Imaginary Bookshops (3)


This bookshop requires you to be braver than you might ordinarily be. First you have to find the way in. The building was once a hotel, the windows are boarded up and the boards crusted with accumulated posters. There is a window round the back (you must climb over the railings) to which the boards haven’t been nailed but carefully placed to appear so. You clamber into a room littered with rubble and empty cans. Leave by the hole in the wall (the door is always locked). Then cross the courtyard – so called because here the roof has fallen in and punctured the ceilings below. Stray floorboards cross the exposed patch of sky like branches. A sapling has rooted in one and is bent towards the light.

The walls of room 11 are lined with MDF shelves, scavenged from skips, sagging with damp. Seating is a park bench and two old fashioned school desks (don’t forget to check inside the desks for books). The stock here has all been lost or left, some of it thrown out by charity shops. This is a gathering of broken spines; torn, mouldering paper; absent pages. There is no need to buy: take what you need and return with other abandoned books for the shelves.