Chener Books: 14 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London SE22 8HN.
This is actually the first bookshop I profiled for the blog’s independent bookshops series, just hadn’t gotten round to posting! In celebration of Bookshop Day, here it is……
Chener Books is a shop I see a lot when I pop down to Lordship Lane (to eat, obviously) but only stepped into last year.
It’s been around since 1978 and is currently run by the very friendly Miranda, who took over in 2018. This place is old school enough not to have a website and traditional in the sense that it’s actually packed to the rafters with only books. Nothing else- I don’t think I even saw bookmarks
Loved the big display table in the middle, had a few titles I’ve wanted to read for a while, some very popular titles and some I’ve never heard of. I liked how easy it was to spot a number of women writers on the main table- Including Audrey Lorde’s Your Silence Will Not Save You which I’ve had my eye on for a while. There’s a local history section if you’re nerdily inclined and a great children’s book room at the back (biggest one I’ve seen in a local shop)
If you are looking for a general afternoon out, Chener books is a good one, the lane is bustling with independent, family friendly cafes and restaurants. If it’s a good day, Dulwich Park is a walk or short bus ride away to read your new titles in the sun.
Miranda was kind enough to give me a few minutes…
There is a sense of community around the area; people want to actively support a local bookshop rather than a chain- While I was there, a local popped in to chat and ask if a particular book was in stock for a birthday gift- the interaction seems quite common at Chener. Affordability is a point to bear in mind, independent bookshops can have different success rates in different areas based on this factor. Patrons are generally willing to part with a few extra pounds, especially since they were likely shopping anyway.
Interestingly, Miranda mentioned people have been buying books that reflect the times, a lot of dystopian fictions have been on the up – Owell’s 1984 popular these days
Bookseller’s other favourite bookshop: London Review. Lots of poetry events. Miranda herself is a poet!
Bookseller’s recommended book: Last time I was here, Miranda recommended ‘The End We Start From’ by Meghan Hunter. Brilliant read that I probably would not have picked up otherwise- incidentally also dystopian. I noticed ‘In Our Mad And Furious City’ on her desk- I recommended that when I last saw her!
Bookseller’s upcoming releases to look forward to: Sally Rooney’s Normal People, due for release at end of August (long listed for Man Booker) Edit: this interview was done before that!
Buy a yellow book/ book I wouldn’t usually read: Went for a yellow book No Is Not Enough, Naomi Klein. Was on my read list for this year anyway!