Why we love Bookshops #thisbookshop


Recently the North East woke up to the great news that we’re getting a new Waterstones in Gateshead’s Metro Centre. It left many years ago and the MetroCentre has been poorer for it. So, a reason to celebrate  – BOOKSHOPS ARE FIGHTING BACK!

This follows other good news that a favourite bookshop of ours -Forum Books in Corbridge – had extended and opened a children’s bookshop with a garden, more reading activities and holding even more events for children and adults alike. Already bringing great authors to the North East such as Jessie Burton of The Miniaturist fame, this book haven is a mecca for book loving people everywhere.

There are few bookshops,  independent or otherwise left in the UK and numbers seem to be dwindling yet we’re so happy to see that Bookshops are fighting back and becoming more imaginative and more involved with readers as well as reading.

Two local authors who recently popped in to Forum Books recently to sign and eat cake –

Mari Hannah and Dan Smith in Forum Books Kids
Mari Hannah and Dan Smith in Forum Books Kids

A recent day with local Horrible Histories writer Terry Deary

The man behind Horrible Histories
The man behind Horrible Histories

Another local book haven – Cogito – has had many a literary lunch and is the official bookseller of Hexham Book Fair with events such as signings and film showings bringing readers and authors together. We were lucky enough to meet Mr Grantchester himself James Runcie this year and to have read the books and now to be watching it come alive on screen is a real treat. Something we have Cogito to thank for.

Cogito supports the arts and local communities
Cogito supports the arts and local communities

We also love the idea of Customer Recommendations that they have so you can share and chat books with other readers in store and recommend your favourites.

A lovely idea from Cogito
A lovely idea from Cogito

Waterstones Gateshead is a welcome addition to the North East landscape and we’re happy to have you return. Waterstones Newcastle is already a regular haunt – indeed Harold Fry  walked the length and breadth of the country up north to see his Queenie. He passed these parts and headed up to Berwick upon Tweed.

If he’d had time, we’re sure he would have stopped off for some literary refreshment in Waterstones Newcastle – their pastries are to die for!

Book Narnia - Waterstones Newcastle
Book Narnia – Waterstones Newcastle – the book in front is the hardback version full of wonderous things

Every time we go into a bookshop, we feel as if we’ve walked into Narnia as we always have an adventure, meet some new friends and  have to walk out and close the door behind us before we’re back in the real world.

But even though when we are  back in the real world, it’s with a book in our hands.

Thank you book havens everywhere xxxx


Forum Books, Corbridge IBW14

Celebrating Independent Booksellers week has taught me many things

Screen shot 2014-07-13 at 10.19.16

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!

Secrets in Corbridge…

In a sleepy Northumbrian village, the evening sun glistened on the windows of the nearby houses

Everything seemed calm. Apart from a dog barking, there were no other noises. No-one in sight.  Yet, something was different. something was very different. The empty square was in complete contrast to the sea of cars which flooded the main square. Suddenly, an outsider, a lone car passed by the village bookstore. Its driver peered out the window and then quickly drove past and around the corner out of sight. Minutes passed. There was no other movement and the car didn’t come back.

A woman however had made the decision to slip out of the house that night. She had told her flatmate that  she was just going to ‘see a friend’  but she knew she was going somewhere else. She nodded to herself as she saw the cars dotted along the street, leading all the way to the square and she quickened her pace. The two people who she recognised from the car made their way ahead of her. Were they going to the same place in such a hurry she thought?

Five minutes later, she’d arrived. The door in front of her opened and a man came to greet her. Hi he said. Come on in. Would you like a glass of wine?

She nodded in agreement and stepped inside. A sea of faces greeted her and she started to mingle, glass in hand with the men and woman chatting happily inside. She hadn’t told her flatmate about tonight as she wanted this moment all to herself. She knew she had an addiction  – her flatmate told her often enough but she wouldn’t understand she needed just one more fix. At least she was amongst friends this evening. People that understood what it was like.

She took her seat. There were three stools at the end of the room. The three men on them looked nervous. But once they’d stood up and introduced themselves to the crowded room, their faces visibly relaxed. Everyone understood why they were here. And more importantly why these men were here. They had written books they said. They wanted to talk about their stories to inspire and entertain. They hoped their stories would bring enjoyment to people’s lives.

