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84, Charing Cross Road

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  28,936 Ratings  ·  3,984 Reviews
84, Charing Cross Road is a charming record of bibliophilia, cultural difference, and imaginative sympathy. For 20 years, an outspoken New York writer and a rather more restrained London bookseller carried on an increasingly touching correspondence. In her first letter to Marks & Co., Helene Hanff encloses a wish list, but warns, "The phrase 'antiquarian booksellers' s ...more
Hardcover, Deluxe gift edition
Published 1975 by Grossman (first published 1970)
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Sandy Millin In old books, several pages were printed on a single sheet of paper and the reader would have to cut (separate) the pages themselves. You can read…moreIn old books, several pages were printed on a single sheet of paper and the reader would have to cut (separate) the pages themselves. You can read more in number 5 here: http://wwword.com/1585/words/jargon/r... A page cutter is a special tool for this, but I think a paper knife was used a lot from what I've just read. I can't seem to find a picture of a page cutter.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
"If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much."

This was my second reading of the book, and I'm adding a star to my original rating. I laughed a lot harder this time, and even got a little choked up near the end. I don't recall this much chortling, cackling, guffawing and snorting on my first time through. The contrast between Helene Hanff's brash American informality and Frank Doel's staid British professionalism is delightful. There's a certain charm in his p
...more
Glenn Sumi
After hearing about this book for years, I finally stumbled upon a $2 ex-libris copy earlier this week at a used book sale. And without pausing I bought it. How appropriate!

It consists of the correspondence, from the late 1940s until the late 1960s, between New York writer and bibliophile Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, an employee at Marks & Co. Booksellers at the eponymous address in London.

Hanff was a voracious, eclectic reader who couldn’t find good American editions of the books she want
...more
Trevor
Aug 22, 2008 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I love this book and love the film they made of it too. It is sloppy and sweet and warm and, you know, just right. It is the sort of book one could read in an hour or two over a pot of tea on a cold winter's afternoon and just enjoy. Pure delight.

If you needed to be reminded that love of literature is as good a foundation of love of the world as any other 'religion', that the people we write to can be closer and dearer to us than those we see day after day - then this really is a book written to
...more
Annet
Feb 02, 2017 Annet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, sincere and humorous correspondence between a writer in New York (Helen) looking for unique books all the time and having them shipped over from Europe and a bookstore manager in London over the years.... Fun, nostalgic read with a smile.
Diane S ☔
Feb 08, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved every single page of this wonderful little novel, told in letters. The lost art of letter writing, but amazing how much we can tell of the relationship between the author in New York and a bookstore in London. Requesting books to be sent to her she makes the acquaintance of Frank Dole, his wife, his neighbor and other employees of the bookstore. Starts out as a purely business relationship we can tell letter by letter as they become more friendly, discussing their families, friends, jobs a ...more
PattyMacDotComma
Nov 13, 2016 PattyMacDotComma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
5★
If you love books and letters, this is the book for you! People have been interacting kind of anonymously for a long time, without dating apps or the internet. I used to hand write letters back and forth to friends I seldom saw – now it’s emails and posts, but same banter, bluster, shared triumphs and tears.

This is the most charming, funny, and touching book about a 20-year, long-distance correspondence which starts out as a relatively simple book order. Helene Hanff, a New York writer hersel
...more
Britany
I've known about his little gem for so many years, waiting for a special moment to finally dive in. I just love books filled with mementos and letters. I grew up sorting cards and old mail at my grandmother's house to the PostMan Books and now a grown up letter book. Helene Hanff is an American writer desperate to fill her reading dreams with editions of books she has trouble finding in the US. She starts a correspondence with an English bookstore.

I ate up this book like a cat with a bowl of cr
...more
Caroline
Feb 23, 2012 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have just re-read this book for about the fifth time. I think it ought to be compulsory reading every three or so years, or it should be imbibed medicinally if one is feeling generally under the weather.

As everyone knows - it's the correspondence between the warm and bouncy American scriptwriter Helen Hanff, and the stuffy head buyer of an antiquarian bookshop in London called Frank Doel. Their correspondence spans from 1949 to 1969. Slowly, slowly, Hanff's warm letters melt Doel's English res
...more
Lynne King
As soon as I came across this book on Goodreads and read the blurb, I could see that all the literary ingredients I look for in a book were there in this series of letters between two individuals. Consequently I had to purchase it.

