Monthly Archives: August 2012

Bookshops You Love #1; Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath by Jennifer Entwistle

Yesterday on the blog I mentioned that I am looking at some new bookish guest posts over the next few months. I have already asked you all if you would like to take part in ‘Other Peoples Libraries’ (and thank you for all the responses, wow, keep them coming) however it is today’s post that started it all and highlights the other series I want to start which is ‘Bookshops You Love’ along the line of ‘Bookshops I Love’ but by you. This is all thanks to Jennifer, a reader of this blog and listener to The Readers Podcast (she was a guest on the Bleakly Hall Summer Book Group Show panel), who saw me mention Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights bookshop before she came to the UK from Boston and so took some pictures as she went around and did a little report email for me which she has allowed me to share as I thought it would make a great start to a new series. So without further ado I will hand you over to Jennifer…

Hi Simon,

I just wanted to thank you again for telling your readers about Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights.  I read it just in time for my weekend in the Cotswolds and I made sure to find Mr’ B’s when we got to Bath.  It was everything the name implies so I took some photos (you aren’t the only one who likes to photograph bookstores…)

This is me outside – I didn’t realize that man was there….hopefully he is another book lover racing in to Mr. B’s….

One of my favorite things about independent bookstores is that they make recommendations.  At Mr B’s they give out Golden Monkeys.  This is a shot of the Golden Monkey Hall of Fame where they had their all time favorite recommendations.

They have some fabulous ideas for catering to book lovers – a “Reading Spa” where you pay a set price to talk to a bookseller for an hour and then they hand pick a stack of books for you.  And a small room where you can pay a few pounds to sit for 30 minutes with music playing on a headset and read in peace.  The booth is that door with the windows and these chairs are where you have your book chat.  Coffee and tea are available over on that shelf on the left.  Don’t you want to spend a few hours there?

For better or worse – this is what I was doing just before I went into the store…which meant that I as very liberal with my wallet and appreciative of the two loos available to customers.    I didn’t take a picture of my purchases but I did walk out with a stack of books in my Mr B’s canvas tote bag.

On a side note – you may recall that I was your bookclub guest for Bleakly Hall and I mentioned I was moving to Eton because my husband has a 2 year work assignment in England.  Well, these pictures are from a 3 week visit that I just made to see him but I’m back in the states going through the last steps of getting my work permit and plan to be back “permanently” in a few weeks.  So I love the bookstore posts because they give me destinations for when I’m exploring England over these next two years.   Any thoughts on a Readers Meet Up sometime??  We’ve had some great book nights out with local BOTNS listeners here in Boston and obviously at Booktopia.

THANK YOU (and Gavin) for all the time and effort you put in the podcast and the blog.   I know it’s a lot of work but there are many of us out here who really appreciate it.

Jennifer

Well actually THANK YOU Jennifer for doing that and thinking of me and allowing me to share it with everyone. What a gem of a bookstore, I will have to go and visit. Now, if you would like to do something similar either in a random book shop you find on a trip, one you get recommended to visit or, most importantly, a local independent then do let me know in the comments below or, again like yesterday, by emailing me via savidgereads@gmail.com Oh and as to a ‘Readers Retreat’, I am working on it!

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Book Sorting, Displaying and Other People’s Libraries…

I am just in the early stages of a good old book sorting, ironically this is in part to make space for my new reading chair. I house incoming books on some lovely shelves and in some lovely ‘display’ boxes (read that as clear boxes where the spines show through) in the bedroom and mezzanine. However thanks to many a review copy, note these are mainly unsolicited, my inability to stop myself buying them more often than I should, there are now random piles of more books on said shelves and boxes… and some small tables… and on chairs… and on the floor. So it is time for a sort and I am going to try (and probably fail) to be as tough as possible. I have been thinking though as I started this that I really would like a new way to display my ‘will read soon honest’ and ‘unread so far but hopefully one day’ books. Currently I want to do something like the Book Maze in London at the moment…

…Alas I don’t have 250,000 books in my house (I do mean alas don’t I, or would that just be scary in reality) but I am wondering if there is some unusual way I could display over 500 books rather than just on shelves. I have my thinking cap on but would welcome any recommendations of unusual ideas. I have just thought, imagine if you had done the above in your house and  a few days later sods law you wanted a book you’d put on the bottom of the pile… could make a good game of Jenga though of an evening? No, oh!

I would also welcome some help from you all with another matter. I am going to be starting two new series of book posts over the next few weeks and one of them centres on any of you who have shelves and shelves (or piles and piles) of books in your house and who, regardless if you blog or not, would be open to taking pictures of them and then answering a questionnaire about your reading habits and books you love which will make my ‘Other Peoples Libraries’ series. I have two, possibly three, people already at work because I randomly spoke to them about it, only one of them a fellow blogger, but I would love more. Either email me at savidgereads@gmail.com or leave a comment below if you are keen. And don’t forget book display ideas that don’t involve shelves… Thank you!

