Blogger, writer and model Rosalind Jana shares her love for the written word through her favourite texts and bookshops in London
Literary wunderkind Rosalind Jana has not only just polished off a degree at Oxford University but is also currently promoting her debut novel, Notes on Being Teenage; a reflective look at coming of age as a millennial, packed full of insightful and witty anecdotes and conversations.
“The biggest obstacle was fitting in everything,” she recalls. “To talk about all the many, many facets of being teenage is nigh on impossible within a set word count, so there are inevitably some areas and experiences I wish I could have looked at in more depth or had the time to research further. Beyond that though, perhaps just the experience of putting together a whole book for the first time. That’s a bit like an obstacle course – but the feeling when you get to the end, and survey everything you’ve surmounted, is pretty fantastic.”
Jana is an active wordsmith and has previously written for British Vogue, Tatler and Refinery29, alongside her blog Clothes, Cameras & Coffee. Her favourite spots for reading in London include “the courtyard in the V&A on a sunny day; any cafe in Soho with good coffee; the benches on Primrose Hill and the British Library. I mainly end up reading on the tube though when I’m dashing around between meetings."
Here, she reveals her preferred haunts in the capital for picking up a paperback and shares her all-time favourite texts.
1. The London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, WC1A 2JL
"Just around the corner from the British Museum, this may just be my spiritual home. I always pop by if I’m in the area and rarely leave without a new purchase (or three) in a brown paper bag. The last few visits yielded treasures by Hilary Mantel, Alice Oswald and Thomas Morris."
2. Waterstones, 82 Gower Street, WC1E 6EQ
"This place is HUGE. The kind of bookshop you’d want to get lost in for an afternoon. It’s got a wonderful poetry section and so many, many enticing rooms."
3. Camden Lock Books, Old Street Station, 4 St Lukes Close, EC1Y 1BE
"Located in Old Street Station, I was first taken here by a friend. We spent a very happy half hour exploring the floor to ceiling shelves. I often forget that it exists and very happily reacquaint myself on my way in or out of the station."
4. Persephone Books, 59 Lamb's Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB
"Persephone publishes some very stylish, very great out-of-print books by female writers from the 20th Century. The shop is awash with those gorgeous dove-grey covers and is a trove of new discoveries."
1. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
"It’s a deliciously good novel – nuanced, clever, compelling and full of vitality. I gobbled it up in less than 24 hours and have been trying to press it on everyone I know since. I had a similar reaction to Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City, which is a wonderful mix of memoir and cultural criticism."
2. The Door in the Air by Margaret Mahy
"This is a book I return to whenever the world feels overwhelming or everything is just a bit much. Woefully underrated outside New Zealand (where she was a national treasure), Mahy’s short stories are playful, delightful, joyful and ridiculously imaginative."
3. Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith
"Short, sharp and exuberantly joyful, Smith's retelling of Ovid's tale of Iphis looks at bodies, stories, desire and the sweet satisfaction of standing up to corrupt corporations."