House of Hodge is a tiny secondhand bookshop on Blackstock Road, with funds going to two animal charities. Once a cobbler’s shop, it has retained a traditional shopfront and a dishevelled charm inside. We spoke to long time volunteer Carlo about books, cats and cataloguing.
“We recycle books and sell them at bargain prices to local people and visitors – we’ve had Arsenal fans from all over Europe visiting. Plus we give advice to people about looking after their pets, and we donate profits to two cat charities: at the moment we’re supporting the Rhodes Minnis Cat Sanctuary and Kent Mama Cat Trust in north London.
I started working here three years ago, helping the old lady who ran the place at that time, and who had a wonderful mental filing system for the books.
We don’t have any specialisms – we stock everything, with sections on politics, history, drama, fiction and so on, and a small kids section. The common thread is that everything is reasonably priced, so you can always pick up an excellent deal here. I love to read myself, but the only problem is finishing books, as something new always comes in to claim my attention.
The other great aspect of working here is the conversations with students, book dealers, artists, parents and children who come to browse. That means that there’s never enough time to keep the shelves in order. We’re always trying to keep control of our stock as we get so many donations. We may renovate the shop front in future but we’ll keep the messy look inside – we’d like it to be a little less messy though!
The shop is open every day, and we’re all volunteers, with a shared love of books and animals. We’re always looking for new helpers, so if you can spare half a day to come and read a good book and meet the local community then do come along. We promise not to make you tidy up!”