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My New Reading Chair…

Earlier in the week I asked you where you all did your reading and for any advice on where I could get the perfect reading chair. Well thank you for all your recommendations, and do keep them coming as you can never have too many, however I managed to find it today on a random shopping trip where I was looking for anything but. Here it is…

I am really chuffed with it, even though it wasn’t what I initially thought I wanted. I had in mind a big grand leather Victorian number but The Beard and I were having a meander around some of the Wirral’s rather wonderful antique (and house clearance shops, but the Beard said I should make it sound glamorous) for a) a tall old cabinet for the bathroom b) a chest of drawers c) a trunk d) a grandfather clock e) a free standing bath f) an old Victorian bed g) a chaise longue. We had spotted ‘a’ in the last shop we went in and I suddenly spotted the chair in the corner of the room looking rather unassuming, sat on it and fell in love. I was expecting it to be a fortune yet it was a mere £40 – bargain!!! Its from the 1920’s and i love to think about all it has witnessed (a World War for example) and all the people who have sat in it, possibly reading. It also matches the theme of cream and peacock blues and greens we, well more me, have decided the bedroom will be… as you can see it is a little bit ‘unfinished’ at the moment. I call it Pompeii chic.

If that wasn’t enough I was also bought a new bagless Vax which I love almost as much. Hoovering and reading are two of my favourite things, I think I am really getting old now aren’t I? Oh and not to be left out Oscar got his first collar, oddly he doesn’t love his present as much as I do mine!

What have you all been up to this weekend?

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Bookshops I Love; Oxton Village Books

Whenever I choose a new abode I am known to base it on the amount of book shops and charity shops containing books in the vicinity. However there have been occasions where, without sounding ungrateful, I wouldn’t have normally chosen to live. My aunties was one such place, when 2010 ended in the most hideous of ways and I went to live with them, however fortunately no longer had I moved there than a charity shop of just books opened. Moving in with The Beard earlier in the year was another such time. The area is full of converted Georgian mansion houses, like the one we live in, and trees as far as the eye could see, and I couldn’t imagine a bookshop would be nearby. Well as it happens I was wrong, there was a gem waiting. This of course had nothing to do with me wanting to move in *cough*.

When I move somewhere new I do many ‘getting to know the area’ walks. This involves turning left or right in a randomly strategic (?) way and seeing what I discovered. Well after an art museum at the end of one road away, then a castle folly on another, I turned the road to Oxton Village and was walking to what could be seen when the words ‘BOOK SHOP’ appeared hanging above the post office. I blinked, looked again, blinked, looked harder and was thrilled to see I saw right. This was no mirage. It was closed though, or so I thought, as the post office team were on lunch and it shares the same spot.

I went home, memorising the route (which I now tread almost every other day) and within the hour I was walking back. Well I have to say that Oxton Village Shop is a real treat indeed. As you walk in they have shelves lining the entrance with discount books for 50p or £1, until you turn the corner and find the till (always manned by lovely staff that I am slowly but surely getting to know) and an array of new books and books of local interest greet you on your left, to your right there is a children’s section, travel section and other nonfiction. I admit by this time I was thinking ‘erm, where is the fiction’ until I saw a staircase leading to the basement. Well guess what awaited me…

The downstairs section of the shop is just full to the brim with second hand books, generally £2 each, and it is a really wonderful mix. You have classic novels and penguins…

There is a crime and thriller section, a historical section, memoirs and autobiographies and of course a large literary fiction section, contemporary and chick lit I then discovered were also upstairs, which I spent most of my time in.

I was completely smitten and got completely lost in this underground warren for quite some time and left with a wonderful Muriel Spark.

I have of course been back and bought a fair few books since, they somehow seem to have books I suddenly need for various things as well as gems I discover I never knew I wanted until I saw it (books about The Archers for example), and what has been really nice is the discovery that they accept donations, perfect, they have had quite a few from me I can tell you.

So I thought I would tell you about it. Oxton Village Books can be found on the internet here (where you can check your Bookoscopes lol) and if you happen to be in the area then it is found at 44 Christchurch Road, Oxton, Merseyside, CH43 5SF let me know if you pop and visit, I may be free for coffee ha! So where is your local bookshop, is it an indie or a chain?

P.S I do feel I should apologise for the lack of book reviews on Savidge Reads of late. This is all the Green Carnation Prize’s fault as we have had so many submissions, though I am not complaining, this year it has completely taken over my reading. Naturally I can’t talk about these books (and some are utterly brilliant so I am bursting to) until at least the longlist has been announced, maybe longer. There will be a report from Italy, more bookshops I love, general reading musings and other bookish bits in the interim though. I hope that is ok?

