Friday 11 April 2014

Ryde into a different world

The thing about bookshops is that, no matter how many you visit (this is my 47th), you can never run out of new things to find.

Whether it's a new author, a book (any book), a great bookseller to chat to or perhaps a wonderful setting - there's always something different to discover.

But when I entered Ryde Books I somehow forgot that. Time was short, friends were with me and - while they were happy browsing - I was conscious about keeping them waiting too long. So I rushed around the bookshop, taking in the tall shelves and narrow walkways and massive variety of new books crammed into a space reminiscent of a traditional secondhand bookshop.

It was a fascinating space but I didn't appreciate it as much as I should with all the rushing round. Instead I noticed snippets; sci fi authors I'd not previously encountered, a good range of lighthearted fiction, some fascinating but unexpected titles among the classics - the bookshop describes itself as stocking specialist, rather than bestselling books. I was happy, but not overjoyed.

Then I heard someone mention The Door.

I'd walked all around the shop, but in my rush to take everything in I'd only looked at the books, somehow missing the large poster advertising the secondhand section.

I opened The Door and stepped through. And it was a bit like falling down the rabbit hole. I felt I was discovering a secret kept from the rest of the world. Because if the main shop was a maze of shelves, it hadn't even remotely prepared me for how much was waiting to be discovered behind The Door and how much time would be needed to properly explore this series of hidden rooms crammed with knowledge and adventure.

My friends were forgotten in the front room, I was in full book browsing mode in a new (old) world.

The bookshop had a great selection of everything, so I was bound to be happy while exploring all the secret rooms, but as I was in the secondhand section my thoughts couldn't help but turn to sci fi - secondhand is where all the best sci fi gems are found.

Which is where I made my final discovery of the day, the Space Trilogy by C S Lewis. Until my visit to the island I'd not even known the famous author had written science fiction, so I'm certainly looking forward to finding out what his books are like, even if I'm not sure how train-friendly the cover artwork is.

Clutching my finds I returned to the modern world and my friends. They hadn't found The Door, and when I came to look back over my photos they were all out of focus, meaning I can't help but wonder if all those secret rooms were only a dream?

Ryde Bookshop
135 High Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2RJ
Tel: 01983 565227


  1. "even if I'm not sure how train-friendly the cover artwork is."

    Hold your head up high - any real book is train friendly and there is no shame in reading a book!

    1. I wouldn't be ashamed! It's just that the third cover scares me a little - I wouldn't want to be responsible for making children cry!

    2. Ah - that makes more sense.

  2. Stumbled onto your blog and love it. Like yourself, I'm an avid reader so libraries and bookshops are always my home away from home.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! It's always good to 'meet' another bookshop fan.

  3. 2023 and this marvellous bookshop, happily my local, still thrives and can be visited again and again discovering something new each time.


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