It’s that time of year when we’re searching for affordable gifts for Christmas, or longing to curl up in front of a fire with a long read. The weather would rather we stayed inside and not even the dog is keen for a walk, all of which makes it a very good reason to head to a really good bookshop and lose yourself in amongst the many covers, words, and ripping good yarns. With this in mind, here are some of the best bookshops in Sussex that we’ve visited over the last 12 months:
Hastings Old Town
Hare and Hawthorn Bookshop is an independent bookshop that’s been in the old town since 2015. They’re not massive but they have a great selection and are also just a hop and a skip from Boulevard Books which is also home to a very good Thai restaurant … of course!
Camilla’s Bookshop is a large second-hand and antiquarian bookshop not far from the train station in Grove Road. It’s gloriously quirky and literally rammed from floor to ceiling with books. Oh, and sometimes a parrot, as seen in this print by local printmaker Amanda Cardoso.
A short drive from Eastbourne is the incredible Much Ado Books in Alfriston, a veritable Aladin’s cave of bookly treasures with a little courtyard and shepherd’s hut at the rear.
Lewes has perhaps one of the most photographed of Sussex bookshops, namely the Fifteenth Century Bookshop at the top of the High Street. They specialise in children’s books including rare and collectible books as well as more recent publications, and yes, they are named after the age of the building. Lewes is also home to Boon Books (halfway down the hill in the High Street), a family-owned bargain bookshop and Bags of Books, an independent children’s bookshop on the corner of South Street and Chapel Hill.
In a beautiful old Tudor building in the High Street, the Bookshop in East Grinstead is another glorious find and they even have a chess club which in the summer, meets outside. If you’re a fan of X (formerly known as Twitter), owner John Pye will keep you both entertained and informed!
Brighton and Hove
You’re a little bit spoilt for choice if you’re looking for independent bookshops in Brighton and Hove and you have everything from The Feminist Bookshop (Upper North Street), Goldsboro Books in Ship Street which specialises in first editions, and Invisible Books in Snoopers Paradise in Kensington Gardens. But if you have time to visit nowhere else, put City Books on Western Road, in the Brunswick area on your list. They have twice been shortlisted for the national ‘Independent Bookshop of the Year Award’ and hold regular literary evenings with an impressive catalogue of celebrity guest speakers.
Steyning Bookshop is in a rather beautiful 18th century High Street building and stocks all genres. Children’s writer Julia Donaldson lives in the town so you might occasionally catch her here too.
Arundel and Chichester
Head down the High Street in Arundel and look out for a little doorway that leads into Kim’s Bookshop. They have books on all subjects and pride themselves on being book detectives if you’re looking for that ever-elusive edition. They also have a store in Chichester.
Petworth Bookshop is small but packed with local knowledge and lots of books. Super helpful, they’re always on hand to give advice.
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