Walter Henry’s in Bideford #BookshopDay

Last Saturday was the Books Are My Bag annual Bookshop Day, a day during which all are encouraged to visit or otherwise support an independent bookshop. It is obvious that times are currently tough for both small businesses and their customers. If independently run bookshops are to remain in our towns and cities they need readers to use them for purchases.

As I was lucky enough to be in beautiful Devon for a long weekend break I had researched nearby bookshops. My holiday itinerary meant I couldn’t visit on the Saturday. This didn’t concern me as Bookshop Day can be any day a reader is in the vicinity of a bookshop.

Walter Henry’s in Bideford is on the town High Street, a short way up the hill from the river near the old bridge. The town itself is worth a visit. We enjoyed our wander around its picturesque narrow streets and riverside park.

Inside the bookshop we found plenty of interest amidst the calm oasis a bookshop provides.

I carry with me a list of books I wish to purchase when the opportunity arises but sadly was unable to locate these on the shelves. The friendly bookseller was happy to help, offering to order the titles for pickup within a few days. As we were visiting this was not a viable option.

She explained to us that stock was currently low. The summer season had finished and tourist numbers were negligible. With Christmas approaching this situation will soon be rectified.

With no obvious banners or flyers, I asked if they were taking part in Bookshop Day. It was confirmed that they were and the shop would be decorated appropriately that afternoon. I hope this initiative drew more customers in.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without making a purchase. Husband had found a book that proved ideal for our holiday. Over subsequent days we walked three of the routes included, learning salient facts about each location along the way.

Walter Henry’s Bookshop was well worth a visit for the ambience and friendliness as well as its contents. If you are in or close to Bideford in Devon, do seek it out.

(Twitter: Walter Henry’s Books)


The Corsham Bookshop #BookshopDay

I will be away from home on this year’s National Bookshop Day so sought out an independent bookshop to visit a week early – how organised am I? This high street gem was well worth the journey. And of course, I came away with a new book to read.

Opened in 2002, The Corsham Bookshop is situated in the heart of the eponymous Wiltshire market town. The current proprietor has worked there from the beginning, buying it from the original owner in 2008. As she had previously worked for Waterstones she brought experience to the business.

I visited on a sunny Saturday afternoon and the shop had a steady stream of customers. One child was sitting at the back quietly reading. Another came in with her father who then tried to explain that this wasn’t a library so selections needed to be made with care.

Although relatively small, the stock is carefully curated and attractively displayed. As well as books there are literary gifts available alongside notebooks, cards and wrapping paper. There is also a selection of classical music CDs. I suspect the proprietor knows her customers well.


Our chat was brief but welcoming and friendly. On discovering where I lived she pointed me towards a series of children’s books whose author has recently moved to my village. A quick but careful flick through convinced me that I would enjoy reading these so I purchased the first in the series. I will be reviewing it soon.

Corsham is on the A4, west of Chippenham and east of Bath. If passing through I recommend you pause to admire the pretty little town, and visit its bookshop.

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London Bookshops #BookshopDay #BAMB

Today is National Bookshop Day, organised in conjunction with Books Are My Bag, a collaboration between publishers, bookshops and authors to celebrate these friendly, knowledgeable  havens and help keep them on our high streets. Bookshops are businesses – we need to use them or lose them.

Last Thursday, due to an event cancellation that came two days after I had booked my transport to London to attend, I travelled up to the capital to spend the day visiting the bookshops I am familiar with thanks to on line bookish friends – what better way to make use of a bus ticket now surplus to requirements. The sun shone as I walked a ten mile circuit enjoying the architecture and revelling in the opportunity to discover for myself why these bookshops regularly appear on my social media feeds.

Arriving in Victoria Coach Station around lunchtime I met up with my daughter and we made our way past Hyde Park and north to Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street.


Described as a bookshop for travellers, stock is organised by location. My daughter, a fantasy fiction fan, was unable to find an Out Of This World section but they seem to have Planet Earth well covered. The bookshop itself is gorgeous. I was pleased to discover many books from the independent publishers I read.


We then headed south to Piccadilly where we visited the UK’s oldest bookshop, Hatchards.


This is another gorgeous shop with a warren of rooms to explore over several floors. It proudly proclaims itself bookseller to the Queen. I wonder what she enjoys reading.

Just down the road from Hatchards is the huge flagship store for Waterstones.

This is Europe’s largest bookshop offering over eight miles of shelves. We could have spent a lot longer here than we had time for.


