As you may have noticed, from my excitement, or from twitter, or from elsewhere, today was the #bookshopcrawl. Some people have done it on other days during Independent Bookshops Week, but most people have done it today. Our plans this year kept changing because of various commitments, until a fairly large group became just two of us. And it was lovely! Last year, Lauren and I visited ten shops. This year, a much hotter day and with a much less robust plan, Emma and I managed six.
First stop: Dulwich Books! We arrived sometime after 11 to visit our glorious friend Chloe at the most excellent Dulwich Books. A few days ago, I asked twitter for recommendations for my nephew: he’s 7, he likes and is good at reading, and his main interests are space, robots and his cat. Chloe replied to tell me about Star Cat, which features all of these things:
Well, I hope he likes it, because I think it’s glorious. He’s going to be the recipient of both my #giveabook books, because he is my favourite small person and he always appreciates book gifts, and books are good for small people. I also asked Chloe to recommend me something to make me happy, because it’s been a truly terrible week, and she suggested Other Girl by Nicole Burstein, which is about two teenage girls: one is a superhero, and the other is her best friend, who helps her keep her non-superhero life in order. It sounds right up my street and I can’t wait to read it.
She also told me that I needed Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties by Rachel Cooke, and I agree! I’m terrible at remembering to read non-fiction, but this is a task for the (soon to begin) summer holidays. This book looks incredible, and I can’t wait to find out about these women who were pioneers in their professional and personal lives. Chloe very kindly gave me this as part of #giveabook, because she is lovely.
Also because she is lovely, she gave me a proof of The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood, who also wrote The Bellweather Revivals, which is on my summer reads list. She told me it would blow my mind, so that’s that. We have learned to listen to Chloe’s book recommendations, because she has never yet been wrong. Books Are My Bag sent me a book token for #giveabook but I forgot to bring it because I am scatterbrained, so I’ve bought my #giveabook books with money and will be returning to Dulwich Books soon (sometime this week) to get me a copy of Reif Larsen’s I Am Radar with the book token to pay myself back, because logic. Then we strolled down to West Dulwich and took a train then another train, to Blackfriars, and walked along the Southbank to The National Theatre bookshop. The National Theatre is one of my favourite places in London. Its Entry Pass scheme (£5 tickets for people under 26) have meant I have seen theatre that I never would have otherwise seen: I try to book a ticket for most productions at the start of each season. It’s also a really lovely place to meet people, or to sit when I’ve got some time to kill. They are doing lots of redevelopment at the moment, and the bookshop has recently moved. It’s gorgeous: beautifully laid out and open, it’s easy to find, and it has some delightful surprises, like the Everybody Dies poster which I bought for Lauren for Christmas.
It also has this corner, which made me laugh.
I got my nephew another book, a joke book, because all small people should have favourite jokes. My brother’s favourite joke, when he was little, was “What do you call a sheep without legs? A cloud.” Then we made our way down the Southbank, past the Book Market:
to the Foyles under the Festival Hall. Emma bought… something, I forget (Emma bought a lot of books today), but I didn’t get anything. But I did do finger guns and say “excellent!” to a man wearing a Pits And Perverts tshirt. The Pits And Perverts benefit gig was run by LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) in 1984 to protest against pit closures and raise money for striking miners. We then crossed the river, had some lunch at Leon, and carried on to Stanfords, where I got a map for my family summer holiday to the Peak District.
I only found out about Stanfords last year, on the crawl, and have since made several visits, for a wander round, a look at some travel guides, and also for maps for displays at work. We’ve had a good look at the map this morning, and we’re very excited for our holiday. (Thanks Emma for this pic!)
Then we made our way to Foyles, after a little sit down on a bench to calm down because it was so hot and so busy and I was overwhelmed. So we rearranged our bags, cooled down, and I gave thanks for comfortable feet thanks to having the forethought to wear trainers.
(Also Emma’s pic)
Foyles, as ever, was lovely. I was really impressed that, when you connect to their wifi, it brings up the shop search page. Something to think about for libraries, I think. We had a good wander round, and Emma got loads of nature books. I was incredibly restrained, and only got one book:
I’ve been after this for ages, and finally got round to getting it. As well as beautiful new covers, this edition has extra content, which I’m really excited about. My original copy was lent to my mum’s friend, never to be seen again, and I’ve been trying to make myself not be bothered, but I’ve given up on that. It’s so beautiful. Of course I’m now going to have to buy all of the rest…
(Another of Emma’s photos, my selfie game was weak). We then walked through Soho, and Pride, to get to Gosh! Comics. I love Gosh, and have bought many a book in there, but not this time. By then, I was so thoroughly overwhelmed by the heat and the people that I needed to just sit down. Emma got something, though, and we went off in search of a bus home. We got caught up in Pride again, and I wish I had been more full of energy to enjoy it properly, but it sure was lovely to see so many people celebrating.
After an icecream on the Southbank, we took the bus home, and I flopped on the sofa for the rest of the day.
(Yet another Emma pic!) Just as last year, I had a great day, and loved supporting the independent bookselling industry. It’s hugely important to me, and it needs protecting. I love that so many people were talking about it, and I hope that, once the week is over, people remember the places they’ve visited and keep going back, to support the bookshops and booksellers that we love and need.