Booktime Recommendations

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Our Top Bestsellers 2024

  1. Impact of Evidence by Carol Carnac
  2. Food for Life by Tim Spector
  3. The Last Word by Elly Griffiths
  4. Slow Horses by Mick Heron
  5. Cuddy by Benjamin Myers
  6. All the Wide Border by Mike Parker
  7. Crypt by Alice Roberts
  8. Bunny Bonaza by Jamie Smart
  9. Days Like These by Brian Bilston
  10. Kitty and the Snowball Bandit by Paula Harrison
  11. Gorgeous and Adorable by Meredith Vivian
  12. Horrible Histories Wales by Terry Deary
  13. Church Stretton Through the Ages by Crowe and Raynor
  14. Shropshire Folk Tales for Children by Amy Douglas
  15. The Life and Rhymes by Benjamin Zephaniah
  16. Finding Home: Journeys with the Hillforts of Shropshire by Jo Jukes
  17. Shropshire Unusual and Quirky by Andrew Beardmore
  18. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  19. Playfair Cricket Annual 2024
  20. Gorgeous and Adorable by Meredith Vivian

Our Book of the Month: Night Swimmers by Roisin Maguire

‘A warm, unsentimental and beautifully-observed book for our times’ Lucy Caldwell, author of These Days’ If I were in bother I’d want the Ballybrady bunch at my back. This is a truly heart-warming story of loss, recovery and above all, of community’ Bernie McGill, author of The Watch House Grace lives alone in Ballybrady, a little village on the sublimely beautiful east coast of Northern Ireland. She fills her days with swimming, fishing, quilting, and baiting the tourists who arrive from the city with more money than sense.

 

She hasn’t left the village since a traumatic stay in London as a young woman at the end of the 1980s. One of the tourists is Evan, taking an enforced holiday from his family and work in Belfast after breaking down after the death of his daughter in infancy. He has come to try to process his grief and make himself desirable again as a husband, a father and a business partner.

But he hasn’t been there a week until he gets trapped by lockdown. When Grace saves his life in a kayaking accident – if it was an accident – and Evan’s troubled son arrives to stay, all three are drawn together in a way that forces a reckoning with their personal traumas and draws them back into society. This is a moving and funny debut novel set in a quirky coastal community you will be desperate to visit after reading.

It will appeal to readers of Elizabeth Strout, Maggie O’Farrell and Alice Munro

Publication 1st February 2024 at £16.99

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

It is the story of Lara “Emily” her family’s fruit farm and a Hollywood star from her past Duke who she once dated  and her own daughter Emily is convinced that he’s her father. Told with Ann Patchett’s wonderful skill of weaving an intricate tale with a few surprises on the way.

Cuddy’ by Benjamin Myers

This is the best book I’ve read this year so far.

Cuddy is the story, and multiple stories of St Cuthbert’s (Cuddy) journeys wondering through the North East of England where there is no safe place to rest his weary bones. The star of this novel is the young man with the ‘Owl Eyes’, he appears in all the stories from AD 995 to AD 2019

Benjamin Myers writing is full of life; not unlike the prose of Dylan Thomas.

Cuddy is now avilable in paperback

Reviewed by Ros Ephraim

Hilary Jones – Bookseller-retired

I very much enjoyed reading The Fever of the World by Phil Rickman, the latest Merrily Watkins novel. Sticking with the crime genre  … I loved the latest Ruth Galloway novel by Elly Griffiths, The Locked RoomOne Good Thing by Alexandra Potter was a book that I couldn’t put down: lighthearted but with a very moving message too. 

Ceri Smith

I would recommend Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman

Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future……

Alun Ephraim (studying for a PhD at Bangor University) and Bookseller

Currently I’m recovering from a liver transplant and will be back soon in the bookshop and also reading for my PhD

Alun recommends – Tokyo Redux by David Peace, The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman (translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler), Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin (translated by Lisa C Hayden), and A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul all of V.S. Naipaul’s works are worth reading.

Ros Ephraim – Bookseller and manager  – currently reading Pity by Andrew MacMillan

Ros’s recent good reads

Clear by Carys Davies Jacket Image

1843. On a remote Scottish island, Ivar, the sole occupant, leads a life of quiet isolation until the day he finds a man unconscious on the beach below the cliffs. The newcomer is John Ferguson, an impoverished church minister sent to evict Ivar and turn the island into grazing land for sheep.

A beautifully, atmospheric written story. Carys Davies at her best

Death and The Penguin by Andrey Kurkov

Victor is an aspiring writer in Ukraine, he lives with Misha a penguin.

