Christmas shopping for my husband is normally frustrating and challenging – but not this year.
Combining his love of books and politics I set off on a trawl of the West End’s second hand bookshops in search of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist .
Alba Musik – rare books and music lovers
First stop, Alba Musik on Otago Street , a shop ‘run by a musician for musicians’ that stocks rare books and sheet music. Calm instantly washes over me as I’m greeted by a tangible house of books – the wall is a neatly stacked masterpiece of words and wonder. The owner is lovely and incredibly helpful, trying to help me in my quest for The Philanthropist. And although, in the end, we don’t find it, I’ve discovered a magical solitude and managed to pick up another Christmas present just the same.
Voltaire and Rousseau – welcome to the world of discovery
Encouraged, my next stop is Voltaire and Rousseau on Otago Lane. This enchanting hide-away is to be admired. Around since the early 1970’s, there’s piles of books balancing precariously on each other – everywhere you turn another book – really barely room to move.
You can’t rush in a place like this and really why would you want to. Instead dive in – bury yourself in the wonderful world of books; there’s hours of searching and discovery at your fingertips. To my delight I’m told they recently had a copy of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist – to my dismay, someone has beaten me to it. I leave my name and number just in case another resurfaces.
Caledonia Books – literary lounge heaven
Undeterred I’m onto Caledonia Books. This quaint bookshop has been around for the last 25 years and the owners have successfully created complete comfort in the wee lounge area tucked away from piles of books that guard the wrought iron spiral staircase. As Kafka says “A good book is the best friend there is.” And in this solace I am truly surrounded by friends – though unfortunately The Philanthropist is not among them. And so I move on.
Create your own tale – this Christmas support your local bookstore
Admittedly with a few clicks of the mouse I could probably find The Philanthropist online – but the utter joy and satisfaction in finding it tucked between the shelves of one of these captivating bookshops is worth so much more. And of course there’s also the story of the chase!
I may not have found the book (yet) but I have managed to lose myself in magical world of discovery for the afternoon – in fact it’s some of the most pleasurable Christmas shopping I’ve done, even if I’m still two steps behind The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist.
The quest continues.