If you’ve watched “Notting Hill,” you may remember Julia Roberts standing in a bookstore, asking Hugh Grant to love her. In many popular romantic movies, a bookstore presents an opportunity to fall in love. There is something intimate about finding the right words to tell another person among stacks of stories. Like Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, Samuel Hilfiker, recent Temple University graduate, found his “Notting Hill” moment in a Kensington-based book shop.
The Head and the Hand Books (H&H) is not your typical, quaint bookstore. It hosts date nights where couples can reserve the entire bookstore for 90 minutes.
“You get the entire little bookstore to yourself,” said Hilfiker. “You bring your own food. They give you some wine, they put the nice music on, they have candles all over the place. You get to have a nice dinner and take a book home with you at the end.”
According to Linda Gallant, project director of H&H Books, the bookstore operates as a literary jack-of-all-trades for many programs and events. Gallant co-runs H&H Books with creative director Claire Moncla.
“Our bookstore is a strange beast,” said Gallant. “A community-centered hub for readings, workshops, family story time, and other events; the HQ for H&H’s publishing arm, as well as a non-profit bookstore that values supporters’ input and makes every effort to reflect those interests on our shelves.”
Hilfiker attended the bookstore’s date night with his partner (that would be me) in late August 2022, describing it as a cozy experience. While Hilfiker enjoyed the complimentary wine and slow Jazz playlist, he also noticed the store’s unique collection of books.
Gallant said that H&H Books places importance in showing different kinds of representation on its shelves. The project director included that the shelves hold books from many female authors, as well as pieces that support various arts organizations in Philadelphia.
“We try to prioritize stocking BIPOC authors and making sure that we also curate local and small presses,” said Gallant. “So we have a whole local lit section over here that we’re really proud of.”
Looking to visit? H&H Books’ address is 2230 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125. Visit the bookshop on its website for more date night information.