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Books in the Wild: Daunt Books

And so this is the third bookshop I visited in the first week of March – walking from work to the Cockpit for John Finnemore took me right past Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street so how could I resist?

And if you’ve never been in there, it’s deceptively big. Double fronted and going right back and down and up as you can see. They were setting the event space up as I was wandering, but sadly I was insufficiently vigilant to check who it was for – partly because I knew I couldn’t stay!

Anyway here’s a nice big selection of crime hardbacks and paperbacks – including a few I’ve read – like Death Comes to Marlow, The Three Dog Problem, The Christie Affair, a couple of Thursday Murder Club books, the latest Rivers of London and the Reverend Richard Coles.

There was a really good selection of crime actually – here’s another side of that same pillar with another HM the Queen Investigates, the new Miss Marple short stories and the fresh Tom Hindle that I haven’t got around to reading yet because: binging stuff I shouldn’t be.

Over in the Children and Young Adult section there were loads of books proving that the dystopian future/alternative present genre is still going strong, but also this table with the Rainbow Rowell short stories and the Agency of Scandal which I own but haven’t really seen in the wild before.

And there were some good tables of non fiction too – bookshop trips are often where I find stuff I hadn’t heard about. The Patrick Radden Keefe is actually an older book of his, reissued to look more like Empire of Pain, but I think I would basically read any of the forward-facing books in this picture. I mean if I got time for it…

And finally, as you’ve already seen the book I bought in last week’s Books Incoming, this was my first sighting in the wild of the paperback of Lessons in Chemistry – on its release day no less. I’m hoping that the fact that the table looks a little bit empty is because they’d already sold so many copies!

Have a great weekend everyone and go buy a book.

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Books in the wild: Bookends/Bookcase Carlisle

I genuinely had a wonderful week last week – with three bookshops visited and lots to say about all of them. I have puzzled over which order to do them in – but I’m going for Bookends because it’s not in London and it’s a bit different too. And yes, I realise that I have to get better at taking pictures of the exteriors of the bookshops I visit, but really, I’m more interested in the contents than the packaging and I always forget.

So, Bookends and Bookcase is a giant bookshop in the centre of Carlisle. Book ends is the new book section, which I didn’t take that many pictures of, and Bookcase is the most amazing second had section that spreads over the majority of the five storey building. Honestly, I spent actual hours in there. The picture above is the entry level second hand selection – with popular paperback fiction and some crime in the section that you can see here, but really it’s just a tiny fraction of what they’ve got.

And what they’ve got includes a lot of Children’s books – and I had such a happy time searching for stuff in my Girl’s Own collections. As you can see there were some Elsie Oxenhams – which I own a few of but really need proper guidance from an expert on what to buy as the series is so very, very, very weird – and plenty of Arthur Ransomes, which I managed to resist this time at least.

Then there’s a huge downstairs section of children’s books with more classic stuff (not pictured) but also a ton of newer authors too.

Also downstairs is a massive music section – featuring sheet music and basically any classical music record ever produced. Genuinely this photo doesn’t do it justice because this is just part of the record section – there are nooks and crannies filled with records that you can’t seen here and if you look very carefully at the back you can see the doorway through to the start of the rooms with the sheet music in them. It’s wild.

Also wild is the safe door at the far end of the record section which I had to include just because it was such a surprise to spot it down there.

I’m not a poetry person, but I’ve included this to show just how wide – and sometimes random – the selection is. I think if it is a poetry or a playscript you could probably find pretty much anything in there. While I was browsing a man came in asking about antique Ordnance Survey maps – and twenty minutes later I saw him at the till paying for an old OS map of Liverpool for his collection. It was amazing.

You’ll see my book haul in Books Incoming next week, so I won’t ruin the surprise – but I’ll end by saying, if you’re anywhere near Carlisle, it’s definitely worth a detour!

