9 independent bookshops that put on stellar events

Various, UK

Rachel Mills has combed the shelves to bring you the best UK bookshops for events.

Get up close and personal with your fav authors with an in-store or online exclusive event.No-one does books better than an independent bookstore and to prove a point new bookshops and sellers are opening across the UK on the regular. Now Indie bookstores have made themselves hubs in the heart of their communities, hosting book signings, author talks and special interest groups. Rachel Mills has combed the shelves to bring you the best UK bookshops for events.

Mr B’s Emporium, Bath

Events are held at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, as well as at other locations across Bath (including the club and events space at swanky Walcot House). Most events include wine (always a win for us) and all events include insights, opinion and conversation. Mr B’s draws in the A-list so expect literary lights like Louis de Bernières, Jennifer Egan, Maggie O’Farrell and Sebastian Faulks.

Daunt Books, Marylebone, London

Marylebone’s charming independent and original Daunt Books is an Edwardian delight of custom-built dark wood bookshelves and creaking galleries. The whole place is flooded with natural light and a perfect space for talks and workshops – big names to grace Daunt Books include CBE-honoured Alexander McCall Smith and Booker Prize winner Shehan Karunatilaka. There are other Daunt bookstores in London and one in Oxford, and all host great events (the Marylebone shop specialises in travel and round-the-world titles).

Book Hive, Norwich

In the Lanes area of historic Norwich, the Book Hive is special for its personally curated and alternative browsing sections. Book design is cherished and given plenty of display space. The shop hosts regular events, including a weekly quiet reading hour called Page Against The Machine, talks, signings and book launches.

The Margate Bookshop, Margate

Close to the sea in Margate’s Old Town, this cute little Georgian shop space has been a bookshop since 2019. Books are general interest, with a focus on underrepresented authors, and events include a regular book club, poetry feedback evenings and book launches. You’ll most often spot local authors like Maisie Hill, Denai Moore and Daisy Buchanan hosting events.

Topping & Company, Bath, Edinburgh, Ely and St Andrew

An independent family-run book seller that originally opened in Ely in Cambridgeshire in 2002, and since opened in Bath, St Andrews and Edinburgh, Toppings has a packed roster of author events. 2024 is already well in hand, with authors and poets booked to appear including Lorraine Kelly and Hollie McNish (both in Ely), Rory Cox (St Andrews) and Rory Cellan-Jones (Bath).

Lighthouse Bookshop, Edinburgh

Radical, Queer and Feminist, Lighthouse events are definitely not mainstream. Events here are likely to be about history, politics or sociology, and will always be unapologetically activist and intersectional. Many events are recorded (videos can be clicked on the website).

North Books Hay-on-Wye

We can’t talk about book events and not include the literary epicentre that is Hay-on-Wye, and the lovely cosy nook that is North Books. North Books stock fiction, non-fiction and Welsh Literature and are a huge supporter of local writers, women writers and sustainable topics (George Monbiot spoke here recently about the state of the River Wye). Nothing in the diary yet for 2024, but there are several events each month, so watch this space (and you can always join the monthly Hay Book Group).

Griffin Books, Penarth, Cardiff

Named UK Independent Bookshop of the Year at the 2023 British Book Awards. Griffin Books is a delightful coastal haven for book lovers (don’t miss the book clubs for adults, teens or children). Sold out author events in 2023 included Rick Stein in October, and there were afternoon teas and evenings of poetry in the local church. 2024 is bound to be even better – keep an eye out for Penarth Literary Festival in June.

Brick Lane Bookshop, Tower Hamlets, London

It’s no surprise, given Brick Lane’s history as a hotbed of radicals, rabble rousers and hipster riff raff that the Brick Lane Bookshop has events that often focus on east end history and celebrate those trailblazers who’ve made it. Not only that, there are fab local area tours that you can book instore led by notable authors which give fascinating insight into the area’s past.