The need to read: our guide to the best bookshops in Leeds
Words by Lauren Entwistle
Ah, the joy of reading. Whether it’s treating yourself to a glorious new hardback or buying someone else’s childhood favourite, they say there is no better gift than a book. We wholly agree with that sentiment this festive season, mainly because Leeds has a brilliant collection of booksellers, both mainstream and independent that would fulfil anyone’s need to read.
Here is our guide to our favourite bookshops in (and out) of town:
Colours May Vary
Colours May Vary is a design-focused book-shop and exhibition space based in Leeds. First established in 2012, it was the city’s first store to focus on art, graphic design and illustration publications. After being at their Munro House location for almost five years, they regularly commission work and collaborate with local businesses and designers – so it’s always worth having a nosy.
They have a range of little-less-known magazines, books and publications for you to peruse, perfect for gift-shopping. But if a book just isn’t enough – they also stock a wide range of gorgeous contemporary stationery, prints, cards and gifts, so you can get all the Christmas lark done in one fell swoop.
Have a nosy at their site here.
Village is an independent bookshop found in Thorntons Arcade, Leeds. Now moved from their Corn Exchange location, Village offer a specially curated selection of contemporary art, design, fashion and photography books and magazines – also sourcing self-published and small press zines from international creators. It’s a top spot for those who are creative of mind and soul, with their gallery space also providing inspiration for anyone who fancies a bit of culture while they think about their purchase.
Village also sells online and physical gift cards, totes and arty pins (a great present for a pal’s lapel, perhaps?) which should make Christmas shopping feel a lot more bearable. But if it all gets too much, simply wander upstairs and sit in the gallery for a bit. You’ll feel a lot calmer and come out a bit wiser.
You can find out more about Village here.
The Little Bookshop
Set in the heart of Chapel Allerton, The Little Bookshop is Leeds’ only independent children’s bookshop. It’s a new baby itself, having only opened its doors in October of this year – The Little Bookshop is a sweet place to explore literature and illustrations with your child. With regular story-times, author events and even a cafe serving up fresh and wholesome food, The Little Bookshop hopes to “embody the joy of reading for your family.”
Whether you’re stopping by for lunch, popping in to see an author (make sure to book tickets in advance) or just looking around the shelves, if its a young reader you’re shopping for – look no further. This lot have got you covered.
Find out more about what’s on here.
The Big Ones
Yes, yes, you’ve probably heard of Waterstones before. And it may even feel blasphemous to put them on a list next to some of Leeds’ best independents – but, a bookshop is a bookshop and Waterstones is a good one.
Hosting regular authors and book-signings, the Leeds branch of the franchise is regularly stocked with new releases, best-sellers and classics – making it a brilliant base for any bibliophile. They also stock a huge amount of gifts, accessories and stationary, including brands such as Moleskine and Paperblanks so any budding writer will not go without materials.
Waterstones Leeds also has a number of Book Club Events, on throughout the year and ranging from True Crime to Terry Prachett – so everyone is entertained. If you’d like to find out when these are on and for more information, click here.
Otherwise known as the student bread-and-butter, Blackwells (situated outside of Leeds University) isn’t as academic as you’d expect. As well as stocking volumes fit for purging facts from in a late-night binge, it’s also a great place to pick up a best-seller, new find or potential favourite.
Blackwells also features stationary, gifts and guidebooks too, making it a one-stop wonder for anyone’s needs. It’s also worth checking out their Wellcome Collection, featuring books and accessories from the famous London Museum.
If you’re interested in having a proper look, you can find out more here.
A Comic Bunch
OK Comics is an independent Comic Book Shop in Leeds, and has won multiple Independent Retailer, Customer Service and Retail Legend awards – just in case you need to check credentials. They stock a wide range of comics, from newly released and classic back issues, comic magazines and an extensive range of graphic novels.
From free standing order requests, classic back issue comics for 50p and a free library system where you can borrow issues – OK is changing the game. Definitely worth a visit whether you’re a comic connoisseur or just dipping your toe in.
Find out me here.
Travelling Man Comics
Credited as: “an enthusiasts’ store for role-playing, card and board games, manga and graphic novels, plus clothing” – Travelling Man is another comic-shop that stocks the good stuff. Having started in Leeds, Travelling Man’s popularity has indeed travelled onwards, setting up in Manchester, York and Newcastle too.
Wander in and peruse a huge selection of comics and manga, a new volume or collector’s guide of which makes a great present for a fan. Or why not pick up some merch or one of Travelling Man’s many games (there’s loads) to liven up your basket.
Interested? Find out more here.
Nothing shows more thoughtfulness than the gift of a book. But if you’re just browsing this list for yourself… then what are you waiting for? While away an afternoon flicking through a novel or two at some of the above spots. You won’t be disappointed.