book related, books

Books in the wild: Waterstones Birmingham

Firstly, I’m sure the Birmingham Waterstones used to be in a charming old building – that used to be a bank or something like that. But the building I thought it was is now an Apple store and so I’m doubting myself. Anyway the current Waterstones is near the Bullring and I had a little wander on Friday to see what they’re promoting and displaying.

Let’s start with the big display as you come in – which has Jessie Burtons – old and new, the new Juno Dawson book , the Richard Coles that I wrote about the other week and the latest book in a thriller series that is clearly going to be too scary and violent for me!

On the other side, we’ve got the non-fiction selections – I haven’t read any of them, but I’ve got The Premonitions Bureau on the Kindle, as I thought it might appeal to the part of me that enjoyed The Haunting of Alma Fielding the other year. Then there’s Clubland, which I hadn’t heard of, but which is a history of working men’s clubs in the UK and which sounds interesting, although my to read pile is so huge that I can wait for it! I hadn’t come across The Escape Artist either, but that also sounds interesting- about the first Jewish man to break out of Auschwitz and tried to warn the world about what was going on there. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before is a mental health toolkit type book which again sounds interesting and Cry of the Kalahari is presumably there because the film of Where the Crawdad’s Sing has just come out and it’s by Delia Owens and her husband about their life in Africa (and which there have been a number of articles about recently).

A number of books I have written about previously have now made it to the buy one get one half price table – notably Fatal Crossing and The Man Who Died Twice. I’m also somewhat intrigued by the Her Majesty the Queen Investigates series – A Three Dog Problem is the second one, but I’ve been looking out for the first at the library.

The non fiction table was where I spotted a few more things – I’ve got the hardback version of Judith Mackrell‘s Going With The Boys, which I really need to get to because I’ve enjoyed her other group biographies (hence my purchase!). I hadn’t heard of Oh What A Lovely Century before – but Roderic Fenwick Owen’s edited Diaries sound right up my street – born in 1921, he went to Eton and Oxford, survived the Second World War and then became a travel writer. The blurb promises that he experienced Nazi Germany and the Pentagon during the Cold War and met people like Jackson Pollack and Sean Connery. He was also attracted to men at a time when it was still illegal in many places. The few pages I read were interesting enough that I nearly bought it – except that it’s a chunky old thing and I didn’t want to have to carry it around in my handback getting battered for the rest of the day. I will be watching out for it.

And there we are – a rare bookshop trip where I didn’t buy anything – but still managed to add a few more books to the list…

books

Books in the Wild: Foyles

One of my frequent refrains over the last two years has been that I don’t know if various books I’ve been recommending will be easy to find in bookshops or not, so being in the vicinity of Foyles earlier this week I thought I would take the opportunity to see what was around and available and write about it!

Let’s start with the pride themed window display, which is actually the last photo I took – after they chucked me out at closing time! Bad Gays getting plenty of promotion – it’s got a table inside too, and if it hadn’t been a hardback I would have probably bought it, the blurb was intriguing. But I had already decided that I only had space in my suitcase for a paperback at most, so it will have to wait.

I was delighted to find Martha Wainwright’s memoir so nice and prominent – and signed. If I’d known it was going to crop up signed, I might have waited to buy it, I’ve only ever seen her playing small venues – audiences in the low hundreds – so I had no sense of how well it was going to do or how easy it would be to get hold of so I preordered it because preorders are important. And to be fair, she signed my ticket at when I saw her live, so it’s not like I don’t have an autograph already and if I really want the book signed I can take it with me when I see her live in the summer and see what happens!

And I was also delighted to see A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting, because that was another one where I couldn’t tell ahead of time whether it would get a push here. And in years gone by it probably wouldn’t have, but Bridgerton has made such a difference to Historical Romance sales in the UK. I saw my first Julia Quinn as one book in a much bigger Waterstones window display back in my Southend days more than a decade ago, and I’m so used to needing to order them in – initially in US editions, and then preordering the UK editions because they were never in shops if you went in on the off chance – that it’s still a surprise and delight to see them front facing in the main section of the store. And Lady’s Guide… also has a different style of cover to the half headless lady clutching an entirely headless gentleman and it’s variants that we’re getting on so much at the moment because that’s what the latest editions of the Bridgerton series have…

And this was the other non fiction hardback that seriously tempted me. As you can’t help but know at this point, I’ve read a lot of history books about the interwar period and Nancy Cunard is in so many of them. But I have an Anne de Courcy paperback still waiting to be read on the shelf, so I will try and be good and wait until the paperback comes out (because they get read sooner anyway) or maybe I’ll put it on the prospective Christmas book list!

And finally, I loved this display for the colours and the range of authors in it. I haven’t read any of Anthony Horowitz’s James Bond novels, but I have read several of his own series – and reviewed them too (Moonflower Murders for example). I’ve got a signed copy of the Richard Coles ordered from Big Green Books or I would have been tempted by that one too. I’ve read some Emma Straub before, but this one is sort of time travel or sliding doors-y if that makes sense, and I don’t usually do well with do-your-life-over books so I’ll wait and see on this one. The covers on the other two were just so pretty I had to pick them up and see what they are. The House with the Golden Door is the second in a planned trilogy about Pompeii so that was relatively easy for me to resist – I have a poor record on books set before 1300 let alone in the first century and when you know a volcano eruption is coming! But The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley sounds like interesting eighteenth century magical realism with an unusual setting, so it has gone on The List.

And what did I end up buying? Well I did think about keeping you in suspense until books incoming, but I’m not that mean.

I loved the cover design, and the blurb sounded right up my street – a 1920s setting and a plot around a lavender marriage so the main characters can do what they want. I hadn’t heard of it before I saw it in the display so I have no idea what I’m letting myself in for or what the reviews say. I read the first few pages in the shop but that was it because it was suddenly five minutes to closing time and I had to run to the till to pay!