Studious Saturday: Top books in my immediate TBR list

studious saturdays

As some of you have probably realised by now, I tend to be a mood reader and decide which book to read next depending on how I feel and recent recommendations. However, as my TBR list has increased to over 100 books, I decided to prioritise and pick my top immediate reads. In no particular order, these are the books that I hope to read next…


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I have heard so many wonderful things about All The Light We Cannot See and I bought it during my recent bookshop hopping adventure in Glasgow. Since then it has been sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to pick it up and I really hope to start reading it soon.


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I hadn’t heard of Matt Wesolowski before all the reviews of Changeling took over my WordPress Reader feed. I haven’t seen one negative review so far and this, together with my interest in cold cases, means that this book has jumped right to the top of my list.


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The premise of Vox is so fascinating but I was hesitant to read this book after all the mixed reviews. However, I have decided to try it as it has been a long time since I last read a good Dystopian novel.


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Every time I read a Markus Zusak novel I feel a great need to disconnect from the world and reflect on what I have just read. His books are like no other and his writing is so powerful that I find it extremely difficult to start a new book afterwards because I just know that it would pale in comparison. That is probably the main reason that I have been putting off starting Bridge of Clay for the past few months. However, my lovely hardback signed copy is waiting for me patiently in my bookshelf and I don’t think that I’ll be able to resist much longer!


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There is so much hype surrounding Louise Beech’s books and I am eager to find out what exactly about her writing makes her books so special. I have heard that all her books are very different and decided to start with her newest release, Call Me Star Girl. From the reviews I have read it seems that her writing is very addictive so I may be on the way to hopefully discovering a new favourite author!


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It has been a long time since I last read a heartwarming and emotional book and Fredrik Backman has been on my list of new authors to discover for so long therefore A Man Called Ove seemed like the perfect fit. I am a firm believer of reading the book before watching the movie but I have wanted to watch this movie for such a long time so I have some real motivation to finally read this book!


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I am late to the party it seems because The Silent Patient is everywhere. Every time I walk into a bookstore this book is staring back at me. It is set to be this year’s bestseller in the Psychological Thriller category and I am keen to understand why. I have been reading a lot of Thrillers and Crime fiction lately so may wait until I read some of the books in other genres in this list before starting The Silent Patient but I hope to read this book over the summer break.


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The new (or now not so new) sequel to the Cormoran Strike series has been on my radar ever since its publication date but every time I consider buying it I am put off by how long it is. Some recent reviews also confirm my suspicion that the writing tends to be long-winded which is one of my pet peeves of a Thriller. However, this series is one of my favourites and I really need to find out how it continues after the abrupt ending that we were left on in its predecessor.


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Kristin Hannah blew me away with The Nightingale and I must admit that the premise of The Great Alone sounds even better. I suspect that it is bound to be another emotionally draining read so I am waiting for the right mindset before starting it. However, from looking at the high Goodreads rating and recent reviews, I am sure that it will not disappoint.


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I am in two minds about The Woman in the Window. After reading the full story surrounding A. J. Finn (or Daniel Mallory, the real writer behind the pseudonym) I immediately discarded this book from my list. However, I keep adding it back to my TBR list after reading the never ending list of reviews in the book blogging community. The hype has even reached Spain and I have seen so many people reading this book lately. The generic trend of unreliable female narrators that is the main focus of these Thrillers don’t hold much hope for me but I hope to be pleasantly surprised and not disappointed like I was with The Girl on the Train.

What are some of your top picks on your immediate TBR list? I would love to hear your suggestions and recommendations!

Studious Saturday: a reflection on my recent break from reading

studious saturdays

Sometimes we are all faced with surprises and unexpected complications that mean that we have to put aside our work, hobbies and daily routine. For me, reading has always been one of the most essential parts of my day and I had become used to reading on my commute to work and at home every evening. Unfortunately a recent series of events in my life rattled my routine and I found myself thrown into a completely different world where I no longer found joy in reading so decided to take a short break from one of my biggest passions.

During this period, I discovered several things about myself as a reader and the necessity to stop, reflect and take a break that I wanted to share with you. My first thought was that, strangely enough, although reading used to be a key part of my day beforehand, I no longer missed it. My mind was occupied with everything else going on around me and I didn’t feel the need to pick up my kindle even though it was always inside my bag next to me.

Another revelation that soon came to me as my mind started to clear up with all the unease was that I started reflecting on some of the books that I had recently read. Thoughts of the setting, characters along with how I plan to structure my reviews made me realise that I would hopefully soon return to my previous self and desire to pick up a book again.

