Last Friday I went on a little excursion to Bath. Ostensibly this was to do a bit of Christmas shopping and look at pretty lights, with a quick stop off for a shoppers’ carol service in the Abbey. In reality I was mostly going so that I could visit Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights.
Mr B’s has been one of my favourite bookshops for years. It is always a joy to browse the shelves, hidden a little away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. When they were crowdfunding to expand into next door I knew that I had to contribute something. Apart from anything else, it meant that I got a tote bag, a bookmark (always things I want) and best of all my name actually on the ceiling in the shop! Of course I had to make a trip to see that.
The ceiling isn’t quite finished yet but I could still see my name under the film – and in a lovely font too. This room is the Imaginarium where you can go to be a writer in residence for the day. It looks like such a fun thing to do – I would be sorely tempted, although I’m not sure blog writing counts!
Of course, I had to also have a proper nosy around the shop and I spent a good deal of time there dithering over my purchases. In the end I bought a copy of Maddy Alone by Pamela Brown which looks right up my street. It had the added bonus of being in the new, wonderful children’s room which I loved. It even has flaps to lift on the wall!
As usual, I had a great time and I can’t wair to visit again and see the finished ceiling.
Like most of you (I imagine!) I am constantly on the look out for book shops. The lure of a book shop is almost irresistible and I love to find new ones to explore.
Some of my favourite finds though have been the mini book exchanges and charity book shops which seem to have been popping up in more and more places recently. Not only are they unexpected, they are often very beautiful as well.
How lovely is this?!
I have seen several in old phone boxes too which I love. The only trouble is that unless I know when I leave the house that I will find one I very rarely have a book with me which I can swap – only the one I am actually reading. Still, that just means another trip to find some books and that’s not really a hardship!
I couldn’t leave Pitlochry without visiting the bookshops there. In fact, I doubt if I’ve ever been on holiday without buying a book!
My first stop was the Station Bookshop – opening off the main platform at the railway station. This was a lovely little warren of a shop with a huge mixture of titles. It is a charity bookshop so the books are donated but it had a great range and I found several books I wanted to buy – including a box set of PG Wodehouse which I would have loved but getting it home would have been tricky.
In the end, I picked two lovely, old editions of Walter Scott – The Abbot and Kenilworth. They were both inscribed to the same person, although they were given by different people. I thought them a perfect souvenir of my trip.
I also visited Priory Books. I had been hoping to find an easy history of the Jacobite rebellions but everything was either very detailed or too simple. In the end I spied something entirely different – Fiesta for Wild One, a book in the Kit Hunter series by Peter Grey which I love.
The tourist information office supplied me with a basic children’s history of Scotland which I found to have the perfect level of information for me. Then a few days later we made a brief stop in Aviemore and the Waterstones there had Jacobite Stories by Dane Love which was even better. I read it all the way home!
This week is one of the most exciting in the whole year – it is independent bookshop week! A whole week celebrating independent bookshops, what could possibly be better?
I normally try to visit as many bookshops as I can but this year my schedule is rather full and I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it to any this week (although we’re only halfway through so there is still hope!).
I didn’t want to miss out entirely though so I took myself out for my own mini bookshop crawl last week. I was spending a couple of days in Dartmouth and took advantage of that to explore the bookshops.
I started off in the Community Bookshop which opened to replace the famous Harbour Bookshop (started by Christopher Robin Milne himself!) when it sadly had to close. The Community Bookshop still has a dedicated Pooh Corner and of course I had to send a Christopher Robin postcard!
This is such a lovely shop, crammed full of books and with a wonderful atmosphere. I could have spent hours browsing – although that is true of most bookshops! Naturally I couldn’t leave without buying something. I was browsing the classics section with nothing particular in mind when I found The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy. I love the Tommy and Tuppence series by Agatha Christie and in the first book they solve several different mysteries, each time using the methods of a different fictional detective. One of those is the Teahouse Detective and as I have never read it I couldn’t resist.
My next stop was Dartmouth Booksellers, another lovely little shop with the most tempting table displays – there were so many books I wanted to buy! I love browsing and finding books I have never heard of, which is what happened here. I came away with Midnight at Moonstone by Lara Fletcher, mainly because it is such a pretty book. It also sounds like an excellent story and I am so much looking forward to reading it.
I had a wonderful time on my mini bookshop crawl. Browsing in bookshops is one of the best things to do – if you can get to an independent bookshop this week do try to visit it. If not, just take a trip to any bookshop or even a library. We need them!
The day after my Jane Austen Society annual study day last week I was due to meet a friend for brunch. Naturally that meant I had to stay in town which I was more than happy to do! I was very impressed to find that my hotel had Foyles marked as a place of interest on its map.
I had never been to Foyles before so I had planned to visit on the Saturday evening and it was definitely worth the trip – I spent well over two hours browsing the shelves and had to exercise great restraint not to come away with half the books. I especially loved the children’s classics section which had six whole shelves of Enid Blyton and even some books from the Girls Gone By Press. Foyles is much bigger than any bookshop near me and it was wonderful to be able to properly browse and find new (to me) titles. In the end, however, I managed to restrict myself to just two books and a tote bag.
I was meeting my friend at King’s Cross so the next day I wandered through Bloomsbury, picking out as many literary sights as I could. I made a slight detour to find Mecklenburg Square and the house where Dorothy L Sayers once lived. Harriet Vane is mentioned as living in the square too so it was doubly interesting to me.
I had toyed with the idea of having my picture taken with the trolley at Platform 9 3/4 but having seen the length of the queue I decided I could manage without!
After brunch I visited the Charles Dickens museum which I loved – my favourite room was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Dickens’ study.
I was very impressed with the setup of the house – they used the house next door for things like the gift shop and had a door knocked through so that the house itself was more or less as it had been in Dickens’ time. I thought it was an excellent use of the space!
All in all, it was quite a literary pilgrimage of a weekend and I had the most wonderful time. I must do things like this more often!
My book club doesn’t have a proper meeting in December as the book shop is just too busy to cope. Instead, we had a trip to the pub for a bookish chat.
It was lovely to spend an evening with a group of book lovers without having the pressure of focusing on one book in particular. We did nominally have a book to read but only two people had actually done so – it was much more of a social evening than a proper book club meeting.
We had a great time talking about our books of the year, our all time favourite books and the books on our Christmas lists. We had a brief excursion into politics but in the main we kept strictly to books and it was wonderful. I would highly recommend it!