The Ultimate Guide to Book Shopping in Norwich
It is no understatement to say that Norwich is one of the most important literary cities in the U.K – if not the entirety of Europe.
As you drive into our fine city, you may notice the humble addition beneath our city’s sign, that proudly states that Norwich is one of very few prestigious UNESCO cities of literature. This is no small feat. For over nine hundred years, Norwich has been at the forefront of creative and literary progression, with a track record to prove it.
Not only has our historic city been responsible for the first book published by a woman – Revelations of Divine Love, written by Julian of Norwich, in 1670 – but it has also been a driving force behind the craft, passionately cultivating creative writers through our world-renowned literature and creative writing degrees at the University of East Anglia.
Norwich, and specifically UEA, has been home to the likes of Booker Prize winner Ian McEwan, Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, and courses have been led by prominent writers such as Margret Atwood and Angela Carter, to name just a few. In other words, Norwich is the city of stories and is always ready to cultivate more.
It is easy to be wooed by the prestigious history of our literate culture, yet most importantly, our city is home to a staggering amount of young, talented writers, poets and creatives, studying at both UEA and NUA. It is for that very reason we feel obliged to highlight some of the best locations in the city to find what every writer needs – books!
Great readers make great writers, and today we would like to give you a guided tour of some of the finest bookshops in Norwich. Here’s our ABC’s book shopping guide to Norwich!
It’s always a good idea to kick off lists like these with a good all-rounder. The kind of book shop you can explore, get lost in, and not feel you have to break the bank for a few bookcase fillers! As we mentioned earlier, the student population of Norwich calls for an affordable place to find both books to study, and to be inspired by – and City Bookshop offers precisely that.
Just a stone’s throw away from the market, Joy and David Clarke have cultivated every young bibliophile’s dream with an extensive and varied collection of new, second-hand, and antique books! For students to specialists, City Bookshop’s two floors are sure to be home to something special – the lower floor contains new books mostly, focusing heavily on classic and contemporary fiction, and a homage to Norfolk with a rather substantial selection of fiction and non-fiction centred around Norfolk and the Broads! Upstairs is tailored more to collectable and antique books, mainly specialising in “military, transport, art, topography, children and classic novels”
For more information, and to search their wonderful store, take a look at citybookshopnorwich.co.uk
The Book Hive
A bookshop is not limited to the books it has in stock – and for many people, a great bookshop has the potential to feel like a second home. Some owners understand the value of experience, and when stepping into The Book Hive, it is clear that Henry Layte lives and breathes his business.
A useful indicator for a book shop is to see the various types of customers, the wider the range, generally, the better the shop – The Book Hive is as wide as it gets. There is a palpable energy to this Lanes based location, and it is one that extends to all ages. Layte’s ability to conjure a whimsical and inspiring atmosphere around reading, in today’s day and age, cannot be commended enough! Perhaps the best way to show this is by the testimonials posted on thebookhive.co.uk, from the likes of Stephen Fry, Margaret Atwood (who finished one of her novels within the store itself) and Ian Macmillan.
We really think this is a truly ‘see it to believe it’ visit, and one you are not likely to forget!
While there are many bookshops, like those previously mentioned, that are excellent at prompting that ‘flick through and read’ feeling – Tombland Bookshop offers something very unique, and very different. If this staggeringly beautiful antique book were a drink, it would be a bottle of vintage red, too dusty to read the label, and too nice to even open. This really is the hardcore bibliophiles dream.
Make no mistake though, this brilliant shop in full view of Norwich Cathedral is open to all types of readers, and its atmosphere really should be taken in, even if collectable books are not really your thing. Operating for over thirty years, and being ranked the best in East Anglia, and in the top fifty in the country, their love of books permeates both floors, spanning every subject imaginable, and even offers valuation, book repair and bookbinding services.
This really is an experience to take in, so get your antique cap on and check out tomblandbookshop.co.uk!
The Amnesty Bookshop
This list so far has been composed of independent businesses, and of course, there is nothing wrong with that – although, in many ways, a book shop is more than just ‘selling books’. The Amnesty Bookshop may not have everything you want or anything you need, but its existence and its heart sit on the shelves of every bookcase in its new location on St. Benedicts Street.
Amnesty International is a non-government organization that has been operating since 1961, ardently focusing on upholding human rights around the world. One of the ways they are able to fund their cause is through the multiple bookshops they have dotted around the country! The fact the exchange of books for donations to a world-renowned organisation is incredible, and something that engaging in any way results in only positivity.
The shop has a clear passion for inclusivity and often handpicks a large selection of books surrounding many social groups and causes, and while being in a university town, Amnesty is the first point of donation for some really great reads on a variety of different subjects.
You simply cannot go wrong here, and Amnesty probably cultivates just having a good old nose around more than any other bookshop on our list, so give it a gander and support a good cause, for more information see amnesty.org.uk/amnesty-bookshops!