Bookshelf of the Week: Voltaire & Rousseau Bookshop, Glasgow

For two years now I’ve almost exclusively featured the photographs of others as my Bookshelf of the Week. So to mark the return of the feature after the absence of a month, I thought I’d feature a picture of my own, taken of the higgedy-piggedly interior of the world-famous 2nd-hand bookstore Voltaire & Rousseau (no website but there’s a thorough review of the bookshop HERE), situated in the West End of Glasgow.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to bask in the glory of this legendary bookshop, and last month I had the opportunity to make the pilgrimage. I’m so glad I did. It’s an incredible place. What you see before you may well look like disorganised chaos (and to be honest it is. Health and Safety would have a field day) but Voltaire & Rousseau is a real paradise for the bookish treasure hunter (even more so once you’ve seen it first-hand). Sure you’re never going to stroll in right off the street and instantly snap up the book that you’re looking for (unless you’re incredibly lucky), but the draw of this place isn’t its convenience, it’s the thrill of the hunt.

And I should add that what you see here is only one half of the bookshop. Add on another side to the left that looks identical to this, and a large entrance foyer that’s also bursting at the seams with books, and you’ve pretty much got an idea of the size and scale of this place. In other words it’s got a ton of books. It’s massive! I should also mention that the owners are incredibly nice too. They may well be bookishly eccentric (aren’t we all), but they’re hugely welcoming (my kind of people!).

On this occasion I only managed to spent around 45 minutes rummaging through the Voltaire & Rousseau book piles (it would have been longer but Mrs. Rob was sitting outside on a wall getting increasingly impatient *sigh*), but I still managed to pick up half-a-dozen gems. I won’t tell you what they are right now because I’m planning on putting up a post of recent purchases, but I will tell you that they all turned out to be real bargains.

I am planning on going back again in the autumn – this time minus Mrs. Rob 🙂 – so I’ll be sure to let you know how that return visit goes. Meanwhile there’s a couple of outdoor shots I took of the place too, which can be found HERE and HERE (but to be honest they aren’t all that inspiring).

So dear reader it’s over to you. Is Voltaire & Rousseau your idea of a dream location or is it your worst nightmare? I’d love to hear your comments.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).

Comments

  1. Stujallen (Twitter: stujallen)
    says:

    looks great although don’t like books stacked like that to much ,reminds me a bit of barter books in the early days when they opened it up to the full station boxs and chatoic shelves could spend hours in this one thanks for heads up rob although saying that only been to glasgow twice in my life ,all the best stu

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Damn it Stu Are you on Red Bull tonight? 🙂 I can’t get the posts up quick enough before your responding to them. Not that I’m complaining though. It’s nice to have such a friendly and supportive reaction m friends.
      Warmest
      Rob

  2. If the books are priced, then it’s my dream shop. If I have to haggle then it’s a nightmare. I don’t like to haggle.

    Honestly, this picture makes me consider vacationing in Glasgow.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Well I’m delighted to tell you that it’s your dream shop then CB, because all the books ARE priced.

      Hope all is well with you.
      Warmest
      Rob

  3. I used to live within walking distance of Voltaire and Rousseau, and many a happy hour have I spent in there. It was also fairly common to find a cat atop a pile of books in there – V&R were the names of the owner’s cats, though I suspect they’ll be in the great bookshop in the sky by now. Brilliant shop, I love it.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Oh, actually there was a cat in there when I visited, Kirsty. This one was asleep atop a stack of books too. Could it be the same one?

      Anyway, thanks for sharing your memories Kirsty
      Warmest
      Rob

  4. Amy (Twitter: amckiereads)
    says:

    Wow, that is drool inducing!

  5. This is actually a nightmare before me because I’m compulsive about having to look at every book (in case I miss something wonderful) and I don’t see exactly how I could move the front stacks to look at the back ones! The only way I could tolerate this would be if I lived down the street and could stroll to the store regularly and feel like I had a chance to eventually see (almost) everything.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Hahaha…I know the ‘just in case’ feeling well. I do that when I pass a charity shop (you may know them better as thrift stores?). I have to pop in…just in case :).

      So I think you’re right. Best you steer well away from this place. It would drive you nuts!
      Warmest
      Rob

  6. Iris (Twitter: irisonbooks)
    says:

    It really depends on my mood if I would call this a nightmare or heaven. At times I love browsing like this, but at other times I just turn around and leave it to somebody else.

  7. This looks like a fun place to spend an afternoon!

    I remember reading (or hearing) somewhere that disorder like this can also increase sales, because when we find a book in it, it feels like an accomplishment / opportunity. There’s that ‘now or never’ response that never comes from a well-ordered shelf.

  8. Awesome!! Oh, the fun that could be had. I can see myself getting lost there.

  9. I’m from Dallas, Texas. My husband’s mom, sis & brother native Glaswegians. On the 2009 trip, we hit V&R – I loved it! I bought 10-12 books; since only use backpack, left my clothes in the last hotel before our flight and brought back books instead. Next trip, spending entire day and plan to take extra bag for hauling the books back to Texas.