Today I found the holy grail of cafés. The food is cheap and delicious, the decor is comfy and cool and it’s in Zone 3, walking distance from where I live. Oh, and it also sells books.
Run by Danish siblings Anders and Karen, All You Read Is Love is an indie bookshop/café/bar that shares its premises with East London Radio.
It’s the kind of low-key, hip-and-groovy place that would fade into insignificance in Hackney or Dalston. The slightly shabby edge lends it an effortless Scandi cool that is pretty much impossible to find this side of Stratford.
The bookshelves are divided into new and second-hand books, all of which are more affordable than those sold in the large chains.
Looking at the books feels a little like browsing the shelf of that very intelligent, witty and slightly offbeat friend you’ve secretly always wanted to be. Faulkner and Hemingway sit alongside Keats and Nabokov, near an assortment of graphic novels. Rather than displaying token titles by famous names to add an air of gravitas, the full collected works of many of the authors are on display and available to buy, something that’s unusual even in the largest bookshops.
The café serves coffee and a huge range of teas, as well as a selection of sweet and savoury meals, many of which are gluten free or completely vegan (and still totally delicious). They also serve beer, wine and cocktails. Everything on their menu is really reasonably priced, which is massively exciting when you live in London and are constantly skirting round the edge of bankruptcy.
They also host regular events, including reading groups, open mic nights and poetry readings.
Selfishly, I hope that All You Read Is Love remains under the radar of public knowledge (although the steady stream of customers indicates that it’s already building a reputation in the area). As much as I love to see bookshops doing well, it’s nice to be able to go to a trendy café on a Saturday afternoon and actually get a seat.