Independent Bookshop of the Week: The Albion Beatnik, Oxford
34 Walton Street, Oxford, OX2 6AA
Selection: Twentieth century fiction from the English-speaking world, mostly from America complemented by a wide range of European classics. The stock is organised by decade (i.e. 1900-1960), which is a far more interesting way of arranging books than by the usual genre, as you get to notice literary associations between writers of that specific decade.
To reflect the shop’s name, there’s also a comprehensive selection of Beat literature. But Scottish, English and American poetry also feature.
For the music buffs, they have a fairly exhaustive collection of books on popular music – from blues and rock’n’roll to jazz. And they have a finely edited collection of CDs to boot.
And of course beatnik life wouldn’t be complete without the nomad lifestyle so for that, Beatnik Albion stocks travel writing to tempt you into leaving your job and move to South America or if, like me, you’re not that brave, then at least, to provide escapism fodder.
But if all you want is a second-hand paperback of Middlemarch, which to be fair wasn’t the only thing I wanted but which was the only thing I could afford, then they also have a humble but pretty decent collection of second-hand paperbacks and history books, most but not all for £2.
Interiors: Wonderfully cosy with a front room not too dissimilar from a sitting room where you can park yourself on the leather armchair (if you’re lucky), read a book and wile the hours away.
Music: Jazz, no less. When I had been there browsing, it was Frank Sinatra. Dreamy.
Atmosphere: Very laidback, as if you’re encouraged to browse at your leisure.
Plus points: They have a café where they serve fine specialty tea or coffee in lovely bone china.
Book club: Of course, no self-respecting indie should be without its own book club. This one reads ‘lost’ classics. The next meeting is scheduled for 11th April, Sunday at 6pm and the book in question is The Longest Journey by E.M. Forster.
Verdict: Small but thoughtfully edited stock. Good place to read the Sunday papers.