Bibliophilia Amongst A Flotilla: Word on the Water…A Book Barge


Have you ever stumbled upon something so cool and unique that you wished you were the first to discover it ( `a la Christopher Columbus)? This happened to me recently as I exited Paddington Station in Central London.  I came across Word on the Water, without a doubt the quirkiest book store in the land…or shall I say on the water.

There is nothing that tickles my fancy like a good book. Add water and a floating vessel and I am feeling like I’m on cloud 9. Word on the Water is all that…it’s a book store, it’s a barge and  it’s one of those places that can make even myself, clad in mum jeans and a shirt decorated with mysterious baby stains feel fabulous.

As I crossed the velvet rope that draped across the doorway I met Paddy Screech the man behind the books. Paddy can be described as being on par with the lifestyle; reading glasses atop his head, almost professor-esque but the type that you would enjoy sitting in on his lectures because he fearlessly goes against the grain. His demeanour was chilled out, not at all hurried, sorting through piles of classic literature to put out for display. Patient and obviously confident, certainly a skill he honed while working for numerous years with the homeless and those with addictions. He’s been doing this for 3 years, moving up and down the waters every 2 weeks selling and acquiring books along the way. Thankfully, they may have found their home outside of Paddington Station.

Classics, rare finds, and one of a kind pieces line the shelves. Many of the books are donated or picked up from second hand shops and sold here on the water. There is even a section of children’s books.


It’s not just the discounted books that makes Word on the Water inviting, It’s also the atmosphere. The patrons are a hodgepodge of  yummy mummy’s, those on a slow stroll, students and dog walkers; people out enjoying a day on the canal. The resident cats, Queenie and Skitty lazily hang out on vintage leather chairs almost posing. Those along the footpath are drawn in from the mix of music playing over the speakers, peeking in with curiosity. On this day, an instrumental of “Royals” by Lorde has me tapping my foot on the wooden floorboard as a I thumb through pages. I like this, I like it a lot.

*For my fellow pram pushers, you will be pleased to know that the visit to Word on the Water has an added bonus: Paddington Station has step free access  making Word on the Water easily accessible for us mummy’s and daddy’s that love a good discounted read.*

If you are looking to visit Word on the Water or simply want to donate Like them on Facebook at and Follow them on Twitter (@wordonthewater) for updates and hours of operation.


The Bookshop has a thousand books, All colors, hues, and tinges,

And every cover is a door That turns on magic hinges

~Nancy Byrd Turner

Cocoa’s Sweet Reads: Books for London…Book Swaps


I dislike long commutes. This is especially true if I happen to leave behind my faithful sources of entertainment: my tablet, headphones or whatever book I am currently reading. There is nothing worse than a 2 hour commute with nothing to listen to aside from the rumbling of the train, commotion of people entering and exiting and the bustle of the Evening Standard being read by others.

Imagine the excitement that I felt when taking a long trip on the Northern Line to Morden Station when I realized that they have a book swap…right in the station! Score one for Transport for London and score one for this self proclaimed geek! I almost found myself breaking out in dance Carlton Banks style!

Books For London is an initiative that aims to provide a London wide book sharing scheme to London’s tubes and stations. This is perfect for those of us that still like the feel of an actual book in our hand as opposed to the many e-readers that are available. It is also ultra handy for those with busy lifestyles that doesn’t allow for much time to peruse the local library. On your way to work you can pick up a sweet read and not have the pressure of returning it. This is not only a convenience but it supports literacy, and it is a very “green” scheme.  According to Books For London a whopping 13 million books are sent to UK’s landfills each year. Instead of tossing your old books you can donate them to your local book swap for your fellow commuters to enjoy, a literature up-cycle of sorts!

Books For London is such a grand campaign that it was the winner of the 2011 Ideas4Mayor competition receiving accolades from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

If you are interested in picking up a book or donating to the cause you can find a current list of participating locations by clicking here:

Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.” ~Kofi Annan