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84, Charing Cross Road

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  37,702 ratings  ·  5,514 reviews
This charming classic, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their r ...more
Paperback, 97 pages
Published October 1st 1990 by Penguin Books (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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4.19  · 
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 ·  37,702 ratings  ·  5,514 reviews


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Brina
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: letters, novella
As a child, I loved writing to pen pals. Anywhere I went that offered a chance to sign up to be a pen pal, I did with earnest. None of the pen pals ended up amounting to much, but it was thrilling to receive letters from them in the mail. I come from a line of pen pal writers as my mother wrote to an English girl her age for her entire childhood and teenaged years. It is not surprising then, that I one of the first books I reviewed on goodreads was Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey fro ...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
Luffy
The epistolary meanderings of Helene Hanff and Frank Dole are insightful, playful in their coyness, and progressive in their development. This is an actual correspondence gone awfully right.

There is a starkness of honesty in this correspondence. Yet the prose in the letters aren't quite as dry as might be feared. Like I said, the back and forth is progressive. There is definitely life in these letters.

This real occurrence happens after the second world war(the last three words of which is a fav
...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
Angela M
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Letters, literature, friendships, kindness and humor fill the pages of this small volume. It's a gift from Helene Hanff to anyone who loves books. Not much more I can say except that all book lovers should read it .

Long distance friendships and books - a lot like Goodreads .
Esil
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
An easy 5 stars!

I listened to this lovely short audiobook. It's completely charming. The voices are perfect. And in an odd way it reminded me of what I love about Goodreads. Strangers connecting over their mutual love of books. Slowly the book focused repartee morphs into a real sense of affinity and frienship.

A bit of warmth to ease the dark cold days of November. A nice relief from the miserable state of world politics.

I'm late to this party, but I highly recommend it -- especially the audio.
Trevor
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Diane S ☔
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Annet
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Melisa
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lovely. Charming. A book lover’s book.
Dem
May 07, 2019 rated it liked it
An endearing little book and quick and easy read. I enjoyed it but not one for my favourite shelf.

I have wanted to read this book for years as it has such amazing review and I just never came across a hard copy but found an audible version and went with that. Not sure audible is the best format for a book where the content is a series of letters back and forth as they performance seemed quite repetitive. However I do love the “ old snail mail” format and have just one Aunt who still correspon
...more
PattyMacDotComma
Nov 13, 2016 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
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 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
Paul
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: letters
This book is a complete delight. It is not a love story or a romance, but a series of letters between two book lovers from the late 1940s to the late 1960s. Helene Hanff is a lively and outspoken New Yorker who is unable to get hold of decently bound books, especially older and slightly more obscure ones. She answers an ad and contacts Marks and Co at 84 Charing Cross Road. There Frank Doel, a very proper English bookseller responds and starts to find and send her books from the lists she sends. ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Book 1 of 2019! I can't believe I'd never read this before. I was inspired by @hardcoverheartsblog (in Instagram) to readalong on January 1, but had to download the audio to play along.

I knew this was an epistolary account between a reader and someone at a bookstore, but I had a lot of misconceptions:
1. This is a romance
2. The letters are between two people
3. Everyone lives in the UK
4. This is a novel (no!)

It's a short, enjoyable read about books and readers, so in that vein it is somewhat of a
...more
Vanessa
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An all too brief but enjoyable and witty collection of letters of correspondence between Helene Hanff from N.Y City and the various staff at Marks & Co. bookshop trading in antiquarian books in London. Lovely, endearing relationships form and you come to love the developing friendships that occur over the 20 year timespan. It's a shame that we have lost the art of letter writing, such a wonderful idea for a book and it's no wonder this became so popular when it was first published. A charmin ...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
Victoria
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Delightful, charming and wistfully old fashioned. This chronicles the 20-year correspondence between the author and a British bookseller whom she relied on for obscure titles, a correspondence that blossomed into a warm and caring friendship. I saw the film version many years ago and always meant to read this very short epistolary and it did not disappoint.

Noteworthy little tidbit about this author and the impact of this book. The apartment where she lived in NYC has been named Charing Cross Hou
...more
Laysee
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
84 Charing Cross Road chronicles a beautiful twenty-year relationship between an American reader of antiquarian books and Marks & Co. Booksellers, London. The latter ‘is the loveliest old shop straight out of Dickens’. It has very old grey oak shelves that smell of age and dust going up to the ceiling. This epistolary book contains the correspondence from 1949 to 1969 between Ms. Helene Hanff, a penurious writer who loves antiquarian books, and Frank Doel, the knowledgeable and efficient boo ...more
Srinivas
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Elyse Walters
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I received this book in the mail (a surprise gift) -- so I read it 'on the spot'.

The book is only about 100 pages long --but a charming read (one I'm glad I read).

This is an older book (first published in 1970)....The year I graduated High School.

The author Helene Hanff, a freelance writer was living in New York City. She spent twenty years corresponding to a used book dealer in London. (they did not do this over the internet). ***SLOW MAIL***!
Though never meeting in person, they shared a comm
...more
Aldrin
Aug 21, 2011 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
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
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
Pradnya K.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was browsing through the books, stumbled across it, got curious to know what hides behind this address and read the first letter. Then read the second with amusement. Then third with curiosity. By the fourth letter I was completely drown into it.

It's a story of an American lady who orders books from a used books bookstore in London at the address 84, Charing Cross Road. The correspondence between her and the employees from the bookstore over twenty years was published as a book and got undream
...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
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
Em*bedded-in-books*
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: book lovers and collectors
Recommended to Em*bedded-in-books* 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
Mark
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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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
“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.” 197 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.” 149 likes
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