London Indie Book Haul

I went to London for a work meeting the other day and decided to make the most of being in the Big Smoke and checking out some of the amazing independent bookshops there.

Starting out with Daunt Books in Marylebone (about a 20 min walk from Paddington Station), I got a facsimile hardback edition of The Body in the Library – isn’t that cover beautiful!


Love the way the shop is laid out with a huge part of it organised by country, with a mixture of fiction and non-fiction in each section. It was also so nice being able to browse a bookshop with nothing particularly in mind to look for, I just got to look at everything I was drawn towards, and definitely could have left with more books – I’ll defnitely have to go back and would highly recommend a visit if you’re in London. I’m interested to see how the other five Daunt shops in London compare to this flagship one.

After some wandering around and going to my meeting, I found my way to Persephone Books, which is an absolutely gorgeous little shop, and they also publish neglected/out-of-print, mainly female, authors to celebrate works of fiction and non-fiction that would otherwise be forgotten.


The books are all published with a signature grey dust jacket, but each book has individual full-colour vintage endpapers and they are beautiful.

“Persephone books are all grey because – well – we really like grey. We also had a vision of a woman who comes home tired from work, and there is a book waiting for her, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like because she knows she will enjoy it.”
Persephone Books (2018, “About Us”)

I ended up picking up Long Live Great Bardfield: The Autobiography of Tirzah Garwood, who was taught by and then married to illustrator & printmaker Eric Ravilious. I also picked up the Persephone Book of Short Stories because, well, dippability, and The Journey Home and Other Stories by Malachi Whitaker because I saw the words “Holborn” and “bookshop” and was intrigued? I also like that it’s a short story collection because I do not read enough short stories.


I’ve already had a look at their catalogue and decided what books I want to get next! Dangerous, this book lark.

Next up I went to Gay’s the Word, the LGBT bookshop in King’s Cross and really enjoyed the experience! I don’t often go into specialist indie bookshops because there’s just not enough of them outside London, I suppose, but I really enjoyed looking around knowing that everything there had a common theme in that they were written by or about gay people.


I went with the first in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series, because it’s been so long since I read a book in a series!! It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I also picked up the first in Nicola Upson’s series featuring Josephine Tey, a real-life Golden Age detective fiction writer. I really enjoyed Andrew Wilson’s A Talent for Murder which was a fictionalised account of what happened to Agatha Christie during the 11 days in which she disappeared in 1926, so I feel like fictionalised stories featuring real-life crime writers is a thing now and i’m all for that.

I also picked up a pamphlet about “LGBTQ+ Night-time Spaces: Past, Present & Future” which I haven’t had chance to look at properly yet but I am looking forward to.


That’s it for my London indie book haul, if you’re ever in London I would definitely recommend checking out all of these shops, and I was also hoping to go to Magma and Gosh! Comics as well, bit gutted I didn’t have time.

Are there any other independent bookshops in London you’d recommend for next time I go?

Thanks for reading,
Amy x


Autumn Book Haul // Part Two – Adult Fiction & Poetry

I bought and got given a load of books over the last month or so so I wanted to share them with you! I spoke about Children’s and YA books in Part One and now it’s time for adult books:

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Six Against The Yard by members of The Detection Club

I read Floating Admiral, the Detection Club’s first co-authored title back in August (I even included it in my Wrap Up) and got this one as a Spookathon back-up, what with it having purple on the cover. So excited to get to this one, even if it doesn’t quite make Spookathon.


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Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer

Definitely one I’m going into blind, just really liked the cover and got my hands on an imperfect copy – let me know if you enjoyed this one!


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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 9780349134284

I really enjoyed Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere when I read it last year and thought I’d try her earlier novel. I was a bit disappointed I couldn’t get a copy with the original cover but I guess this one is supposed to match Little Fires Everywhere? I think the original cover is way cooler, but still looking forward to reading the story.


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Normal People by Sally Rooney

I’ve already read this but absolutely loved it and wanted to own a copy. I also wrote about it in my August Wrap Up.


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Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

I’ve been eyeing this one up for a while and then got this exclusive paperback edition in my first Books That Matter box – more about that here.


