Brilliant bookshops in England

1) Book-cycle

Not only is Exeter’s Book-Cycle in a beautiful building – an ancient, half-timbered one full of wonky bookshelves, squishy armchairs and low beams – it’s also a pretty beautiful concept. Shoppers can choose up to three secondhand books a day, and decide what they want to pay for them. It’s all volunteer-run and the charity also works to provide free books to children and to plant trees with the donated money they make.

Façade of Book-cycle bookshop in Exeter

2) Persephone Books

The saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ can be taken quite literally at Persephone, where all the books on the shelves are a matching shade of grey. Each of the 145 books on their shelves are reprints of forgotten-about fiction and non-fiction by (mainly) female writers from the 20th century. They’ve saved and revived a number of really great reads over the years. Peak inside each book’s grey jacket – the endpaper of every Persephone publication is a bold fabric pattern that has a link to the story within.

Hands holding a book open on a table at Persephone Books

8 Edgar Buildings, Bath, Somerset

+44 (0)12 2542 5050

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3) Scarthin Books

You’ll find Scarthin Books on a narrow street overlooking a pond in Cromford, on the edge of the Peak District. The much-loved indie has been selling books since 1974. You can pick up new volumes, as well as secondhand and rare books here, plus sheet music and literary-themed gifts. Once you’ve selected your next tale, settle down in the on-site veggie cafe and get reading.

Interior with bookcases and armchairs at Scarthin Books

The Promenade, Cromford, Derbyshire

+44 (0)16 2982 3272

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