To celebrate the publication of Amity & Sorrow, the fabulous Peggy Riley is sharing her thoughts on independent bookshops with keepcalmandreadabook. We’re a big supporter of indie bookshops here, and in a time of high-street chains and online bookshops, we love sourcing our reads from lovely little bookshops, run by real-life people, who LOVE books and talking about them.
In honour of them, and supporting authors worldwide, Peggy talks about her favourite bookshops in the UK and the US.
“My favourite bookshop as a child was the small one beside the Los Angeles supermarket where my mom would let me, more often than not, choose one book from its shelves after the weekly shop. I discovered such wonderful books there – Sid Fleischman’s Mr. Mysterious & Company, Victoria by Barbara Brooks Wallace. I hope people are still finding these books! The supermarket has changed hands several times and the bookshop is long gone, but I will never forget it.
Once I was older, my mother opened her own small bookshop. BOOK’em Mysteries is in South Pasadena and I used to live in a one-room apartment above it. I used to open and close it, order its books, organize events with authors. While I was there, we had readings and signings, writers and their rock bands, live literature performances of Poe, and a birthday party for Psycho writer, Robert Bloch, with a shower floor cake. (When the knife plunged in, red jam bubbled up through a frosting drain.) Now that I have my own first book being published, it is where Amity & Sorrow will have its US launch. It isn’t strictly a mystery, though there are mysteries at its dark heart, but you can’t keep a mother from celebrating her own daughter, can you?
Here in Britain we are spoiled with wonderful bookshops, but as the daughter of a small and local bookshop, I have to pick the one on my own high street in Whitstable. Harbour Books is small but perfectly formed. One wall sports new and classic fiction, half a wall has biographies and non-fiction. There is a children’s corner and upstairs room filled with small sections for history, poetry and gardening. It isn’t able to offer every book known to woman, but that is its glory. Each book has been handpicked and earns its place. It is impossible to go in and not come out with some treasure, some book you didn’t know you needed. And that is precisely why we need bookstores so badly, wherever we are, to buy the books that are waiting for us, the books we read that we’ll never forget.”
If you haven’t already bought a copy of Amity & Sorrow from your local independent bookshop and are dying to get your hands on it (and why wouldn’t you be? It’s amazing) then email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with 50-100 words about which is your favourite bookshop (UK or overseas) and why. The most impassioned email will win a hardback copy of Amity & Sorrow, along with a limited edition #godsexfarming badge, so make sure you get in touch to be in with a chance of winning! For Twitter fans who have read the book, let us know your favourite sister by tweeting at us with the hashtag #amity or #sorrow.
Many thanks to Peggy for sharing her thoughts with us, and for supporting independent bookshops, and congratulations to her on her brilliant novel. We wish you an un-Sorrowful amount of success with it. Many thanks also to Headline and Tinder Press for inviting us to take part in Peggy’s blog tour.