Whatever you’re studying, books and students just go together. But here in Winchester, we have a lot more of them on offer than you might think. So whether you’re looking for a module reading list or something to curl up with on a cold night, there’s plenty of places to search! Like most university cities, we have a Waterstone’s (I refuse to remove the apostrophe, even though the store themselves have shunned it). In fact, we have two! They don’t differ much. If you want some fancy stationery or to browse what’s current in the book market, then this is your place. But if you’re after something a bit special, then try some of these…
1 P&G Wells
This independent book store on College Street is over 250 years old. They host book fairs and author events, and even have a resident bookbinder if you want to see this traditional skill in action. P&G Wells also have a mini store on campus just for students. They stock books for all courses, and are often cheaper than online retailers! At the beginning of each semester they offer package deals and can order anything extra you need for no extra charge. Go and have a chat with them on the 4th level of the Student Union to find out more about what they offer.
2 The Oxfam Bookshop
Cheap second-hand books, the money goes to charity and sometimes they give you free post-it notes shaped like goats. What’s not to like? You can often pick up fiction texts for literature-based courses here, as many graduates donate books to them. They also sell music (sheets, records and CDs), games and films, and have a lot of collectable books for decent prices. This is where you’ll find your favourite childhood reads and end up buying them for comfort when you feel homesick.
3 The Winchester Bookshop
Tucked down an alleyway on St George’s Street, this shop is one of Winchester’s greatest hidden treasures. It has three floors connected by creaky stairs, with a cosy, well-worn rug on each. Factor in that glorious aroma of leather and old paper and it’s got that old-fashioned feel down to a tee! This is where you will find all things peculiar. Everything they sell has character; antiques, first editions, spell books, ancient maps, botanical almanacs, Victorian magazines, shipyard records… Expect to lose track of time and become immersed in a world of words you never knew existed.
4 The Deanery Book Stall
At the side of the cathedral, there is a path which leads to the cloisters. Beyond the grassy area, on the other side of the car park and to the left, there are some arches. Beneath these is an annex so full of second-hand books that they’re literally spilling out - boxes of books and tarpaulins littered with them often cover the floor outside, too. There doesn’t seem to be any order to this layout, so just dive in. If you’re looking for anything in particular, ask the salesman. He will be sitting by the door in his fold-up chair, and somehow has the extraordinary powers to navigate this literary chaos.
You never know where your next favourite book could be hiding, so next time you go hunting browse some new shelves.