Friday, January 16, 2015

'Funny Girl' from Daunt Books, Marylebone

Daunt Books in Marylebone is a treasure trove of goodies spread over several floors consequently I could easily spend hours in there.  It is predominantly a travel book shop (yes, like the one from Notting Hill) with sections dedicated to various countries and continents.  They run regular events and are fully stocked on the latest fictions and non-fictions as well as plenty of lovely cards.

The first time I visited was in the store itself, located on Marylebone High Street I was surprised at how big it was given its Central London location.  I found the layout of the store fascinating as it allowed you to travel the world author-by-author: it's a great way to discover new and interesting writing.

The second time was an online visit where I ordered the 'Funny Girl' package and found the whole experience so wonderful I decided to share it with you guys.   There are lots of  different gift bundles offered by Daunt that would be the perfect gift for any booklover [whether that be you, or someone else you know! ;)]  The prices vary and seem to have gone up over the Christmas period from when I initially ordered this (it cost me £35-ish at the moment they're charging £45).  I imagine they will be reducing the prices once the present buying craze is over.

The Funny Girl:


Daunt offers over fourteen different packages, each coming beautifully wrapped in brown paper and blue ribbon.  If you're feeling particularly generous they also offer subscription services [I'm just waiting for someone to buy me one!] Every month the subscriber will receive a new book based on their individual tastes and preferences [if you're buying it as a gift for somebody they will send out a letter explaining the system, encouraging the receiver to get in touch to let them know what type of books they like].    The prices range from £135 - £312.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

'23' by Kalyn RoseAnne Livernois

Kalyn RoseAnne

Sometimes you’re 23 and standing in the kitchen of your house making breakfast and brewing coffee and listening to music that for some reason is really getting to your heart. You’re just standing there thinking about going to work and picking up your dry cleaning. And also more exciting things like books you’re reading and trips you plan on taking and relationships that are springing into existence. Or fading from your memory, which is far less exciting. And suddenly you just don’t feel at home in your skin or in your house and you just want home but “Mom’s” probably wouldn’t feel like home anymore either. There used to be the comfort of a number in your phone and ears that listened every day and arms that were never for anyone else. But just to calm you down when you started feeling trapped in a five-minute period where nostalgia is too much and thoughts of this person you are feel foreign. When you realize that you’ll never be this young again but this is the first time you’ve ever been this old. When you can’t remember how you got from sixteen to here and all the same feel like sixteen is just as much of a stranger to you now. The song is over. The coffee’s done. You’re going to breath in and out. You’re going to be fine in about five minutes. 

Discovering stuff like this just makes me so happy that the internet happened.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ulysses Rare Books, Dublin

First and foremost: Happy New Year!

Like many others, I experienced my first Amazon-free Christmas this year.  It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.  Thankfully,  when it came to looking for independent book shops I found that there were a lot more than I expected.   I'm starting off with this one because it was the bookshop (of the ones I have visited so far) that I loved being in the most.  I visited Ulysses Rare Books in the run up to Christmas and soon found that I was definitely susceptible to developing a 'thing' for collecting rare books.

It's located on Duke Street just off Grafton Street, right in the centre of the city.  A stone's throw from the National Library (which currently has an free-of-charge exhibition on Yeats which is well worth a visit).  It was originally called Cathach books - and the video below is from their website, it gives you a bit of an idea about the history of the shop and the kind of books they specialise in:

I am interested in Irish literature anyway as I study a fair bit of it on my MA course in Modern and Contemporary Literature.  In November last year I had an unforgettable seminar on Ulysses which mostly involved the tutor telling us the parts of the book which still didn't make sense to him, despite him having read it at least a hundred times.  Anyway, I digress.  My point being that whilst there are endless gems in there for somebody with an interest in 20th century Irish literature (lots of Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett - to name a few) there were also beautiful books from authors from all over the place.  I also discovered that rare books aren't as expensive as I thought they would be.  There were lots around the 20 - 50 euro mark. (It was around about this time that I had to forcibly remove myself from the shop). 

My only complaint would be that whilst I was in there I eavesdropped on a couple of customer enquiries and whilst the staff were very knowledgeable about their stock and friendly when a  customer enquired about creative writing courses in the area the staff hadn't got a clue.  Now, I appreciate that it was a book shop, but it seemed like there was a great opportunity being missed.  In a time when book shops are under threat I think a good way to drum up trade would be to establish connections between all stages of the literary process: writing, publishing, selling, and collecting - no?  What do you guys think?  Do you know of any book shops which advertise and show awareness of creative writing courses or do you think book shops should stick to selling books?  

Let me know what you think!

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