Oxford's Look-'Book'

Oxford’s Look-‘Book’: The Book Stop

It is now Sunday of Week 7 and only two weeks and five days remain until the end of exams (I’m eagerly counting down the hours, to the extent that I have a countdown on my phone, until 5:30pm on Friday 23rd of June). Unfortunately, this also means that it’s the last column of this series, and the final bookshop I will review.

Quite fittingly, coming full circle, I visited a shop owned by the same company who run ‘The Last Bookshop’ as my ‘last’ bookshop (the pun simply had to return, sorry) – I visited ‘The Book Stop’ on Magdalen Street, which is owned by the same company: ‘Bill and Ben Books’. I always pass by it on my way into town but have always been in too much of a rush to actually visit, most likely because I’m running late to something after underestimating how long it takes to get to any central college from OX2.

The storefront is deceptively small and was almost obscured by the giant queue of tourists waiting for the National Express (I was very tempted to join them and get on any bus which would take me far away from Exam Schools). Inside, however, is an eclectic selection of books in quite a sizeable room, all under £5 (!) of almost every genre, including a selection of classics which were all only £3.99. There is also a basement area downstairs which contains children’s books, cooking books, poetry and biographies.

I perused over the extensive collection for quite some time, partly because I didn’t want to go to the library yet, but mostly because there were a lot of interesting titles which I was tempted to add to my summer reading list on top of the lists which my tutors are about to give me, which I refuse to think about for now. After finishing ‘Peep Show’ the day before (I’m still not sure how I managed to watch all nine seasons within a single month), David Mitchell’s book, ‘Dishonesty is the Second-Best Policy and Other Rules to Live By’ caught my eye in the media/TV section. I didn’t buy it in the end, though, as I was more drawn towards Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s ‘Starling Days’, perhaps to some extent because the protagonist is a classicist, but also because the writing is incredible.

All of the bookshops I’ve visited this term have been so charming and unique in their own ways – I’ll definitely be revisiting them next year, whether to buy more books that I won’t have time to read during term time, or to study in ones which have outdoor seating areas/cafés, like ‘The Last Bookshop’ and ‘Gulp Fiction’. I hope they all continue to thrive and defy the pessimism about the future of independent bookshops which was the inspiration behind the name of ‘The Last Bookshop’.

I can’t wait to read for pleasure again after exams, maybe as a break before tackling my reading lists. I’ve resolved to read at least all the books I’ve bought this term, as well as the pile of books I bought last summer, naïvely thinking that I’d have time to read them in my free time at university.