Books, books and more books.

Lately, I have had my antiques and railwayana hats on. Now I need to concentrate on art for a short while as we have an exhibition coming up.This morning I looked at the calendar and realised it’s not much more than 6 weeks until we set up the Book Lounge at Glastonbury.

So, do we have enough books?

Despite the huge piles cluttering every space in the building, the answer is – not yet.

We have boxes of modern  American comics – they are too adult for the Book Lounge.

We have ‘collectable’ vintage children’s books – they are too vulnerable for an outside event – and too pricey.

We have lovely large-format children’s hardbacks – they are too heavy to transport (except for a few extra-specials).

We have many, many boxes of books for grown-ups – they are too boring for children – or unsuitable in myriad different ways.

So, over the next week or two, I will be sorting through the pile of boxes set aside for this year’s Book Lounge and planning where I might find the extras needed to make up the numbers and quality of books we need.

Children are such discerning readers, it is not easy – but it is fun.

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Glastonbury 2014

Green Kids – under the big tree – the Book Lounge will be there this year with a few  fresh faces in the team.

Trying not too get too excited too soon.

I am seeking (not desperately yet) books for children to take with us.

The future of books? Winter book musings.

It is the quiet season in Newport. That means time to think, sort out books and generally catch up on various tasks that are normally pushed to the back of the queue.
I have the impression that others in North Pembrokeshire are in similar frames of mind – time to clear out the dining/sitting/bed-room, make space, redecorate etc. That often means a pile of books to bring in to Carningli Centre and sell. On one level, I am delighted. New stock is our life blood  and of course, as a book lover I’m always fascinated to see what others have been reading. Our local community includes such an intriguing mix of  people with varied, sometimes unexpected tastes.

A recent collection I bought consisted mainly of modern detective fiction. I had an interesting chat with the seller, who introduced me to a couple of new (to me) authors. I was glad to be able to offer our customers a fresh selection too. There is nothing like reading a cosy (why cosy? – as a pacifist woolly liberal, I often wonder how they can have this quality) murder mystery in front of the fire on a chilly winter evening. They also hit the spot on a boring journey, on the beach in Summer or even in the bath.

Yet each time someone has said  “Are you buying books?” recently I have felt a frisson of anxiety – I am still buying books – so far we are still selling books – but will it continue? I have my arguments for the advantages of  ‘real’ books over e-books well rehearsed. In the case of the detective fiction and other light reading the main point is disposability. We charge an average of £1.50 per paperback. At that sort of price if you drop it in the bath/sea, leave it in the train/hotel/cottage, pass it on to a friend etc., it really does not matter. It is a friendly way of reading – you cannot pass on e-books in the same spirit.

I could go on in this vein at great length  – name a type of book and I will come up with several reasons why the book version is superior to the ‘e’ one. That does not mean I believe my point of view will prevail though. We shall see……

Book Lounge 2014

Summer seems far away now but I am already thinking about this year’s Book Lounge.

Last year at this point we had no books at all – yet by June they were stacked high.

This year we already have a pile in boxes upstairs – many more needed – but I’m sure they will arrive in time!

Book Lounge Bach

It’s been a long time since I posted here!

No Glastonbury in 2012 combined with a shoulder injury to put the Book Lounge out of my thoughts.

But we were back in Green Kids this year and it was as if we had never been away.

All the usual happy things happened. Children were avidly looking for books on our shelves and relaxing in our “quiet” space (there were some pretty loud beats from behind our field but somehow it didn’t matter). Families came in and read together. Some had quiet snoozes. Some had picnics under the oak tree.

We had a lovely time! 

Back home in Newport, Pembrokeshire, our mayor ran a ‘Medieval Fayre’ up at Newport Castle. We offered ‘Book Lounge Bach’ (or mini- in English). We had never tried this before and I was not sure whether it would work without our full set-up – no gingerbread tent not full walls of books – just a lightly decorated gazebo, some rugs and cushions, one bookcase and a few boxes.

It was a beautiful summer’s day – a little too hot for some, which probably helped. I was thrilled when the first child threw herself down with her chosen book and did not want her Mum to drag her away!

We had a series of happy kids all day and I realised that the Book Lounge is more than a hidden corner of Glastonbury.

 

Summer Reading

The school holidays are in full swing now and there are plenty of families around looking for books to read on the beach or in their holiday cottages.

After Glastonbury, we had a wholesale swap-round of children’s books in our shop. We removed all the existing stock and replaced it with the Book Lounge books.

That was a month ago. Since then the fiction for confident readers (‘chapter books’) has had to be replenished several times. Meanwhile, there still is not room for all the kids’ reference books and littleys’ storybooks. Why? I reckon that a good reader aged (say) 8 – 10 can chomp through a surprising number of novels whilst an under-5 is saying  “Again, again!” for their favourite story. As for the lack of reference book sales, maybe it is just that we have sold all the current crop of  Horrible Histories and others are just too serious for holiday-time.

Counting down to Glastonbury and thoughts on Horrid Henry.

Just over 3 weeks until we set off for this year’s Glastonbury Festival!

Do come and visit us under the big oak tree in the far corner of Green Kids (behind the pirate ship, behind Greenpeace)!

Inevitably, a sort of count-down starts – find all the bits of the tent, the shelves, the cushions, the rugs, etc, etc. Do things need washing, painting, repairing,  replacing? Are there changes that could make the Book Lounge work better or look better? Mostly, though I am thinking about the children’s books. I have amassed a huge pile of  them and as I pack them into boxes, ready to go, I naturally find myself reading quite a few. Someone who did not enjoy kids’ books could crack the job in a fraction of the time – but then they would not be doing a book tent, would they?

Once your own children have outgrown them, you tend to lose touch with new authors and illustrators. Who are the ones inspiring kids to enter the alternate, inner universes of  books now?  Knowing my interest in them, somebody asked me recently which newer kids’ books I liked. Eeek! Everything went blank. I did manage to come up with a few –  but sifting through this year’s selection reminded me to pay more attention to newer titles. Soon afterwards, a Dad requested Horrid Henry books. His bigger boy loves to read them to littler brother, he said.

No wonder boys  (and girls) like him. He is truly, awfully HORRID. He does all sorts of bad, naughty things and he is not sorry. Cheating is one of his special talents, as is lying, or more accurately, seeing it his own, warped way.  In fact he always believes it is other people’s fault that things have gone wrong. Frequently, his often ‘tired’ parents, his yucky brother, Perfect Peter, his poor teacher or the nasty girls at school do win/get their own back. But not always – in ‘Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend,’ the final episode consists of Henry’s attempts to get rid of the hated son of his Dad’s boss, who has moved to his school and  been foisted on His Horridness to be eased in gently. Ha! Not likely! After a series of bickers and mean tricks, Henry succeeds by doctoring homework. He has been asked to take this home for his rival wh0 is off sick. It’s brilliantly awful. A ‘gravity experiment’ entailing dropping numerous eggs is the final straw for the boy’s parents – they remove him from the school.

As an adult reading this, I was going, “Really – would the teacher, knowing Henry, let him do that? And wouldn’t the parents spot the spelling mistakes in the bogus ‘homework?’ Didn’t they question whether a teacher would remotely consider encouraging children to chuck eggs about the house?” I’m guessing that kids reading it know it’s pretty unlikely, too – and that’s the fun of it! Oh, and harking back to my last blog, it is an obvious ‘Overcoming the Monster’ tale.

Well done, Horrid Henry!

See you at Glastonbury!

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