Finally, I found the urge to start a new book when I was discussing No Way Out, the new book in Cara Hunter’s DI Fawley series, with my mum who was raving about how brilliant it is. I had already downloaded the book a few weeks ago but didn’t feel like reading it up until this point. It was almost like a eureka moment and that evening I devoured half the book in one sitting and finished the rest of it over the next day. (To those that haven’t yet read No Way Out, I highly recommend it!)

During this experience I realised that there are times in life where we are forced to put aside our pastimes or even times where we no longer find pleasure in the things we used to enjoy, and that is perfectly fine. I also now understand that the smallest nudge in the right direction like sharing views with a loved one on a favourite author is sufficient. Sometimes we need a break in order to focus on other more important situations or just to look at things from another perspective. I soon found my desire to read again and have decided to view this experience as a learning curve rather than a fallback.

Have you ever taken a break from reading and if so, how did you find it?

Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in Edinburgh

studious saturdays

Happy Saturday! It’s been a while since I posted my last bookshop hopping experience in Glasgow and decided that it is time to follow up with some of the bookshops we visited during our day trip to Edinburgh.

Blackwell’s

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Our first stop was Blackwell’s, conveniently located on a main road in the city center. Books are neatly arranged with the bestsellers on one side upon entering and the rest by genre, to the right of the entrance. We spent a long time looking through the contemporary fiction section, recommending books to each other and picking out new ones that looked interesting. The non-fiction area was busy with people hoping to buy some of the more famous books but we still managed to look through these shelves.

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Perhaps the best part of this bookshop was the little Cafe Nero that was set up at the very end, complete with a fun sign that was almost too tempting. However, we decided to carry on with our tour through Edinburgh and move on to the next bookshop.

Lighthouse Bookshop

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Our next stop was Lighthouse Bookshop, a short walk away from Blackwell’s and close to the University of Edinburgh. This was such a delight to visit and by far our favourite bookshop during our visit in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The staff are attentive and the range of books on display are carefully chosen to match their political values and passion for justice and equality around the world. We spent a very long time here, looking through all the shelves and even choosing some rarer books from the Politics section to take home.

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The shop is equipped with comfortable chairs and a variety of eccentric and quirky phrases written out on the notice boards. Lighthouse arranges several events each month, including their own Book Fringe alongside the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Radical Book Fair.

Our experience didn’t end here as we continued our walk up to Armchair Books. Unfortunately, the various staircases and hills led to us feeling very tired as we approached the end of our day in Edinburgh and we decided to only quickly browse through the shelves and head back towards the train station. Nevertheless, it was another fun and worthwhile experience and I greatly enjoyed discussing books and authors with family in this beautiful city.

Have you been to these bookshops in Edinburgh? I would love to hear what you thought of them!

If you are enjoying this series of exploring bookshops in different cities, watch out for my next post in a few weeks’ time which will be based in Madrid!

Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in Glasgow

studious saturdays

You may have noticed that exploring bookshops in different cities has become a certain trend on Facing the Story. After posting about my experience in Bath and London, I decided to follow suit with the next city on the list: Glasgow.

Caledonia Books

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Caledonia Books is not only appealing from the outside but also enhances the reading experience with its splendid interior. Books are arranged by genre, with many of the foreign language and non-fiction titles hidden away at the ground floor. I was very impressed with the wide range of second-hand books and spent a long time browsing the fiction section.

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I was even more excited to discover some rare copies of antique books, a feature not so common in the usual high-street book store. Complete with a continuously expanding list of rare finds, this bookshop was definitely an exciting start to our afternoon.

Thistle Books

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Hidden away at the end of a side street, Thistle Books is a real treasure. Although it may appear plain from the outside, the inside is a complete contrast and pleasure to explore. Upon entering we were immediately intrigued by the various shelves of sheet music and array of music related books. There was a noticeboard for musicians to advertise their services and the soft tunes playing in the background created a calming and enjoyable browsing experience.

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Just as in Caledonia Books, I spent a very long time looking through the books out on display in the fiction area. All shelves were very well arranged and it was easy to find books that were high up on my reading list. After much thought and inner discussion of how I would fit yet another item in my suitcase, I settled on All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which I cannot wait to start reading. I highly recommend Thistle Books for any bookworms passing through Glasgow.

Hyndland Bookshop

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Our lost stop was an independent bookseller which not only offers the latest bestsellers in children and adult fiction but also a wonderful selection of beautifully handcrafted cards. Hyndland Bookshop provides the perfect setting for an afternoon spent picking out the next book. I recognised a lot of the bestsellers on the shelves but was also pleasantly surprised to discover books written by local authors and several thrillers set in Glasgow also caught my eye.

