Review: The Bookshop Book – Jen Campbell

bookshopbookThis book is a book for all those people who love bookshops. I hope that is all of you. It is a book whose pages are filled with the sheer joy of a bookshop – from the new to those that date back to the 1700s.

Bookshops are my safe place, whenever I feel sad or lonely, I go to a bookshop. Over the last few months I have discovered a multitude of beautiful shops that just make me feel warm and safe.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Jen is one of my oldest friends. We’ve known each other for over 10 years, and  after falling on to the same team in a reading challenge (she is very hard to beat, our Jen. Her reading is prolific and it makes me jealous) we became good friends and she is wonderful. Just wonderful. She is really one of the most lovely people I have the pleasure of knowing. For anyone who would like to know more about Jen, do check out her blog. Because I cannot express just how lovely this girl is and it makes me so happy to say that I knew her back when she wrote Harry Potter Parodies!

Back on to the book – which is just as wonderful as she is. I can’t put in to words how happy it has made me. It is a love story for bookshops, and I think that’s why it was picked as the official book for the Books Are My Bag campaign 2014. Seriously, check out the campaign over that the official website – which is so beautifully orange and happy!

There are 300 bookshops featured in this book. Woefully, the local independent bookshops around my area are not featured but, let’s face it, if she dedicated half a page to every bookshop ever it would have been the never-ending book. However much I love my local bookshops and wish they had been featured, reading about the ones that were featured I do understand why they weren’t. Each bookshop featured had it’s own story, or number of stories. From quirky locations to romance between the shelves, every shop had it’s story and each one was unique.

From this book I’ve found a number of shops I would just adore to visit – and that’s in the UK alone. I lived in Scotland for two years and never discovered Wigtown! I think I may have to start saving for  book tour of the united kingdom!

There are also author interviews, or commentaries, which were great! The first is with Ian Rankin which has a fond place in my heart. My dad and Ian went to school together, they grew up in the same little village on the east coast of Scotland and it’s silly things like shopping for books that my dad has never spoken about. He doesn’t speak a great deal about his childhood anyway, but this commentary from Ian gave me an insight in to my dads childhood. Quite hilariously, the village hasn’t changed all that much in 40 years, the shop is still there, you still have to go down to Kirkaldy to find a bookshop, the library is the size of a postage stamp and has a poor selection of books (and I still have my Fife County Council library card!) My grandad is down there once a fortnight getting his cowboy books out, and him and the other old guys who read cowboy books mark the inside cover page with their initials to show who has read them. It’s cute! But as I said, Ian Rankin gave me an insight in to my dads childhood that I’d never had before, never even thought about before!

Obviously the other contributions from authors are good – but it was the one above that stuck in my head! People like Ali Smith and Audrey Niffenegger expressing their favourite bookshops and what their dream bookshop would be really gives an insight in to the authors as people. It’s a question I’ve thought about myself a lot – my back up plan should my degree not work out is a bookshop-cupcakery, because who doesn’t love books and cupcakes?!

Waterstones in Norwich centre is having Jen for an evening on Wednesday and, after chasing her around London and missing her 3 or 4 times, I’m glad to finally be able to catch her! Seriously check this girl out; her poetry is amazing as are her books about bookshops and the weird things customers say in them. I can’t wait for her novel, really can’t. Do check out her blog and find her at an event near you because I promise you’ll love her!

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