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The time that Zadie Smith visited

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We tried to act cool. Not sure if we managed to.

Super excited that Zadie Smith visited us last week to sign a stack of paperback copies of her first historical novel: THE FRAUD – a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, a book about who deserves to tell their story – and about who deserves to be believed.

And because we love to find out what authors are reading, we can share that Zadie is currently loving EVENINGS AND WEEKENDS by Oisín McKenna and also said that one to watch is BONDING by Mariel Franklin – you heard it here!

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Joanna Biggs & Harriet Baker in conversation with Željka Marošević

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We were honoured to host Joanna Biggs (visiting from NYC) and Harriet Baker on Thursday 13 June for a really generous and open conversation with editor Željka Marošević about their respective books, A LIFE OF ONE’S OWN and RURAL HOURS; both books are about women writers who live on their own terms outside of societal expectations. 

They discussed the writers they chose to write about and that it felt like being accompanied by them as friends, as you may choose the women to support you in a crisis. How for Harriet’s writers, Woolf, Lehman & Townsend-Warner, each writer went through a creative and personal crisis then changed their environment for something transformative to take place. How this transformation was taking place in the quieter moments in their lives when they’re not writing, but was still very much part of the work.

Jo talked about her close chronologically reading of the diaries and how their lives unfold showed key things missing, things not being kept, a sadness in the archives. The writer’s lists as an intimate way of knowing their day. Lists as practices of self care, as private and defiant, their compressed emotional qualities.

For Jo, including her own life was a way of being honest about why she cared about her writer’s lives – rather than keeping critical distance, she showed how and why she related to them. 

Women writers in periods of failure and crisis are robust. We also like them because they fail and you see in their writing how they survive it. The desk in the middle of the room as a symbol that women’s lives can be multi faceted, their lives are part of their work.

How Jo noticed a devotion to community, and a gratitude for this both in the writers lives and in her own. Editorial work is performed for one another as care work, and an acknowledgment of all the intricate psychological work that goes unpaid. 

The writers discussed were :
Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, Zora Neale Hurston, George Eliot, Toni Morrison, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sylvia Plath, Elena Ferrante, Rosamond Lehmann and Sylvia Townsend Warner.

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Summer Reads 2024

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Our Summer Reads list for 2024 features a wealth of excellent paperbacks for your hols/park picnic/sofa 🌞 All curated by us and certain to delight, check ’em out!

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Anna Metcalfe recommends…

Ahead of our upcoming event with Anna Metcalfe for her brilliant debut novel CHRYSALIS, we asked Anna to recommend some of the books that inspired her writing!

“Who knew that a novel about an EU postal directive could be so entertaining? I can’t think of a better writer on the bureaucratic absurdity of modern life.”

“Philosophy, psychoanalysis, literary theory and criticism come together in this truly joyful book about being your true, unknowable self: an essential, life affirming read in the age of branding and social media.”

“This novel, in jewel-like sentences, skewers contemporary consumer culture like nothing else I’ve read.”

“This book is so intelligent on the intensity and complexity of mother-daughter relationships. It’s also darkly funny and often made me laugh out loud.”

“Chrysalis began in a seminar I was teaching on Han Kang’s The Vegetarian. I love bringing this strange novel to students. No matter how many times I read The Vegetarian, it always has something new to show me.”

Join us on 29 September when we welcome Anna to read from and discuss her incredible debut novel CHRYSALIS with Julianne Pachico.

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We are fifteen! 🎈

We can’t quite believe that we have been in business for fifteen years. Thank you for all your support and custom over the years, we feel very lucky to have such lovely customers as yourselves! Please stop by and celebrate with us on Saturday 23rd September from 5 – 7pm with a drink, a chat and a browse, plus 10% off all books!

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Extended Hours & Postage Dates

Extended Hours

From Monday 12 we’ll be opening our doors at 10am on weekdays, giving you a whole extra hour of early browsing time. Grab yourself a coffee and come say hi!

We’ll also be staying open until 7pm on Thursdays 15 and 22, giving you the chance to swing by and collect orders after work, or for a spot of late browsing. Head to our Gift Guide for a little early inspiration and to order in advance.

Last Postage Date

Please note that in accordance with Royal Mail’s updated guidelines, the final date for First Class post to arrive before Christmas has been moved forward to Friday 16 December. We’ll be offering First Class delivery up to this date, and from Saturday 17 we will offer delivery using Royal Mail’s Special Delivery service until Wednesday 21 December (at an increased cost).

We recommend placing orders for delivery as soon as you possibly can instead of waiting until the final postage date in order to minimise the chance of being affected by postal delays.

Hopefully it goes without saying, but we support CWU and its Royal Mail members in the fight for fair pay! ✊

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Closed 22 – 26 August for stock take

Just a heads up that the shop will be closed from Monday 22 August until Friday 26 August while we carry out our annual stock take and do a little repainting.

In person collections won’t be possible during this time, so please ensure that anything is urgent is collected before 6pm on Sunday 21 August. After that, we’ll open our doors again at 10am on Saturday 27 August.

We will endeavour to reply to emails throughout this time but will ask for a little more patience than usual while awaiting a reply.

Our webshop will remain open throughout, and in most instances we’ll be dispatching orders for delivery directly from our supplier. Rest assured though that we’ll be in touch asap if we need to give you an update regarding your order.

Most orders placed for collection between the 22 and 26 will likely be available for collection from Tuesday 30 August, however we will send an email to confirm when your order is ready.

Thanks so much!

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Win a National Book Token!

Answer a short survey about your book shopping interests and opinions, for a chance to win £25 worth of National Book Tokens!

The survey is being undertaken with the customers of a wide range of UK bookshops and will help us understand the habits and attitudes of book buyers, and offer our customers the best possible services.The survey should only take around 10 minutes to complete, and as a thank you for your time and valuable feedback, all responses received before the deadline of 1st September 2022 will be eligible to be entered into a prize draw, where 10 winners will each receive £25 worth of National Book Tokens, which can be used in any bookshop in the UK.

Your response will be sent to the independent research agency Nielsen BookData, who are administering the survey on behalf of UK bookshops. Your answers will be used by Nielsen BookData purely for research purposes and will not be shared with us or any other organisation, so please be as honest as you can in your replies.

Please do take part in the survey if you can – it will be a great help to us.