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#134 Daunt Books

September 27, 2011

Forget the bloated bookshops of the Charing Cross Road. Put Picadilly’s multi-story deco Waterstones out of your head too. It’s Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street that’s the real, platonic ideal of a London bookshop.

Daunt Books in Marylebone. Now that's a bookshop. Not pictured: a bleak and vertiginous Amazon warehouse filled with scared, sweating slaves feeding books into the maw of a monstrous post robot.

A good bookshop puts its best books forward, books you’ve never seen before. Daunt Books is very good at this – very good indeed. There’ll often be a complete display of some obscure but well-heeled imprint, or attractively-bound re-issues of classics. Stuff you’d normally find tucked away at the back of even the most respectable bookshop. Also: look at it. Yes. Now you see. It’s so intrinsically, ineffably bookish that we wouldn’t be surprised if all these books were grown by hand by green-fingered book-elves in giant library-terraria out the back.

It’s like having an impeccably-dressed gentleman’s gentleman hovering by your shoulder, pointing out titles you might like. They specialise in travel, but are polite enough to have a superb fiction and non-fiction selection up front. In fact, Daunt Books has launched its own imprint to reissue old books that Sir may have forgotten all about – by which Daunt Books means you’ve never heard of, but should have.

Some cultured and intelligent shops will make you feel like a dribbling backwards-person just for daring to go inside. Daunt Books – despite its name – will actually make you feel cleverer for browsing. There’s no higher accolade for a bookshop.

There are also Daunt bookshops in Chelsea, Hampstead, Cheapside, Holland Park and Belsize Park. Of course there are.

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