There is nothing I would rather do on a sunny day than go for a walk along the Regent’s Canal. It is one of the few places in London where it is socially acceptable to amble (just keep an ear out for the bells of passing bikes); couple that with the calming effect of the still water; the glacial pace of the passing narrow boats; the wave of nostalgia from a childhood spent watching Rosie and Jim and the promise of a roast dinner at the Crown and Goose in Camden and I believe you have the perfect Sunday. With the opening of the Word on the Water Book Barge, a walk along the Regent’s Canal has just become even better.
I had read about the bookshop a few weeks ago on the TimeOut website and, with my curiosity piqued, was waiting for it to land in my neck of the woods. The guys at Word on the Water had started their journey at the Shoreditch Festival and were making their way along the canal, mooring for a week or so at various locations to allow people to visit their wonderful creation. I finally visited them at Camden Lock quite late yesterday evening and much to my delight they were still open. Not only were they still open, but they had a pair of musicians sat atop their boat making some great music too.
The shop is small, as you would expect, but has a great choice of second-hand titles. Given the lack of space they have struck a great balance between the popular bestsellers and the more interesting, unknown titles. What space they do have is used well, with displays on tables and shelves outside the boat and A-Z Contemporary Fiction, Classics and Non-Fiction housed inside. There is even a small case of free books, but being the book snob that I am, nothing on it took my fancy. There were plenty of titles that did appeal to me, authors like James Baldwin and Italo Calvino caught my eye and I bought a biography of Sylvia Plath for only two pounds.
The guys that run the boat appear to be having a great time doing it and why wouldn’t they? It’s an inspired idea, everyone that walked past while I was there couldn’t help but stop and have a look, and all left with a smile and a spring in their step. What more could you ask for in a bookshop?
If you would like to visit Word on the Water you can check their current location on twitter.