Wenlock Books – in real life

I mentioned in my last post about The Diary of a Bookseller that I’d long wanted to visit Wenlock Books. And then, like sending a letter up the chimney at Christmas time and having your perfect present arrive as if by magic, a free day just dropped into my lap*.

A view down the high street in Much Wenlock

So I took myself off to Much Wenlock, pottered in the sunshine, ate lunch BY MYSELF in a cafe with a wood-burning stove and then spent a couple of hours browsing in Much Wenlock’s two bookshops – Much More Books and Wenlock Books. It was bliss.

I have nothing but good things to say about Much More Books, which has plenty on offer and where I happily parted with some cash. But it’s true to say that Wenlock Books has my heart. It’s a perfect blend of old and new.

The front…

On the ground floor, you’ll find the ‘new’ in a clean, bright space where the books are more evenly spaced, the colours sing against the white walls and the selections are so perfectly curated that it was a little like wandering into a real-life manifestation of my TBR list.

… and the side.

Upstairs, the skeleton of the historic building is apparent in the wooden rafters. Here the ‘old’ or secondhand books are packed in on wandering shelves that run around the walls, in and out of various nooks and reading corners (all comfortably furnished with a chair).

In a relatively small space, there’s an absolute ton available and it’s hands down one of the best selections of fiction I’ve come across with quite up-to-date titles sitting alongside classic 19th and 20th century writers who you never seem to stumble upon in charity bookshops. There was also an outstanding biography / memoir section, but more on that another time.

Upstairs front… with space for tea and reading

If I can’t live or work there, I hope I can at least visit again soon.

And I’ll share the new additions to my library another day.

*Not strictly true – this never actually happens these days. In fact, my lovely husband offered me a day to myself and I bit his hand off like some kind of slavering hound.

And the upstairs corridor.

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Spotlight on Independents: Yorkshire Quality Paperbacks, Pickering

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to spend my book money.

There are so many worthy avenues to wander down. I want to make sure I support my local library so Government bods can’t justify closing it in favour of a Tesco Metro. Charity bookshops are always good for a rummage, with the added bonus of knowing that some of my money has gone to a good cause. But if I’m honest, my heart lies with the independents. The most fun I have when book rummaging is when I find the holy book trinity of non-chain, quirky building and chatty, well-informed, friendly owner.

Whenever my husband and I go somewhere new, I’ll seek out the bookshops. Fortunately, he’s a great enabler, in that he’s accepting of this, quite happy to browse a few shelves on his own and has very rarely said “do you think we ought to be making a move soon?”. The perfect companion.

Today’s spotlight is from Pickering and our early November holiday in the North Yorkshire Moors. There was a woodburner and we were losing the light by about half past four, so there was a lot of snuggling up back at the cottage and reading. This little secondhand bookshop is not much to shout about from the outside, but inside it’s a treasure trove.

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I came away with Mary Stewart, Rumer Godden, Elizabeth von Arnim, Radclyffe Hall, Angela Thirkell and it’s where I picked up my first Georgette Heyer, Cousin Kate (reviewed here). I also found an absolutely mint copy of Robert McFarlane’s beautiful book The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, which I’m thinking might be a ‘soon to read’ having recently finished Sinclair McKay’s Ramble On and not quite having had my fill of books about walking. Perhaps it’s the hankering after springtime that always kicks in about now.

Anyway. If you’re a book lover who finds themselves in or near Pickering, do pay ‘Yorkshire Quality Paperbacks’ a visit. You’ll find them almost exactly opposite the North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway terminal in Pickering. And the owner is as chatty, friendly and well-informed as you could hope for.

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