Ah, Skoob. One of my favourite places.
Earlier this week, I found myself in need of contact lenses. Unlike most sensible people, I have decided to keep my prescription with a dispenser based absolutely nowhere near my current address, rather than with the optician less than a minutes walk away. The reason? Skoob.
Faced with impending blindness (no joke, I’m a -4.5), I hopped on a bus, and made my way back to my old stomping ground in Russell Square. Opposite the station lies the Brunswick Centre, and if you scurry around to the back entrance of Waitrose (Oh, how I miss thee), you’ll find a sign pointing you down a set of stairs to the underground cavern that is Skoob.
Uniting two of my favourite things – books and second-hand shit – Skoob is a bibliophilic magpie’s wet dream. It is, quite simply, a vast, slightly chaotic (there’s no database – if you want it, you’ll have to find it) basement nest made out of second-hand books. Personally, I love the lo-tech approach: I’m all about the hunt, me, and the thought of what treasures I might happen upon have kept me coming back, despite no longer living 5 minutes away.
On this particular visit (in which Lady Fox had to remind me to buy my lenses, such was my second-hand book driven mania), I picked up the following gems: Peter York’s Dictators’ Homes and Paola Gianturco’s Celebrating Women.
Essentially, Dictators’ Homes does what is says on the tin: shows pictures of the homes and interior design tastes of some of the world’s most infamous dictators. I remembered this book being reviewed in the Guardian a little while back, and finding it hugely entertaining in a very uncomfortable manner. It didn’t disappoint, and I spent a good hour flicking through, marvelling at the sheer gall of some of these people. The Marcos residence was a particular highlight.
Lady Fox found Celebrating Women. I’ve yet to go through it properly, but, to be honest, it had me at the concept: a photographic exploration of festivals celebrating womankind.
I love books. Picture books, fiction, non-fiction; it’s all good. I have far too many as it is, but the minute I step into Skoob, well, all good sense gets left at the top of the stairs. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever left there empty-handed.
Skoob can be found at no. 66, The Brunswick. off Marchmont St, London WC1N 1AE, or online at skoob.com.
Nearest tube is Russell Square, and they have step-free access for those who need it.