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