Forum Books, Corbridge IBW14

Celebrating Independent Booksellers week has taught me many things

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We have some wonderful booksellers up and down the country whose main passion in life is to ensure each and every one of us finds our perfect read

There is nothing quite like walking into an indie bookstore and taking in a deep book breath 

They promote author events, authors, books and all book related things

We need more of them

At a time where there are bookshops and libraries closing down all too often, it was a joy to hear of Forum Books in Corbridge/Northumberland and the opening of their new children’s bookstore.

The week in celebration at Forum Books
The week in celebration at the main Forum Books

We’ve had lovely Helen Stanton over for tea and cake – our mission to celebrate and say thank you to these wonderful people. Well, we travelled up to Corbridge as well we wanted to visit this lovely little gem in Northumberland – Mari Hannah land you might say since local author Mari Hannah has set a few scenes around these parts (most notably the church opposite this very bookshop in Murder Wall’s opening scenes)

Hi Helen

Now, even if I say so myself, I’ve made rather an ambitious cake for us to enjoy – in keeping with the independent booksellers week, I’ve done an independent design. Plus in homage to your wonderful shop I’ve made the cake in the shape of a fort, a roman fort of course as well we are in the heart of Northumberland and I believe Forum means ‘a public square or marketplace’?

Ta dah!

The Fort Cake
The Fort Cake

Now would you like a tower or the drawbridge to start with?

There you go

Oh tea! How lovely….

think we'll sit here on the special IBW themed sofa!
think we’ll sit here on the special IBW themed sofa!

So, Helen, what do you love about working for Forum?

Have always dreamt of running my own bookshop – the exciting new books coming out, the trusted favourites that never fade, the conversations about books..hard work but never feels like work…if that makes sense

Why is IBW important to you?

It’s great to have an opportunity to make a fuss of what we do all year round


The Gruffalo came to Corbridge!
The Gruffalo came to Corbridge!

Tell us about your new children’s bookstore!

Our new bookshop Forum Books Kids was opened a few weeks ago by the Gruffalo and its very exciting to have made a space for children to come and discover books for themselves. We’ve a toy till on the counter ( a lowered easy to reach section!) and a reading den. And a garden to grow into next Spring with any luck. We’re planning regular story times, events and other fun stuff! Watch out!

A new oasis of book loviliness
A new oasis of book loveliness 

What has been your favourite author event at your store?

Miss Hannah Kent - of Burial Rites. The evening she came here - we ate, we drank and we chatted books! FAB novel set in Iceland - perfect for booktrails!
Miss Hannah Kent – of Burial Rites. The evening she came here – we ate, we drank and we chatted books! FAB novel set in Iceland – perfect for booktrails!

Ooh thats tricky…this year I loved Hannah Kent as I was so taken with Burial Rites, but then Tim Winton was special too. And I have a lot of fun with cookery / foodie events – Sabrina Ghayour & Diana Henry were both so lovely, great company & delicious..

Who is coming soon?

Our next is David Bez & Salad Love – with a demo! Another first! A great book of 260 salads – one for every working day – inspirational & practical. July 17th.

Emma Chapman is stopping off as part of her amazing Indie Book Crawl & we’re having a Sunday tea time event with Lucie Whitehouse – cucumber sandwiches & cake! I’m very excited to have got both authors together as they both start with seemingly lovely, working marriages but by the end of each first chapter this fractures & each take us on very uneasy, suspenseful page turning journeys! July 20th

Aah the Miniaturist herself is coming to Forum books! Squeal!!!!
Aah the Miniaturist herself is coming to Forum books! Squeal!!!!


What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – she’ll be here August 20th – and completely hooked! A gorgeous read!

Which fictional character would you like to meet?

The first that pops into my head would be fifteen year old Charley Thompson from Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin – that kid! And Willy Vlautin’s books always resonate with a truth. So wanted to reach out and grab Charley…

Ah Helen it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you about books. You’re like a book therapist – people should come and see you when they need a book to cheer themselves up and need to talk books to someone who knows.

I feel calm and ready for my next read.

Would you like another window or maybe a part of the battlements? (Back to the cake obviously)

Helen takes the battlements and the shield and sword hanging above it – that’s the sign of a good bookseller through and through – a fighter when the going gets tough even when it comes to cake. Goes straight for the symbols of weapons and protection – Independent booksellers are here to stay!

Cuppa and a cake at Cogito

This booktrail bookshop is coming to an end – one more on the list this week.Oh How I wish I had more to visit….well of course there are loads across the country on my list but for now I’m in sunny Northumberland!

Aah Cogito books - i'm here for a cuppa and a cake today!
Aah Cogito books – i’m here for a cuppa and a cake today!

But before the booktrailer heads home to Booktrail towers to prepare for the next mammoth booktrail (the next one is set in 1950s Malaya), we headed for a nice relaxing Cuppa and a cake with a lovely lady named Claire who owns a beautiful bookshop – Cogito books in Hexham

Now I was on a mission here for Cogito already run a tea and cake offering whereby  you can book a session – rather like that of a personal book advisor – to learn about new literature and what suits you as a reader. All this with tea and cake! Well, Claire deserves a little of her own medicine we thought so…..

Welcome to Cuppa and a Cake Claire!


the perfect spot in Cogito for Cuppa and a Cake
the perfect spot in Cogito for Cuppa and a Cake

Wow what a gorgeous shop! Where should we have our Cuppa and a cake? I’ve brought fresh cream eclairs and two butterfly cakes. Ooh what’s that? Victoria Sponge? Well how do you know that’s one of my favourites!

What do you love about working for Cogito?

