Category Archives: Book Places

Too true…

Eat. Sleep. Read.

I need one of these posters.

Things I Learn From Books #1

The French for paperclip is un trombone.From: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

Venice: A literary list

At the beginning of January I put up a post about my wonderful Christmas present – a trip to Venice, and after I asked other bibliophiles for their recommendations of what to read on holiday, I was nearly as excited about my final choices as the trip itself! Thank you everyone who helped out with my holiday list!

I couldn’t reduce the list to anything less than five, but as they are mostly novellas or short stories. Here they are:

Don’t Look Now & Other Stories – Daphne Du Maurier (Review here)

Death in Venice – Thomas Mann (Review here)

Death a la Fenice – Donna Leon

The Haunted Hotel – Wilkie Collins (Review here)

The Passion – Jeanette Winters (Review here)

Book ideas for a trip to Venice?

*Update: As this is an old post, you can visit the final list of chosen recommendations here, with reviews.

I was given the most wonderful Christmas present this year by my boyfriend who booked us a trip to Venice at the end of January!



J.M.W Turner, The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore, 1834


I actually had a little weep when I opened my envelope and discovered the destination. This was made all the more exciting by some successful misdirection as my boyfriend printed out red-herring travel details for a trip to York on the erm… Megabus. A trip to York would be fun, but Venice is infinitely more exciting! I went to Florence when I was 16 and have had a hankering to go back to Italy ever since.

So I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful to take along a book set in Venice? I found an exhaustive list here, however it’s a little overwhelming and I’m not sure where to start! The one that springs to mind is The Wings of the Dove by Henry James, but I’d quite like to find something actually about Italians in Venice, rather than English people in Venice. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts especially if you can suggest something with a bit of intrigue, and maybe murder – something a little dramatic!

Any ideas?

A Crime against Books? Books as Decoration in Pubs

Visiting my friends house the other day I noticed something that at first I thought was rather an original use of books and then immediately after got a bit enraged.

The pub near to her house The Swan and Edgar has by means of decoration a shelf of books displayed above the window as you can see in the picture below:

Swan and Edgar

On doing a bit of google searching I also found out that they have decorated the interior with books also, with a bar built on second hand books.


So what got me totally enraged was the thought of all those lovely classic books open to the British rain and general grotty weather. And inside, people spilling their pints all down them.

Yes yes, so this is recycling of a sort, but it seems a bit crass to use books in such a superficial way when what’s supposed to be important about them is their content! Perhaps I’m a bit of a hypocrite, after all I do love a good book cover and according to some blurb on a website the pub is actually literary themed with planned book signings and quizzes to be held there. I should probably go and actually have a pint there before being totally ‘anti’.

But to continue on the theme I have noticed alot of pubs using books as decoration, either on shelves or stacked up on the side. This can be kind of nice and add a friendly feel, but sometimes it just seems an empty gesture.

What do people think – am I being too harsh? Is it simply an original idea / recycling of unused books? Or is it a crime against humanity…er…I mean books!?

A Perk of the Job

Warning! Second-hand book-shop in close proximity to new office alert!

Popped in to my new offices in Wimbledon today so that they could check my passport and make sure that I am not illegal and lo and behold, there is a really great bookshop just a short distance away called Copperfield’s.

Actually I did spot it when interviewed (not that it influenced me in any way at all!) but resisted the urge to go in after telling myself I have too many books on my ‘to read’ pile already!

But today I wasn’t so steadfast, and was drawn like a moth to a flame to their stack of Penguin Classics craftily placed by the entrance.

Copperfield’s has all the hallmarks of an excellent second-hand bookshop – happily jumbled looking books stacked on a table outside, good prices and most of all that lovely lived-in feel and bookish smell which makes you feel you can browse for ages. Plus, just look at the signage, it just says ‘come into our little treasure-trove!’.

I was fairly restrained and purchased two lovely Penguin Classics –

Savidge Reads got me into Susan Hill’s creepy stories and blurb on the back of The Bird of Night, by Susan Hill (1976) made me think it might be an interesting little number for £1.

“Francis Croft, the greatest poet of his age, was mad. His world was a nightmare of internal furies and haunting poetic vision. Harvey Lawson watched and protected him until his final suicide. From his solitary old age Harvey writes this brief account of their twenty years together [secret gaylords perhaps?!] and then burns all the papers to shut out an inquisitive world.”

Then I spotted The Bachelors, by one of my favourite authors Muriel Spark (1960). Not one I’ve heard of but had a fabulous cover and I love everything she writes. Plus it has a great plug on the back from Evelyn Waugh who writes;

“I am dazzled by The Bachelors. It is the cleverest and most elegant of all Mrs Spark’s clever and elegant books.”

Well, that convinced me to hand over my precious £1.50 and snaffle it into my handbag.

I always have the excuse that I need the reading material for my commute, plus I have discovered that there is a Lush in Wimbledon too. A book and a luxurious bath. What could be a better combination?