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Perhaps my favourite feature of this store was the dog-friendly environment and I was thrilled when a customer with an energetic labrador retriever walked in and delighted to see the treats that the owner offered. Despite our short visit we were pleased with our fun-filled afternoon and happy to have ended our day in this bright and welcoming bookshop.

Have you visited these bookshops or would you like to? Stay tuned to read about my next bookshop hopping adventure in Edinburgh!

Studious Saturday: Tag Two Truths and a Lie

studious saturdays

Thank you, Raya, for tagging me! This definitely looks like a fun one!

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

  • Create a post with your two bookish truths and one bookish lie – but be sure to keep it a secret so your readers can guess!
  • Reveal the lie in a spoiler at the bottom of your post (you can use this HTML code! Just change the “S” in Summary to a lowercase)
Reveal the Lie

Lie Revealed

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE

  • There are less than 20 paperback and hardback books on my bookshelf.
  • My favourite classic novel is The Great Gatsby.
  • I still haven’t read all the books in the Harry Potter series.

I TAG:

Xandra

Norrie

Veeshee

Ashley

Christopher

Melissa

Mary

N S Ford

AND THE LIE IS…

Reveal the Lie

My favourite classic is not The Great Gatsby, it’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

Did you guess the lie? To all those tagged, I’m looking forward to reading your answers!

Studious Saturday: Why I rarely reread books

studious saturdays

This week I’ve been thinking about my reading tastes and style compared to other friends and bloggers which made me realise that, unlike many others, I tend to dislike rereading books. I decided to share my thoughts with you briefly on why I prefer to only read books that I haven’t read before, which I also believe may be a slightly unpopular opinion but could produce an interesting discussion.

  1. Time, time time!

My main reason not to reread books, which I think many others can probably relate to, is due to time related constraints. Most of us are already struggling to juggle our social, family and work life while also managing to find time to read so it’s no wonder that we often can’t find the time to return to our most loved books. I often feel guilty when I decide to pick up a book that I have already read instead of finishing off the various tasks I have pending or even starting a new book.

2. Too many books on the never ending TBR list

Also linked to the first point, the little time that I save for reading is usually spent catching up on my to-be-read list. Between a pile of backlist books waiting to be started and the constant stream of exciting new releases, books that I have already read somehow always tend to fall behind in my reading priorities.

3. Expectations

Most of us would understandably only go back to books that we have previously enjoyed and want to rediscover, I also fall into this category. However, I cannot imagine visiting any of my favourite books and feeling disappointed that they didn’t live up to my expectations as I reread them for the second time. Even if I did have enough time and a visibly reduced to-be-read list, I still don’t think that I would reread some of my favourite books because I would feel worried that I wouldn’t like them as much.

Those are my main reasons for not re-reading books and although I realise that they may feel strange to many in the bookish community, I have come to understand that my reading habits are somewhat peculiar and many others may not understand them.

Question time

Do you ever reread books and if so why? What are some of your favourite books that you like to revisit?

Studious Saturday: My reading and blogging goals for 2019

studious saturdays

Welcome to the first Studious Saturday post of 2019 on Facing the Story! I hope that you have enjoyed the holiday season (I certainly did!) and are feeling refreshed and ready to start the new year. After a short social media and blogging break at the beginning of January, I decided to finally revive my blog again with a burning topic that I think many other book bloggers are currently discussing, namely their goals for the year. Mine are to…

Read 55 books

I have set my Goodreads challenge for 2019 on 55 books which is only 5 more than last year. I surpassed my goal of 50 books in 2019 by finishing one exciting thriller on New Year’s Eve so I feel that this goal is achievable based on my usual reading speed.

Branch out to other genres

It’s no secret that I usually lean towards the Mystery/Thriller, Contemporary Fiction and Historical Fiction genres, however I tried some Science Fiction last year which I enjoyed and I am hoping to carry on exploring the genre. I am also currently reading my first Fantasy novel and loving how different it is to my usual choice of books. This will definitely be one of my reading priorities for the year.

Discover Spanish Contemporary Literature

Living in Spain has its perks and one of them is the huge selection of novels by acclaimed Spanish and Latin American authors. Unfortunately I didn’t plan out my reading for 2018 so well and I only read one book in Spanish. I hope to correct this in 2019 and finally start on the never ending list of Spanish literature that my colleagues have recommended.

Schedule my posts in advance

This will be my main blogging goal for this year, especially as I have many other personal goals which mean that I will have less free time during the week to write and blog hop. I struggled with planning several times last year and I could tell the difference in the quality of my writing between the periods where several posts were scheduled in my queue and those where I was hastily proofreading and editing a post right before publishing it. Essentially, I am hoping to use Kaleena’s 2019 book blogger spreadsheet template to plan out my month in advance so I can fit enough time to blog hop, write out my posts and read ARCs with plenty of time to spare.

