Q&A For A Bookseller

If you ever wondered where the image in the header comes from, here’s the answer.

Part of my job is to welcome and talk to various school groups when they vists and as part of World Book Day 2018 Corporation Road School was invited down to visit us over a 9 day period, every class getting the opportunity to visit the shop, have something read to them and then chat about aspects of the bookseller trade.

Every class was so well-mannered, well-behaved and excited, showing great interest in the shop and the world of books.

Once class, Class 13, were well prepared and brought down a ream of questions on Post-It notes (as you can see in the photo), unfortunately I only had a limited amount of time to answer these, but I did promise to answer them all when I got the chance.

  1. Have you cried while reading?

    I have often cried while reading as reading can transport you to a world where it is your own emotions and imagination that populates it. I practically always cry when children and animals are having a hard time.

    The most recent example if a book called ‘Pax’ by Sara Pennypacker. Where, after rearing a fox cub since it was young, Peter is told by his father that he has to let Pax go back to the wild as a war is coming.

    The whole first chapter is told from Pax’s point of view where he doesn’t understand the game that is being played and can sense difference in Peter but still goes along and ends with Peter being driven away whilst Pax is abandoned in an unknown wood.

    Floods of tears later and a quick check to the end of the book to make sure everything worked out OK I continued reading (everything ends right).

  2. Do you sell Kung Fu, DanTDM, Fortnite and Minecraft books?

    We often keep popular culture books in stock, DanTDM and Minecraft being a couple of these. Sometimes books are in for a while and then get returned to the central warehouse for various reasons and the Kung Fu book is an example of this, the day before Class 13 arrived it was shipped back in what is called a ‘return’.

    Some, especially gaming books and other licensed products are harder to come by as the licensee often limits the area of sale, or places that can sell it and Fortnite is one of these as I think we can order it but it is more of a book to find in a gaming shop.

  3. How do you look after books?

    We have to be very careful around large concentrations of books as they are all wanting your attention and can get very unruly, that’s why we have gentle music playing most of the time and try for soft lighting.

    And whatever you do don’t get them wet or feed them after midnight.

  4. How many books are there?

    This is a really hard question but some people have made estimates, the latest one that I could find was from 2010 where the estimate was 129,864,880 individual titles, but that was eight years ago so I would assume that it is much more than that now (source – https://mashable.com/2010/08/05/number-of-books-in-the-world/#lZNCwPbpumqC)

  5. Do you have books about the World Wars?

    Yes we do, we have a small selection in the children’s non-fiction area but upstairs we have quite a lot in our history section, and so we go to the next question;

  6. Do you have history books?

    Again we have a selection in children’s non-fiction and there is a large area of history books upstairs near the cafe.

  7. How long have you been a bookseller?

    About a year and a half. (ed. now five and a half)

  8. What made you want to become a bookseller?

    It has always been a wistful dream to own my own bookshop/cafe as I love food and books and to combine them would be wonderful, so working in a bookshop helping people find books to love and inspire them is the next best thing and is great fun when I get into one of my spiels about books.

  9. Who’s your favourite author?

    This is always a very hard one as I like so many different authors for so many different reasons but I suppose it would have to be William Gibson who write near-future science fiction, he coined the term ‘Cyberpunk’ and his Sprawl trilogy is one of my most re-read series of books.

  10. What type of books do you like?

    I really like science fiction and fantasy, but this can be anything from the classics, e.g. Tolkien, Asimov to newer children’s authors such as Abi Elphinstone and Celine Kiernan.

    Though I will read most genres of books as I love reading.

  11. Have you ever written a book before?

    I’ve written short stories and poetry before, and coincidentally have started planning a novel just a couple of days before the class came to see us.

    I’m currently fleshing out the idea I had and asking a lot of questions which will help build the world of the characters.

    So keep an eye out and you may see a book by me on the shelves in the future.

