Sunday 22 July 2018

In conversation

It can't be repeated enough that bookshops are places to have conversations. They're one of the few real-world places where it's acceptable to talk to a stranger without looking like you're up to no good.

Which is why, when walking through the entrance to Stroud Bookshop and hearing a couple at the counter asking for a map of Costa Rica I didn't think twice about joining in as they discussed a future holiday destination. My boyfriend and I had barely seen more than the bookshop's recommends table, but within seconds we were deep in conversation with the two buyers and two booksellers, as we encouraged their idea of buying a map and shared as many tips as we could following our recent holiday of a lifetime to the country.

Okay, so we had some common ground in the form of the country, but that's part of what the bookshop experience is about: being in front of the gardening and swapping tips for growing spuds; telling the cookery books browser exactly how easy it is to use the book in their hands (but not the second one, that's for the professionals); joining in with a moan that your favourite crime writer hasn't published anything in the last month; or sharing a love of whichever obscure translation you've just finished reading with a fellow fan. And that's before we move onto the more random conversations of what's going on across the road, how well tea'd up the bookseller is, or where you bought your shoes.

Bookshops are about conversation, and don't let anyone with a fear of silent, serious places tell you otherwise.

Our conversation was lively and a great ice-breaker for getting to know the booksellers and hear more about the bookshop once the map-buyers had gone. Even if it did mean we didn't get to the large array of bookshelves for at least 20 minutes. The bookshelves were obviously worth the wait.

Stroud Bookshop is curiously arranged into three long walkways with bookcases either side that maximise the available space. It's a clever way of cramming in a lot of books without feeling claustrophobic. Browsers do have to politely pass each other but it was never too close for comfort and the walls of bookshelves were so long that there was easily enough space for many of us to be enjoying our surroundings at the same time. This was helped by the volume and variety of books, with lots of recommended titles and some excellent choices throughout the genres.

Frustratingly, most of my pictures from here are out of focus, so you'll have to trust me on my comments (or visit and find out for yourself), but there really is a lot to see here. A clever hidden turn gives children the opportunity to be tucked away and browse without distraction, while the non-fiction offering is also plentiful. I bought a book I feel I should have read some time ago, but it's one I've somehow only encountered through recommendations: Elizabeth Strout's My name is Lucy Barton.

In a similar manner to this book, Stroud Bookshop had somehow slipped off my original list of destinations for the IBW2018 bookshop crawl (even though it had been suggested as a place to visit). Fortunately it was easy to find and also looks to be in a rather quirky town, I'd definitely recommend taking a little time to find it.

We'd made the effort because Stroud Bookshop was recommended during conversations in earlier destinations. Which just goes to show, it really is good to talk in bookshops.

Stroud Bookshop
23 High Street, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 1AJ
Tel: 01453 756646 @stroudbookshop


  1. Did you choose Strout because it was nearly the same word as the location ;)? Very nice review...

    1. Thank you! You know, I hadn't even twigged about the similarity of the names. I wonder if it was a bit of a subliminal thing!
      (Sorry about the slow reply, for some reason I no longer get notifications)


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