By J. C.
Perambulatory Christmas Books, 6th series, part XII: summary and conclusion. You can obtain practically any book you want nowadays, from AbeBooks (we use it, too). You can store a hundred texts (not books) on the e-device of your choice. You could probably replace your entire life with a computer memory stick. We advise against, if only because you would be depriving yourself of the pleasures of perambulation: the rainy autumn street, the dim interior, the erudite owner, the resident eccentric (there’s always one). Most of all, the serendipitous discovery of writer and book.
Some years ago, taking a stand against the anti-festive curse of the Christmas gift book (Can’t Be Arsed, How To Talk Like an Arse, etc), we pledged to unearth, in the weeks leading to Christmas, a neglected work by an established author, from a second-hand bookshop, for about £5. The guidelines may be followed liberally. It was pleasing, this year as before, to explore shops new to us: Black Gull Books, Collinge & Clark, Books for Amnesty. We revisited neglected shops and entered with glad heart again the Archive Bookstore, My Back Pages, Walden Books. We fret about Keith Fawkes in Hampstead – the Flask – beleaguered by a bric-a-brac street market. Favouritism is invidious, but for quality, frequently renewed stock, reasonable prices, Any Amount of Books on Charing Cross Road cannot be beaten.