Friday 12 August 2016

A pause on the way from A to B

My love of Wales and various connections with the country mean I've spent much of my life shuttling back and forth between here and there, but this post isn't about Wales, it's about the bit in between. It's a journey I know like the back of my hand and one I've come to enjoy much more now I've got into the habit of taking interesting bookshopping diversions.

I made one of those diversions at the start of the year (sorry for the delay in writing) when I took a detour through a county I've long wondered about: Gloucestershire. I have friends from the area and know its reputation for beautiful countryside and delicious cream teas, but until this week's bookshop I had no first-hand experience.

Tetbury is an attractive small town north of the M4 and the diversion from the motorway gave me lots of time to appreciate the scenery and the smartness of the Cotswold stone buildings. It's a very beautiful part of the world and my drive was a good reminder of why journeys should be appreciated for what they are, rather than suffered for getting in between A and B.

On this occasion, the main thing between my A to B was The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, which is a surprisingly large place for the size of the town it serves. Fiction welcomes you through the door and guides you around a corner into the shop proper, which was welcomingly warm on that bright but chilly winter day. I gently defrosted while taking in the atmosphere. Despite, or perhaps because of, the time of year, browsers appeared to be a mix of visitors to the area and locals, and I was particularly pleased to see how many of us out-of-towners were there appreciating the bookshop as part of Tetbury's many charms.

The friendliness of the place was obviously an important part of this, but the bookshop itself is worthy of destination status. The smart wooden shelves give the books a look of importance and had me wishing I could model my own library on my surroundings, while a squidgy, comfy sofa halfway down the long room (on the way to non-fiction) reminded me this is very much a place to relax and feel at home. It was here that I sat and admired the various collections of Swallows and Amazons on offer. One of these almost came home with me – until I returned to the general fiction shelves and became even more engrossed.

As with all good bookshops, the stock is a mix of titles everywhere should offer alongside the individual choices of the bookseller. Here I found a really varied selection, with lots I'd not seen before so I soon found myself with a long list of potential purchases to whittle down. The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett, published by Persephone, held my attention the longest as I read what must have been the entire first chapter while stood in the bookshop. I was drawn to this for the distance (geographically and socially) separating the story's two settings and now I've finished reading I can tell you it's a brilliantly observed page-turner. I also picked up Julian Barnes' A Life with Books.

Books chosen, I said hello to the friendly bookseller before heading out to explore the rest of the town. It's an attractive place with some interesting buildings, nice places to eat and – at least at the time of my visit – its own model Shaun the Sheep. All of which mean Tetbury is well worth a visit, if you're able to tear yourself away from the bookshop.

Finally – because I can't be the only one wondering – I have no idea why The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is named as it is. I deliberately didn’t ask because they have a second shop in Nailsworth which I'd like to visit soon and I'm saving the question for there.*

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop
21 Church Street,
Tel: 01666 500221

*I had planned to visit that second shop before publishing this post, hence the delay in writing, but life got in the way so I'm having to wait a little longer. Should curiosity get the better of any of you, please do visit either branch of The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop and ask the question for me. You'd be welcome to share the answer (and the rest of your bookshopping fun) to appease readers' curiosity until my next trip to Gloucestershire.

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