Books at the Buddha

Shopping for a cool new personality need not be a massive chore

Feature by Derek Gray | 12 Mar 2007
Fat Buddha is a subterranean shop on Glasgow's Bath Street, an appropriately transitional location amongst the offices and pubs nestled in the middle of the bustling city center. Descend to explore this concealed grotto and you'll see a banner above the door promising "books, clothes, toys, lifestyle." It's the former that we're concerned with, but let's consider the shop as a whole first.
When entering the shop from the street, one is bombarded by a cacophony of textures and colours: the fabrics of vintage and fruitsy clothes against the paper and card of the book displays against the deliberately trashy molded plastic of the designer toys. And now let us concern ourselves with the books: upon the colourful bookshelves of Fat Buddha are many unusual, interesting and – in some cases – hard to find titles. Most of them are aimed at young mods, post-punks, graphic designers and visual artists. The shop's website lists books under several categories: Art, Humour, Illustration, Graffiti, Design, Fashion and LifeStyle, Comics and Manga, and Music. Some of these categories don't seem to connect as well as they might, with a book called Redneck Words of Wisdom an awkward fit alongside something called Designers are Wankers, (unless the latter title is an example of the former). But clashing styles are the order of the day here: you can buy Archie figures, Tales from Greenfuzz comics, vintage t-shirts, model Terminators and books with titles like Nog a Dod and Pictoplasma 2. It certainly makes for a unique shopping experience compared to Watt brothers.
As well as offering variety, Fat Buddha aims to ensure that shopping for a cool new personality need not be a massive chore. Relaxing jazz music floats through the store as a kind of concession to the exciting stock. There is a sofa to crash out on in order to browse through the books at one's leisure and the guys at the desk (who, amusingly, try to look like they're hanging out rather than working there) will even serve you up a free cup of coffee while you do so. Smart business decision or just plain madness? It does seem to get the shoppers in, so let's say the former. This shop is more than just fashionably smart. And there are, as you may have realised, a diverse number of books to browse – just don't spill coffee over them.
A large number of those books are design orientated, which might mean that you learn things like this: Metabolist artist and architect, Kiyonori Kikutake is on record as saying that Western rooms are defined by objects while Eastern rooms are defined by information (never let it be said that The Skinny doesn't do its research). In this respect Fat Buddha is utterly Eastern: it bubbles with information. Even the 'objects' are arranged as collections of objects rather than as individual items: the attraction to purchase is also one of collecting. On the other hand, it's just a nice wee shop to browse in, full of interesting stuff.
Find Fat Buddha at 21 Bath Street.