Summer!

I promise you I have not completely disappeared … I just took an unplanned break … doing some summer things …

… like sitting with my hubby drinking wine, chatting and enjoying the evening sun coming through our windows …

… witnessing glorious sunsets …

… eating lots of fresh asparagus (between you and me I think L might wake up one morning and find his wife has turned into a stalk of asparagus πŸ˜‰ ) …

… reading books on the Cathedral Green …

… attending the lovely wedding of lovely friends …

… and taking photos of fresh, juicy, bright red tomatoes! Not really a must-do summer activity, but come on, the colour has got to make you smile, right?! πŸ˜‰

What are you doing with your summer?

My love affair with books

The steps I walked down during yesterday's adventure!

That’s right – many years ago I fell completely, deeply, irrevocably in love … with books!! πŸ˜€

I love them!

I love the look of them.

I love the feel of them.

I love the smell of new books as I ruffle through the pages.

I love the smell of old books when I walk into an old second-hand bookshop.

I love the sight of page after page of words, just waiting to draw me into their tale.

I love the sight of rows of books squeezed onto my bookcases.

I love walking into bookshops and libraries and being engulfed by that tantalising feeling of being wholly surrounded by 1000s of books in every imaginable – and unimaginable! – subject.

I love opening a book and stepping into another world.

I love the feeling that somehow, when reading a book, I now know the author a little.

I love getting lost in the pages of a gripping novel.

I love curling up on my sofa, cuddled under my favourite red blanket, and leaving behind, just for a while, the gloomy, gray Sunday afternoon.

I love the feeling of adrenaline that rushes through me as I hand over my money and get a book in return.

I love that books are not just books – they are a piece of the author’s life and they become a piece of my life.

Yes, I love them!

Looking back up the steps I'd just come down, I realised I'd have to climb UP those same steps to go home ... !!

So yesterday, when I needed to get out on a long walk and do something fun just for me, going to The Most Amazing Bookshop In My Town was an obvious choice!! πŸ˜›

I’ve been very good recently and not gone, as I know it is such a big temptation for me and it’s not like I actually need any new books right now – I have a few lined up to read and two lovely friends who have a number of books they are going to lend to me. So I haven’t been. The draw has been there. I have resisted.

Well, yesterday I needed to escape into something I love for a while and I felt like I needed a purpose for my walk. Yesterday the draw was there. Yesterday I gave in.

This bookshop is so amazing for lots of reasons, the first being – it’ s “free”!! Too good to be true, right?! πŸ˜‰ I mean, free books?!?

The way it works is that you can choose 3 books in a visit and you decide what amount of money you are going to give in exchange! You can take along your unwanted books (what are those, exactly?! πŸ˜› ) and dvds and donate them to the shop. All the staff are volunteers and once building costs, etc have been met, the rest of the money is used to buy school books to send to Africa, along with selections of books from the shop. Pretty cool huh? You get to buy books and support a charity at the same time! Win!! πŸ˜€

Me being the me I am, with tendencies to be beyond-unrealistically conscientious, I struggle to come to a reasonable decision about how much to pay … I try to go by what condition the book is in (some of them have the cover half-undeteched, crumpled pages and marks of unknown origin throughout!), how recently published it is and how big it is. I try to aim for 50p – Β£1 per book, or Β£1.50 for a big, hardback book in good condition. Is this stingy?!

A little corner of the shop ... just to give you a taste! πŸ™‚

Another reason this shop is amazing is that they leave you alone – if you need help, they give it, but otherwise, you can browse as long as you like without feeling the pressure to make a purchase and go. There are chairs around and upstairs there’s a big, old, cosy couch – an invitation to sit down and rummage through whatever book has grabbed your attention. The staff are friendly to customers and obviously get on with each other, as they chat back and forth while you’re there … making it feel more comfortable and more like a book-lovers-retreat then a business. You can stay as long as you like and read bits from as many books as you like – that’s fine!!

I came away, despite my best intentions, with three books. Yeah, I not only gave into going to this fantastic bookshop in the first place, I then gave in to buying some books … let’s just say that it’s a good job you can only buy three at a time … but hey, I have achieved a major and very important goal this week, so it was my little reward to myself!! πŸ™‚

Two of the books I found were by authors I have already read and like. When I spotted the first one, a crime/detective book by an author I have read twice and been entranced by, I was ecstatic!! πŸ˜› Then I spied the second book, which I never knew had been written! … this author sadly died at a young age and I thought she had published just three books – well, it turns out she published four … ’cause I found the forth, that I had no idea existed!!! πŸ˜€

The third book I selected has a title I had never heard mentioned before, written by an author I never knew existed. I like to do this – discover new writers. That is how I cam to find to find the authors I love reading again and again.Every time I open a book by someone I’ve never read before – it’s an adventure!! If the outline on the back of the book sounds good, I’ll give it a go! I have re-sold and given away a number of books, but I have found many, many gems – I have found way more than twice the number of gems than give-aways, so you know what? I continue, when money and time allow, to buy books I’ve never heard of, but sound amazing!! πŸ˜€

My mystery purchase - it sounds similar to 'The Thirteenth Tale', which I couldn't put down and thourghaly enjoyed! I started reading this today, and until the point where I fell into a nap ... I am entangled and can't wait to read the rest!! πŸ˜›

The next thing which makes this bookshop incredible is that it. is. stuffed. with. books. Every wall is covered in floor to ceiling bookcases. Books are packed in and then more books are fitted sideways on top of those books. The middle of the bottom floor has a row of chairs and low table, stacked any-how with books, more books stacked beside and underneath them and crammed into boxes in any spare inch. Upstairs, as well as shelves like below, there are boxes stacked up with books waiting to be investigated. The other thing I find upstairs is ancient books galore!! Copies of classics which must have been published in the 1800s/early 1900s – all leather-bound, gold writing, brown speckled pages and exuding in look and smell like history.

This is where you find an old diamond-paned casement window, the well-loved and worn sofa and where I found the following verses, which I copied from a Celtic Prayer Book …

God to enfold me, God to surround me,

God in my speaking, God in my thinking,

God in my sleeping, God in my waking,

God in my watching, God in my hoping,

God in my life, God in my lips,

God in my soul, God in my heart,

God in my sufficing, God in my slumber,

God in mine ever-living soul,

God in my eternity.

Carmia Gaedelica

As He is He was: as He was He is.

He shall be as He is and was,

the Eternal forever so be it Armen.

The Forever Eternal so be it Armen.

David Adam

Which is your favourite book-vendor, online or in-the-flesh? Why?

Do you buy what you know, or do you venture into the unknown?