Topping and Company, St Andrews

The Only Reason to Visit

Bobby Brown

I fall in love several times a day – the most frequent instances of this are with good pizza, every dog/puppy I see/hear about/imagine, and with books. Now when you know so many writers and editors a mutual respect and admiration for the written form is shared and almost expected, so it is with great glee that I’m here to advise on a book shop.

St Andrews is a posh Scottish town over on the east coast, home to a uni and not much else, it’s a quiet little place filled with teenagers inexplicably wearing shorts in October (buy some freakin’ trousers!). While that isn’t the most glowing of recommendations, St Andrews does possess a true gem – Topping and Company Books. This is a Mecca for bibliophiles – and I’m such a huge bibliophile that I should be put on a book offenders register (which I would then read).

Getting to St Andrews I was expecting to write the article on the town, I popped into a few of the shops and found myself a nifty little red lighter. Red is an old colour; like the town, and regal; like it’s history. I thought that was going to be good enough, but then I found Topping and Company.

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The shop itself is a long narrow dream that has shelves stretching up the walls, adorned with rolling ladders, wooden floors, and comfortable sofas and chairs ready to settle into a paperback nest of your own making. I would live there if I could.

Which could be possible, if you’re tenacious enough, as they not only have a range of books and seating but a range of snacks and drinks at their in-shop café – from which I overheard two employees discussing he thrilling nature of helping people find books. Did this immediately make me feel comfortable? You bloody bet it did. Sometimes you find your kin in life where you least expect; and sometimes you find them exactly where you expect because they’re in a bookshop and people like you only really hang out in bookshops.

Topping and Company Books, has clearly defined sections dedicated to each genre, and new releases. They don’t shy away from promoting popular literature, nor do they shy away from stuff a bit more esoteric. Given that they have one of the best stocked philosophy sections I’ve ever seen (seriously they have a complete collection of Betrand Russel (old Berty Russ to my former philosophy class, and Richard Dawkins was firmly shelved in science (yes he is a failure of philosophy and I’ll never acknowledge his “work” in the field))) as well as a plethora or arts, poetry, fiction, crime, history, and more – each with their own wall. Long story short I think I want to marry a building full of books. Which would be difficult to tell my parents but I’m sure they wouldn’t be surprised.

After this I realised that the red lighter in my pocket had taken on new meaning – suddenly it was vibrant; like my interest in books, and full of fire, a cliché that here means really raring to get writing about this awesome shop.

If you’re ever in Scotland, then sure, hit up Edinburgh and Glasgow, places I’ve written articles on just FYI if you really want to read something, but also try St Andrews. Buy some books, read them on the beach with a cone of chips, and send me a message saying thank you. It’ll be well worth the trip. I guarantee.

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Editor: Floss Hafter-Smith

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