Category Archives: Book recommendations

Book shopping in Bath

Since I’ve moved home I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Bath- it’s the perfect literary haunt. In the nineteenth century Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Mary Shelley visited. Today book shops in Bath continue to sell their novels, alongside the work of hundreds of other authors. Here’s some of my favourite places to buy a book in the city. 

Bath Old Books, 9C Margaret’s Buildings.

This shop is run by five different book dealers who each take turns to run the shop. Each dealer has a different section in the shop, so if you’re looking for a specific book make sure you check all the sections for it. There are two levels with plenty of stock in the basement, mostly hardbacks. I’ve picked up some old Victorian copies of my favourite books for as cheap as £6.00. The shop is just round the corner from The Circus, it’s a lovely location and a brilliant place to browse.

George Bayntun, Manvers Street.

George Bayntun is an up-market shop located in a listed building. They bind books for sale to collectors in-store and sell rare books to prestigious customers. If this sounds a little imposing, don’t be put off. They have a good selection of books at a lower price range in the basement. The shop, which opened in 1873, has stayed with the same family since then and has a fascinating history.

Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath, The Paragon. 

This is probably one of the best places to buy new books in Bath. It’s the only place I’ve seen where the hardback copies are laminated, which makes them look extra smart. Topping & Company also holds regular author events so some of the books are signed as well. Everything is well arranged and advertised with handwritten signs. The shop’s next guest is Chris Cleave, the author of Gold, and after that it’s Levi Roots.

Oxfam Bookshop, 4-5 Lower Borough Walls.

Oxfam Bookshops are the bread and butter of the reading world, selling second-hand copies for charity. When I was an English student they were a goldmine, I could pick up cheap copies of the books on my syllabus instead of getting them on Amazon. Bath’s Oxfam Bookshop has a good selection- it’s often surprising what you can find there.

Where’s your favourite place to shop for books? Let me know by commenting on this post. If you’ve enjoyed reading it I’d love to hear from you.


Back to the books

Hello, it’s been too long since I posted anything. I’m looking forward to getting this blog up and running again. Now I’ve finished my exams I’ll have time to read and write again. Yesterday I went to Bath and sat in Henrietta Park with a new book. I’ve got a couple of new books and I thought I’d share them with you.

Foreign Bodies, Cynthia Ozick.

Foreign Bodies tells the story of Bea, a lonely teacher who is still haunted by the memory of her ex-husband Leo. Although Leo has moved on, Bea is still stuck in the same job and the same flat. Her brother Marvin, a successful businessman despises her for this. But when his eldest son leaves America for Paris he is determined to bring him back. He enlists Bea’s help and hopes to send her as an intermediary. The story, which is a twist on The Ambassadors by Henry James, is told from the viewpoint of different family members. Although crucially we never hear from Julian, the missing son.

The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje.

My dad gave me this to read, there are always plenty of books floating round the house. It’s set in Italy just after the end of the Second World War. It starts with Hana, a young nurse, who has stayed behind to look after her remaining patient. He claims to be English and is badly burned after a plane crash in the desert. As he recovers Hana discovers his story. It’s been made into a film as well, which I might have a search for if I like the book.

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern.

This is Morgenstern’s debut novel and it’s a bit mysterious. The circus, which arrives without warning, is the plaything of two magicians named Prospero and Alexander. They have both picked a protégé, Celia and Marco, and they use their performances in the circus to compete with one another. The book is aimed at adults, although some critics complain it slips into teenage fantasy at times. I’ll have a read and decide for myself. Morgenstern also has her own blog, which is worth a read.

 White Teeth, Zadie Smith. 

Zadie Smith is one of my favourite authors but it’s been a while since I’ve read anything of hers. So I’ve decided to read White Teeth again. It’s the story of two friends, Samad Iqbal and Archie Jones, whose stories intertwine throughout the book. It’s an exploration of race, identity and multiculturalism. I’d also recommend On Beauty and The Autograph Man.

Wales Book of the Year Shortlist

Philip’s book Deep Field has been shortlisted. Copyright: Stephen Morris.

If you haven’t already picked up on this, the shortlist for the Wales Book of the Year award is out and I’ve spotted some familiar faces. Philip Gross is in the running for the English language poetry prize with Deep Field. And Richard Gwyn’s book, The Vagabond’s Breakfast, could win him the English language creative non-fiction prize.

In total there are 18 books on the list, nine written in Welsh and nine written in English. They all look pretty interesting reads, so perhaps I’ll add a couple of the English ones to my bookshelf- I don’t speak Welsh although I’d love to be able to.

Iain Sinclair is on the list. His books are always a heavy read, but worth persevering with. Although Ghost Milk might kill any patriotism you’re feeling as the Olympic torch makes its way through Britain- it’s highly critical of London’s new Olympic buildings.

Three Journeys, by Bryon Rogers, is also on the Creative Non-Fiction list, alongside Richard Gwyn and Sinclair. If you’re looking for something funny, this may be just the ticket. It’s based on his experience of growing up and leaving Wales. Newspaper journalist Carolyn Hitt says you’ll have “laughed a lot” by the end.

