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Five unbelievable conversations that really happened in a London bookshop

Five unbelievable conversations that really happened in a London bookshop
Flickr / Ungry Young Man

If you want to get your hands on a book, you’re spoilt for choice in London. Bookshops such as Daunts, Hatchards, Persephone, Foyles and Stanfords are filled to the brim with lovely literature and patient, knowledgeable staff. They are also visited by some of the most puzzling, contradictory, stubborn, confused and irritating people walking around today.

Here are five conversations that really happened in a certain bookshop in Hampstead, north London (courtesy of Jenny Dowdell).


Everyone’s an author…

Customer: ‘Hi there! I’m looking for a book about a man who sails down the Nile on a journey of self-discovery only accompanied by a small squirrel and some sultanas. He meets the girl of his dreams on the way and they end up starting a cult together in Yorkshire.’

Staff: ‘Sure, do you know who wrote it? Let me search for it.’

Customer: ‘Oh, I don’t know if it exists, I’d just really like to read a book about something like that.’

Lost property

Customer: ‘I left my book on the Hammersmith and City Line.’

Staff: ‘Sorry to hear that, which book is it? Hopefully we have it.’

Customer: ‘Oh no, I don’t want to buy it again, I just wondered if anyone had handed it in?’


Who needs a title anyway?

Customer: ‘Hello! My friend was reading a really good book at the weekend and I’d like to buy it!’

Staff: ‘Great! What was it called? Let me see if I have it in stock.’

Customer: ‘I’m not sure. It had a blue cover, though, the title was in orange and the writing on the back was in white.’

Staff: ‘I might need just a tiny bit more information.’

Customer: ‘I was pretty sure you’d get it from that.’

Lost his Shakespeare

Customer: ‘Do you have a book about taming shrews?’

Staff: ‘Do you mean Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew”?’

Customer: ‘Yeeeesss, or just a book that tells me what it’s generally about I suppose.’

Staff: ‘I’m afraid we’re out of stock at the moment and I don’t have any descriptive essays in.’

Customer: ‘Have you read it?’

Staff: ‘Yes.’

Customer: ‘Oh good [sits down happily with a pen and notepad]. Please can you tell me all about it? I have an exam tomorrow.’


Particularly picky

Customer: ‘I’m trying to buy a present for someone, he really likes maps, history and France – do you have anything along those lines?’

Staff: ‘How about “The History of France in Maps”?’

Customer: ‘Hmmmm, no, I don’t think that’s quite what I’m looking for.’

And here’s what you’ve overheard in London.

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