Last time I was in London, I sang the praises of the Catholic Truth Society Bookshop. This time it is the turn if its near neighbour in Westminster Cathdral's piazza, St. Paul's Bookshop.
St. Paul's is a proper bookshop, though it does sell other items, such as vestments and church furnishings (including some very nice lecterns, if you're looking for one that doesn't look like a music stand and have a spare three hundred quid or so). Refreshingly there was no canned music in the shop, which is dominated by towering bookcases arranged in an attractive number of spaces, so that the main shop feels like a maze of books - though an easy one. This shop feels like a serious bookshop, and is all the better for it. It also sells serious books, though of course there is some popular stuff in there. It had in the sets of the Church Fathers published by Hendriksen, and the sort of serious books that the student will welcome. Of course it is a Roman Catholic bookshop, and the stock is slanted towards Roman Catholicism. But on the other hand, it is serious Roman Catholic material, and not all of it is Roman Catholic. Visiting bustling London, I was very glad to be out of the bustle for a while in this literary oasis. The atmosphere of the shop is enough to lead the serious student to enter St. Paul's and to wonder why on earth there aren't more bookshops like this in the world? I suspect the answer is economics, and the relentless dumbing-down of Christianity in this country.