As we celebrate Independent Bookshop Week 2015 this week, in conjunction with Books Are My Bag, I thought I would again share my favourite independent bookshop with you.
Best Books & Toys is on The Parade in my home town of Exmouth and has been trading since July 2003.
It was a few years ago that I first stumbled upon this fantastic shop. I can remember wandering in through the door and being pleasantly surprised at what I saw. Best Books has gone from strength to strength over the years, making it the best bookshop I know.
Bookshelves stretch along the sides of the ground floor and are filled with a huge variety of genres. To be perfectly honest, these alone would make my day; as such a massive bookworm, the sight of full bookshelves make me very happy!
When I eventually tear my eyes from the shelves and see everything else on offer, I know I'm in for a treat. Best Books stock a brilliant range of children's books and toys, mostly based on traditional designs, to get children doing and making things. There are lovely cards, beautifully covered notebooks, clocks, wall signs; all manner of gifts to entertain and delight.
Best Books is a real gem amongst the charity shops and discount stores that dominate the town centre and a great place to buy gifts for readers and non-readers alike.
Upstairs is the Book Rest Café which serves utterly delicious homemade food at competitive prices. There are daily specials, with an emphasis on vegetarian and vegan meals but there are a few meat dishes to satisy real carnivores like my husband, plus some gluten-free options. I recommend the butternut squash, cheddar, onion and cashew nut pasty with leafy salad!
If you don't fancy a meal, there are various yummy homemade cakes (including gluten-free) to tempt you. There is a good selection of hot and cold drinks and I was in heaven with the plethora of herbal and fruity teas available.
There is a great atmosphere, aided by the friendly staff and the unique design of the place. The dining tables and chairs have funky tablecloths, each table having a different design. In the quieter area over by the windows are leather sofas you just sink into. I love that there is a selection of second hand books for sale and proper sugar lumps in bowls on the tables. On the walls are some of the clocks, pretty bunting and signs that are for sale.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of all is the children's area. There is fantastic wall mural featuring an underwater scene and a choice of sofas or dining tables and chairs in which to sit. There's a cute little fence surrounding the children's area, which has a little gate through which to enter and exit the area. It's such a great idea to give children their own little area! Apologies for the lack of picture of the children's area, you'll have to pay a visit to see it for yourselves!
Special thanks to owner Wendy and Olivia for allowing me to take photos. I must also mention Kate, the friendliest staff member I've ever met!
*Here is the link to my original piece about Best Books, originally posted in October 2014.