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“Woodstock of the Mind”

Lonely Planet Wales, 6th edition

BRITAIN’S leading festival of literature and the arts is held in the tiny Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye (pop. 1,600), just past the English border. “A kind of bookworms’ Glastonbury,” says the 6th edition of Lonely Planet Wales or, as Bill Clinton called it on his 2001 visit, “the Woodstock of the mind.” The 10-day Hay Festival (www.hayfestival.com), has author readings and workshops, concerts and club nights, plus a children’s festival, Haydays. The 2018 dates are 24 May-3 June.

For word lovers, though, Hay-on-Wye is a year-round destination, having established itself, says the guidebook, “as the world’s secondhand-book capital.” On the streets and in the narrow, sloping lanes around its crumbling Norman keep are dozens of secondhand and antiquarian bookshops. Among the ones the guidebook recommends are:

Richard Booth’s Bookshop, 44 Lion St., www.boothbooks.co.uk. Now the flagship shop of Richard Booth, who started the whole literary rage in Hay, opening its first used-book store in the 1960s. “The most famous and still the best, Booth’s is a thing of beauty—from the exquisite tiling on the outside to the well-preserved shelves within.”

Rose’s Books, 14 Broad St., www.rosesbooks.com. “Rare children’s and illustrated books.”

Hay Cinema Bookshop, Castle St., www.haycinemabookshop.co.uk. Hay’s oldest bookstore, and still among its largest. The former movie house is now filled floor to rafters with books “on all manner of obscure subjects.”

Addyman Books, 39 Lion St., www.hay-on-wyebooks.com. “A rabbit warren of a shop spread over several levels, with rooms devoted to sci-fi, myths, horror, music and art, among other subjects.”

 

www.lonelyplanet.com

 

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