Love Your Books(hop)
Updated: Oct 10
Yesterday was ‘Love Your Bookshop Day’. I came across this in a magazine someone gave me. I don’t often read magazines, but I indulged myself while on my travels.
Of course, it seems a special date is allotted for everything now:
National Ice Cream day
World Porridge Day
National Spread Joy Day
World Mental health Day
World Ocean’s Day
International Sudoku Day...
Apparently in October there are 699 holidays!
I like the concept of ‘Love your Bookshop Day’ - an annual celebration of everything local bookshops do from employing expert staff and curating fabulous ranges, to creating events programs to celebrate authors, readers, and the books they cherish.
I love bookshops. Recently I came to renew my appreciation of them while on my way to Iona. I was going over for a few days, and decided to turn off all technology except for emergencies. En route, I started to wonder what I would read while on the island. I had heard that the weather was going to be wild, windy and wet most days. I had brought one or two books from home, but then thought it might be nice to find something else.
So I stopped in Oban before going over on the ferry and went into Waterstones. It was lovely to have some time to browse the different tables and see what was was newly on offer by various authors, both familiar and emerging, from fiction to non-fiction, to Scottish literature, to art…. I browsed the fiction and non-fiction section, looking for something captivating, but also light. I picked out a few different books, but at the end of my search I came to a hardback which was just released: one by Raynor Winn called ‘Landlines’. I had read her two previous books, and was keen to follow her journey through the Scottish Highlands with her husband in this newly published edition. So I put the other ones away, went to the cashier and paid for it, pleased with my purchase.
While on Iona, I visited their Abbey bookshop one morning and enjoyed leafing through some of the varied selection they had there. I ended up adding to Landlines with a book by Nan Shepherd called 'The Living Mountain', about her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. Composed during the 2nd World War, the manuscript of The Living Mountain lay untouched for more than thirty years before it was finally published.
There is nothing quite like spending time in a bookshop, whether second hand or new. Being able to pick up a book and leaf through the pages is so special in itself... selecting something from a table just because our eye is drawn to the cover or the title... It’s an experience that is becoming less and less common.
Another one of my favourite bookshops is in Stromness, Orkney. It is called ‘JL Broom’ at Graham Place. A woman called Sheena runs it now. I try to make a point of visiting the bookshop whenever I am on the island. Sheena always has the latest books that have been published and reviewed, and she can often make recommendations as she has read most or all of them! Her little dog sits on the back chair peacefully, keeping an eye on the small bookshop, and adding to the coziness and welcome of the place.
Here are some bookshops which are all well known in their own way and worth a visit:
Heffers in Cambridge has this fantastic quote on their tote bag....
The second hand bookshop in Thurso is always open and very popular with tourists. It’s called ‘Tall Tales Bookshop’ and the owner is often seen tucked away among thousands of books.
Finally, if you haven’t been to Leakeys in Inverness, you’ve missed a treat. It is one of the outstanding second hand bookshops in the country.
One blogger writes 'Bricks and mortar bookshops may not be so abundant anymore, but they are an integral part of the writing and publishing industry. In addition to being a source of work for their staff, and a haven for book lovers, bookshops are also vital in helping new authors develop some profile.'
It sounds like a bookshop is what concerts are to musicians, and galleries are to artists....
'For most first-time authors, exposure in bookshops is very important in establishing a market for a book, be it a chance encounter, a recommendation or a purchase triggered by some form of publicity. If the book is any good, then word of mouth builds a more sustainable demand. Many of the books released in the past two years risk becoming Covid orphans.’ (Mark Rubbo)
There is an urgent need to save our bookshops, especially the small and independent ones. There was a very heartwarming story in the news two days ago when the actor, Russell Crowe, stepped in to help a wonderful but struggling book store in Norwich. Click here for the link to the story on BBC news.
Tomorrow is Canadian Thanksgiving Day, so I may mark it by spending some time reading a good Canadian novel; listening to Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Cockburn, Loreena McKennitt, Barr Brothers and others; speaking to some family in Ontario and BC; and making something Canadian ~ perhaps pancakes with maple syrup. Oh, and maybe watching some episodes of Due South. That’s a full day right there!
🍁 Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! 🍁
Here I am sitting at the lake in Algonquin Park in Ontario.