To a reading addict all bookshops are amazing places, whether they are large and modern with colourful and pristine bestsellers piled in strategically placed pyramids, or lonely looking charity shop shelves usually reserved for the broken-spined one-hit-wonders of the literary world. Anywhere that sells anything remotely book-shaped gives off a tempting aura of potential stories that no true fanatic can resist.
Because of this, Fosters' Bookshop grabbed hold of me from about eighty feet down the road, drew me in and stole away several hours of my Saturday afternoon, capturing them forever between the creaking pages of its books.
Fosters' is one of my favourite kinds of bookshops. Based in the oldest shop on Chiswick High Road, it is crammed full to bursting with old, rare, and generally beautiful books. A few choice volumes are displayed on tables outside (weather permitting), but inside is where the papery magic hits you. The walls are lined with overflowing bookcases and the till point and much of the floor can barely be seen for jaunty piles of classics, local history books and ancient Greek philosophy.
The walkways are narrow and spilling over with literary treasures, making the place feel a bit secret and forbidden. The shelves are loosely broken into categories but aren't really labelled so you have to guess, and even then you end up finding Rudyard Kipling wherever you go.
The brothers who run the place and its sister shop in Marylebone are very amiable and seem happy to let you wander for eternity without pressuring you to buy anything. If you do find something you fancy, the prices are pencilled carefully in the front cover and vary from amazingly cheap to frighteningly expensive for some of the older first editions. In some copies you can even find messages to the original owner in the front of the book, wishing them a Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday, dated over a hundred years ago.
I would recommend this shop for the atmosphere alone but there are definitely some wonders to be found if you're prepared to hunt for them. It's the perfect place to buy gifts and collectors editions and they even sell some artwork too.