Tuesday 19 August 2014

Annual review #1: 65 bookshops met

This time last year I posted my first blog, little knowing what an adventure it would set me on.

I'd written for myself, wanting an excuse to legitimately go and visit something like ten bookshops that had caught my eye from across the country without sounding like a crazy lady, and I had no expectation of finding more than a handful of readers.

But when the first post was read - and by significantly more than my immediate friends and family - I realised I actually had to take my challenge seriously. I had to find at least one bookshop to write about a week, and if I was to continue to be read by strangers I couldn't just share random experiences interspersed with the occasional bookshop from fiction.

Which is why, 365 days later, I've so far written about 65 bookshops, with a further five in hand to tell you about in the coming weeks and many more bookshopping trips planned.

My bookshelves have increased by 75 books (I'm looking out for a good carpenter to help me find more space), I've discovered the existence of Elmer the Elephant and befriended a bookshop mouse.

I've been on two bookshop crawls. When on my travels I've had two failed bookshopping attempts (one has since been met, the other is still to be retried). Three bookshops have closed, although one of those is relocating and the other is being reborn. With one entry a reminiscence about my first bookshop love.

But enough stats, because while the number of remaining independent bookshops is important this is more a story about the destinations themselves: of the beautiful buildings and interiors, the friendly booksellers, the animals who guard the shops (my biggest failing is that I'm yet to meet an actual bookshop pet, they're always busy elsewhere when I call) and, of course, the wonderful array of books I wouldn't otherwise have been introduced to.

I'm not about to repeat the past 53 blogs (I'm not sure how the calendar maths for that works either), but highlights have included an adventure in south Wales, looking beyond the 'cover', and an internet date. With other notable events revealing my ignorance and potential lack of, not forgetting my continued embarrassment at realising I'd been searching for the wrong book.

My first annual review is also an opportunity to thank the many people who have recommended bookshops to me and continue to do so today. Just because I've perhaps not visited your recommendation yet doesn't mean I haven't made a note and added it to my must-visit list.

Indeed, even this cutting, which was handed to me a few days after that first blog was posted has so far had only one bookshop crossed off, with the remaining four still jostling for attention among the many others I'm desperate to visit as soon as time and money allow. It may take me a while, but I'm determined to meet these and many more bookshops one day.

So thank you for keeping me company on my first year of amateur adventuring, for sharing the joy of bookshops and - to the many subjects of this blog - thank you for being so wonderful, diverse, welcoming and generally brilliant.

It has been, and will continue to be, a pleasure,


  1. Thank you for visiting Little mouse books and the great review.

    1. My pleasure Philippa, I really love your bookshop and - even now I've moved away from your town - I'm still proud to consider you my local

  2. I never knew there were other people who 'collected' book shops the way I do. You should do a top the list. And congrats on your 1st anniversary.

    1. Thank you. I had been wondering about doing a top ten, but I'm not sure I've met enough bookshops for it to be fair yet - maybe on another anniversary I'll do it.

      As for bookshop collecting - I don't think enough people appreciate what a great past time it can be!


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