'Rare books by women' announces a pink notice board, the only clue on Soho's busy Brewer Street of what lies just behind.
Venture into Smith's Court, a Soho oasis of calm just a minute's walk from Piccadilly Circus, to find The Second Shelf. The petite, independent bookshop specialises in rare and rediscovered books by women, including first editions. It's a small space, but the shelves are laden with tomes of all kinds, and the staff are always happy to offer a recommendation or two.
In addition to floor-to-ceiling reading material (around 3,000 books at any one time), the shop holds occasional events including book launches and signings. Keep an eye on the website for upcoming events. We recommend buying a book, and spending a summer afternoon sitting in the lovely Smith's Court with it — surrounded by other independent shops — working your way through the first few chapters.
The Second Shelf, 14 Smith's Court, Soho, W1D 7DW.