This tour will take you on a journey through a whole manner of bookselling businesses, from the salubrious to the spookyMartha Vine for Varsity

Read all about it, folks: pub crawls are so last year. It’s Easter term, so what better time to activate those synapses and embark on a crawl which will enrich your mind instead of rotting it: a bookshop crawl. This tour will take you on a journey through a whole manner of bookselling businesses, from the salubrious to the spooky. Join me as I brave the crush of the Cambridge city centre on a Sunday afternoon to visit the city’s favourite bookshops.


You know it, you love it, it’s Waterstones, a true staple of the British high-street. You can’t pass through a town these days without finding at least one (if not more), and I for one am thankful for it. Open until 7pm, Waterstones is perfect for those post-Sidge grind evenings. Waterstones is, without a doubt, the most reliable bookshop of the tour, with a wide variety – from children’s literature to manga to poetry to essays. The familiar, albeit corporately optimised, layout is open-plan and airy, leaving no room for dissertation panic. But if you’re really desperate to think about exams, there are two cafes packed full of delicious yet overpriced toasties for your tasting pleasure. Make sure your laptop is charged before you go, though, as Waterstones’ plug socket-to-desk ratio is especially horrendous.


The unfortunate fact that Heffers finds its origins in Oxford cannot subtract from the simply wonderful vibes of this bookshop. Simply put, its layout inspires joy. Similar to Waterstones, Heffers provides numerable sprawling tables with the vivid front covers of contemporary fiction, poetry, non-fiction and more smiling up at you, but is somehow more charming in every conceivable way. And unlike Waterstones, where the additional levels only go up from the ground floor (boring and lame!), in Heffers you have the option of hitting the stairs and disappearing down into the franchise’s signature basement book stacks. Here you’ll find a large second-hand section which will be favoured by the students of the Engling persuasion, due to its propensity for literary criticism. For those among us who love a sit down as much as I do, there are several sofas in the basement to perch and peruse.

“Perfect for those looking for a place outside of the libraries to feel like an academic weapon”

Cambridge University Press

Entirely unique in the Cambridge scene, the CUP focuses on academic literature in every genre. You can find in this small space everything from Quantum Physics, to Law, to Medieval History. There are a few seats here and there, and they always play classical music which is deeply soothing, although sometimes sleep-inducing. There isn’t much in the ways of amenities in the shop, but it’s got plants, natural light, and endless shelves on a range of subjects you’ve never even heard of before – what more could you want? Whatever you do, though, don’t check the prices on the books unless you want to have a meltdown. £70 for one textbook? That 20% discount for Cambridge students is looking very appealing right now… Perfect for those looking for a place outside of the libraries to feel like an academic weapon, stocked with leather-topped desks to boot.

Market Books

On the edge of Market Square closest to King’s Parade, tucked in between vibrant food stands and vendors selling trinkets, you’ll find the Books at Market Square stall. Offering a quaint selection of second-hand texts, with a particular focus on recipe books and random gems, the range isn’t elite but it sure is sweet. And if you want to browse with some fresh food, you needn’t look further than literally right behind you. When the sun is out, there is no better way to procrastinate revision than to grab a quick read and a freshly squeezed orange juice from Market Square, find a spot on the grass outside King’s, and let the hustle and bustle of Cambridge life pass you buy.

“Move over, Pitt Club! There’s a new secret society in town”

The Haunted Bookshop

The Haunted Bookshop does what it says on the tin: it’s tiny. It’s old. It might be haunted. Down St Edward’s Passage you’ll find this red-fronted store, packed to the brim with narrow shelves of antique books. If you’re in the market for a cheap win, then you might be better sticking with an old faithful, but if you’re looking for that special purchase, that limited edition Thomas Hardy, then browse away. A cult favourite, the new additional measure of locking the door so that patrons have to knock gives this bookshop a feeling of forbidden exclusivity. Move over, Pitt Club! There’s a new secret society in town. If dust in your lungs and cobwebs in your hair is your thing, this might be the one for you. But you and you alone, since you’d be more likely to fit an elephant through a keyhole than fit more than one person at a time in this shop.


Mountain View

Lighten up exam term with these classic comedies

G. David

The elusive mistress of Cambridge bookshops, G. David sits at the other end of St Edward’s Passage. If you can figure out its opening hours, this is the perfect place for both a cheap win and a break-the-bank purchase. From their £2 classics collection to the fancier antique section in the back, there’s something for everyone. The baskets of books out front are a welcoming sight, allowing one to get a feel for the selection before entering, and the pastel-coloured bikes often parked nearby are a Wes Anderson’s fan delight. G. David boasts whimsy and variety in this perfectly positioned shop. Make sure to check out the church opposite for an all-round picturesque afternoon stroll.