Firstly, it was the personality of Helene Hanff, a Jewish writer in New York. I’ll just never tire of Jewish humor as it’s such a never-ending pleasure for me. Some of the “treasures” that pour from people’s mouths. As for New Yorkers, well words fail me in that regar
...more
Srinivas
Apr 26, 2012 Srinivas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Every one

who likes to read books,
who likes to write about books,
who likes to talks about books,
who likes to buy 2nd hand books,
who likes the lavish smell of books,
who likes to sniff the pages before they buy books.






MUST read this book.
Aldrin
Aug 21, 2011 Aldrin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The present is an undeniably significant time in the realm of books. It’s a time when the nature and limits of books are being redefined so aggressively that to enclose the very term in scare quotes does not necessarily amount to a vagary in punctuation. The mostly static evolution of books is now approaching a flash point, that is, if it hasn’t yet been reached. The signs are as clear as Truman Capote’s favorite Russian vodka. Accompanied by the consistent rise in the sales of books in their va ...more
Madeleine
In the interest of full disclosure (or because putting myself on display via book reviews is a more palatable vehicle for my innermost self these days than, say, the more self-respectingly private venue of a journal is), I originally wrote this review as a series of letters between 84, Charing Cross Road and me, but it was one of those times when emulating the format just wasn't working (for one thing, I kept writing the book's responses far too snarkily, which I think may have been the result o ...more
Shalini
Nov 27, 2016 Shalini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: book lovers and collectors
Recommended to Shalini by: Rebecca and Gorab
It was a small book, interesting to read.
But after the first quarter, I started having a few issues with it, these being,
1. I was frequently confused about the person who was replying to Helene's letters - I got mixing up the workers in the quaint bookshop
2. The letters started seeming monotonous, with Helen either happy or berating Mark and Co for the books they send/didn't send
3. Helene ordering books from London which had to be shipped to New York didn't make sense. What about the shipping c
...more
Book Concierge
In October 1949 Helene Hanff, a single woman living and working in her small New York apartment, responded to an ad placed in the Saturday Review of Literature by Marks & Co, a bookshop in London that specialized in used books. Thus began a two-decade long correspondence and friendship between the reserved bookseller and the irrepressible Miss Hanff.

What a delight it is to be allowed to watch this growing relationship, fueled by a shared love of books, and an ability to laugh at oneself and
...more
Mark
Aug 15, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who can read
Recommended to Mark by: I can't remember but God Bless them
Shelves: favorites, epistolary
Another of those books which take no time to read but are an absolute joy every time you revisit them. The story of a flamboyant, generous, intelligent american woman and her friendship with a seemingly much quieter but equally generous and humourous english bookseller. Their mutual love of literature and all things book is the initial leaping off point but their friendship extends over 20 years and covers momentous changes, in british society certainly. These changes are hinted at gently, refer ...more
Srividya
"No Man is an Island, entire of itself; Every man is a Continent; a part of the Main"

So said John Donne and I have to say that I quite agree with him. Even the self confessed loner isn't exactly alone and if I have to stray a little further, much to the screams of those who call themselves loners, I will say that they form relationships as well; often long and most cherished relationships. Before the naysayers attack me with their words, I shall confess and say that, relationships aren't mer
...more
Maria Clara
Sep 06, 2016 Maria Clara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No creo que vaya a decir nada que no se haya dicho ya sobre esta pequeña joya, pero hay una cosa que me ha llamado la atención: la inocencia que hemos perdido. Es decir, la amistad que surge entre un grupo de gente, que vive a miles de kilómetros de distancia, por una carta. Creo que esta es la magia del libro.
Diane Barnes
Oct 17, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars for exactly what this is: A tiny little masterpiece of letter writing, friendship, and books. This was a re-read for me, when I needed a break from a heavier read. 100 pages of sheer delight.
Ij
This memoir was a great read. It consisted of letters primarily between Helene Hanff, the author, and Frank Doel, an employee of Marks and Company, Booksellers. The title of the book 84, Charing Cross Road was the address to the bookshop, in London. The letters started on October 5, 1949 and continued back and forth for almost twenty (20) years.

In the first letter, Ms. Hanff describes herself as a “poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books.” These books she thought to be too costly in New
...more
Jaya
A short and charming read with a quirky and eccentric protagonist. Even though things started appearing to be a bit monotonous but then again, since the book is based on real life exchange of letters, one should not expect it to be...too eventful?
Nevertheless reading this definitely acted as a palate cleanser amidst all my other reads.
Cathy DuPont
Apr 08, 2013 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of books
Recommended to Cathy by: Jeff Keeten
"I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned, and reading passages some one long gone has called my attention to." as stated in a letter from Helene Hanff to Frank Doel.