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Books in the Wild: Waterstones Gower Street

Honestly, sometimes it amazes me how different stores in the same chain can be. And here is a case in point. Waterstones Gower Street is the bookshop that serves the University of London and although it’s only about a seven minute walk from the Tottenham Court Road branch, it’s sometimes hard to believe they’re the same company. Gower Street has used books on racks outside, a record store in the basement and sections for remaindered books all over the place. You can often spot something in there you haven’t seen anywhere else – at least not in a physical copy.

Anyway, there’s a bit display for Monica Heisy’s book, which I already own a copy of but is now getting so much hype that I think I’m going to have to read it sooner rather than later or it’s going to hit over-hype and I’ll never get to it because I’m worried it won’t live up to it (see: Eleanor Olliphant which I still haven’t read).

And then the big display as you go in, at the bottom of the stairs is a new non-fiction book that I hadn’t see before – Red Memory by Tania Branigan, which the blurb says looks at China’s Cultural Revolution through the stories of people who were there and how the echo’s of Mao’s decade still resonate today. It looks really good and if the tbr wasn’t already so huge (and space in my suitcase quite limited) I probably would have bought it there and then. One to add to the list of potential Christmas books (yes I start that this early in the year!)

I couldn’t resist a picture of this book arch on one side of the children’s department upstairs – there’s another on the other side too – and although I know some people get really upset at books being used like this, I can totally live with it in a bookshop like this.

And then here is my favourite thing in the whole shop. A books case full of cozy crime novels – American mass market paperback ones. The sort I usually have to order in from that conglomerate. There are Cupcake Bakery, Library Lovers, Maine Clambake, Royal Spyness (technically not a cozy, but you can see it there if you look in the top left), Hannah Swenson and more. Yes I bought one. Sue me

And finally, just to demonstrate what a fabulous shop it is – there’s a whole stack of British Library Crime Classics, including a load that I’ve revived here like Murder in the Basement, Death at High Eldersham and more and if you look to the top left, you’ll also see actual paperback Amelia Peabodys. What more could you want. I nearly bought them – the only think stopping me was the fact that I already own them all on Kindle and audiobook – and I think Him Indoors would think I was crazy!

Have a great weekend everyone

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Books in the Wild: Euston

The Christmas displays are out and I’ve had a nosy at what they’re promoting front and centre in the Euston WH Smith…

And it is all about the memoirs! This is the main promo table as you come in. I know some of this is likely to be paid placement but it still sort of fascinates me that a Korean book in translation has made this table. It has also reminded me that I own I Want To Die But I Want to Eat Tteokpokki and should get around to reading it!

And the other big thing is that a) Bono has a book out and b) it’s half price. Everything else in here was pretty much as I was expecting, with all the usual suspects from my recent bookshop trips, but Bono was new, by the door and explains why he popped up on an NPR podcast in my feed at the weekend (I didn’t listen).

And that’s it – happy Saturday everyone.

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Books in the Wild: Sainsbury’s Colchester

Did I do a sweep of the supermarket book selection when I was in Essex last week. Of course I did. Was it super weird that the Sainsbury’s I used to shop in was knocked down a decade ago and there’s a completely new one a little bit across and they’ve completely rearranged all the roads at the retail park I used to go to on the way home from work? Absolutely. Did I feel really old? Yes. Did I also recreate my old commute by playing the music I used to have in my CD player back then? Ummmm. Does this mean I have had There Once Was A Man from The Pajama Game stuck in my head for more than a week? Yes.

Let’s start with the Christmas memoirs – which is basically what the hardback section is at the moment – including the Richard E Grant I read on holiday and the Alan Rickman that I’m torn about whether I want to read or not – although to be fair there’s also the Big Name Fiction, including the Michael Ball that I’m reading at the moment.

