Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Which a Wee Bit of Great Britain Comes to My Neighborhood

To meet a handsome fellow from London who also owns a secondhand bookstore that carries mostly books by English authors or books about or published in Great Britain, for me is akin to meeting a rock star. 

My heart be still.

Paul Wheeldon, owner of the straightforwardly named Paul Wheeldon Secondhand Books, brought a bit of England into my life when he opened his shop in my neighborhood.

What a perfect place to have a bookish chat on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. 

I discovered that Paul is originally from Harlow New Town, Essex, which is about 25 miles northeast of London. He met his American wife, Sara, in London. She worked in a secondhand book store on Gloucester Road in a building that now houses Slightly Foxed new and used books. Both bibliophiles, they had a book business of their own going - selling online and to bookstores. 

They moved to Louisville five years ago. Paul first opened the store in a space he shared with an art gallery. He recently relocated to a spot just a half mile from me in a building he shares with a record store in the front and a vintage shop upstairs.

His shop at the back is very cozy and comfortable. His curated shelves hold books on military history, shipwrecks, global travel, high-end fashion, royalty, along with literary classics and contemporary British fiction. There are a shelf or two of antique and collectible volumes. The walls are hung with pieces of his own art and vintage maps. A black typewriter sits atop one bookcase. A bobby's hat rests atop another. Of special interest is an entire bookcase full of Penguins.

"I like to think I am a Penguin specialist," he says. "I always look for the orange stripe."

And it's not everywhere that one will find a book featuring Rowing Blazers and boxes full of Tatler and British Vogue magazines.

He only occasionally orders or sells online, he says, preferring to do business face to face.

What has been a great book find for you?
I was living in London and had gone to Norwich on a book buy. I picked up a prayer book and the inscription read: 

To Edith. 
Thinking of you. 
Edith Todhunter 
Kingsmoor House 

Kingsmoor House, a small country manor, was five minutes from my home in Essex. I have visited the house. This book now rests permanently on my nightstand.

A more recent find was a first edition copy of The History of Mr. Polly by H.G.Wells from 1910. Although not a particularly popular or valuable book, I knew right away that I had to have it in my personal collection.

What do you like to read?
Bad science fiction. I am particularly fond of the War Hammer series. There are lots and lots of them written by different authors. They are very predictable: the good guys face adversity, they get a beating, and then they come back and win. 

I especially like Sherlock Holmes. To me, Jeremy Brett was the best portrayer of the detective. The man lived it. I also like the Inspector Maigret series by Georges Simenon. The most recent one I read was At the Crossroads. I love that time period and I think they are sexy mysteries. I don't know how he does that.


Oh, yes. I am destined to spend much time browsing and buying at Paul's bookshop. I am invited to come in anytime for a spot of tea. Aren't I lucky to have this little patch of literary Britain so close by! 

You can see more of Paul and his bookshop here.


  1. That does sound delightful! A bit of bookish Britain accessible without a passport! Lucky you!

    1. I know! I have visited the shop twice and have been too busy chatting with Paul to really study his collection. Next visit, I will focus on the books.

  2. Oh, I know I would love this bookshop, Belle. Do tell us when you go back for tea - and what you come home with.

    1. Yes, Penny, I am anxious to study Paul's shelves very closely. Rest assured, you will be hearing more about any shopping expeditions.

  3. Why, yes, you are lucky! How delightful. I hope you enjoy many happy hours of browsing and tea taking!

    1. Kathy, you know how we love all that British stuff. It's almost like having The Queen here!

  4. What a charming interview, Belle! I'd love to go to this bookstore. I certainly wish we had a store like this in our neighborhood. Maybe I need to move to Louisville.

    1. Thank you, Kat. It really is quite exciting having Paul and his books here. Brightens things up a bit. I will be keeping in close contact with this shop!

  5. How fun for you, and how dangerous that would be for me.

    1. Oh, Thomas. Very dangerous for me, too. I have sort of worked out a deal with Paul whereby I bring him any British books that I think he might be able to sell but he doesn't give me money. Instead, he gives me credit to use toward purchase of as yet more books. Sweet deal.