyles and Waterstones for your very reasons. There’s a second hand bookshop in Balham that I’ve picked up some great screenplays from as well.

    Charity shops are also a very good place to find some great books.

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