That mix of celeb Christmas book and other stuff sort of carries on in this one – which isn’t even the adjacent case but I’m going with it. I mean the organisation of this is all not great – but here’s a couple of my favourite books of the year again – Lessons in Chemistry and Murder Before Evensong – but also Carrie Soto which I really need to finish… and then the new Rukmini Iyer cookbook which is on my Christmas list!

I’m including this one because it has The Dead Romantics in it, which is one of my favourite books from this month, but also a much older Trisha Ashley in what I think must be at least it’s second rerelease/rejacketing because it was a rerelease when I bought it back in my later post-Colchester Essex era.

And finally here’s the paperback fiction and the rest of the cookbooks. Love on the Brain, Book Lovers and Malibu Rising would all make good Christmas present books – if (like me) you don’t buy only Christmas themed books for festive gifts.

And that’s your lot today. I leave you with the only video I could find of Kelli O’Hara and Harry Connick doing There Once Was A Man, which isn’t the same as the cast recording version as it’s much more jazzy, but it is still excellent.

Have an amazing Saturday everyone.


Books in the wild: Sicily!

The other thing that happens when I go on holiday, is that I have a look in the bookshops there to see what I can spot in translation – so for an extra treat this week, here are my Sicilian spots!

Super easy to start with – here’s former BotW The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood and Netflix sensation (that I’m currently working my way through) Heartstopper. I haven’t read the Elena Armas – but she’s another of the TikTok/BookTok authors – this one is The Spanish Love Deception.

Next up we have a string of former Books of the Week – starting with T J Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, which I recommended to someone only last week. I also spotted the newest Klune adult novel as well – which reminded me that I really need to get hold of that at some point. I must keep an eye open next time I’m in Foyles/a big Waterstones.

Then we have Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston which a friend messaged me about the other day to say how much he was enjoying it – which meant I was able to recommend a whole bunch of other books to him on an if you like… then this basis. And you can also see One Last Stop nestled next to it – which as I mentioned on Wednesday is 99p this month.

Then we have Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners, which I think is the first time I’ve spotted one of their books on holiday, but you know me, I forget things. I’ve written a lot about Christina Lauren – but this one is in their sweet spot for me – a fake relationship romance that doesn’t have the pranks/meanness issues that I have with say Dating You/Hating you.

And finally this is the one that I keep seeing but haven’t read yet – What if it’s Us by Becky Albertalli (Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda) and Adam Silvera. The second book in this series is in the Kindle offers this month, but you know me and reading sequels before the original. I don’t like it and I won’t do it and I won’t suggest you do it either. Anyway, this is suddenly everywhere – I saw both of them in Foyles when I was in there the other month, but ended up buying Piglettes instead – and now it’s coming up in my suggestions on goodreads and amazon. It must be a sign right?

Anyway the big thing I noticed this holiday was how many of the english translation books are now keeping their English cover art in their translated editions – this might be an italian thing that’s been going on a while, but it definitely wasn’t how it’s been in Spain when I’ve been looking there both before and after the pandemic – or in France last time I was there (which was pre-pandemic times). So I will keep an eye next time we go anywhere to see if this is now A Thing.


Books in the wild: Gatwick airport

We’ve been on holiday – so of course this means I’ve got some more airport bookshop pix to report for all of you who like to leave your holiday book purchases to the last minute and want to see what you might be able to pick up.

Lets start with the chart – because the number one book is one half of my purchases at the airport! I’ve written about how much I like Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series, but as I said yesterday, if you haven’t already read the first two, don’t start on book three!

Next up is the new non fiction shelf which has the other half of my Buy 1 get 1 Half Price offer – Richard E Grant’s memoir. There’s also the Edward Enninful autobiography which I read the other week, and the Lucy Worsley Agatha Christie biography that I have waiting on the pile.

I own three books on the last shelf, but I have even more on here: We have the paperback of The Christie Affair (on offer this month as mentioned in the Kindle deal post), two Taylor Jenkins Reid’s: Malibu Rising and Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Love on the Brain.

