Friday 9 May 2014

It's all about the humans

I often write about how great booksellers are, willing to share their time and knowledge and general friendliness, but something that's often forgotten by the customers of bookshops is the other customers.

Because as much as the staff of bookshops are fascinating characters, the shoppers are also pretty special too - they're readers. They enjoy books and the words they contain, and they're happy to share that enthusiasm with other book lovers. As was emphasised to me when I visited Walker's Bookshop in Stamford.

A well-stocked high street bookshop in a striking Tudor building, when first entering I'd found myself doing a double-take as instead of books I was met by chocolate: the ground floor is a combination of a newsagent and a Thorntons. But as everyone knows chocolate and books are a good mix I wasn't complaining (the chocolate got eaten before I had a chance to photograph my purchases).

Walking up the stairs to the bookshop proper, I entered a long room, sprinkled with period features, a couple of inviting sofas, a rocking horse for the children and lots of lovely, wide-open bookshelves that encouraged me to naturally explore the perimeter.

Once I'd wandered around - falling in love with everything and finding at least five books I wanted to take home - I made myself comfy in one of the sofas with the aim of whittling down my choices. Stretching across to the nearest shelf, I managed to use the science fiction book I'd grabbed to dislodge a bookend, which is when I was reminded of how great other bookshop customers can be.

My violence to the poetry section* distracted a fellow shopper and despite our apparently differing tastes we soon struck up a conversation about poetry, essay books, fiction and how great bookshops can be. I'm not about to go into detail about our conversation, but can you tell me one other type of shop where you could start talking to a total stranger - whose tastes are totally the opposite of yours - without appearing to be either crazy or making a bad attempt to chat them up? (Music shops don't count as there are barely any of those left.)

And the best bit? Once I'd finished chatting to my fellow customer I had plenty of time to talk to the bookseller too, when I got to learn more about the lovely bookshop, it's sister shop in Oakham and plans for the future that meant I'll be returning as soon as possible for yet more bookshop joy.

But what was I buying? Matt Haig's The Humans, of course.

Walker's Bookshop
10 High Street, Stamford, Lincolnshire, PE9 2AL
Tel: 01780 764405

*sadly I wasn't the one to come up with this turn of phrase, that's courtesy of my fellow shopper


  1. Ohh, I got to Melton Mowbray quite a lot which is just down the line from Oakham and Stamford... I think I'm going to have to make a trip! Thank you for pointing out this shop! :) Have you been to the one in Melton Mowbray? It's only small, but a lovely bookseller.

    1. I've not been to Melton Mowbray - my geographical reach is still quite limited for the moment but I'm working on it and will be sure to pop in for a visit. Thanks for the recommendation!


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