When I walked in off the street I knew I was in trouble. In the warm glow of the lighting reflecting from the wooden floors to the shelves, my hand moved almost of its own accord toward the nearest book. So many books. I could have spent all day just here, and this was only the first room on one of the floors. For any book lover, Waterstones is a must visit when in Britain. But not just any Waterstones outlet. You’ll want to visit the 5-story shop at Piccadilly Circus in London.
Knowing I was short on time, I pushed myself on to the second room. Here I was drawn to a shelf where the images of Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear, and other popular British children’s book characters looked out at me. These are the characters that inspired this blog. Paddington Bear inspired a trip to Paddington Station to to see his statue. Peter Rabbit added Britain’s Lake District and the home of Beatrix Potter to my must-visit list. And Winnie the Pooh might inspire a future trip to Ashdown Forest.
When I turned around, I came face to face with a shelf full of London guide books. These covered London from EVERY aspect you could imagine! Food, history of this, history of that, LGBTQ, and of course literary. And these were street by street guides. I’m not sure any city has been so well analyzed. You could spend a LIFETIME in London and never know everything about it! I’m not even sure you could read all these guide books in one lifetime!
Groaning at the impossibility of reading everything I want to read in this life, I headed up to floor 1. As with so many bookstores, I looked from shelf to shelf to shelf and wondered where to even start. Overwhelmed, I decided instead to take a seat at a nice little sitting area and take some notes. As I sat down, I noticed that on the coffee table in front of me were stacks of classic books. You know, those classics you always meant to read, but never got around to? Instead of taking notes, my hand (I’m pretty sure of its own volition) reached out and picked up Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I swear I mean to read this some day… Now seemed like a good time…on this couch… maybe I should get it and take it home… WOW these sitting areas with books on the coffee table are BRILLIANT! Hats off to you, Waterstones! You almost got me! Almost.
Before being fooled again, I continued my tour. The next level I found a children’s room decorated with streamers and fun colors that made even me want to play among the books here.
Not being five, I pressed on to the upper floors. At the top I finally found the restaurant. Not in the mood for a full sit down meal, I instead headed back downstairs, but this time below street level to the ground floor where I found what I was looking for- a cafe with wifi. But not only that, this floor also housed the travel section. Globes, maps, travel guides… and there on top of a stack of books on a table was one of Bill Bryson’s travel memoirs. Whatever else I had to do that day could wait. With book in hand, and tea and a scone from the cafe, I found a table and made myself comfortable.