Thursday, 19 November 2015

Miss Jones lives for a day

Once upon a time in a land not very far away, a woman found herself in a bit of a rut. Her life was reasonably happy, but each day revolved around commuting, working, more commuting, collapsing on the sofa and sleeping. Then she started writing a blog...

Okay, so I'm not much good at writing in the third person and you've probably guessed who the woman is, but hopefully you get the idea. One day I was sleepwalking through life, the next day I'd resumed living it.

I'm not about to go into the 101 things that happened to fall into place to start me writing the blog – it'd be far too self-indulgent and not particularly relevant – because what really matters is the fact I did start writing it, and benefitted from the surprising side effect of a new lust for life. My weeknights became the perfect time to plan and write about bookshop adventures and as for my weekends, a look down the geographical index page shows just how packed they've become.

Where previously I'd use quiet moments in strange places to hide away with my book (admittedly still a common occurrence) nowadays I seek adventures, searching out the nearest bookshop and new experience therein. Which is why when I went to a south coast wedding I used the few hours of down time as an opportunity to hunt out bookshops instead of hiding away with a book.

Badgers Books in Worthing caught my attention because it was almost exactly halfway between the wedding reception and my bed and breakfast. It was an excellent place to pause in my tour of the town before continuing the celebration, and with books piled up on displays outside the shop I defy any reader to walk past without finding a bargain or five.

A secondhand bookshop, rooms of books extend from the front allowing quiet browsing and exploring within easy reach of the friendly booksellers by the till. It's a lovely space, but what really makes this place special is the books. They're organised and sorted while also being just a tiny bit untidy. Not messy, but sort of rough enough around the edges in the way excess stock is piled up, and standing and looking at a wall from a slight distance is like appreciating a work of art.

During the time of my visit the booksellers were politely looking through a selection of books brought in by a customer, who was proudly/ignorantly declaring they no longer need bookshops because they own an e-reader. It made me want to give the booksellers a medal (or hug) for their patience and manners while I quietly browsed and listened and thought "her loss".

Once normality resumed, I ventured back to the fiction in the front room, where the booksellers were chatting books and answering enquiries from much nicer customers. It made for happy, relaxed browsing as I worked my way along the shelves, being rewarded with a copy of Winifred Watson's Miss Pettigrew lives for a day.

A Persephone book, this story of a woman who leaves her comfort zone and falls into life has swiftly become one of my favourites and – like this bookshop – I can't recommend it enough. The book won't change your life, but it's a lovely reminder of what a difference a little bravery and a lot of hope can achieve.


Badgers Books
8-10 Gratwicke Road, Worthing,
West Sussex, BN11 4BH
Tel: 01903 211816

6 comments:

  1. I loved Miss Pettigrew. And the person selling their books is giving up the pleasure of reading books like this - beautifully designed and printed on lovely paper. Their loss! And the grey and white versions make a great style statement on the bookshelf.

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    1. I agree! On all counts. Normally I wouldn't include reference to such conversations, but I was so saddened by their ignorance I had to reference it.
      And I'm always pleased to 'meet' another fan of Miss Pettigrew.

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  2. My sister lives in Worthing, but I've never seen this shop! How fab! If you ever find yourself in Eastbourne (where my MIL lives) you should seek out Camillas. I wrote a piece about it a few years ago - it is the most amazing place.
    https://afictionhabit.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/half-a-million-books/
    Sarah

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    1. What a great blog post! Thank you for the recommendation, I'll be sure to visit Camillas. And I definitely encourage you to seek out Badgers - it's very easy to find and worth the effort.

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  3. I heard you on Radio 4 this morning and I will take a bet that I am one of many for whom your comments about books being friends that live on the shelves chimed exactly. I immediately looked up your name and came here. A lovely blog and a shame you have never come to the North West II would be happy to send in any reviews from places that I visit here.

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    1. Hi Elaine, thank you so much for your comment. I'm pleased to know at least one other person agrees with me about friends on the shelves. It's true I'm yet to go to the north west and I'm very aware of the omission so I'd love to include your comments in my guest post section (see Your Bookshops on the top bar of the website). I'm determined to get there soon but at the moment my plans haven't quite succeeded. Yet...

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