Our Favourite Independent Bookshops in the South West
As the temperature drops and the nights draw in, we exchange lazy dinners al fresco for cosy evenings curled up on the sofa with a good book.
Luckily, True Grace HQ is in close proximity to some of the UK’s best independent bookshops. Whether you’re looking for sumptuous nature writing, elegant reprints of long-lost stories or a personalised recommendation, these bookshops are ideal for a leisurely browse or a quick pitstop.
Best for nature writing: FOLDE Dorset, Shaftesbury
Found at the top of the beautiful Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, FOLDE specialises in nature and travel writing, with a focus on sustainability. The shop was named for the Old English word, ‘folde’, meaning ‘land, earth, ground’. As well as the best classic and contemporary nature writing, you’ll also find cards, art and ceramics made by local craftspeople – perfect for picking up a present or two.
“The first thing you notice when you enter The Frome Bookshop is that comforting old book smell…”
Best for second-hand books: The Frome Bookshop, Frome
The first thing you notice when you enter The Frome Bookshop is that comforting old book smell - well suited to a shop stacked with antiquarian and second-hand reads. Noel Crack and Peter Foster built up a roaring trade as individual booksellers at the Frome Independent Market before coming together to open the Bookshop in 2018. Noel specialises in subjects including Local History, Ornithology and the poets Edward Thomas and John Clare, while Peter is an expert in Classic Children’s Literature.
Best for women’s writing: Persephone Books, Bath
The team behind Persephone Books left a trail of broken-hearted readers behind when the shop moved from London to Bath in 2021. However, Bloomsbury’s loss was Bath’s gain! Persephone Books reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction, mostly by women writers and mostly mid-twentieth century. You can always recognise a Persephone purchase because of its elegant pale grey book jacket and colourful ‘fabric’ endpaper. The shop’s shelves are covered with small notes giving a clue to each book’s contents and the booksellers are always happy to recommend a suitable read.
Best for travel writing: The Travel Book Company, Semley
The Travel Book Company may be the only bookshop in the country to be partnered with a safari company – and that’s just one of the reasons that we love this shop. Housed in the small Wiltshire village of Semley, the shop houses a beautifully-curated selection of old and new travel writing, transporting you to every corner of the globe. If you’re looking for literary inspiration, their website includes a list of life-changing reads selected by writers, journalists and other adventurers.
Best for bookish post: Mr B’s Emporium, Bath
Mr B’s Emporium is something of a legend amongst readers. A labyrinthine yet cosy space filled with unusual objects and populated by friendly, knowledgeable staff, it has been listed on multiple ‘best bookshop’ lists. For those who don’t live locally, Mr B’s offers a number of postal options, including a reading subscription based on your literary tastes and a ‘surprise read’, where a team member chooses a book they’ve recently enjoyed to send to you – always a delight to receive through the letterbox.