  12. Who inspired you to read books?

    I think it may have been my Nana who always had books around and encouraged us to be readers, but at my primary school I remember a Miss Lawson who let me read at my pace and never criticised or edited my choice of reading material but ensured that I could comprehend what I was reading by keeping up with me.

  13. How many books have you read?

    This is a pure guess but I average 50 books a year (some more, some less but that’s what averages are about) and that has been for as long as I remember so would probably guess at 2500 or so.

  14. How long have you been reading books?

    I remember being about three and a half and standing up at Christmas doing a ‘turn’ (where people showed off special skills to the family) and I was reading from the newspaper, I remember buying my own copy of ‘The Hobbit’ at five, so probably for 50 yearsish.

  15. What’s your favourite book?

    Another hard one, but I think the book I’ve had to buy most of since I wear it out the most is ‘Good Omens’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It is such a hilarious book about the anti-Christ and the Apocalypse.

    It’s also the book that if I have reading block always gets me back into reading.

I hope you these answer your questions sufficiently and hope to see you all soon 🙂


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If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Around the World in 80 Trees

Jonathan Drori. Laurence King Publishing. (240p) ISBN 9781786276063

Around the World in 80 Trees

Around the World in 80 Trees

I was so privileged to receive a reading copy of Around the World in 80 Trees from Laurence King Publishing, and it even came with a beautiful poster.

Everything else I was reading had to be put on hold until I had finished this, though I could have dipped in and out of it as the book is written in episode like chapters following the author around the world. Each chapter describes a different tree and has such brilliant illustrations by Lucille Clerc.

Each chapter explores the historical and cultural aspects of each tree, even going into local mythology concerning the tree, clearly explaining its roles and how it is being impacted by climate change, the trees interactions with humans is always at the forefront, showing the uses that it has been put to and how it was viewed by the indigenous people.

I absolutely loved this book, the episodic nature, the writing that shows an obvious love of trees and nature, the stunning illustrations all add up to one of the best nature books I’ve read for a very long time and means that this book will be a keeper on my shelf.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

The Living Mountain

Nan Shepherd. Canongate Books. (176p) ISBN 9781786897350

The Living Mountain

The Living Mountain

I’ve had The Living Mountain sitting on my shelf for about five years now and for some reason just never got around to reading it, but now that I read a lot of children’s books I always like to read a more serious book as a sort of ‘palette cleanser’.

On starting I was astounded that the introduction for the special edition was almost as long as the book itself, but what a wonderful introduction.

Once I got into the book proper, Nan Shepherd’s writing was so mesmerising I didn’t want to put it down, she transported me into the mountains as no other book about the mountains has done previously.

The strength of her imagery and her obvious passion for the mountains made the whole of her world come alive for me.

Though Nan Shepherd is placed firmly in her time, the timeless nature of the Cairngorms are exemplified by her prose and imagery.

This is a classic of travel, nature and mountaineering and deservedly so and I am glad that I finally got around to reading it and not just having it on the shelf as some sort of trophy book.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Wrestliana

Toby Litt. Galley Beggar Press. (260p) ISBN 9781910296899

Wrestliana

Wrestliana

Wrestliana is a complicated book, on the surface it is a biography of Toby Litt’s great-great-grandfather William Litt, but it is also an exploration of his relationship with his own father, his sons, and representations of masculinity.

I was lucky enough to receive this from Galley Beggar Press to read and I really appreciate the chance as Toby’s writing is clear and impelling.

William Litt was a champion Cumberland and Westmoreland Wrestling athlete and writer and this book follows his life around the wrestling circuit and further abroad.

It is the joining of these two modern day extremes, ‘Jock’ and ‘Nerd’ that Toby explores, both in William’s life and his own.

Positing that William’s era was possibly the beginning of separation of body and mind as distinct social personas, body and mind was commonly combined. But with the rise of educational specialism and professional sports they became irrevocably sundered.

A really great read written with understanding and passion.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.