Why I love books – Word on the Water

You may have noticed that my blog has been a bit more beauty focused recently. Have no fear, I’m still keen to write about beauty and books in equal measure, but I’m currently working behind the scenes on getting all three Hunger Games books read. I’m soon to start the last one, although I’m taking a little breather from Panem and instead delving into a classic by Henry James. There’ll be a review on ‘The Turn of the Screw’ up in the next few weeks, as well as the HG trilogy, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.

Today’s post is a bit of a blast from the past. It’s about a place I visited last year, a magical place, and one that I hope I get a chance to return to in the not-too-distant future. It’s Word on the Water, a book barge which booklovers out there may have heard tales about.


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I first heard about the book barge on Buzzfeed, of all places. During a slow lunchtime at my old job, I found myself scrolling through a list of bookstores around the world that were a “must-visit” for all lovers of literature. The pictures were stunning, every country having a different take on a bookshop, some traditional, some wacky. It was there that I learned about the floating bookshop that was moored at Paddington Station. Knowing I was going to London a month or two from that moment, I made a note of it on my phone and knew I had to visit it.

There’s something quite striking about seeing the book barge. It’s unlike anything else because it doesn’t just sell books, but it creates such a cool atmosphere. As well as the booksellers, there was a man playing the saxophone perched on the boat, and people were loosely gathered around clearly enjoying the scene. I have to admit that I’ve never been to that side of Paddington before, and it was a completely surreal experience. I was in love before I even set foot on the barge.

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Inside, the barge was ridiculously cosy. I could quite happily have curled up there for the rest of the day and well into the night, surrounded by books and the gentle movement of being afloat. What added to the magic of the place was the sense that you had no idea what books you’d find, as they had such a wide variety. They also had an old-fashioned typewriter, exactly the kind I’ve always wanted. It was like the place had been made just for me.

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Of course I ended up buying a few books. The cherry on top of the cake was the Paul Auster book I found there – my favourite author in my new favourite bookshop. It just felt like this is what the whole book buying process should be about: individuality, experience, character.

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I can’t recommend this place enough. Sadly soon I may not be able to recommend it at all. I feel lucky that I managed to see it when I did, because since then it’s gone through a lot of trouble. I probably can’t explain its situation as eloquently as the many people who have taken an interest elsewhere on the internet, so if you’d like to know more, you can read a bit about it here. It’s the kind of thing that should be preserved, because there are so few places like this around. For that reason and so many others, this petition is worth signing.

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Have any of you visited Word on the Water before? Have you got any recommendations for other bookshops I should add to my list?

Holly x

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