Leakey's is home to nearly 100,000 books.

By Jess McHugh
November 22, 2017
Credit: Jess McHugh

Located in a former Gaelic church in Scotland and piled with nearly 100,00 books, Leakey's secondhand bookstore is a literary lover's delight.

Charles Leakey opened the store in Inverness, the unofficial capital of the Scottish Highlands, in 1979. In the intervening decades, both the store's collection and its reputation have grown exponentially.

Credit: Jess McHugh

Now Leakey says he hears languages spoken from all over the world, and visitors take thousands of photos in the picturesque store each year.

The shop is located in Greyfriar's Hall, which was once St. Mary's Gaelic Church, first built in the 17th century and later reconstructed in several periods during the 19th century, according to local sources. Much of the original church framework remains, and Leakey added in an iron spiral staircase to connect the two stories of bookshelves.

Credit: Jess McHugh

With sections on topography, "shooting and fishing," and "cookery," visitors should be able to find at least one —if not half a dozen — books that leap off the shelves. The store is also known for its antique prints and maps, located on the second floor of the building.

Browsers can of course find a variety of books on Scottish history, as well as novels and poetry written by some of the U.K.'s most famous residents. Leakey recommended Evelyn Waugh or Robert Louis Stevenson, calling the latter a “great writer and a great man.”

Stevenson, of “Treasure Island” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” fame, was born and raised in Edinburgh, a three-hour train ride from the town of Inverness.

From Leakey's, visitors to the town of Inverness can visit the 19th century Inverness cathedral, browse wares in the Victorian market or take a stroll along the bridge connecting the town across the River Ness. One local recommended the nearby Mustard Seed restaurant, where travelers can sample seasonal Scottish food accompanied by an extensive wine list.