The authors have a long wait until the prize giving ceremony on July 12, but members of the public can get involved by voting for their favourite book here. The winner of this poll gets the People’s Choice Prize. You can also book tickets to the prize giving ceremony at the Royal College of Music and Drama by contacting Literature Wales.

Books to watch in May

Promoters make it easy for film fans by preparing trailers months in advance. For book fans it’s a little more difficult, sometimes the first time we hear of a book is when it arrives on the shelves to be sold. I’ve picked four books from different genres to give you a glimpse of what this month has in store.  

The Newlyweds, Nell Freudenberger

To be published by Knopf Publishers 

Anima and George’s tale is a love story with a modern twist. After Anima meets George online she leaves her home in Bangladesh for a new life in Rochester, New York. But marriage is only the beginning. If the pair are to build a future together they must negotiate family demands and cultural differences from both sides.

Too Cold for Snow, John Gower

To be published by Parthian

An accomplished author and journalist, Gower is the winner of the John Morgan travel writing prize. This short story collection will transport readers to the frosty regions of northern Russia, promising tales of assassins, avalanches and prison ships. If you can’t wait to get your hands on the book you can purchase a sampler edition ahead of its release in two months time.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, James Runcie

To be published by Bloomsbury 

This will be the first in a series of exciting new detective stories, to be titled The Grantchester Mysteries. Sidney Chambers, the vicar of Grantchester, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor, whose unassuming appearance provides the perfect cover for a spot of detective work. In the course of the book he inquires into a suspicious suicide, a jewellery theft and an art forgery.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Simon Mawr 

Published by Little, Brown

I read The Glass Room when it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize so I’m already a fan of Simon Mawr. Here he tells the story of Marian Sutro, who becomes a Special Operations Executive in wartime France. Her aim is to seek out an old flame, Clement Pelletier, a nuclear scientist who is busy building a lethal weapon. According to Daily Mail critic Amber Pearson the book is “utterly gripping from start to finish.”

What are you reading at the moment and what do you plan to read next? Let me know what you think of these books and what’s on your bookshelf at the moment. 

Blogs on the block

Hooray for the holidays! I’ve finished at Cardiff for Easter and I’m enjoying the start of my last university break. At the end of June after my exams I’m hoping to join the world of work.

Future plans aside, today I had the chance to catch up with my blog and have a   quick peek at what other bloggers are writing. Here are two fantastic blogs which I thought I’d share with you. 

Wear the Old Coat This trendy looking blog is hot off the WordPress after its author Jo left to relaunch and upgrade. It specialises in young adult fiction and includes regular book reviews and guest posts. Jo’s writing is full of personality and enthusiasm for her subject. If you’ve never read this type of fiction before check out her A-Z which has a handy list of books to start with.

Recommended post,  From Cymru with CariadA funny and light-hearted look at what Wales has to offer including film locations, food and rugby stars.

Crawl Space Sarah Hilary’s blog is a must-read for crime fiction fans and writers. Visit it for interviews, book reviews and information on upcoming events in the Bristol area. If you’re a writer you can also join the fun by entering the Flashbang crime writing contest.

Recommended postAuthor Sophie Hannah chooses her favourite thrillers, gives an opinion on crime fiction festivals and shares what it’s like to be on television.

Blogs on the block

This week I want to share two blogs with you, written by my colleagues at the Cardiff School of Journalism. A term has gone since we started writing. Hopefully we’re on our way to becoming seasoned bloggers.

express lit is run by magazine journalist Emma Louise Vince. This fashionable blog will keep you up to date on the latest literary crazes. It features beautiful book covers, illustrations and even embroidered book clutches. My favourite is a recent post on altering books for art. I’m just too scared to scribble on my own copies….

Lady Chat and Tea is run by Broadcast journalist Rachel Webb. It takes you back to a different era, with posts on Lord Byron and etiquette advice. Rachel has a real enthusiasm for tourism and the world of stately homes, which comes from first hand experience. Last summer she worked as a costume actor at Warwick Castle.

Under the Christmas tree

I hope you’ve had a good Christmas. These are the books which were under my Christmas tree, athough I’ll be adding to the collection after I’ve spent some book tokens.

1.Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy

I’m hoping to see the film version at some point so I’d better get reading if I want to finish the book first.

2. The Tiger’s Wife

This is Tea Obreht’s first novel which won the Orange Prize this year. At 25 she is the youngest person to have won the prize, that’s pretty impressive.

3. Lucky Jim

I’ve started reading this one already, it’s entertaining and has a dry sense of humour. Jim has just got a job as a medieval history tutor. He tries to hold onto his job by bluffing during discussions with students and pandering to his supervisor Welch.

4. Unreliable Sources

John Simpson is the BBC’s World Affairs Editor and his book is bound to be interesting. It covers a large span of history, from the Boer War up to Tony Blair, including several incidents which have been discussed as part of my course at Cardiff.