The Gathering’s Cabinet of Curiosities: A book lover’s paradise

Barter Bookshop, one of Europe’s largest secondhand bookstores, opened in 1991 and occupies a building that used to be a Victorian railway station in Northumberland, England (UK).  

Although it is a large bookshop, its colourful carpeted floors and squishy sofas give it a cosy homely feel. The first room houses floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with classics, and just above them snakes a small looping railway track, complete with a moving train that rolls around the space as you browse. 

Several of the station’s original features have been kept, cleverly adapted to store books in every nook. The main space seems never ending, with rows upon rows of secondhand books – even some first editions! Their subjects range from comic book romances and astronomy to 19th-century French fiction and plant health. Don’t worry, there is something for everyone! The shop’s general atmosphere of giddy excited chatter makes the book search all the more fun. 

Not far from Barter, you could visit Alnwick Castle, where Harry Potter learned to play Quidditch. On the way there, the ‘chatty bench’ is available for anyone who wants to park themselves next to a stranger for an interesting chat. Pity there isn’t one in every town!

All images courtesy of Stefania Signorello

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