If you’ve been around here for 30 seconds you know I love bookshops, especially independent bookshops and so when I heard about this book I knew I needed to check it out. It’s such a beautiful book, a love story to both bookshops and the natural beauty of the country. But before I get too deep into that, let’s check out what it’s about.
Based on her touring of bookshops, which she did over the three years since starting Fairlight, Louise Boland’s Bookshop Tours of Britain is a slow-travel guide to Britain, navigating bookshop to bookshop. Across 18 bookshop tours, the reader journeys from the Jurassic Coast of southwest England, over the mountains of Wales, through England’s industrial heartland, up to the Scottish Highlands and back via Whitby, the Norfolk Broads, central London, the South Downs and Hardy’s Wessex. On their way, the tours visit beaches, castles, head down coal mines, go to whiskey distilleries, bird watching, hiking, canoeing, to stately homes and the houses of some of Britain’s best-loved historic writers – and last but not least, a host of fantastic bookshops.
The book came from the fact Boland was starting her own publishing house and wanted to go meet the people who would be selling the books she published. As I said at the beginning this book is stunning, the book is split into regions of the UK and there are illustrations at the beginning of each section of a map. I’ll insert some photos below of the illustrations because they deserve to be shown off.
On top of that you can tell Boland is passionate about what she’s talking about not only the bookshops she visits but also the sights she sees, talking about beaches and castles that she saw as she visited. She also does a wonderful job at talking about ways to get around, she’s obviously got an interest in walking as she explains that all the tours can be walked but she always talks about taking the train or driving. It’s all really well written and nicely put together, there were loads of photos throughout the book so it wasn’t text heavy.
One thing I did dislike a lot was the layout of the book, this frustrated me to no end! Boland would be talking about a bookshop and the photo of that bookshop would be 3 pages later, forcing it to feel a little disjointed. Also the illustrated maps of the tours were in the middle of the chapter instead of at the beginning. These last few changes would have made a huge difference.
On top of that the photos are a little annoying in themselves, sometimes bad quality and often not very consistent. It would have been nice to have a view of the staff standing outside the shop for each one or one of the inside… or both?! That would be my main complaint about this book, more consistency.
I did love this book so much and it’s 100% worth checking out if you love bookshops or even just reading. Independent bookshops need our support now more then ever so it’s good to know where your local ones are and where to travel when we’re allowed.
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Find your local independent bookshop here and check out Bookshop.org here, a website that directly helps independent bookshops, or Hive to find ones that deliver, shops need your support now more than ever.