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84, Charing Cross Road

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  45,925 ratings  ·  6,684 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 January 1st 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 mor…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: 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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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  45,925 ratings  ·  6,684 reviews

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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 (Again)
"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
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
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 wanted t
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 .
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.
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.
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
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
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
March 16, 2020,

Dear HH,

America (and possibly the world) has gone mad. Rationing is a word that would get you a black eye if you mentioned it while waiting in today's mile-long line at the supermarket. You would think Armageddon is upon us from the carts and carts of groceries people are pushing to their cars, leaving the rest to scrape the broken eggs from the floor in aisle Nine, where that fight between two shoppers just took place. (The carnage would surely have been much greater if toilet p
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
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
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
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
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
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
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lovely. Charming. A book lover’s book.
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
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
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 charming li ...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
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
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
Paul Secor
Recommended to anyone who truly loves books and reading or to anyone who still writes letters or enjoys reading other folks' letters. These letters are good ones and may even inspire you to write a few of your own.

Reread in June, 2020.

I pulled this off the shelf yesterday and read it (for probably the fourth time since I bought it 40 years ago) yesterday afternoon.

A bit of trivia at the outset: I had always assumed that Helene Hanff's first name was pronounced Heh-Lean. A few years ago, I saw a
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 booksto ...more
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.
Jun 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I wanted to read this little book since I first read its name and read the synopsis. It is a story of a friendship, a sweet little collection of letters between an American script writer and the employees of a London secondhand bookstore. Since I first set foot on London soil in 2005, I’ve been visiting the second hand bookstores (one in particular) from Charing Cross Road almost every year. I have to admit that I felt a bit of nostalgia while reading.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie S
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
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
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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

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