Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published September 25th 2013
Keeping radical book selling alive
I would shop at Fielders, but it's too mainstream.
Just because you're not right, doesn't mean you're wrong. And just because the country is designed to fit the right-handed and the right-winged, doesn't mean lefties have nowhere to go. In fact, minority groups usually make the most noise, because they are the ones with the greatest need to be heard. Often these groups are put on mute or fall on deaf ears, but if you have a passion for politics, equality, and philosophical debate, turn your eyes to Bookmarks. Bookmarks is Britain's largest socialist bookshop, and to quote Colin Dann's Animals of Farthing Wood, shares a 'all for one and one for all' mentality.
Bookmarks Socialist Bookshop
I found Bookmarks while walking down Bloomsbury Way. I was initially attracted by the rows of discount books outside the shop window, all of which were a £1. At this point I just thought it was another secondhand bookshop, but when I walked inside, I saw that there were shelves of new books too.
Immediately to the left, there was a magazine rack, with a table of leaflets opposite. It was here that I picked up a flyer that informed me of the shop's nature. There were petition papers, memberships to activist groups, and advertisements to political plays.
I then directed myself to the shelves, which had books I have never heard of before, and will probably never find in mainstream bookshops. Bookmarks's aim is to keep the tradition of radical book selling alive, to ensure that activists have access to important lessons in history. The shop has sections on LGBT, women's rights, black equality, unionism, the environment, and philosophy. Even if you are not a socialist, Bookmarks is a fantastic resource, especially for academics and those studying religion, sociology, or politics. Amongst their range you'll find essays by Marx, Althusser, Plato, etc.
Although most of their books are non-fiction, they do have a section on general fiction such as George Orwell's Animal Farm, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, and crime novels by Agatha Christie.
What I was not expecting to find was an isle for children. Don't worry, they're not trying to turn your kids into activists. There are a few specialist books, but mostly you'll find things like Malorie Blackman's Nought's and Crosses, The Killing Game Trilogy, and stories by Roald Dhal.
How about taking this with you on polling day?
At the back, secondhand books are available too. There are back issue magazines, journals, hardbacks, study guides, etc. As well as books, Bookmarks sells mugs, badges, prints, and various other home accessories and gifts. It is well worth a visit - unless you are a conservative; then you might want to give it a miss.