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Blackwell's Five Foot Bookshelf

Email sent: May 5, 2021 5:50am
70 Books, One Life-Changing Collection View this in your browser SIGNED . BESTSELLERS . GIFT & STATIONERY Blackwell's Five Foot Bookshelf The original Five Foot Bookshelf was compiled in 1909 by Harvard University President Charles W. Eliot. Conceived of as a 'portable university', the 50-volum

70 Books, One Life-Changing Collection


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Blackwell's Five Foot Bookshelf

The original Five Foot Bookshelf was compiled in 1909 by Harvard University President Charles W. Eliot. Conceived of as a 'portable university', the 50-volume collection consisted of a series of classic works from world literature, important speeches, and historical documents. This small library would offer a reader the benefits of a liberal education, entertainment and counsel of history's greatest creative minds.

With our Five Foot Bookshelf, we present our modern take on a classic concept – 70 books to make us think and bring us joy, as we wander restlessly through time, place and imagination. We hope that our collection captures the attentions of book lovers everywhere and sparks a thousand conversations...

Where will you start?

View the Five Foot Bookshelf collection
View the 'Five Foot Bookshelf' collection

Five Foot in the World of Books

Our Blackwell's Bookseller, who's 5'3'', can comfortably rest her chin on a stack of all of the chosen books which measures 5 foot (and a tiny bit, shhh)

Meanwhile, Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch and The Little Friend, clocks in at exactly 5 ft tall

According to Guinness World Records, the largest book ever made measures 16.40 ft by 26.44 ft! (There are some multiples of five in there...)  

The World's Smallest Bookstore can be found in Canada and would be able to house our Five Foot Bookshelf collection twice – it's only 10 ft by 10 ft!  


A taste of what to expect...

Click to buy 'Brit(ish)'



by Afua Hirsch

A forensic but wamly personable investigation, Brit(ish) is a true conversation starter when it comes to the question of what it means to live in Britain today. Not just for a person of colour, who will have had a different experience regardless, but it is also holding up a mirror, asking everyone else to closely examine and reassess their notions of race, belonging and Britishness.  

Buy now
Click to buy 'Nightwood'




by Djuna Barnes

"Nightwood is an intensely gothic and painful tale of love and suffering between two women. It is also one of my favourite novels. Set in 1920s Paris, it is considered to be one of the earliest novels to portray an explicitly sexual relationship between two women. Jeanette Winterson once aptly described the experience of reading it as the sensation of 'drinking wine with a pearl dissolving in the glass.'"

Buy now
Click to buy 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'

Nineteen Eighty-Four


by George Orwell

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, society is always facing a new enemy – arriving stealthily and half-formed, it is only a matter of time before the next one seizes full and total control of its citizens.

'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past'

A deeply disturbing novel, not out of place in the horror section; a story that would go on to become deeply influential and horrifically close to the bone at times.


Buy now
View the Five Foot Bookshelf collection


Click to view the 'Five Foot Bookshelf' collection

Pictured: all 70 books lined up in the first bookcase that was set up in Blackwell's Oxford by B. H. Blackwell in 1879.

All of the titles included in the Five Foot Bookshelf will be available to browse and buy instore.

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