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‘The real reader’s bookshop . . .’

‘After walking down Gloucester Road, I can’t imagine a sight more welcome than the dusty blue of the Slightly Foxed awning. If Gloucester Road is a cultural desert (and it is), then the Slightly Foxed Bookshop is an oasis.

Slightly Foxed published the first issue of their quarterly literary magazine in 2003, and in 2009 they took over the Gloucester Road bookshop. It’s an extension of the sensibilities of the magazine – they stock an eclectic selection of new releases, and all manner of second hand books. It feels as though they might operate nightclub style one in, one out policy – there aren’t shelves full of the latest bestsellers, but there’s one each of the new Pulp the Classics editions, and they sit in the window above Caitlin Moran, a James Bond novel, and Mark Mason’s Walk the Lines. Sure, it’s a motley crew, but one that completely makes sense.

It reads like the rest of the collection; intelligent, witty, and clearly curated by people who love the books they stock. There’s a shelf full of Slightly Foxed hardbacks – searingly bright wibbalin encases some great writing. And with only 2000 of each title printed, they’re collectable as well as covetable.

And downstairs! Oh, downstairs. If you’re a self-indulgent Penguin employee (and I definitely am) it’s well worth sitting at the bottom of the steps and looking through all the Penguin Paperbacks. Beyond that – as if you could need more – there are shelves and shelves of second hand and antique books – art books, biographies, travel and food writing. It’s all there, and it’s an abundance of quality and quantity.

I spent about half an hour at Slightly Foxed, just browsing. It was only when I left that I realised that the two people who worked there hadn’t interrupted once – I don’t think they cared at all whether we bought anything; they were just pleased to see people paying their books so much attention.

Slightly Foxed pitch their magazine as ‘the real reader’s quarterly’. The Slightly Foxed Bookshop is the real reader’s bookshop.’

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