Chilling Between the Covers


I like nothing better at the end of the day, whilst the Winter casts darkness over the evening hours, than to settle down and dive between the covers of a good story.

With so much to choose from around me during the work day- and suggestions a plenty from customers, I generally have a stack set by to choose from each night.

At work, it’s all about classifying, edition and condition- the treasures amongst the stacks set for the shelves. So, at night- a choice to dive headlong into a story that takes me into another world is perfection on paper.

Right now, I’m about to nose-dive into a Josephine Tey Mystery, which has already seduced me into questioning the character of the unfortunate visitor to a country village who has gone missing. Miss Tey for me, seems to draw the Tarot cards out for a potential victim of a crime- so that the reader can divine these and therefore predict the outcome.

Before this evening ritual, I usually set my own pen to paper. My journal records daily takings, reminders of tasks awaiting my attention, and generally casting the daily melee onto paper. This I find satisfying and relaxing- as though the paper absorbs the day from my thinking, and wipes the slate clean.

Last year, a book came in that was immediately transported to my reading stash- The Diary of a Bookseller, by Shaun Blythell. 

Casting aside all other hopefuls, this book was chosen, and I settled down to read.

Transported to the nether regions of the North, a Bookseller charmed, delighted and amused me with his daily machinations. There were so many similarities- from the Characters who step through the Bookshop doors, to the tricky business of online selling and the wry observations concerning the relationships between books, their sellers and their potential buyers. Blythell’s assistant caused me to giggle many times- First by reading about her, and then repeatedly at work, as I drew verbal comparisons with my own assistant. His book about a far flung community in the deep North, mirrored many an evenings reflection in my own journal about a far flung community here in the Deep South.

It was one of the books I read that I didn’t want to finish, and I contacted Shaun to say how much I enjoyed it and how similar things were down here in Freshwater.

Up there in Wigtown, they run a yearly Literary Festival and I had hoped to make a journey up to Scotland last September- but work and books got in the way.

Yesterday, a plan was hatched from an idea brought to me by the Hatcher…

Freshwater shall have its own Book Festival this summer! Complete with Treasure Hunt- from Library-shelves, to Charity Shop finds, Stalls with Dealers and my shelves too of course.

Fancy Dress shall be the order of the day, and Book Readings with Picnics on the Green planned. Punch and Judy, some Music and Poetry, and we shall make merry.

I’m looking forward to this- we aren’t Hay-On-Wye, but we do do books here- from the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat bookshelves, to the local dealers who set up stall regularly. Cameron Books sports an eminent specialist in Mervin Peake, and lots more in between. Our ‘High Street’ seems to be bucking the trend, with its Independent everything- Butcher, Baker, (no Candkestick Maker) but Cafe’s, Florist, Cycle Shop and the imminent arrival of another exciting retailer, add into our already rather good spray of facilities. The Doctors, Opticians, Library, Sports Centre and Chemists are draped by these, a plethora of Charity Shops, and of course- annoyingly- no Bank now sees fit to serve us for miles around. We also quite like to dress up, and September used to see a regular turn out of fancy-dressers heading for the now defunct Bestival. So, there’s a plan.

Sometimes books stay with you- and this is true of Shaun’s. For more reasons than one- I try (unsuccessfully) not to collect books, as selling is my game…

Oh dear, my shelf dedicated to books about bookshops is quietly growing up in the corner of my own little Library!