#IBW2017 And An Epic Bookshop Crawl

Hellooo! Remember me? Yes, yes, I know, I have been terrible at blogging lately. And yes, yes, I know, I seem to be starting every blog post in the last 18 months with an apology about not blogging more often. But I’ve discovered that this writing full-time gig alongside going to university full-time doesn’t leave you much free time, especially when there’s so much good stuff on Netflix. (Have you watched GLOW? No? Go!)

I’m here to tell you the hilarity/mayhem that went on yesterday but before I get to that, I have some news. Distress Signals has been longlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger! This means a huge amount to me because the Daggers are decided by a panel of crime fiction connoisseurs, and there’s only 12 books on the New Blood longlist out of all the debut crime novels published in the year-long judging period. They include some debuts that just blew me away, like Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land and Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker. So, yay! You can view the entire longlist and the other Dagger categories on the CWA website.

Book 2 has gone off to the copyeditor and I’ve seen the UK cover concept. In other words, sh-t’s getting real. I can’t wait to tell you more about it. Hopefully I’ll be able to soon.

Onto yesterday… This week is Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) in the UK and Ireland and to kick it off yesterday, a number of indie bookshop crawls were organised and Hazel Gaynor and I embarked on one. The idea was simple: visit as many indie bookshops as you can, maybe buy a few books, and tweet etc. about your journey on the way using the hashtags #IBW2017 and #bookshopcrawl. Then, reward yourself appropriately. Hazel and I picked ten shops between the picturesque little village of Kilcullen in Co. Kildare and Dubray Books on Grafton Street, the busiest shopping area in Dublin, bought a packet of Percy Pigs and hit the road.

We hit a couple of bumps – we got to our first shop so early they weren’t open yet (oops!), and the amazing Dublin Pride parade closed down streets between us and our city centre bookshops late in the afternoon – but all in all it was the most fantastically fun day and we got to meet some incredibly enthusiastic booksellers whose love for books and expertise on them was obvious.

Here’s the thing: independent bookshops offer something the likes of Amazon and chain book retailers just cannot. I buy a tonne of books off Amazon, but whenever I go there it’s to get a book I already know I want. I rarely end up buying books on Amazon I didn’t know existed before I got to Amazon. I also buy a tonne of books from chain bookstores, like Eason here in Ireland. They do great deals and if it’s a new commercial fiction title you’re after, you will find it there. I do find new books there, but usually books in genres I already read, i.e. books inside my comfort zone.

But consider what happened yesterday. On our stop at The Company of Books in Ranelagh, we asked the owner Gwen for recommendations to share with our followers, as we had been doing throughout the day. She mentioned a book called You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann, which she said was about a writer and had shades of The Shining by Stephen King. It’s a tiny book, a novella really, and it’s been published by Riverrun in a small but perfectly formed slim hardback, translated from the original German. I was sold. And I would never, ever, ever in a million years have happened upon this book any other way. THAT is the joy of an independent bookshop.

At other stops, Hazel and I walked back out onto the street in awe of how incredibly dedicated, knowledgable and enthusiastic the booksellers we’d just met had been. It was, honestly, joyful. We write books because we love them and it was such a lovely day meeting other people who love them so much too.

(I also bought some books on the recommendation of Frank and Amy in Magpie Books but I’m not going to share them here because they’re research for A Very Secret Project. Oooh, intriguing! I know.)

My crawling buddy Hazel Gaynor was multi-tasking because yesterday was also Harry Potter Day (celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Philosopher’s Stone) AND International Fairy Day – and Hazel’s new book, The Cottingley Secret, is about one of the most famous hoaxes of all time, The Cottingley Fairies. This is her in Magpie Books, Enniskerry, on the bookshop crawl, wearing a HP T-shirt and a pair of fairy wings. Is she the most on-brand author of all time? I think so! (Find out more about Hazel’s new book and her New York Times bestselling backlist here.)

Independent Bookshop Week runs all this week. I highly recommend you stop into your local indie bookshop without any book in mind and ask the bookseller to pick one for you. You never know what you might discover!

Relive our bookshop crawl adventure on Storify here.

What’s the best book you discovered in an indie bookshop? Where’s your favourite one? Did you do any bookshop crawling yesterday or do you plan to this week? Let us know in the comments below… 

5 thoughts on “#IBW2017 And An Epic Bookshop Crawl

  1. alabasterbeachgirl says:

    What a wonderful adventure! I live in NC in the US and I’ve found that independent bookstores are great places to find books by local authors. The selection is often smaller , but the owners put a lot of thought into the books that they choose to display. You make me want to do a crawl of my own.

  2. Julie Jamison says:

    I love indie bookshops, but unfortunately there aren’t many in Northern Ireland. In fact, there are only two! Luckily one of those – No Alibis – is in Belfast and is awesome. You’re absolutely right about picking up books in indies that you wouldn’t find or come upon elsewhere. Sometimes I visit No Alibis with a particular title in mind, but often I come out with something unexpected. I love bookshop crawling in Dublin, and one of my favourite things to do in any city I visit is try and find the best indie bookshops. It can be a great way of getting to know a city, as finding those bookshops takes you here, there and everywhere, usually on foot. New York is especially great for that. I use Amazon too, but when I buy a book off Amazon it will always just be that, a book I bought off Amazon. Whereas books I’ve bought in indies, either at home or in other places in the world, remind me of the city and the bookshop where I bought them, and what else I was doing at the time. They hold as many memories for me as photographs, and picking them up brings me right back to that specific place and time. Long live indies!

  3. Victoria Blake says:

    I discovered Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Low Life by Sam Savage in the LRB bookshop in London. It’s about a rat which lives in a second hand bookshop and learns to read. It sounds sentimental but it isn’t. Well, maybe a little bit. It’s charming and always makes me smile because back in the day I worked in several bookshops that had mouse infested basements. It led to some interesting lunch breaks!

  4. Dysfunctional Womans Digest says:

    CRH—I have a fellow book-lover and he and I often carouse around for new and used books…I know that nothing will ever take the place of the feel and smell of a book in my hands no matter how economical my Kindle may be…there exists nothing like the beauty of print! DWD

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