Random thoughts & things

March ‘One Book a Month’: The smallest bookshop in the UK

Hayling Island Bookshop
The great thing about supporting local bookshops is that you discover hidden gems right on your doorstep. Yesterday I visited the smallest village bookstore in the UK as part of my ‘One Book a Month’ campaign.

Hayling Island Bookshop is just a few minutes’ drive along the coast from me but I’d never come across it before – a fact that I was kicking myself for yesterday as it may be compact and bijou, but it’s also one of the biggest Literary Event organisers in the South of England!

Check out the list of authors they have run signing events for:

• Sir David Attenborough
• Terry Pratchett
• Jacqueline Wilson
• Kate Mosse
• Derek Landy
• Anthony Horowitz
• Sir Patrick Moore
• Katherine Bassford

OK, the last name on the list is just wishful thinking. I sneaked my name on there as a sign of things to come (when I write my next books). For now, they are kindly stocking copies of Oh Sugar! Here’s the evidence:

Oh Sugar! in bookshop
You can just see Colin in the background on the right. He runs the shop with his wife Marie, who is a member of the Advisory Panel for the Independent Booksellers Forum. She and Colin regularly meet with other booksellers to share their thoughts on how to keep small bookshops alive and well in the UK. Hurrah – I couldn’t have picked a more fitting place for my second ‘One Book a Month’ purchase!

So… which book to buy? This was trickier than I thought. Hayling Island Bookshop is small but it stocks an impressive range of titles. In the end my book-detecting radar zoomed in on Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I love true stories and this one sounds heartbreaking but inspirational:

At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise – a promise of piecing together a life that lay shattered at her feet…

The Sunday Times said the book is ‘epic and moving’ and the Scotsman said, ‘It’s not very manly, the topic of weeping while reading… Wild pretty much obliterated me.’

Duly warned, I have my tissues at the ready…

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The Crane Wife bookLast month’s book: The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

Hmm… I have mixed feelings about The Crane Wife. I absolutely loved Patrick’s Chaos Walking Trilogy so I had high hopes for this book. It started magically with George discovering an injured great white crane in his back garden one moonlit night. He saves the crane and the next day he meets a strange lady called Kumiko who he starts to date. Up to this point, the writing is beautiful and serene. But George has a daughter (Amanda) and the second the book switches to telling her story, the tone changes and the magic disappears. Dammit!

So I found myself torn in two. The book was quirky and beautiful in places. But other sections felt clumpy and plain weird – like the Japanese fairy tale interspersed throughout the story, which involved lots of clouds and erupting volcanoes. I didn’t have a clue what was going on and I found myself skipping these pages so that I could get back to George again. Possibly I was being a bit thick (it happens) but I found it all quite bewildering.

In a nutshell: I love Patrick Ness’s books. But I only loved this one in certain places (ones that didn’t involve clouds, volcanoes and irritating women called Amanda).

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14 thoughts on “March ‘One Book a Month’: The smallest bookshop in the UK

  1. Seems like fate that you were supposed to start this challenge! I love the picture of you with your book – it must be such a buzz.
    I saw ‘Wild’ at the cinema – the film’s great too.
    Jo xx

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    1. I’m so glad I started doing it! It’s fantastic to discover new bookshops and meet the owners (who are all passionate about what they do). I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing my book in a shop – though readers of my blog might get a little bored after the 100th photo of me grinning and pointing to my book :-) Can’t wait to read Wild and thank you, you’ve just reminded me about seeing it at the cinema. I wonder if it’s still on?… xx

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  2. One book a month is a great idea. Our book shops particularly the small independent ones need our support and if we all took part then maybe we can do our bit to help them thrive. I’m starting with October books in Southampton. Wild may well be on my radar too but I’ll see what else they have. I’m already the proud owner of Oh Sugar. Thanks Katherine.

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    1. Exactly! I’m so glad you’re joining me on this. If we all start buying more books from local booksellers, they will know how much we appreciate them and they will hopefully thrive, rather than withdraw from our high streets, never to be seen again (which would be a tragedy). Keep me posted and let me know which book you decide to buy. (P.S. A big thank you for buying Oh Sugar! :-))

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  3. Today is world book day. What better time is there to visit your local book shop. I’m just on my way now and yes Katherine I will let you know what I buy.

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  4. The book I chose for this m8nth and world book day was the stranger by Camilla Lackberg. A scandanavian psychological thriller. Just the sort of thing I’m into. I’ll let you know how I get on.

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    1. Brilliant, thanks for keeping me posted! Let me know how you get on. It’s lovely going into a bookshop to choose a new book each month – it reminds me of when I was a kid and used to get really excited about going to the library each week to choose my books :-)

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  5. Finished my book of the month. As a reminder itt was called The Stranger bu Camilla Lackberg a Scandinavian crime thriller. I really enjoyed this book… It was one of those books that got better and better. It was pacy mainly due to the different story lines which changed every few paragraphs. But it all gradually knitted together and came to a really good climax with a nice twist at the end. The author must have done a huge amount of research as she had a very deep knowledge of how detectives go about there work.

    Looking forward to buying the next one. Thanks for this great idea of one book a month Katherine. I would have missed out on so much otherwise. It will also help me develop as a writer because I get exposed to the way successful writers write and develop characters and plots, especially if I read different genres

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    1. Hey, thanks for the update on the book. Really glad you enjoyed it. Like you, I’ve been surprised at how much pleasure I get from walking into a bookshop and buying a new book each month. Because I go in there with no preconceived idea as to what I will buy, as you say, I end up buying all sorts of different books. I just bought another one today and will write a post about it next week. Cheers Phil, keep me posted on future book-buying adventures!

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