I love people and I love books and bookselling is about connecting the two.  It is just brilliant when you introduce someone to a book that they really enjoy or help someone find exactly what it is they are looking for.  I think what independent bookselling offers is the flexibility to offer a better service to customers, to tailor that service to customers as individuals, to be creative and working in Cogito Books is always interesting and you never know what each day will bring!


The booktrailer did not fall asleep in this I did not.....certainly not whilst dreaming of a book I'd been reading..
The booktrailer did not fall asleep in this chair….no I did not…..certainly not whilst dreaming of a book I’d been reading..

Where does the name come from?

The name Cogito comes from the French philosopher Descartes’s  Cogito Ergo Sum which means  ‘I think therefore I am’ .

-Ooh I didn’t know that. That’s interesting. Now then, as we’re sitting here scoffing on victoria sponge and cream eclairs, I’d like to find out a little bit about your book recommendation service…

 The Cogito Reading Treat is our personal book consultation.  Over tea and homemade biscuits we talk about the books people have loved and their interests and from this we suggest a bespoke selection of 6 books that will hopefully become new favourites for them.  It is the perfect gift for a bibliophile or even for oneself!  We have had a great response to the Reading Treat with many people delighted that it has helped them discover new authors they might not otherwise have found.

Cuppa and a cake in a bookshop! I think I might move in here...
Cuppa and a cake in a bookshop! I think I might move in here…

-I would love that! Thinks about booking that for a fellow booktrailer later in the year….


You have a lovely sofa in your store – have you ever found someone asleep on it?

I have never found anyone asleep on the sofa, but I had a customer at closing time on a Saturday  say that he’d been more than happy to be left locked in the bookshop and would be completely fulfilled spending time reading until I opened up again on Monday morning!


the Children's corner
the Children’s corner

I love your children’s section. What’s the funniest thing that a child in your store has said or done?

We’re so pleased that the children find our children’s area and selection of books so inviting and lots of our younger customers are really enthusiastic about reading which is very encouraging.  We’re always trying to find the books that will spark that enthusiasm for everyone, adults and children alike. 

I think the funniest thing a child has said was a little girl who was telling my dad about her book request letter to Father Christmas. My dad asked if she had sent her letter up the chimney,  she looked at him as though he had absolutely lost the plot and knew nothing, declaring “no… I emailed him”.  Everyone in the shop burst out laughing. 


What has been your favourite author event at your store?

We have hosted lots of events over the 13 years that we have been bookselling and we have met so many lovely authors who have been incredibly supportive to Cogito Books.  It is really difficult to choose a favourite event, but some highlights would definitely include Alexander McCall Smith, Jonny Wilkinson, Piers Torday and also events such as magical Harry Potter parties at midnight. Cake is often a feature of our events and I have a lovely comment in an Anne Fine novel saying how much she enjoyed my scones!  

IBW2014 display at Cogito

Why should people support IBW14?

IBW14 is representative of what independent bookshops throughout the country do week in week out – introducing people to good books!  Whether it be through events, conversations, recommendations, or an interesting display in an inspiring shop.  It is a week celebrating the passion of independent booksellers who in their own ways create unique discoveries of books. Time spent reading is so precious that it is important that the book you’re reading is a really good one and this is where independent booksellers come into their own… the enjoyable discovery of excellent books!


Ah thanks Claire, right enough questions – time to polish off these eclairs. I’ll put these books down, can’t risk getting cream on them, I’d never forgive myself.

(Claire goes off to find me some books to recommend and comes back with a pile so huge I can’t see her face)

Malaysia, Mallorca, Margate….well that’s the booktrailer sorted for the next few months!

The joys of travelling with a good book – sometimes you don’t know where you will end up!

Visit Cogito here –  or better still take a lovely train journey up to Northumberland and spend the weekend reading and enjoying tea and cake! aaah bliss

Visit them on Twitter too – @cogitobooks and Facebook – 

French fancies



The world is full of people who love Paris. If you know the city already, you’ll be one of them If you’re about to go there for the first time, then you will soon be part of the ‘ I love Paris’ tribe – a tribe that is scattered all over the world.


How true are the opening words to the City Pick Guide to Paris – snippets of comments and pieces from books all about Paris in all its forms – its emotions, the people, the locations and the magic of the city overall Paris is a lot more than the many tourist sites it has on offer, its cafes, baguettes and wine for example –

Visit the Eiffel Tower – 

Published by Gallic Books
Published by Gallic Books

Read the Booktrail of this book here – 

so brilliant someone's written a book about it!
so brilliant someone’s written a book about it!

MUST visit the best English language bookshop in the city –


Paris is a city with a bloody history, mysteries and murders, great art and even great cuisine. Plus one of the most famous cemeteries in the world – where Jim Morrison amongst others is buried.

By Gallic Books
By Gallic Books

Can’t get to Paris just now? Well then sit back and relax and travel from the comfort of your armchair for City Pick gives you the option and takes you on a thrilling ride around one of the most famous and most magical city via the books and writing by local writers

Our favourites mentioned – sites and books to read further? All huddled together under headings such as I love Paris, Le Menu, sex in the city make this a cocktail of a book you can drink and drink with no fear of a hangover!


The guide is introduced  by Stephen who wrote an hilarious and often oh so true a Year in the Merde based on his experience there –



They do eat a lot of cheese some of which smells like pigs’ droppings. They don’t wash their armpits with garlic soap. Going on strike really is the second national participation sport after pétanque. And yes they do use suppositories.


Haha! But Don’t take anyone’s word for it – be inspired to discover Paris for yourself


City pick guides –

Gallic books –

A Year in the Merde –