I have loved the whole books are my bag initiative – a way of celebrating bookshops, and reminding all us book lovers of the joy of a high street bookshop.
I am very guilty of buying most of my books online (although, aside from Kindle ebooks I still refuse to buy books from a certain large river) but there is nothing like browsing a real bookshop. Due to my online buying, I had managed to get all the way to last week, without acquiring a ‘Books are my Bag’ bag. Now, however I am the proud and happy possessor of one of the original bags. Last week, during half term, I was holidaying in Teignmouth in South Devon, a place that holds a very special place in my heart, and where I have been returning twice a year for the last few years.
Tucked away in a small street just a few minutes’ walk from the sea front in Teignmouth is a small bookshop; The Quayside Bookshop. It is a small shop, new and used books shelved together due to a premium on space. Naturally every time I go to Teignmouth I make a pilgrimage to The Quayside bookshop, and usually I do buy something. Last Friday on my last day in Teignmouth I wandered down to the shop from our seafront apartment just in time for opening at 10 o’clock (actually I waited outside; till I saw the lights go on). Later, chatting to the woman who runs the shop, I was informed her first customer of the day usually appears around 1 o’clock. We chatted briefly about the life of a bookseller, and I was left with the impression that it is a pretty difficult and precarious way to make a living. In a town that relies on summer trade, it must be doubly so. One of my favourite lottery winning fantasies is running a seaside bookshop – I would be rich enough not to worry about making a profit.
Anyway last week I bought:
New books; The Batchelor by Stella Gibbons and Our Man in Havana by Graham Green
and second hand lovlies The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey – a lovely old green penguin and The Complete short novels of Anton Chekov.
The official book for ‘Books are my bag 2014’ is The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell. I was delighted to receive a copy of the book which arrived while I was away. Jen is I believe doing a blog tour, and so next week I will reviewing her book ‘The Bookshop Book’ and posting her answers to my interview questions. Please bookshop lovers, check out the book, I have just started it, and although famously bad at reading non-fiction, am already charmed by it, probably because of its subject.
“Books are full of stories. Not just stories on shelves but those hidden away. There are the stories of bookshop owners, and all the books they read that made them fall in love with reading. There are the stories of authors, and why they wrote their first book. There are the stories of second-hand books, and all the people who owned them. And there’s the story of every single customer who walks through the door. We all love stories, with their sense of mystery and adventure.”
So please come back next week for my posts about The Bookshop Book, I can’t wait to talk about bookshops some more with you, and I may just have to visit some more.