From Piccadilly I was left to my own devices for a few hours so headed to Charing Cross Road, a mecca for booklovers, to vist Foyles, the only bookshop visited that I had been to before.

As well as browing the shelves I enjoyed a cup of coffee in the cafe, surrounded by friends.


Suitably refreshed I set out on another stretch of my planned route, heading west through Bloomsbury to Persephone Books.


This small but perfectly presented bookshop, in a lovely location, fronts a publishing business that:

“reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers. All of our 122 books are intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written and are chosen to appeal to busy people wanting titles that are neither too literary nor too commercial.”

The books are so aesthetically pleasing I wanted to buy a stack just to admire them on my shelves. I can feel a new collector’s seed germinating.

To finish the day I had arranged to meet back with my daughter at Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court, off Charing Cross Road.

This was the only part of the day that did not meet expectations. The bookshop provides signed first editions, fine quality books that will be future investments. It is not really a bookshop to browse. Having spent more time than was probably necessary ascertaining that there were no further rooms where more ordinary books were displayed I left regretting that I had not done a little more research.

With shops closing their doors for the day I met my daughter at Piccadilly, pleased that I had her company as I waited for the late bus I was booked on. Although not arriving home until the wee small hours, it was a fine way to spend a day.


One bookshop I did not visit was the Big Green Bookshop as I will be there next week when I travel up to the capital again for an event I hope will not be cancelled – Not The Booker Live.




Looking forward to #BookshopDay


Saturday 8th October is 2016’s Bookshop Day in the British Isles. I plan on visiting my local Waterstones and hope to pick up the specially designed Books Are My Bag Winnie-the-Pooh tote, and to fill it with some new books of course.

In previous years I have travelled to Bath, the closest city to where I live. I wrote this piece for the blog on their official online tourist information site, Visit Bath back in 2015.

Bath is for Bibliophiles!

Book lovers love Bath, and with good reason. Want to buy books? Find them in the impressive range of bookshops. Want to meet the authors? Order a ticket for one of the many events which happen throughout the year.

The Bath Literature Festival runs for ten days in early spring and offers audiences a chance to listen to and interact with many of the big names in books, as well as lesser known and local talent.

The Bath Kids Literature Festival, also a ten day event, runs in early autumn and offers a wide and eclectic range of lively book themed events to keep all ages entertained.

These annual extravaganzas generate a buzz which is fun to be a part of, but literary events are happening in Bath all year round. Thanks to the efforts of two of the city’s fabulous independent bookshops there are a variety of both small gatherings and larger fixtures to appeal to all interests.


Topping and Company Booksellers (pictured above) offer the quintessential bookshop experience, with shelves and tables overflowing with tempting choices, and friendly, knowledgeable staff always available to help guide customers to their next great read.

Regular events offer access to a range of authors, with the cost of tickets refundable against the cost of the book being discussed. Some of these are intimate affairs are held within the shop, while others are staged in larger venues nearby.


Mr Bs Emporium of Reading Delights (pictured below) offers not just a range of carefully chosen books in their three floored warren of a shop, but also the option to buy someone you love the gift of a Reading Spa or a Year of Books. These include a consultation with a bibliotherapist to ensure that each recommendation will delight the recipient.

Mr B's

Where better to find a bath full of books than in a Bath bookshop? Meander through their various rooms and look out for the quirky displays: a customer toilet that has been decorated by the Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell; a stairway papered with Tintin comics; a ceiling decorated with book themed tote bags. The shop is a relaxing haven for booklovers. Take a comfy chair by the fire, pour yourself a complimentary cup of coffee, and check out that book you know you want to buy.

Mr B's

Mr B’s events are often intimate gatherings, enabling the audience to enter into discussions and interact with the author; some of them are even free to attend. They are held in various locations, including the shop’s own bibliotherapy room, with larger gatherings scheduled at alternative venues.

All of these events may be booked online. If you are planning a trip to the city then check out what is going on while you are here. You may just be tempted to make this the primary reason for your visit.

Jackie Law is a wife, mother, hen keeper and writer who lives in a small village east of Bath. She is an avid reader and publishes book reviews and other related posts on her blog. She is easily distracted, especially by Twitter, where you can follow her: @followthehens.    


When I wrote this piece I had yet to discover the delights of Waterstones which I now know is another beautifully laid out bookshop that hosts excellent author events. It has friendly, welcoming staff and a coffee shop with free wifi.


The central shopping area in Bath is compact for a city, giving visitors the chance to easily explore all three of these booklover’s oases.

Which bookshops will you be visiting this weekend?