April is a busy month in our capital. From Easter to school holidays and the London Games Festival, along with our usual guided walks around Midtown, there’s so much going on. But April 23rd marks one of our favourite nights of the year as the nation celebrates all things reading and books with World Book Night.
Reading for pleasure is a globally recognised indicator in a huge range of social issues from poverty to mental health, but according to World Book Night, in England alone, 36% of people don’t regularly read. But organiser The Reading Agency has set out to change that with their annual celebration of the written word. Every year they give away a selection of books to those in care homes, youth centres, colleges, prisons, public libraries, mental health groups and a range of other settings.
We’re big advocates of curling up with a good book as often as you can. So to mark this year’s World Book Night
London Review Bookshop
We’ve definitely talked about London Review Bookshop on more than one occasion. It is officially one of our favourite haunts to hang out and browse, but their lovely little cake shop means it’s the perfect place to sit and read too. Recent books recommended by these experts include In the Dark Room by Brian Dillon and Women and Power by Mary Beard. Find the LRB at 14 Bury Place.
Scarfes Bar is filled with over 1,000 antique books hand-picked by a Portobello antiques dealer and a number of luxurious velvet chairs, ideal for settling into to lose yourself in a good book. Part of Rosewood London, you’re able to enjoy a cuppa or a cocktail, depending on what tickles your pickle. The Gentleman’s club vibe will inspire you to read period classics such as The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald or imagine the characters of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell chatting about magic in a cosy corner. Scarfes Bar is at 252 High Holborn.
Red Lion Square Gardens
It wouldn’t be right to write up a blog about the perfect places to read in Midtown without mentioning any of the beautiful parks we have in this area. Now that Spring has officially sprung (most of the time), it’s time to take your current literary squeeze outside and embrace the great outdoors and everything London has to offer. We might be biased but Red Lion Square Gardens is one of our favourite in the area and it’s the ideal quiet location in the heart of Midtown. It’s also home to a statue of anti-war activist Fenner Brockway, so we’d suggest getting your chops around All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr or The Book Thief by Markus Zusack.
The Hoxton Holborn
You’ll have to get there early to bag a good spot because this place gets pretty filled up with freelancers but once you’re in, you’re probably not going to want to leave. Located right in the heart of Holborn, it’s easy to get to and the lobby is the perfect place to while away a few hours in the company of your favourite fictional characters. It’s also worth mentioning Chicken Shop is right downstairs too so once you’ve worn out your reading appetite, you can satisfy your actual appetite too. Find The Hoxton Hoborn at 199-206 High Holborn.
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
These guys know a thing or two about coffee, but they also know a lot about creating the perfect haven away from the hustle and bustle of Midtown. Located at 14-16 Leather Lane, this coffee shop is pretty small but full of nooks and crannies and corners you can settle into for an hour or so. While this is a fair way away from the chocolatiers of Paris, it seems like the perfect place to tuck into Joanne Harris’ book Chocolat or to consider the works of Christopher Hitchens in his collection of essays Love, Poverty and War.
Bloomsbury Coffee House
This is a popular spot with students from the nearby UCL and SOAS, but it’s a bit of a hidden gem if you ask us. All of the food sold here is homemade using thoughtfully sourced ingredients and it’s bloomin’ delicious too. Feast on a seasonal salad with produce from the garden, or enjoy a perfectly baked cake or pastry. Right in the heart of London, this place seems like the optimum location to tuck into Norman Collins’ brilliant novel London Belongs to Me or Patrick Hamilton’s Twenty Thousand Streets.
Where’s your favourite place to read in London? What will you be reading on this World Book Night? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch on Facebook or Twitter! And just a heads up – all links to books on this page are from Hive, which means every purchase made supports your local bookshop. Cool, eh?