Peace and Penguins

On Nelson Street sits a haven of tranquility and old books.

R & R Books is now in its 25th year of trading, having opened its doors for the first time in 1994. Ruth and Ron originally had a small shop in Middle Street, but in 2002 they moved down into Nelson Street where the shop stands today. They have also taken a stall at the Shambles indoor market every Friday and Saturday since 1995, and on the first Sunday of every month you can find them at the book fair at Churchdown Community Centre, which is where I caught up with them for a chat.

In the early days Ruth ran the shop alone and shared the premises with an antique dealer. She used to type out her stock catalogue by hand on a manual typewriter and Ron used to design the covers. Ron joined the business full-time in 1999, and at the same time the antiques dealer was folding up his side of the business, so R & R Books took over the whole shop space. Ron laughs when telling me they suddenly had a lot of shelves to stock so they had to buy a job-lot of books from Cirencester to fill the gaps!
These days the shop is well stocked with a broad range of second-hand books on almost any subject. They have sections for art, literature, crime, sci-fi, fiction, children, classics, mind, body & spirit, and lots and lots of Penguins. The only new books they sell are books about the local area, local history and local interest direct from Amberley Publishing.

They also sell via their website, or you can choose a book on the website and pick it up from the shop. Not all their books are listed online though, so it’s well worth visiting them in person to see their full selection. Ruth tells me the website will give you a feel of the kind of selection the shop offers, but it’s a very different experience browsing in real life to clicking through and buying online. There’s something special about walking into a second-hand book shop with a peaceful atmosphere and a wonderful smell of old books. In R & R Books this experience is enhanced by the art-deco feel to the architecture, the black and white tiled floor and the old style lettering used in their signage. I tell Ruth I hope they won’t be modernising the shop any time soon and she jokes that as their original premises in Middle Street were built in the 1600s, this building, part of the old Co-op built in the 1930s, still feels pretty modern to them!


R & R Books in Nelson Street is open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5.30pm. Browsers welcome!