Every other week, I’m going to be posting a series, of sorts, about visiting book shops.
Naturally, I visit a lot of book shops, with a variety of different people, in a variety of different places. I intend to spend some time reflecting on the experience, from which book shop it is, to whether it’s raining, if i’m sad or happy, and so on.
My first post from this series is going to reflect on what it’s like to visit bookshops with my Grandmother.
Every Monday, my sister and I take our Grandmother (who I call Nan) out for the day. Generally, this consists of visiting the small city of Wells, Somerset, having a delicious lunch, and visiting the Waterstones on the High Street.
Now, a bit of background information on my Nan. She’s an avid reader, and worked as a bookseller for the majority of her working life. She’s artistic, creative and so much fun, and taking her out for the day always leaves my sister and I in fits of giggles. She’s also incredibly resourceful, having struggled for money for a lot of her life, which means that these trips often also involve buying some crafty item – just the other week we found ourselves in a stationary shop where they were selling off thread, including the spools for £3.00 (which was apparently very exciting), and my Nan says to me, “how can I resist, Em?”.
My Nan generally reads historical fiction, but my sister and I like to look through every single section in detail, and she is always happy to join us. It’s so much fun, hearing her opinions on the current authors and listening to stories about her time as a bookseller.
We always gravitate towards the Children’s area, as I have a major soft spot for YA and Children’s fiction, and I usually end up spending most of my week’s wages in this section. On our last outing, I bought Mary Poppins and King Arthur, because I just couldn’t help myself. When we look through these books, she tells me stories about being read these books as a child, and it makes me feel closer to her, like we have this secret little bubble only we two live in.
She was telling me last week about when they started selling Harry Potter in their shop. A copy of the Philosopher’s stone, the original printing, arrived by mistake with an order of other books and stationary, and my Nan says it after they’d put it out, it’d sat on their shelves for weeks, until the owner of the shop decided to take it home to give to one of his grandchildren. I wonder if they still have this copy.
I love visiting book shops with my Grandmother. It brings me back to being five (or maybe six) years old, and coming to visit her in the bookshop she worked in. It had an amazing children’s section, that was at the back of the shop and you walked down a slope to find it. There was a seat in the middle of the room shaped like Thomas the Tank Engine and I’d sit there and read while my mum chatted to my Grandmother, and I was always unhappy when it was time to leave. It’s strange now, to think of that as I take my Grandmother out for the day, 16 years later.
The bookshop where she worked just sells stationary now, but sometimes we visit together and it still smells exactly the same.