Possibly The Most Calming Thing You’ll Ever See

Great Britain, Reading & Writing

How did a simple phrase go from being a forgotten poster to an iconic symbol of modern England? Check out this excellent little explanation but be warned; you may rather deeply fall in love with the bookshop…

9 comments on “Possibly The Most Calming Thing You’ll Ever See”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    Curse you, Admin. Unfair columning. Foul!
    This oasis of volumes might as well be in Antarctica for most of us. Although, one of your blog’s readers might be able to nip over from time to time. What a great shop to spend hours in.
    I love bookshops as do most of us. My first taxed job was as a stockboy in a small place called The Magic Bookshop, and I worked for Doubleday (doing stock and refief sales) for several summers. What fun. Sold a book to Noel Coward once.
    A favorite American author – founder of The Baker Street Irregulars – is Christopher Morley. Among many books, he wrote two books that are apt to Barter Books: The Haunted Bookshop & Parnassus on Wheels both about a bookseller. Fun and gentle reads. He wrote this wonderful line: “There is no mistaking a real book when one reads it. It is like falling in love.”
    Barter Books sounds/looks wonderful and deserves to be haunted. I will console myself with the thought that Arthur would never venture so far north for fear of getting snowbound.

  2. Vickie says:

    Another stellar find/presentation. Thank you SO much for — once again — sharing a delightful back story. My heart ached when images arose of that lovely, jam-packed bookshop…and the train! the train!

    In the last six months or so, a great many KEEP CALM and CARRY ON items have shown up in the southwestern U.S. — posters, canvas bags, mugs, etc. I bought a bookmark with that design (space issues).

  3. Ellie says:

    Barter Books is one of my favourite places in the world :)

  4. Lostintown says:

    I’ve been to barter books and it is almost the perfect bookshop.

    You can tell that it was opened by booklovers who know exactly what booklovers want.

    …and no, I don’t work for their marketing department.

  5. Gretta says:

    “Although, one of your blog’s readers might be able to nip over from time to time.”

    Yes, she might. And she might even send you a postcard, and a photo of the books. And maybe of some penguins. Possibly even of penguins reading books. :)

    As for the ‘Keep Calm…’ phenom, it outstayed its welcome for me some time back, I’m afraid. Ubiquitous does not even begin to describe it.

  6. Jere Mullen says:

    Awesome bookstore. I was round Alnwick while visiting several years ago. Good reason for a return trip! They say a day is not wasted in which you’ve learned something new. I have seen these signs, mugs and various other items with this saying in America and never realized what it actually meant. I love them even more and it so somehow captures or rather explains the English demeanour.

  7. Chris Lancaster says:

    We’re regular visitors to Barter Books, and it’s an amazing place. Not only is it the largest secondhand bookshop I’ve been to, the variety and selection of books is astonishing. Although I have to say that I’ve not seen any of your books there, Chris. One could easily imagine Bryant & May pottering around the place.

    The owners seem to be constantly finding new rooms that were bricked up and previously unknown, with the result that the shop seems to be constantly growing. Some of these, including the old station buffet, have now been turned into a fabulous and very cheap tearoom, with the original seats and benches from the old buffet.

    There’s not a better day out in this country than a walk on the nearby beach at Bamburgh (miles of golden sands, next to a fabulous castle), followed by a late lunch and book browsing at the shop. If you’re wondering about the name, you can literally barter books there – you can take in up to two bags of books per visit, which are valued whilst you shop, and then use this credit to buy new books.

  8. Helen Martin says:

    Chris L, I am now drooling at the very thought of this place. It seems a familiar name but reading up it must be the Wars of the Roses events I’m thinking of. An aircraft museum, too. I don’t think I’d have any trouble persuading the husband to go there and camp for a week or two.

  9. Anne Fernie says:

    Alnwick is a gorgeous place anyway but I could happily set up home in that bookshop. If anyone is in Carnforth (Lancashire) it too has a cracking 4 storey 2nd hand bookshop……..

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