The first man, Gavin,  told his story about an unlikely friendship and an improbable journey. His words were endearing and heartbreaking in equal measure. He nodded at the applause and then the second man, Matt,  took the stand. His story involved not only humans but aliens. A few gasps around the room were heard and the sound of more nods of agreement and giggles. Glasses chinked but were smothered with tears of laughter and outbursts of applause.

The night was going well. Obsessions were celebrated here.

Well if this were a book about obsessions, literary obsessions in particular, this is how I imagine it would begin. As some people think I am a bit obsessed about books and reading and meeting authors. But then I guess I am.

Here I was, sitting in the Tea and Tipple cafe in Corbridge, to meet Gavin Extence, writer of The Universe versus Alex Woods and Matt Haig, author of The Humans. I’d read the first book but had heard so much about the second, I just had to come and see them both. And I mean had to. A whizz up the motorway and I was there. Once I’d found a parking space, I felt a bit calmer. I mean I wouldn’t want to miss this would I?

Our host for the evening from Forum Books, Gavin Extence and Matt Haig
Our host for the evening from Forum Books, Gavin Extence and Matt Haig

I chatted, I had a glass of wine and I ate a meteorite (If you haven’t read The Universe versus Alex Woods then I won’t mention why this made me laugh). The wonderful people at Corbridge’s independent bookshop FORUM BOOKS had made this all possible. Thank you FORUM BOOKS:

Forum Books
Forum Books

and thank you to two great writers:

Reading, laughing  and crying all at once
Reading, laughing and crying all at once
The Humans by Matt Haig
The Humans by Matt Haig

For the fantastic literary setting, thanks to the brilliantly named TEA AND TIPPLE:

Have a tea and tipple in Corbridge
Have a tea and tipple in Corbridge

Thank you also to all the people who came to this event. Fellow book obsessives. I chatted to a lot of you and we had a great evening. May there be many more like it! I started reading The Humans in the car on the way home. I didn’t get to sleep until 3am. I mean seriously, books this funny and enjoyable should come with a health warning that they prevent you from going to bed and as for sleeping. PAH! I’d forget it.

My name is literary imprint and I am a bookaholic. And very proud of it I am too.

A thank you to independent bookstores – Forum books, Corbridge, Northumberland

I am a regular to Forum Books so it was with some surprise that I hadn’t written about this lovely little bookshop before.

Forum Books
Forum Books

Its a literary gem in the village of Corbridge in Northumberland and it champions everything that is good about writers and writing.  I loved the local publishing stand dedicated to Myrmidon as I walked in the door and was pleased to overhear an animated discussion between two elderly customers ‘arguing’ over the merits of buying one book over another (they ended up getting both in the end!)

I myself had a lovely chat with the most welcoming bookseller I had met in some time. We chatted about the book I was buying and the event I was interested in and I left with a brown paper bag containing a book and the words, Eat Sleep Read on the sides and thanking me for buying local. It made me smile and the brown paper took me back to how bookshops years ago must have packaged a new purchase.

But why I wanted to mention this bookstore is its writers events. There will be a talk – a kind of tea and biscuits session with Gavin Extence  – he of ‘The Universe versus Alex Woods’ fame and Matt Haig, writer of ‘The Humans’.  I for one can not wait to meet both of them and am currently reading the first book in time for the event. The second I will buy on the day.

Ooh a literary event! I like these
Ooh a literary event! I like these
Reading, laughing  and crying all at once
Reading with a cuppa to hand. Em I seem to be making a habit of this…hehe

I love meeting authors of  books I’ve read or am going to read. I love reading books by authors I may not have come across had it not been for events such as this one. It’s a literary night out and the fact that it us being held in the local tea shop makes it particularly perfect. A cup of coffee, piece of cake and chats with two authors about their books?

The event will be held in the Tea and Tipple cafe. Love it!
The event will be held in the Tea and Tipple cafe. Love it!

Perfect, perfect, perfect

Is this lady looking for a great local bookshop? Turn to your right!!!
Is this lady looking for a great local bookshop? Turn to your right!!!

That’s why it makes me sad to think little literary gems such as Forum books are a dying breed. Independent bookstores are what keeps reading and enjoying books so accessible to many. They offer a personal and local service and provide a haven for book fans such as myself. Together with libraries, they are the unsung heroes of the literary world

So thank you Forum

Thank you independent bookstores

Thank you libraries

I for one will continue to support you and really appreciate what you represent