Err… So, I bought two books.
I went on a wonderful four day holiday with my husband a couple of weeks ago. Just the two of us, walking along the middle section of Hadrian’s Wall through beautiful Northumbrian and Cumbrian scenery. And in the town of Corbridge along the way, we discovered Forum Books: http://www.visitcorbridge.co.uk/business/books/forum-books/
This bookshop is gorgeous. Full of beautiful books. Books you haven’t seen anywhere else. Books that look so interesting you want to stop everything, and read them cover to cover there and then. Staffed by friendly, enthusiastic and passionate people who can’t get enough of talking about books. There is a section all about Paris for goodness’ sake. It’s like someone made it just for me.
We discovered Forum Books at the start of a full day of walking, so everything I bought I had to carry on my back for ten miles. Is that penance enough for breaking my vow?
No, clearly not. (But it did stop me from buying at least twice as many books for myself).
As it is, I went back there on our way home to buy several more from the children’s Forum Books (yes, this brilliant bookshop is actually two bookshops – I was powerless to resist) for my daughter’s birthday and Christmas presents. Helen, who runs the bookshops, read me some of her newest acquisition: Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas, extolling its place in the pantheon of classic Christmas novels, and looked up to see tears in my eyes (it was ever so good). “Are you crying?” she said. So, sorry not sorry. I loved this bookshop, and not only am I pleased I now own these books, but I am pleased that I supported it. It seemed to be thriving without my custom, but bloody hell that bookshop made me happy. I reckon it’s good I spent some money in there.
I have never bought that many new books. Almost all of my favourite bookshops are second hand; there is something deeply joyous about poring through shelves of dusty tomes imprinted with a little piece of all the souls of those who have read them before.
But a very good new bookshop is something special. Something to be celebrated and enjoyed. And after a eight month hiatus, it’s like the first time you can eat camembert after being pregnant, the first time it’s cold enough to light the woodburner after a long, warm summer, the first coffee of the day when you don’t manage to have it until ten, and you’ve been up since six. It felt good.
I did consider giving these two books away as presents, and then borrowing them back. But, as my husband pointed out, one of them is about the finer points of English grammar, and the other is about a series of gruesome murders. In New Orleans. I wouldn’t be fooling anyone.
So, I am not going be beat myself up about it. The endeavour behind Murder Underground… stands. Quite frankly, I’m amazed that I lasted eight months. If I average buying one book every four months I can live with that.