So said Helene Hanff author of this little book in the form of an epistolary, the writing of letters, from Helene in New York City, to Marks & Co., Booksellers, 84, Charing Cross Road, London. The majority of the letters back to Helene were from Frank
...more
Lawyer
Hanff's little book of letters to and from the book shop Marks & Co, is a little gem. It illustrates the love of books with a passion that cannot be disguised as much as the author might try with her delightful wit.

The letters span twenty years as Ms. Hanff acquired the library she could not find in American bookshops. Her tastes ran to English literature, most preferably non-fiction. She did not care to read a volume of history by someone who had not lived through the times about which she
...more
Jessica
Feb 03, 2017 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many years ago I saw the movie with my mom, and we just loved it. And then a few years later, working at a bookstore, I discovered that it was a book. I don't know why I put off reading it until now, I just did. But, in short, this is an utterly charming epistolary novel (supposedly it's their real correspondence, but I think it's been fictionalized), characterizing the long term, long distance relationship between an American booklover and her British bookseller. If you are a booklover, you mus ...more
Deborah Markus
I just reread this for the millionth time, because I always reread this when I find myself reading a book that turns out to be eminently hateable. There are books I can rely on to make me happy, and this is one of them.

This is the book that taught me about the lean years in England after World War II was over. Food was rationed for years and years. Fresh eggs were small miracles.

Helene Hanff, a quirky, barely-scraping-by writer, began ordering books from a small bookstore in England in 1949 -- p
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Lovely, fresh, light, charming. In these days of social media, where perfect strangers routinely end up meeting (or not) and corresponding with other perfect strangers, this kind of connection between two people and places may not seem much to 'write home about.' But Helene's generosity and her shyness about visiting combined with the 20-year unfolding of events in her own and the lives of Frank, his wife Nora, the rest of the staff at Marks & Co. and others, remind us that deep and meaningf ...more
Jay
Mar 25, 2007 Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Romatics who don't require romance
The best documentaries are the ones that filmmakers never intentionally set out to make. 84, Charing Cross Road is sort of the literary equivalent to me. Neither of the penpals could have had the foresight to know how deep of a relationship they would forge. Thanks to the prevalence of carbon paper at the time, their timeless correspondence was preserved. I've read this classic four times and it never gets old. It reaffirms my faith that people (strangers) can do great and noble things.
Kim Kaso
Jul 26, 2015 Kim Kaso rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a love letter to reading & bookstores, with understated British humor clashing with snarky American humor. Life before Amazon, to be sure. I loved wandering through book shops in the UK, my idea of souvenirs.

Highly recommended, a gem of a little book.
Diane
I have read this book several times in the last 20 years, and each time I find something new to appreciate. If you like England and/or books, you will delight in this collection of letters between a New York writer and a British bookseller. Helene Hanff loved to read English writers, but all of the books she wanted were out of print in the States, so she became a favorite customer of Marks & Co., which was a real book shop in London. (According to the Internet, it's now a bar or jazz club or ...more
Lisa Vegan
Aug 13, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all bibliophiles
I read this book either right after high school or at the very end of high school when it was first published. It was a gift from the mother of a friend, and I remember having long conversations about it with her and others. Really funny and sweet correspondence. Back in the day when it was published and I read it, it was common to write (snail mail-the only kind then) letters, and there was no internet to find out of print or other hard to find books; it took tremendous effort doing research an ...more
Prashant
I simply loved this book and have many reasons for it.

My love for books is not old but books have kind of grown on me. I started off ordering online but when my monthly budget kept on overshooting every time I had to hunt for places to buy some clean second hand books at reasonable price. So now I visit a place nearby where book vendors set up their shops on the pavement. Now that I have more time to spend loitering, I visit the place twice a week and get 2 things that I love the most, coffee a
...more
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Helene Hanff (April 15, 1916–April 9, 1997) was an American writer. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she is best known as the author of the book 84 Charing Cross Road, which became the basis for a play, teleplay, and film of the same name.

Her career, which saw her move from writing unproduced plays to helping create some of the earliest television dramas to becoming a kind of professional New Y
...more
More about Helene Hanff...

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“I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to "I hate to read new books," and I hollered "Comrade!" to whoever owned it before me.” 170 likes
“I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned, and reading passages someone long gone has called my attention to.” 123 likes
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