Top Ten Miscellaneous Bookish Things

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Douglas Adams

  1. Booklikes. Booklikes is a book categorisation website a little like Goodreads (which I stopped using a couple of years ago, for reasons). Its catalogue and shelving systems are still a little buggy – the site’s only been going a couple of years – but the team makes a point of taking into account member feedback and looking at ways to resolve functionality issues quickly, which is nice. Also the site feels very social, with a tumblr-style dashboard where you can read posts and reviews from people you follow. I like it. It’s a good community.
  2. Strange Horizons. I am not going to shut up about Strange Horizons, so you might as well go and visit now. Not only is its fiction section excellent (start with “Beyond Sapphire Glass”, “What We’re Having” or “The Ticket Taker of Cenote Zaci”), it’s full of great, high-quality SFF criticism – I actually based some of my dissertation on an article from the magazine.
  3. Hay-on-Wye. This totally counts as a bookish organisation, no? Hay-on-Wye is a little town in Wales (just about) which has the most bookshops per person anywhere in Britain. They’re all little second-hand emporia full of cheaply priced amazingness of all kinds.
  4. Baggins. The largest second-hand bookshop in England (apparently), Baggins is in Rochester, Kent, and it is amazing: a place of staircases in odd places and little secret rooms full of books and dust. They don’t catalogue all their stock, so you actually have to go and have a good rummage through the shelves.
  5. Blackwell’s, Oxford. Blackwell’s is definitely my favourite new-book shop. I just really like the layout of the Oxford shop – it feels welcoming, and it feels like every single book there has been carefully selected. This is almost certainly not the case, but the staff there really do seem to care about books and promoting their favourites and laying them all out nicely and I always feel like I find something good in there.
  6. National Book Tokens. It’s money that you can only spend on books. Seriously. There is no flaw in this plan.
  7. The Bodleian Library. OK, most libraries. But the Bodleian has pretty much every book ever published in the UK, plus the gorgeous reading rooms in the Radcliffe Camera and Old Bodleian, plus regular exhibitions of their most awesomest stuff (think: Tolkien manuscripts, Blake engravings, John Donne’s actual handwriting, like a gazillion pretty old books, etc.), plus they ran a workshop where I got to look at old diaries. I love the Bodleian.
  8. JSTOR. This is probably a pretty nerdy one, but I actually adore JSTOR (an online collection of academic journals), and I was thrilled to learn that I get alumni access, because it means I can read criticism whenever I like on whatever I like. Which is a pretty great luxury, on the whole.
  9. The Story Museum, Oxford. I worked there for a summer last year, and believe me, it is the most surprising place to work and to visit. Some really creative, passionate people have put a lot of love into this, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
  10. Caboodle. It’s affiliated with National Book Tokens, so probably including it as a different thing is slightly cheating. BUT they run a range of really cool competitions each month, for free books, and what is not to like? I’ve yet to win anything, but I have faith.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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