I’ve been avoiding Waterstones, mostly because I feel like its basically the Barnes and Noble of the UK, and while I love any and all bookshops, this project is mostly about the independent ones. That said, today I find myself with a bit of time to spend prior to attending a lecture at my old university, and within close walking distance of a Waterstones – the one in Covent Garden, to be specific.
The shop is as lovely as I’ve come to expect from bookshops here; other than Foyles and possibly Clapham Books, most shops have a very old feel to them, in a good way. They have gorgeous bookcases and even when the shops are large they feel quite cozy.
This particular shop has three entrances and two levels (ground and basement), and I explore most of it. Of course I seek out the non-fiction book sections, and find that the philosophy section is named something like “critical thinking” or “smart writing.” Something lofty but also a bit clever. I’m tempted but know that I have many, many non-fiction books at home on my to be read pile.
Instead, I find today’s purchase on a display table. I’ve seen it in multiple places, and finally decide to pick it up. I mean, Reese Witherspoon has purchased the rights to turn it into a film, so why not. It looks like it’ll be a fun read when I’ve decided to take a break from some of the more career- and life-focused non-fiction books that are in my queue.
I love books, and it seems silly to avoid the chains if they might have some good options. That said, I do find the customer service here to be a bit lacking. I’m still on the hunt for Ijeoma Oluo’s book, but when I bring my purchase up to pay for it, the man working the cash register is so surly that I don’t want the interaction to last any longer than absolutely necessary. Perhaps that’s the difference – perhaps the smaller shops are more likely to have friendly book lovers working them.
Or perhaps this guy is just having a bad day.