“It must be great to work in a bookshop” is what most people say in response to discovering that’s what I “do”. To be completely frank with you… it’s the absolute best and I love it. Bookshops are lovely places to be anyway but throw in the magic of Bookbugs and Dragon Tales and I can’t believe this is actually my job. I am so lucky.
Now bear with me, I’m about to get a little bit sentimental. Remember Christmas morning as a child? The anticipation before diving head-first into the long-anticipated gifts and goodies? Remember unveiling those gifts and the leap of joy in your stomach at the revelation of the wonder inside? Every morning we get to relive that feeling a little with our daily delivery of books. Especially this time of year. Some exquisitely illustrated, some poignant and resonating, some rich with nostalgia, the list is endless. Booking new stock into the shop takes longer than it probably should as we all stand around cooing at books like New Babies.
When a person asks you your favourite anything it’s such a difficult question to answer. Books especially, I find. There’s the books that Mum or Dad used to read snuggled up on chilly nights, or the novel you were reading when you were on the most incredible journey. Then there’s the books that help you through the tough times, finding peace and solace in the pages. Working in a bookshop my favourites change pretty much daily.
Picture books are brilliant. I LOVE new picture book deliveries and feel a real emotional connection with them. Probably because of the lovely hours spent reading them with my own children. We’ve just emerged from the picture book phase and entered the wondrous realms of the chapter book. The adventures are exciting and filled with considerably more peril than the picture books which means we CAN’T PUT THE BOOK DOWN and bedtime is elongated somewhat. But it’s worth it.
It’s time to try and choose some favourites I suppose. It might be a long list, but I’ll keep the waffle to a minimum. Did you ever read Shirley Hughes? The time I spent getting lost in her exquisite illustrations as a child, imagining myself building grass-houses and tumbling down hills when reading “Out and About.” And “Dogger!” Such a simple story, the pit of sadness when he’s lost, and the absolute joy when he’s found and reunited with his owner (sorry for spoilers if you haven’t read Dogger). Shirley Hughes’ books are such a childhood classic; gentle, imaginative and beautiful. They give me a feeling that I can only describe as ‘going to Grandmas House’ brimming with warmth and hugs.
I fell head over heels for a picture book that came in last week. “Dreams of Freedom” written in association with Amnesty international. An exploration of human rights; the right to have the freedom to feel safe, to have ideas, to have freedom from fear. Using powerful words from inspirational people and placing them alongside stunning artworks from illustrators including Alexis Deacon, Oliver Jeffers and Jackie Morris. Such an incredible book with an important message. And ALL the royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to Amnesty International. I’m a little bit too attached. I want to hide it in a cupboard and not sell it and keep it forever. In fact, I think I will.
There are SO many books, one I must mention; “The Heart in the Bottle” by Oliver Jeffers. I’d not discovered this little book until I started my bookselling career. This small but special book is a bit of a lump-in-the-throat-maker, looking at a child’s loss of a special person. The child protects her heart from the pain of grief by placing it in a bottle, and she grows up. She meets another little girl, who is captivated in the magic that envelops childhood, and its only then she is able to take her heart out of the bottle (Tear down the cheek, fuzzy little glow in the heart).
I suppose I could just tell you, quickly, about “Does it Fart?” by Nick Caruso, Dani Rabaiotti and Axel Griffiths. Any books about poo, farts, bums etc are popular, but this book in particular is one of our bestsellers. I mean, who doesn’t want to know if a Whale farts? Read this (children’s) book and you will always be armed with interesting, but possibly not entirely appropriate dinner-party conversation.
Chapter books! Love LOVE chapter books at the moment. The legendary Roald Dahl, what an absolute joy to re-visit his books with the kids. Then there’s Harry Potter; after a couple of years we’ve finally finished ALL the Harry Potter books and our son loved them to pieces. His favourite author, however, is absolutely David Walliams. We have some books and some on audio; the belly laughs that boy produces when listening to David Walliams are just phenomenal and completely contagious. Me and my son who’s eight are reading the “Wizards of Once” trilogy by Cressida Cowell at the moment. We’re on the last book. Its super exciting. A magical world of wizards and warriors, a voyage of self-discovery and courage and a battle against petrifying witches who were thought to be extinct. These books are so well written and exciting with brilliantly thought out characters, each one with a superbly distinct personality. A little confession, there have been a couple of occasions where I might have carried on reading after my son fell asleep. Sometimes you just don’t want to wait till the next bedtime before finding out if the witches are defeated in battle for goodness sake.
Ugh, I just love books. And my job. And now all the CHRISTMAS books are here, the windows are beautiful and festive. The EDP have included us in their “Favourite Christmas Shop Window in Norwich” poll. If you haven’t seen them yet, pop down and have a look. They are stunning and you won’t help but get a few festive butterflies in the tummy. And how amazing to be noticed and included on the list anyway! In a way I feel like we’ve already won (but please do vote for us because we would really like to win in real life).
Very excited about the next few weeks, craft fairs, elf workshops, clay sculpting to name a few of the things going on. Plus, our regular sessions. If you want to do something super lovely with the little ones, we do Bedtime Stories on the first Thursday of the month. It’s the cutest thing, snuggling up all cosy in the bookshop drinking hot chocolate in our jammies and listening to stories. And next Thursday it will all be Christmassy stories. I just cannot wait, never mind the children, it’s me who’s the most excited.
Looking through our selection of Christmas books at home, I decided that they’re a bit babyish and I just HAD to replace them with some lovely, new, age appropriate Christmas books. I love having a selection in a basket under the Christmas tree to read every night. It feels like because we only read these books at Christmas, they’re a tradition in their own right and the kids look forward to seeing them every year. I hope they approve of the selection I’ve got this year (pictures below) which are currently secreted on top of the wardrobe in my bedroom. Can’t wait to get them down in the run-up to Christmas and snuggle with my little people to read them with the Christmas lights on. Such precious moments.
Signing off for now, I might ask nicely if I can do a follow up about Adult and Young adult fiction as I feel like I’ve waffled enough. So, thank you for reading, and come see us soon!