It’s Independent Bookshop Week (#IBW2016) again – a celebration of all things books and bookshops! Kicking off on Saturday just gone, the week is full of bookish activities taking place across independent bookshops nationwide including author events, signings, the #IBW2016 book awards and plenty of bloggers and vloggers taking part in a #bookshopcrawl! And, as this year marks 10 years of Independent Bookshop Week, the lovely people @booksaremybag created a fun and interesting tag as well! So, without further ado, here are my answers to the #IBW2016 Tag!
What books are currently in your bag?
I have lots of books in my bag at any given time as I always carry my Kindle in my handbag so that I am never without something to read (it comes in handy when queuing at the post office)! I’ve got a NetGalley proof of ‘Smoke’ by Dan Vyleta which I’ve just started on that. I do prefer reading physical books however – you just can’t beat the feel of a ‘proper’ book – and am currently reading ‘The Glorious Heresies’ by Lisa McInerney, which won the 2016 Baileys Prize. That lives in my book bag, where I also keep my bullet journal.
What’s the last great book you read?
The last book that really affected me was Hanya Yanigahara’s ‘A Little Life’, which I read last year. That book gave me all sorts of feels, from elation through to anger and sorrow. I felt the ending was a bit of a cop out but, overall, it’s a book that’s all sorts of amazing and it made a lasting impression. More recently, ‘The Natural Way of Things’ by Charlotte Wood and ‘The Girls’ by Emma Kline have been impressive reads and are both well worth seeking out this summer.
What book have you gifted the most?
It’s a toss-up between ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which I gift to anyone who hasn’t yet read it as proof that the classics can be both funny and relevant, and Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to Be a Woman’, which gets foisted on all younger female friends and relatives the moment they turn eighteen because I think it should be mandatory reading for all women. Both books, in their way, are remarkable and the Jane Austen can always be found in a beautiful edition, making it ideal for gifting!
Booka Bookshop in Oswestry is, sad to say, probably my nearest independent bookshop. I say sad because I live in the next county over so that fact that the nearest independent is over an hour away shows why you should go out and support your local booksellers! Fortunately, Booka more than makes up for the travelling distance by being an amazing bookshop with a wide selection of fiction and non-fiction, covetous author-signed stock, a stellar line-up of author events and readings and super-friendly and knowledgeable booksellers. Plus, they have tea and cake (amazing cake) and what shop isn’t made even better by the inclusion of those?!
I doubt I would have picked up ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’, a novel about a man who cannot die, if it wasn’t for my bookseller friend Claire waving a copy under my nose. Claire works at my local branch of Waterstones and we have quite similar tastes so I take her recommendations very seriously. She was spot on with ‘Harry August’ – I raced through it and am about to start author Claire North’s latest book ‘The Sudden Appearance of Hope.’
What’s your favourite bookshop memory?
I don’t think there’s one particular incident – I have so many happy memories of bookshops that it is hard to narrow them down. I do however fondly recall rocking up in Waterstones with my first year university reading list and having a genuine excuse to buy two bags full of books (plus a few non-list books as well because what else is a student loan for?!). And I really look forward to my book group every month and have many happy memories of being there – everyone is friendly and the discussions are always lively without ever veering into combative. Plus, we have cake, which helps us get through even the toughest of books!
What do bookshops mean to you? What do you love about them?
Bookshops are my retreat from the everyday worries of the world. I love the aura of peace that comes with being in them – there’s just something lovely and comforting about being surrounded by piles and piles of books and by people who love them as much as you do. Discovering the best bookshops - the ones with the carefully curated stock that feels like it was all picked just for you – can feel like making a new friend.
I was very fortunate to grow up in a booky household so books and reading have been part of my life since I was very small. I have fond memories of being read Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl, as well as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, One Thousand and One Nights and the exploits of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Growing older, Jane Austen became a favourite after my mum lent me ‘Pride and Prejudice’ when I ran out of books on holiday - I soon hoovered up her remaining novels before moving onto ‘Jane Eyre’ and other classics. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ remains my favourite book of all time however and I spent many happy evenings tucked up in bed while my Grandad read me this epic – he kept having to read the same bits twice when I fell asleep! Later, I read them for myself and realised how carefully Grandad must have edited them to remove the long descriptive passages and keep the action moving forwards to keep me engaged. I usually re-read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ every year – there’s just something about the story that gives me great comfort and takes me instantly to my happy place.
What book did you gift for Father’s Day?
My dad is a keen fisherman so, when I walked into Booka and saw ‘Rivers Run: An Anger’s Journey from Source to Sea’ by Kevin Parr on prominent display, I thought they must have seen me coming! I hope he enjoys it.
What book is currently at the top of your TBR pile?
My TBR has exploded a bit recently so I’m trying to work my way through a few on it before buying any more books – easier said than done! I have just bought ‘The Essex Serpent’ by Sarah Perry and cannot wait to start it – the cover called to me from across the bookshop and I’ve heard that the writing inside is just as beautiful as the exterior! I’m also really looking forward to reading ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi, a debut that’s already making waves in the US – it’s about two half-sisters, one who is married to a slave-trader and another who is a slave herself and is sold to the US plantations. The novel follows their descendants over many generations – it’s a book I think we’ll be hearing a lot about in the coming months.
So, now that you’ve read my #IBW2016 Tag, get thee to your nearest independent bookshop and go celebrate Independent Bookshop Week 2016! And don’t forget to join in on Twitter using #IBW2016 and by following @booksaremybag. You can also follow me, @amyinstaffs, and you can find me on Litsy @ShelfofUnreadBooks. Whatever you’re up to and wherever you go, enjoy the rest of Independent Bookshop Week 2016 and, until next time…
Happy Reading! x