Exploring Independent Bookshops in London | Travel

So the other day, I was scrolling through Twitter and this thread in particular popped up.

It details how this person ending up finding the archive of Paud Hegarty who managed the renowned bookshop Gay’s the Word in the 80s and 90s. (Definitely go and check out that thread, it was fascinating and encompasses a wonderful glimpse of positive LGBT history all due to chance).

This thread got me thinking back to a month ago, when me and my friend Hannah were traipsing around London before a Frank Turner gig, trying to think of something to do. I suggested we head to a few bookshops I’d been wanting to go to for a while, and they turned out to be excellent.

Gay’s the Word
10:00am – 6:30pm
66 Marchmont St, Kings Cross, London WC1N 1AB

Gay’s the Word is the UK’s first LGBT bookshop, and is definitely the most renown. It has been open since 1979, and is an integral part of the community it surrounds.


There is a range of fiction, nonfiction, film,  magazines, graphic novels. It really has a broad range, and encompasses historical icons and moments, as well as being a main hub for contemporary LGBT fiction and non fiction.

I very almost bought a book called ‘Vajournal: feminist interactions and interventions’ by Isabella Bunnell. Her beautiful illustrations of the female body are both informative and inviting. They’re intertwined with the author asking you to relay your female experience in the form of fun activities and is a perfect feminist, body and sex positive birthday present.


thanks to hannah for being my unintentional model

We could’ve spent so much longer here. I wanted to scoop up all the LGBT YA books that were there, but alas, my bank account wouldn’t have been happy. Definitely head here if you’re in the Bloomsbury district of London. It has such a warm and positive atmosphere.

Word on the Water
12:00 – 19:00pm
Regent’s Canal Towpath, Kings Cross, London N1C 4LW

We then headed to Word in the Water which is a floating bookshop situated on a canal boat on the Regents Canal Towpath just behind King’s Cross station.



First and foremost, you’ll meet their wonderful pupper who, when we visited, was stretched out in front of the barge in the sunshine. We wanted to stay there and cuddle the dog all day and honestly this should be the only reason you should go and pay them a visit.

look how happy this pupper is tho
can you tell this pupper stole my heart

Aside from the incredibly lovely dog, Word on the Water is also known for hosting lots of different events and live music. When we visited, there was a musician playing guitar sat on top of the barge. There was also homemade lemonade for sale. How wholesome is that? I love seeing bookshops that do something a little bit different, and this just really ticks all the right boxes for me. (I mean, it’s on a boat?!)


They had a great range on board (I can’t get over that it’s on a boat). Because I’m a stereotype of myself, I loved the YA section and the children’s bit had been designated the end of the boat which felt very cosy. They have new titles as well as second hand, making the selection very affordable. I ended up buying a book I’d eyed up earlier in the day: Clean by Juno Dawson. I’d heard so many good things, and having since read it, I can confirm it is excellent (expect a review at some point!)


And that’s my mini round up of two independent bookshops we discovered that day in London. I love supporting independent bookshops where I can and I’m always on the lookout for more (anywhere, not specific to London). If you have any recommendations, leave them below!

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