Opposite Highgate tube station is a tiny little treasure trove. Although it’s got a bit of a reputation for being a children’s bookshop, Ripping Yarns actually carries a wide range of fiction, magazines (old copies of Shoot or Melody Maker, anyone?), plays, theatre ephemera, politics and poetry – as is only fitting, since owner Celia Hewitt is Adrian Mitchell‘s widow (and so, we assume, the inspiration behind Mitchell’s Celia, Celia).
The books are second hand, some of them falling into the antiquarian category; lots of gorgeous hardbacks and classic design Penguins or imprints you might remember from childhood. If we’re honest, what really impressed us was that, after a brief mention of one particular series with one particular cover type, they managed to pull out the exact book we were missing after a few seconds’ hunt. This is why we love independent bookshops. Do you get that in Borders? No, you do not. If you’re not as lucky as us, you can always join the ‘wants list’ and they’ll let you know if they manage to get hold of your heart’s desire.
For one of those ‘half’ shops (of the type found in this part of North London), the amount packed into such a small space is truly astounding. We guarantee that if you wander in (and you should) you’ll wander out much later, heavier of load but lighter of spirit.
Ripping Yarns, 355 Archway Road, Highgate. Tue-Fri/Sun 12-5pm, Sat 10am-5pm. Continue reading for a map. Images author’s own. Know a good bookshop? Email us at londonist (@) gmail.com.
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