Today and for the next seven days, 24th June to 1st July 2017, if you do anything at all you should go and buy a book from an independent bookshop. My favourite in London is in Primrose Hill and is called Primrose Hill Bookshop, unsurprisingly!
Here you will meet Marek and Jessica and an assistant, all three are conversant with the books they sell, either Marek or Jessica will have read all the books, so they can give you informed opinion and choice, if you are hesitating.
I might never have bought The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler, translated by Charlotte Collins, had it not been recommended.
This is a fairly short novel about a tobacconist shop in Vienna in the 1930s. A young boy from the countryside is sent by his mother to help out in the shop; the owner is very strange but kind and one of their regular customers is Sigmund Freud; this novel is about the strange and disturbing times in Vienna, and the relationship between the boy, the owner of the shop and Sigmund Freud. But also, is a very delightful, sometimes sad and sometimes heart warming, coming-of-age story. Robert’s previous novel A Whole Life was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2016.
[Should you wish to learn more about this interesting and diverse prize you should follow A Little Blog of Books, one of the best book blogs that there are.]https://alittleblogofbooks.com
Downstairs there is a remarkable selection of second hand books, mostly in excellent condition, many are nearly new.
There are also events, some at lunch time, some arranged through Eventbrite and are always interesting or intriguing. Take for example, an interesting and lively evening at the Union Chapel to hear Yanis Varoufakis speak about his new book Adults in the Room about which I cannot speak highly enough. .
Anyone at all who thinks Brexit will come out all right on the night needs to read this.
Particularly David “bra-size” Davis, who needs to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it, because without it he will be “walking naked into the conference chamber” to use Teresa May’s illimitable description of Jeremy Corbyn.
Primrose Hill Books sell many top popular titles with signed copies, if you are quick and other less well know authors are promoted on a blackboard outside the shop.
Practically all the books that I have written about over the years have come from them; and even though I now live in South London I still use them as my main source of literature and non fiction. I email orders regularly, they store them until I can get over to the shop and even send them to me, or as a rare privilege Marek will drive over with a box. But that may not be a universal offer, so do not assume that you will get a delivery on one order. I ordered Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler, one time winner of the Pulitzer prize, an intriguing love story set in Vietnam,
where the river of the title gets its scent from the blossoms falling on the surface. It is a book about personal relationships and how the experience of war and its personal aftermath can reverberate down through several generations.
We all get excited by the many book prizes, my main focus being the Man Booker. But Jessica keeps me abreast of many of the others and not infrequently, I leave the bookshop with my order plus some recommendations by either Marek or Jessica.