But the record goes to this one: the latest TJR, which you all know I’m still reading, but also Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Lessons in Chemistry, Murder Before Evensong and Twist of the Knife (the latest Hawthorn mystery). All of which adds up to the fact that it’s getting increasingly hard for me to buy books at the airport, because all the stuff that is in my wheelhouse is stuff that I’ve already read or bought! This is good news for my poor long suffering partner, who puts up with my huge piles of books and hardly ever rolls his eyes at my acquisitions, but slightly less good for me!

Happy weekend everyone.


Books in the Wild: Waterstones Piccadilly

I was staying at a different hostel to usual last week, so took the opportunity to make a visit to the big Piccadilly Waterstones as I walked down to the Palace on my way home. I’ve mostly focused here on the stuff you don’t find in a normal sized bookshop!

Firstly, they have one of the biggest selections of British Library Crime Classics outside of the British Library’s own bookshop. Not only was there this table downstairs, but there was another one in the crime section upstairs. I only had a small bag with me (and no space in my suitcase for more than one book) so I managed to resist, but I did add a much more to the list of books I want to read. I’m going back for them…

I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this table, because it has so many books I’ve already read or have waiting to be read on it! Obviously there’s the latest Vinyl Detective, but also several Nicola Upsons. I still haven’t read the book of Holding, but as mentioned, I really enjoyed the TV series. Then there’s a nice Albert Campion, a Maisie Dobbs, Death and Croissants that I read last year, a recent Hamish MacBeth that I haven’t read yet and the new Frances Brody standalone book and A Spoonful of Murder that I have waiting on the pile to read. On the other side there is a Peter Wimsey, an Agatha Raisin that I’ve actually read, a Grantchester novel, one of the Ian Samson County murder novels and Death on the Nile. It’s basically a table tailor made for my crime fiction reading interests. I have added Death in August and The Room of the Dead to the want to read like!

I’ve written plenty about Persephone Books too, but again this is the largest selection I’ve seen in the wild – including some of my favourites: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, A House in the Country and The Young Pretenders.

And finally, it’s a long time since I saw a big Romance section and this was a wonderfully big one. This is just two bookshelves of it – there were about eight more and I had a ball – spotting stuff in the wild I’ve only seen as ebooks and seeing some old friends too. Genuinely I had a lovely time and it was a bright spot in a somber week in London.

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Books in the Wild: very late August

I had a bit of a wander around Tottenham Court Road Waterstones on Wednesday, and I have thoughts…

Firstly, I liked the window. It’s tempting. I’ve obviously read A Fatal Crossing, but I think that’s it and a lot of the stuff there looks tempting. And it’s bright and varied and I can get on board with that.

I’m doing better on the YA table – here’s The Agathas in the flesh, and I’ve read The Gravity of Us and The Fault in Our Stars (more fool me). And there are a few things here that tempt me – but also remind me about my tbr- I want to read the first Aristotle and Dante book and I have one of the Inheritance Games books on the kindle pile.

More guilt on the fiction table – Lincoln Highway is on the Kindle TBR too. But I have at least read The Christie Affair lo. I keep picking up and thinking about Diary of a Void, but I’m not sure my brain is in the right place for it at the moment!

Here’s my problem though. All the non fiction is one giant section (see above) and adult fiction is lumped together. How am I meant to serendipitously happen across a book that will appeal to me I want to read if it’s all in one big lump? I go to bookshops to happen across stuff that the algorithm isn’t going to tell me about. Sometimes that means spotting a shelf talker for something but more often it means going to the section for the genre that I’m interested in and seeing what’s being put out on the table in front or has been turned to be front facing or is shelved with something I like. Alphabetical for all fiction just doesn’t work for me.

In the end I came away without buying – the two that tempted me were the Muriel Spark and the Sybille Bedford but they’re both classics and so I’ll see them again, and what I really wanted was to happen across something new and under the radar. Hey ho. I suppose I saved some money…

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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…