Design a new look for my blog

Although I am pleased and proud of my content, a fresh and clean design can really make a difference to a blog as a whole and I admit that my current design is not particularly eye-catching or satisfying. I am a huge lover of a minimalist look but I think the current design is a bit of an overstatement in this category. At some point this year I hope to create a new logo and background and also choose a new theme.

 

Those are my main reading and blogging goals of the year which I hope to achieve, although I know that sometimes life gets in the way and it is not always possible to achieve them all. Nevertheless, I plan to work hard on my blog this year and to enjoy the books I am planning to read. I also wanted to take some time to thank you all for staying with me during my blogging journey – I never believed that so many people would read my reviews and thoughts on books when I created Facing the Story last year and I am extremely grateful for your kind words and support.

Question time

What are your reading and blogging goals for 2019?

Studious Saturday: My Top Books of 2018

studious saturdays

It’s almost 2019 and time to reflect back on some of the best books I have read this year. As I am writing this I have read 48 books out of my goal of 50 (still 2 weeks to go so I know I can reach my goal!) and it has been incredibly difficult to narrow down my top reads. As I tend to read many backlist books due to my never ending TBR list, I decided to split my choices between the best 5 backlist book and the top 5 books published this year. You can find out my full thoughts on each one by clicking on the links below.

Top backlist books

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5. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry  

4. We Were the Lucky Ones

3. Kane and Abel

2. The Travelling Cat Chronicles

1. Close to Home

Some of my top reads in this category were from the Historical Fiction and Contemporary Fiction genre and I was extremely pleased to find these four gems, some from recommendations and others at random. Cara Hunter has been my newfound top author in the Crime/Mystery/Thriller category this year. The ending of Close to Home was mind blowing and deserves the top spot here and the second book in the series, In the Dark, didn’t disappoint either.

Top books published in 2018

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5. A Spark of Light

4. The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae

3. In the Dark

2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz

1. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

A mixture of books from character-driven stories to the poignant tales of A Spark of Light and The Tattooist of Auschwitz are included here. However, I already knew the winner straight after I had finished this book and it was a very clear choice for me. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is incredibly clever and captivating and deserves to win every possible award. I have been recommending this book to everyone around me (I think some people may be getting quite aggravated by now) and will continue to do so going into next year. No words can do this book justice so you will just have to trust me here and read it, you won’t be disappointed!

It seems that 2018 was a great reading year for me and I can only hope that 2019 continues this way too. I already have my eye on several 2019 releases although there is still a tall pile of books from this year on my TBR list which I hope to eventually get to.

Question time

Have you read any of these books and what did you think of them? What are your top picks of 2018?

Studious Saturday: What makes a Thriller truly thrilling

studious saturdays

Shortly after finishing From the Shadows by Neil White, I reflected on thrillers and the various techniques authors use to provoke a wide range of emotions on their readers. I have read some truly wonderful Thrillers this year and, after comparing the aspects that make them stand out to the rest, I decided to summarise my thoughts in this week’s Studious Saturday post.

A bold start

The first few chapters are without a doubt the most vital in engaging the reader and introducing the story line and main characters. In particular, thrillers need a strong start to excite the reader and encourage them to keep reading. Without this technique, the story already feels sluggish and the writing usually falls flat before the main events unfold.

Multi-layered characters

This often applies to all genres because we need to be able to relate to the characters, or at least find them likeable. However, it’s crucial that characters are complex and mysterious in Thrillers, especially murder mysteries, because often the story line rapidly changes to suggest that one character may be the culprit until another piece of evidence is discovered and we find out that another character could be the murderer. I also believe that it’s possible, although difficult, to build a successful character-driven thriller while not focusing as much on the plot, although I know that others may disagree with me here.

An unexpected plot twist

Perhaps the most “thrilling” aspect is a huge plot twist that we didn’t see coming. Without this, the story may feel incomplete and not as gripping. Many Thrillers build up in suspense and and tension slowly until the big reveal whereas others shock with an abrupt and unpredictable twist. Both techniques are incredibly powerful when used correctly and both have their place as the author may decide which to use depending on how they plan on developing the plot.

Pace

It is often difficult for many authors to achieve a good level of rhythm and it usually depends on many other factors – whether they are striving for a plot-driven rather than a character-driven book and if they wish to keep the reader guessing until the final chapter or rather focus on the events surrounding the mystery in a more reflective manner. Personally, I am a huge fan of fast-paced Thrillers as I am usually more eager to carry on reading until finishing the book in a few sittings. However, as pacing depends on other factors, I am open to reading slower-paced Thrillers or ones with a variety in rhythm if well executed.