He loves to write short stories but his only work is writing obituaries of the not yet dead for a newspaper.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

This is one of the most beautiful stories, stunningly drawn. Claire Keegan has captured the essence of human kindness, and the belief in honesty.

My favourite 2022 read – Foster by Claire Keegan is also excellent

Silence by Shusaku Endo 

1640 Father Sebastian Rodrigues a Jesuit Priest travels to Japan; his mentor Ferreira who has disappeared there.  He cannot believe the stories from of Ferreira loss of faith, he is determined to detect the truth – Japan is in the grip of change .. This novel will question you, how far would you keep the faith? It is Ok just to be human.

The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers 

England, 1989. Over the course of a burning hot summer, two very different men – traumatized Falklands veteran Calvert, and affable, chaotic Redbone – set out nightly in a clapped-out camper van to undertake an extraordinary project. Under cover of darkness, the two men traverse the fields of rural England in secret, forming crop circles in elaborate and mysterious patterns. As the summer wears on, and their designs grow ever more ambitious, the two men find that their work has become a cult international sensation – and that an unlikely and beautiful friendship has taken root … It’s well worth a read, delightful prose, poignant and funny.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

‘The Sun always has ways to reach us.’ From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans. Booker Prize Longlist 2021. In paperback 3rd March 2022.

English Pastoral by James Rebanks (Shortlisted for MThe Wainwright Prize 2021)

My bookshop opened in 1974 and I have always championed writers on the natural world around us who give us fair warning; Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is always in stock. James Rebanks English Pastoral (Allen Lane) is my book choice as a gift. James Rebanks voice is lyrical and clear. We must listen to these voices, and this year has been a good vintage.

Congratulations to James Rebanks for winning the Wainwright Nature Writing Prize 2021

The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz

This is a superb story of how a stable world became a theatre of horror: no one is safe if they are Jewish. I couldn’t put it down. Berlin, November 1938. With storm troopers battering against his door, Otto Silberman must flee out the back of his own home. He emerges onto streets thrumming with violence: it is Kristallnacht, and synagogues are being burnt, Jews rounded up and their businesses destroyed.

Ros’s 2021 choices

The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili. It is a novel of the highest order, a masterpiece – as rewarding a read as Anna Karenina.

This is the story of a Georgian family whose wisdom and wealth lies in a secret and dangerous chocolate recipe. The first story/life is Stasia who lives through the end of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Russian communist state. 

The Gardener by Salley Vickers

Artist, Hassie Days, and her sister, Margot, buy a run down Jacobean house in Hope Wenlock on the Welsh Marches. While Margot continues her London life in high finance, Hassie is left alone to work the large, long-neglected garden. She is befriended by eccentric, sharp-tongued, Miss Foot, who recommends, Murat, an Albanian migrant, made to feel out of place among the locals, to help Hassie in the garden.
As she works the garden in Murat’s peaceful company, Hassie ruminates on her past life: the sibling rivalry that tainted her childhood and the love affair that left her with painful, unanswered questions.

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

It is 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. Miss Benson’s Beetle is a tour de force. Quite wonderful with such a startlingly great ending. Please Note paperback will be available from 1st April 2021

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective.

The Offing by Benjamin Myers (now in paperback). Set in the North East of England in the first summer after the Second World. Robert Appleyard stumbles upon Dulcie and her faithful dog Butler in her ramshackle dwelling, then there’s Romy. I was drawn to reading this novel because I know the area fairly well, my father was a miner’s son from Willington a pit village in Co Durham.

Telephone reserve a copy on any of the above titles 01694723388 or order Online at Our Online Store

….and a few more of our all-time favourite books

Ros Ephraim 

Shuggie Bainby Douglas Stuart, Desiree by Anne Marie Selinko, Before the coffee gets coldby Toshikazu Kawaguchi, The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai, The Hidden Horticultralists by Fiona Davison, Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, The Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, The The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, Something of His Art by Horatio Clare, The Long Take by Robin Robertson, I Am Dynamite by Sue Prideaux, Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, The Box of Delights by John Masefield, The Lion, thee Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis,  1947 by Elisabeth Asbrink, Exit West by Mohsin Hami, The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro; winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature, The Life of Rebecca Jones  by Angharad Price,  Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney, Client Earth by James Thornton and Martin Goodman, The Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore, Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, Persuasion by Jane Austen, January Man by Christopher Somerville, Where Poppies Blow by John Lewis Stempel, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, Island Song by Madeleine Bunting, Lara by Bernadine Evaristo.

Hilary Jones

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn; any of the Merrily Watkins titles by Phil Rickman; The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price; The Trumpet Major by Thomas Hardy; Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte; The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough; On The Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin

‘Books are the carriers of civilisation. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.’

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)