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84, Charing Cross Road

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  21,729 ratings  ·  2,842 reviews
It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.
Paperback, 97 pages
Published October 1st 1990 by Penguin Books (first published 1970)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Steve Sckenda
Helene Hanff is poor script writer in New York City with a taste for antiquarian books, which she purchases from Marx & Co. , a London bookseller located at 84 Charing Cross Road. “Why should I run all the way to 17th Street to buy dirty, badly made books when I could buy clean, beautiful ones without leaving the typewriter?” 84, Charing Cross Road is Helene’s memoir that unfolds through transatlantic letters, dated from 1949 to 1969, between Helene and store employees, who become her frien ...more
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
Lynda
Feb 03, 2015 Lynda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of epistolary novels and books, glorious books
I lived in London from 2004 to 2008 and still have a house there. I continue to travel to London regularly from Dubai. I call these trips my "sanity check"; they transport me from my 'dream' world back to the 'real' world.

One of my favourite haunts in London is Charing Cross Road. It's been the home to booksellers selling second-hand and rare books for decades. Long before the American writer Helene Hanff immortalised the street in 84 Charing Cross Road, the area enjoyed a storied association w
...more
Trevor
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
☔Diane S.
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
Caroline
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
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
Mark
Oct 22, 2012 Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who can read
Recommended to Mark by: I can't remember but God Bless them
Shelves: epistolary, favorites
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
Aldrin
Sep 13, 2011 Aldrin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Aldrin by: Chachic
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
Cathy DuPont
Apr 08, 2013 Cathy DuPont rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Jay
Apr 02, 2007 Jay rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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
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
Mike
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
Srinivas
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 the books,
who likes to sniff the pages before going to buy the book,






MUST read this book.
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
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
Stela
Feb 24, 2014 Stela rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Stela by: Ginny_1807

I could have finished this tiny book in two hours or so, but I didn’t want to. I preferred to taste every word, to linger around every sentence, to search for a meaning even in punctuation marks. I wished that quest for books and friendship never ended. Books and friendship - the key words of all my life, unexpectedly gathered together in a bunch of letters about a growing friendship through books.

It is hard to speak about 84 Charing Cross Road without getting emotional, to judge it aesthetical
...more
bookczuk
One of my alltime favorite books. Through the actual letters between a used book store in London and an avid reader in the US, it is possible to get a glimpse of the world in 1949 and after. I always find myself fascinated by the correspondence and daunted by Hanff's reading list. Here's a partial list of the books mentioned in the book. Maybe I should use it as my "I need to read these books" list?

Partial list of the books Helen Hanff ordered from Marks & Co. and mentioned in 84 Charing Cro
...more
Ginny_1807
”Sembra troppo nuovo e intatto per essere mai stato letto da qualcuno, pure deve essere così: continua ad aprirsi nei punti più deliziosi, il fantasma del precedente proprietario mi fa notare cose che non avevo mai letto prima.
[...] conserverò il mio fino al giorno della mia morte e morirò felice per la consapevolezza che lo starò lasciando a qualcuno che potrà amarlo. Lo riempirò tutto di leggeri segni a matita per indicare i passaggi migliori a qualche amatore di libri non ancora nato.”


Questo
...more
S©aP
Un viaggio straordinario nell'understatement anglosassone, che diventa poesia. In poche pagine sobrie e divertenti. Vi si narra di libri. Tuttavia, senza parlarne mai o quasi, vi si narra anche di amicizia, austerità, dignità, rispetto, fatica esistenziale, gioia condivisa, educazione, affetti, amore, gelosia, viaggio, aspettative, desideri, dipartita, anzianità, crescita, tradizione, timidezza, corresponsione di sensi, gratitudine, riconoscenza...
O meglio: si lascia sapientemente che sia la no
...more
Angie
I owe the discovery of this wonderful book to DH, before he was DH, in fact. He gave the movie to me for my birthday--the first birthday I had after we started dating. Along with the Old Friends Simon & Garfunkel box set and a kiss. At the time we were living in different cities and meeting up somewhere in the middle for our "dates." So I drove home that night and watched the movie all by myself. I cried. Twice. I laughed and laughed and laughed. And I went out and bought the book immediatel ...more
Anne
I was introduced to this book many years ago as a child. I remember just loving it. It is a collection of letters from the late 50s through the 70s between the author, Helene - a writer in New York, and Frank Dole - an antiquarian bookseller. Helene begins in search of rare titles, which Dole doggedly tracks down for her. As their correspondence continues, an interesting friendship develops. Helene sends packages to the bookstore, to be shared by the other workers there. And eventually, she begi ...more
Diane Librarian
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
Chris
If you love books, you MUST read this one! The letters that Helen and Frank (and the others) write back and forth tell the story so much better than any attempt at narrative form would have. You can't help but fall in love with everyone, and knowing that it's a work of NON-fiction just makes it all the more perfect.

I had wanted to get my hands on this book for a v. long time, and I'm so glad that I finally did. (And I couldn't have picked it up at a more perfect place--a library book sale--one o
...more
Hadrian
Short charming story about little book stores and the people who love them. Not much more I can say about that.
Dolors
This edition contains Hanff's letters to Mark and Co sellers and its sequel "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street". Both books are unusual and delicate treasures for book lovers.
The first book contains the letters Miss Hanff wrote to Mark and Co second hand bookshop, and specially, to Frank, one of the sellers there, for more than 20 years. Through the letters we are offered a real glimpse of what would have been like a post war life in Britain and also the attitude of American and British people r
...more
Kelly
Sep 08, 2008 Kelly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all book lovers
A lovely little gem of an epistolary collection that I slid through this weekend in less than two hours. A correspondence between a New York writer and lover of old, out of print books and the employees of a small London bookshop, it has a deceptively memorable effect for its small size. A must for every book-lover who can sympathize with the horror of opening an edition of a treasured book and finding your favorite passage missing, every lover of language who is deeply touched by vulgar transla ...more
Paakhi Srivastava
84 Charing Cross Road is the correspondence between a brassy American writer and a gentlemanly English bookseller. Spanning two decades, it begins in the post-war days of the 1940s when English books were not only difficult to find in the States, they were prohibitively expensive…especially for a poor free-lance writer and script reader living in New York City. A chance encounter with an ad in The Saturday Review prompted the first letter, an endearingly-blunt request with a five dollar bill enc ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff 4 20 Jun 19, 2015 12:34AM  
Letter Writers Al...: Favorite Letter in 84, Charing Cross Road? 5 48 Apr 11, 2015 06:30PM  
Letter Writers Al...: 84, Charing Cross Road 13 68 Apr 02, 2015 09:12AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff 13 63 Feb 02, 2015 03:58PM  
Book vs. Movie 29 172 Sep 17, 2014 11:49PM  
Fiction Fanatics: March 2014 - 84, Charing Cross Road 18 32 Apr 14, 2014 02:42AM  
Literary connections 3 52 Jan 29, 2014 03:30AM  
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  • Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books
  • The Library at Night
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58918
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...
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street Q's Legacy 84 Charing Cross Road / The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street Apple of My Eye Underfoot in Show Business

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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.” 131 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.” 89 likes
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