Book Mad in Banbury

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I’ve started using a new hashtag on Twitter #BookMadInBanbury lately but the “book mad” part is not a recent development. I’ve been this way since long before we got to Banbury.

My “to be read” pile was routinely a threat to health and safety. It is only mildly less so now that some of that pile lives electronically on my tablet. Not all of it, of course. Just the vacation reading – because much as I may prefer an actual book, I definitely prefer not to carry a suitcase weighed down with a week’s worth of reading. Other than that – it’s books all the way.

So, it comes as no shock to hear that when we were house hunting, one of my criteria (and I didn’t have many) for the place we chose was that it have a bookstore. I mean, I was moving from Manhattan – land of The Strand (and especially their Central Park Stalls), Housing Works Bookstore, McNally Jackson, – not to mention Mysterious Bookshop, the late lamented Murder Ink and the even more lamented Endicott.

I am not afraid to admit, I had my bookish concerns – and I am glad to report, those fears came to nothing. We ended up in Banbury for a number of really excellent reasons – and while it was not the deciding factor, I am happy to report than Banbury is awash in places for me to feed my book habit.

We have the obligatory retail chain bookstore – Waterstones – which like many of the big name brands, lives in the shopping mall.

We have three – yes, three used book shops, all located in the Old Town area.

  • Books & Ink – which has a selection of new titles and used books galore. It’s one of those spaces with lots of nooks and crannies so browsing feels like a treasure hunt. It’s slightly out of the way location (in the lovely White Lion Walk) makes the shop itself feel like a little discovery as well.
  • Oxfam Bookshop Banbury: who always do a lovely job with their bookshops
  • Style Acre: only recently opened but another charity bookshop where I’ve been known to browse avidly

Banbury is also lucky enough to have quite a few “book swap” locations.

  • the PhoneBox Library – a Little Free Library of sorts (though not quite as little as those) which started out unofficially and ended up being done up properly and making the news.
  • the book swap and board games bookcase at Pinto Lounge
  • an area of Old Town Deli and Cafe


Then there are the other spots:

  • book sections of the charity shops. Never underestimate those sections. There are some excellent finds amidst the celebrity confessionals.
  • market stalls – the weekly markets in Banbury are largely food related but there are the monthly antique (more junktique but let’s not quibble) stalls where books feature prominently.


Give me a bookstore and I am happily occupied for ages; I have rarely seen a book swap I can resist and my first response to crowded bookshelves is always more shelves. The second response – a book clear out is only palatable because I am making room for more books. And happily for me, the move from New York to Banbury didn’t end up leading to a lack of bookish resources.

You can download Book Mad in Banbury in a handy PDF format (courtesy of Modern Parlance) – perfect for printing out and using as a bookish treasure map. Go forth and fill up those shelves, people!

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