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The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

Managed to get a signed proof of this when the author popped into the shop the other day and I’m so looking forward to reading it! Likened to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, it’s going to be a biggie, I think.


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Running Upon the Wires by Kate Tempest

Spotted signed copies in the shop and I reeeeeeeally want to read more poetry, I think it’s just a bit difficult knowing who you might like if you’re going into it blind. I’ve heard great things about Kate Tempest and enjoyed what I read while flicking through it so I picked this one up. If anyone has suggestions for poets/poetry that I should pick up, let me know!

And there you have it.
My Autumn haul 2018.
My book ban is going great.

Thanks for reading,

Amy x

Autumn Book Haul // Part One – Children’s and YA

It occurred to me that I’ve bought and been given quite a few books over the past month or so and so I thought I’d share them with you!

Starting off with children’s and young adult books:

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The Lizsts by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julia Sarda

I found this when re-alphabetising the shelves in the shop the other day and accidentally bought it – this organisation lark is dangerous.

I absolutely love Julia Sarda’s illustrations, they feel so characterful, moody and contemporary.


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One Day in Wonderland by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Julia Sarda

A retelling of Alice in Wonderland, I also bought this because of Sarda’s amazing illustrations. Possibly my favourite kids book of the year! Just so beautiful!


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The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, illustrated by Neil Packer

I do want to learn more about world history, and this just seemed like a really well-produced, highly illustrated book that would make learning about history less dull. I’m sure there are plenty of non-illustrated history books that aren’t dull but I felt this was one I particularly wanted to read. I’m defo open to suggestions for interesting history books, so let me know if you have any favourites!


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Floored by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood

I love the idea of co-authored books and recently fell in love with What If Its Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (see my post about that book here). I heard some really good things about this one, and I’m super excited to get around to it!


IMG_8883 copyThe Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

I finally succumbed to the teal sprayed edges and bought myself a copy of this. I read the His Dark Materials series when I was younger and remember really enjoying them, but I’m not at all into fantasy books as an adult, so I wonder if I’ll enjoy this? It’s a beautiful edition either way so I don’t mind owning it.


I thought I’d better do this haul in two parts so keep an eye out for Part Two: Adult Fiction & Poetry tomorrow.


Amy x

Crickhowell Literary Festival 2018 Wrap Up

#CrickLitFest is over for another year.

What a crazy, tiring, inspiring, amazing nine days that was.

I met some great speakers: authors, poets, comedians, musicians. I was pretty restrained with my book purchasing however and only got 4 books over the festival!

For me, the festival kicked off with the amazing Paul Henry & Brian Briggs, a poet/musician combo reading and singing stories based around the local canal. It was heart-warming and heart-wrenching. It was great.


Next up for me was the amazing Robin Ince, talking about his latest book, I’m a Joke and So Are You. Talking about life, death and everything in between in true Infinite Monkey Cage (minus Brian Cox) style, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and I bought his book.


Then we had a local writing group launching their anthology to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, we had Oliver Bullough and Katy Mahood. And then there was Tristan Gooley, natural navigator.

Now I am not one for walking, not just going out just for a walk kind of walking anyway. However, I was really inspired by Tristan Gooley and his signs in nature that tell you where you are, which way you are facing etc just by looking at the shape of a tree or the angle of Orions Belt. Or knowing which direction the wind is blowing just by looking at the shape of a cloud. He was definitely inspiring, he made me consider the pros of walking for the sake of walking.


Friday was a school event with Adam Baron (loads of fun),


Frankenstein (super interesting),


And Dr Brian Brivati talking about an exhibition of portraits of Yazidi women, survivors of Daesh.


Then there was my faaaaaaaaaaaaave, Stuart Turton, interviewed by none other than Sophie Hannah! They bounced off each other so well and I enjoyed their conversation so much, I felt like the biggest fan girl in the room, or maybe second biggest after Amy from Tomes with Tea


Sophie also had her own event in the evening, discussing her new Poirot story and how she got to write continuation novels for Agatha Christie. Words cannot express how excited I was for that and how lucky I felt for getting to be there. Swoon.


