In the latest in our series on bookshops around the world that academics should visit, Jacqueline Priego-Hernández, researcher at the Department of Social Psychology at LSE, recommends beautiful Bloomsbury in London as a wonderful place to explore and find bargains. If there’s a bookshop that you think other students and academics should visit when they’re undertaking research or visiting a city for a conference, find more information about contributing below.

London’s Bloomsbury has a long-standing association with literature, science, and intellectual movements. Bookish characters can be spotted among students from nearby University of London colleges and visitors to the British Museum and the British Library. Against this stimulating atmosphere, academics should spare a bit of time to embark on a short bookshop crawl across Marchmont Street, just behind Russell Square tube station, home to an interesting trio of independent outlets.

First off is Judd Books, a little gem specialising in second-hand and “bargain books”, where local students are likely to be found. It has a neatly arranged, wide-ranging, and reasonably priced stock of academic material in a variety of subjects on the social sciences and humanities. Visitors are set for an enjoyable search, with books stacked wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, the majority of them in mint condition, starting by the basement. There you will find items on the social sciences, including a large collection of History and Philosophy texts, and more specific subjects such as Anarchism and Black studies.

Back to the ground floor and you can appreciate the view of Architecture and Arts publications, with beautifully illustrated items that you can browse at leisure. The ground floor has also a generous space dedicated to cultural studies and literary criticism. You may finish off your visit by checking out the fiction and graphic novel section by the door.

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Judd Books. Credit: Kake CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Walk just a hundred metres down the road and you will find Gay’s the Word, a place worth visiting just because of its historical importance. It is the UK’s oldest bookshop dedicated to LGBT publications, having recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. A great place to exchange ideas and network, you feel a sense of community from the entrance: notice boards of events and news, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and informative signs around (detailing, for example, which shop sections are divided by gender).

While fiction dominates the shop, with many signed paperbacks peppered around, the Pop Culture and History sections are most likely to attract the academic visitor. The décor includes many thought-provoking, funny, and vintage posters, and you will also find a stall with a selection of DVDs. As a plus, Gay’s the Word frequently holds attractive events open to the public – I still regret missing Alison Bechdel’s talk and book signing a couple of years ago.

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Gay’s The Word bookshop. Credit: duncan c CC BY-NC 2.0

Fifty metres further down and you will reach Skoob Books, a shop selling second-hand and collectable items. You will notice a slightly chaotic environment in these premises, with small sections dedicated to every subject around, as well as a mishmash of stationery, audiobooks, and even a piano and a vintage ECT machine! It is a paradise for out-of-print academic editions, with many items being thirty to fifty years old. The shop has a storeroom where more copies are housed; staff can bring them to you on request in the shop or via their website. I once heard a senior LSE professor say that back in the 1990s Skoob was excellent for sourcing classic texts in the social sciences and second-hand pieces at good prices. In my opinion, this is still the case.

You might enjoy your purchases in any of the burgeoning delis and cafes on the same street. Happy reading!

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Dr Jacqueline Priego-Hernández is a researcher in the Department of Social Psychology LSE.

Download a free PDF of Underground Sociabilities: Identity, Culture and Resistance in Rio’s Favelas, by Sandra Jovchelovitch, Director of the Social and Cultural Psychology Programme at the LSE, and researcher Jacqueline Priego-Hernández

This book is the result of a study carried out by London School of Economics (LSE) in partnership with UNESCO Office in Brazil, Itaú Cultural Institute, Itaú Social Foundation, AfroReggae and CUFA to study the ways of sociability that remain invisible and underground within conventional societies. The main objectives of the study were to explore the alternative ways to integration and sociability developed by communities that live in extreme conditions of social exclusion and poverty, and to study and to disseminate the methodology of work with and for youth developed by the groups AfroReggae and CUFA. Download the Portuguese version here. For more information, see the Favelas@LSE blog.

Podcast: Favela Life: From Drug Gangs to Drum Beats 

Sandra Jovchelovitch, Director of the Social and Cultural Psychology Programme at the LSE, and researcher Jacqueline Priego-Hernandez, speak about their new book: Underground Sociabilities: Identity, culture and resistance in Rio’s favelas.

Paul Heritage, Professor of Drama and Performance at Queen Mary College in London, also talks about art in the city’s periphery at a circus school in central Rio.

Other guests include: Silvia Ramos,  Public Security expert in Rio and Celso Athayde, founder of CUFA (Central Unicas das Favelas) and more.

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Do you have a favourite bookshop? If there’s a bookshop that you think other students and academics should visit when they’re undertaking research or visiting a city for a conference, then now’s your chance to tell us all about it.

As part of a new weekly feature on LSE Review of Books, we’re asking academics and students to recommend their favourite two or three bookshops in a particular city, with the aim of building an exciting online series for our book-loving community of readers the world over.

Bookshops could be academic, alternative, foreign language, hobby-based, secret or underground institutions, second hand outlets, or connected to a university. We’d like to cover all world regions too.

If something comes to mind, we’re looking for around 100 words per bookshop, detailing why this place is a must-see. Our editorial team can then find suitable photos and links to accompany the piece, though you’re welcome to supply these too. We only ask that you focus on just one city or region, and two or three bookshops within it.

Email us now if you’d like to contribute: lsereviewofbooks@lse.ac.uk

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