An appropriate ending

The final chapters are essential for a hard-hitting and noteworthy Thriller and often this is the deciding factor for many readers on whether they found the book successful or not. I have read some brilliant Thrillers that have convinced me to read until the end to only find a disappointing and odd ending that doesn’t correspond to the rest of the story line and doesn’t provide a satisfying conclusion. An excellent Thriller requires an appropriate conclusion to tie up all lose ends and explain the mystery in a convincing manner. Of course, this would depend if the book is a standalone or a part of a series, in which case ending on a cliffhanger could work, but either way the author needs to find the right balance between a gripping final few chapters and the right pace to conclude the story.

Question time

What do you believe are the factors that make a thriller truly thrilling? Do you agree with my suggestions and would you add any other points?

 

Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in London

 

studious saturdays

Some of you who have read my previous post Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in Bath would know that I spent part of my time during my last visit to the UK discovering bookshops by taking (or maybe even dragging!) my family and friends with me. Today’s edition includes three beautiful bookshops in different parts of London and I would like to share my thoughts on them with you.

Daunt Books

Right at the heart of Marylebone is a treasured bookshop perfect for lovers of travel and adventure. Daunt Books is an inspiration to anyone planning their next trip, or even those who work in the area and want to get away during their lunch break.

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This bookshop is split in several floors. Upon entering we can find the latest hardbacks and paperbacks in contemporary fiction. I though that this bookshop is like any other and does not have anything special until I walked a little further into the travel section.

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From here Daunt Books splits into three main areas – the downstairs focuses on Asia, Australia and Africa, the upstairs has a wide range of books for UK travel and the main level is filled with European books. I especially liked how each section is divided first by country and then in alphabetical order so it does not take too long to find the book you are looking for.

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The interior is beautifully decorated in an Edwardian style building with oak balconies and gorgeous green walls. Overall, this visit was a huge success and I managed to satisfy both my love of travel and books all in one afternoon.

Persephone Books

Our next visit was a short ride away on the London Underground and a half hour later we found ourselves at Persephone Books, a unique and extraordinary bookshop close to Russell Square station.

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This is not only a bookshop but also a publisher of forgotten female authors. I was intrigued to discover that all covers are the same classic gray so here there was no option of judging the book based on its cover. Instead, the short descriptions beneath each shelf were enough to encourage us to skim through books that most peaked our interest.

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There is a huge variety in books, from memoirs to short stories, and the clean gray  covers coupled with the colourful bookmarks that come with each book are just the perfect present for a loved one.

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The shop was dimly lit (which also explains the grainy photos, apologies for the low quality!) and classical music was softly playing in the background which made for the perfect book shopping experience. I supported their cause by buying a card for a friend who I was going to see later that day but I would also like to go back and buy one of these wonderful books. I encourage you to stop by this bookshop if you are ever in the area as you won’t be disappointed.

Goldsboro Books

Our final stop was a bookshop tucked away on a side street close to Leicester Square which specialises in signed first editions, perfect for collectors. We decided to walk from Persephone Books to here which in hindsight was perhaps not the best idea; it looked close on the map but the walk was nearly 45 minutes long and by the time we arrived it was already dark. Nevertheless, we were immediately transported to one of the most beautiful and rare bookshops upon entering.

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The store is divided into several areas by genre and publication date. The staff were busy at work sorting some of the latest books that had arrived as we walked around in awe of all the first editions out on display. Some of the most remarkable signed editions include The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (or J. K. Rowling) and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (I know what you are thinking… the original first edition signed by Harper Lee?!). My favourite section however was the stack of Bridge of Clay books in one corner of the room.

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It was evident from the hundreds of copies that they had very recently arrived to the store. Each was numbered from 1 to 500, signed by the author and published in collaboration with Goldsboro Books. I was very tempted to buy a copy but managed to stop myself in the end. I now regret it because I really want to read this book and a signed edition would make the experience even more special. However, I know that it won’t be too long until I visit this bookshop again when I’m next back in London because I loved it so much so I can’t say for definite that I won’t grab a copy next time I pass by.

Our day was over but we had a lovely afternoon in London and discovered three wonderful bookshops. Thank you to my mum for joining me in this adventure! I also hope to continue the “exploring bookshops in…” series in Madrid and any other city I find myself in the future. Stay tuned for more editions in this series soon!

Question time

Have you been to any of these bookshops? If not would you like to go? If you have been, what did you think of them?