On Sunday, the last day, I saw Neil Ansell and Bella Bathurst talk about sound and hearing loss and it’s effect on them. It turns out birdsong is usually one of the first sounds you lose when your hearing deteriorates, and that just made me feel so grateful for the fantastic things that are ears.


Then there was Martin Dorey of #2minbeachclean fame, talking about his new book, No. More. Plastic. He was so interesting and it was great to see such an engaged audience for  a talk on saving the planet.


Can’t wait for CrickLitFest19, but first, some sleep…

Amy x

Charity Shop Book Haul

We went to get Max’s holiday snaps developed (because we’re either like 70 or total hipsters?)  and while we were waiting I managed to drag him into almost every charity shop in town!

The end result:

A good haul.

I got:
Books to Die For – Declan Burke and John Connolly
The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – Joel Dicker
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
The Big Over Easy – Jasper Fforde
The Winter Queen – Boris Akunin
Thrones, Dominations – Dorothy L. Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh
Unfinished Portrait – Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)

Let me know if you’ve read any of these and which one(s) you think I should read first!

Thanks for being interested in my charity shop excitement,

Amy x

Books I got in October (2017)

The last month or so I’ve really tried to get back into reading, and working in a little indie bookshop has definitely helped!

I also decided around a month ago that I want to look into doing a Masters next year, and found a course that sounds really good in Cardiff. It’s an MA in Art and Design, which then has seven different pathways. Although they have an Illustration pathway, I am leaning more towards the Philosophy or Ecologies pathways, to explore contemporary illustration from a different angle.

That led me to decide I wanted to learn more about philosophy, so I bought some books! I started off with an AS Philosophy textbook that I got used off Amazon for a penny (the only reason I use Amazon is for books that I can get for pennies and cope with a used copy of) while I waited for Teach Yourself’s Philosophy: A Complete Introduction to be delivered to the bookshop.

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Now, I haven’t got around to reading much of the textbook yet but the Complete Introduction to Philosophy is AMAZING. The information in it feels so digestible and each chapter briefly covers a philosopher and their ideas, ending with a bit of a multiple-choice quiz to test how much you’ve understood. I never thought I’d be the kind of person to understand someone like Aristotle but this book has led me to buy his Nichomachean Ethics, which I am quite excited to read!

I also picked up a copy of Plato’s Symposium because of that book, and luckily it’s one of Penguin’s beautiful Great Ideas series. Having only picked it up yesterday, I haven’t had chance to open it yet – but it’s going to be one for the weekend I think.

Speaking of Penguin’s Great Ideas series, I also picked up their versions of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature and Chuang Tzu’s The Tao of Nature and I am excited about growing this collection! I feel like the size of the books (they are pretty short) will mean they are easier to digest and can be read while commuting, or over breakfast, that kind of thing.

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I thought I’d also include library books in this post, as I recently became a member of my new local library and I think they’re great! I’m leaning towards borrowing fiction books from the library over buying them, generally, because I think fiction is a lot more personal, and I feel I’m more likely to dislike a fiction book than a non-fiction. Maybe?

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I’ve started reading Meet Me in the In-Between, and being about halfway through, I am enjoying it. I heard/read a lot of mixed reviews on this book before reading it but I think it’s a good book, and definitely worth a try.

The Lesser Bohemians is a book I noticed in the bookshop and I was intrigued by the blurb so thought I’d give it a try – looking forward to that one.

Stay With Me is another one I’m excited about! I’ve heard so many good reviews, can’t wait to give it a read! I found out about it from watching some Booktubers’ videos on the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist, specifically SavidgeReads and Reads and Daydreams (with Jen Campbell).

On the topic of Jen Campbell…

IMG_5770I also got this beautiful book of hers, illustrated by Katie Harnett, called Franklin’s Flying Bookshop in October. It’s a beautiful story and I’d definitely recommend it for a kid (little or big) in your life. I mean, it has copper foiling. Oof.

And that wraps up my October book haul!
I’ll let you know my thoughts on these books when I’m a bit closer to reading them…

Thanks for reading!

Amy x