Independent Bookshop Week - Sue

What have you missed most about the shop? What I have missed most about the shop is the cheery camaraderie of working together as a team with my friends (and daughter!), we have such a good time. I've also missed the interaction with our lovely customers, the bookish chat and exchange of ideas and information that play such an important role in bookselling. Last, but definitely not least, I've missed my monthly visits to the Hunter Centre to read poetry  to the clients, one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.


Have you read any great books during lockdown? One of the main things that has kept me sane(ish) during the lockdown period is nature-watching, it has been a real luxury to have time to watch spring unfolding and it has been reassuring to see that nature is carrying on as normal during this strange and unsettling time. No surprise then that the book I've enjoyed the most is Diary of a Young Naturalist by sixteen year old naturalist and conservationist Dara McAnulty. Beautifully written in mature and sensitive prose it relates how immersing himself in nature has helped Dara cope with his autism and the bullying he has encountered throughout his childhood and early teenage years. His passion and enthusiasm for the natural world are clearly evident and he displays an enviable knowledge. The descriptions of his expeditions with his family and his close encounters with nature during the changing seasons of a year are breath-taking. 


If you were to live where the last book you read took place, where would you be? If I were to live in the country where the last book I read was set, I would be living in South Africa, firstly in Bloemfontein concentration camp in 1901 at the height of the second Boer War, and secondly in Johannesburg in 2010 in a correction camp for young men, as I've been re-reading Damian Barr's magnificent book, You Will Be Safe Here. This book exposed a whole thread of British history that I'm ashamed to say I had been completely unaware of, and that's why this is the story that I would choose to be made into a film. It's a contentious issue at the moment but I think it's time to face up to the shameful aspects of our history that we prefer to brush under the carpet.


Which fictional character would you most like to be? The fictional character that I would most like to be is Maria Vittoria from The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida. I admire every aspect  of her character she is hard-working, stoical and resourceful and will go to extreme lengths to protect and save her family as they face the hardships and separation inflicted by war and hunger. Set in rural Italy between 1920 - 1950 it is an epic story of love and survival.

Who is your favourite author? My very favourite author of all time is Thomas Hardy, mainly because his writing has the power to transport the reader to the heart of the Dorset countryside and his characters are so real, I feel as if I actually know them. My favourite novel, the one that would come to a desert island with me is Far From the Madding Crowd, and my favourite character, Gabriel Oak, but I also love his poetry.


What was the last book that made you cry? The last book I read that made me cry was a memoir called A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory, the story of how he became the youngest person ever to swim the Channel at the age of eleven. It is an amazing and inspiring tale of grit and determination and pushing the body to its limits, towards the end it reads more like a thriller than a memoir.