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Where Do You Read? (And Can You Help Me Find The Perfect Reading Chair?)

As I mentioned earlier I have been faffing over posts for today, then something really obvious dawned on me. On the latest episode of the ‘book based banter’ podcast, The Readers, that I co-host with Gavin of Gav Reads, we are talking about where we like to read. So I thought I would combine that with a small plea for some help with some bookish furniture I am trying to hunt out. First up though, where do we read?

I think I must be quiet boring/average as I really read in one of two places in the main and another if I am very lucky. Most of my reading I have to confess, rather shamefully as a lot of it is for work, I do in bed or on it. There is something comfortable and silent about my room which makes it much more preferable than the lounge which is my second place of choice for reading curled up on the sofa. However the lounge is quite a TV hub and so I tend to avoid it as I can’t read with any sound around me, which interestingly cuts me off from reading in libraries, coffee shops and on public transport on the whole. Oddly I did used to be able to read on the tube in London, maybe because nobody really talks to each other on there.

I have mentioned before that currently we are turning the mezzanine area above the bathroom into a ‘reading loft’ this will be walled with book shelves but isn’t tall enough for you to sit in properly so will be lined with a mattress (so it is an extra bedroom for guests) and loads of cushions and bean bags etc. However we are also going to do up the bedroom and this will add two new reading areas. The first is my all time favourite place to read, and the one I get to do the least, the bath! I can literally lie in a bath with a book for hours and hours just topping up the hot water as and when. Well after much coercion and debate The Beard has agreed that we can get a Victorian free standing one as part of the new look bedroom but it doesn’t stop there…

The rooms here are huge tall Georgian ones, as it is part of a converted mansion, so as well as a bath and all the normal bedroom furnishings (bed, wardrobes, chest of drawers etc) we are making one part of the room a study area which will be made up of book shelves, office gear and a wonderful old Victorian leather topped desk and chair my mother is belatedly getting me for my 30th birthday, something like this…

In that area I also want to have a really, really comfy reading chair where I can hide away with a book pretending I am lost in the Victorian era. So I wondered if you had any reading chair recommendations. Have you inherited a lovely old one or bought a special new one? All advice and thoughts welcomed. Oh and of course, where do you read?

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The Great British Bake Off Returns…

I am faffing today. I feel a little restless this week and today I can’t seem to quite focus on the possible posts that I wanted to pop up. I have almost finished something along the lines of ‘Am I Literary Enough?’ but it doesn’t quite sound right yet and then I was going to do a brief post on ‘What Makes A Classic?’ but am a few hundred words in now and have no signs of shutting up and know it will need a huge edit. So in the interim, and on a tangent, I thought I would mention The Great British Bake Off which returns to the BBC tonight, and a previous post showed just how much you all liked baking…

The Great British Bake Off, which I think I have mentioned to you all before, is a programme that sort of shouldn’t work and yet definitely does. Take a group of contestants who love to, and clearly can, bake and make them compete over differing recipes and bakery treats each week with the legendary Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (who makes everyone swoon, especially when he is angry, or is that just me?) judging, throw in the comedy of the marvellous presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc and it is just perfect. As you can see from the clip below from last year.

A rather fortuitous parcel arrived in the post the other day too from the lovely people at Bloomsbury, I can now (should I wish to) whip up some baked goods with alongside Paul Hollywood, well with him directing me through the medium of the pages, such as sourdough, brioche, croissants, you name it.

Not sure if I will have time before the show starts at 8pm tonight but we will see… I am wondering if I could get him on The Readers for a Cookbook special, we will see. I am still wondering how I could start a ‘Great British Book Off’, suggestions welcomed.

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Such Seaside Fun…

I have had another weekend of not reading, this is becoming most odd yet weirdly rather enjoyable. This weekend we were descended on by Savidge’s as my Mum & Co all came down on their way back from a week break in the Loch’s of Scotland to drop off my little sister and brother off for the weekend while my Mum and Step-Dad had a weekend off. Well we had a wonderful time as you can see from these collages thanks to my new favourite phone app…

It was such a lovely weekend of sea, sun, screaming and scoffing, what more could you want? Last night was also the end of the Olympics and naturally, after having loved the Olympics (though not really mentioning them on here oddly), we watched the closing ceremony. I have to say I don’t know if it was the fact I had hyped it in my head beforehand or if the opening show was so good, but last night, apart from the Spice Girls (amazing!!!) fell rather flat. It was a bit heavy on the introspective anthems rather than all the party songs which I thought it would be. Grumble, grumble… what am I like?

So what have you been up to outside of reading lots of books, or maybe not if you are like me, had a lovely weekend?

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