Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sunday Summary: Book splurges and birthdays

Hello! Hope you are all well. I'm feeling a particular case of the Sunday-itis. After having a lovely week off work, I'm going back tomorrow, and it's going to be crazy. Retail Christmas will be well and truly underway by now, and I've got a whole load of extra hours for the dreaded rearranging of the shop, and then my colleagues squeezing in their autumn holidays one after another. So for October, I'm allowing myself to take a step back from the blog, and just use what time off I have just to rest and try to stay sane through a usually-difficult season. I still hope to write some Sunday Summary posts, even if they are in bullet point format.

But first: BOOKS! ALL THE BOOKS! On Wednesday I took a trip up to Coventry, a city I haven't been to since I was twelve, in order to visit the newly-opened Big Comfy Bookshop, whose progress I've been following on Twitter. With the rise of internet shopping, it was so encouraging to see a new bookshop business - if you google how to open a bookshop, the answer tends to be "don't bother." Of course, the Internet would say that...

The Big Comfy Bookshop was pretty empty when I went in there, but the owner, Michael, told me it had been crazy-busy at the weekend, and he was pleased to have the chance to fill up the shelves and price the stock. It seemed to be Fresher's week at Coventry university, and Michael later tweeted that he had had lots of students in the shop. It is a decent-sized shop in a new shopping village away from the city centre, with a great range of books. It also doubles as a coffee shop, with comfy sofas and good cake. My problem was narrowing my selections down to what would fit in my book bag. For myself, I chose two Stephen Kings: Needful Things, which I have a vague memory of my ex-boyfriend raving about years ago, and Cell. I also discovered three of the four Space Odyssey books by Arthur C. Clarke, which my dad has been reading, but which have not all been readily available in the shops. I have the first book, the second was bought new and the third came from the library. The Big Comfy Bookshop provided the fourth and final book in the series.

As it seemed silly to come all the way up to Coventry just to visit one shop, I got myself thoroughly lost in the city centre, but had a chance to look around the old cathedral, which was famously bombed during World War 2. I also ended up buying more books in Waterstone's (Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, an author who has been brought to my attention by Alley's rave reviews) and Oxfam (Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life In Space by Mary Roach, and Gravity by Tess Gerritson, which I know was reviewed by someone fairly recently, but I can't remember who. Sorry. Ellie?)

You'd think that might be enough books to be going on with, but my birthday happened yesterday, and it seems my mum has been cunningly intercepting the postman a lot this week. I had a stack of parcels from my lovely lovely blogger friends, and notice of some more to come. THANK YOU WONDERFUL PEOPLE! That was such a wonderful surprise!

So: the presents. From my parents:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3 DVDs, to add to my Marvel collection, and the William Shakespeare's Star Wars books: The original Star Wars trilogy rewritten in Shakespearean language and iambic pentameter. Right up my nerdy street.

From my sister:

A Spock figurine, a set of Lord of the Rings collectable Pez dispensers, a Lego Batman film, and the third season of Sherlock.

From Ellie:

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which she says she is also reading along with Hanna, and some delicious Thornton's chocolates. (I fear these will not last long.)

From Laura:

This is in fact the coolest birthday card ever as the cakes on it are made of fuzzy-felt, and you can rearrange them if you like. Also Kate Atkinson's Life After Life which I've been wanting to read for ages. Thank you Laura!

From Bex:

My fellow Swallows and Amazons-fan bought me this biography of the series' author, who led a very interesting life indeed when he wasn't writing innocent stories of children camping and sailing and playing at being pirates and explorers. When I went to the Lake District in August I looked for this book in every bookshop I went into, but even though Ransome is so strongly associated with the area, I couldn't find it anywhere. Hurrah for Bex!

From my other friends:

Judith bought me the red polka-dot handbag, which as you can see is a good size to keep a few books in. I always say a bag not big enough for books is no more than a purse (and not a lot of use.) She also gave me some chocolates, a pair or red earrings (not pictured) the gorgeous colourful cushion and Adventures with the Wife in Space, the account of a man who decides to introduce his wife to the other love of his life - Doctor Who, working through the entire classic series, episode by episode. My friend Sharon bought me a Tardis mug - which will go very nicely with my Tardis biscuit jar, and I got some interesting bath stuff from Sam and her twin daughters, Alice and Evie who are four.

It was a quiet sort of birthday, but my sister had come back from London to see me, Sam and the twins came over in the morning, which was a lovely surprise. I don't get to see a lot of them due to work - if I've got the day off, she tends to be working, and vice versa. We put on the Lego Batman film to keep them entertained, (and very entertaining it was, too. Batman and Superman team up and spend the whole time bickering, as do Lex Luthor and the Joker. If the forthcoming Batman vs Superman film is not as bickery as the the Lego versions, I will be very disappointed.) The girls are big fans of Scooby-Doo, and thanks to a Scooby-Doo/Batman crossover, they could name more of the villains than I could. They are learning young.

Last Christmas, I bought Alice and Evie a selection of picture books and Neil Gaiman's Fortunately The Milk. I hadn't heard how the twins got on with the latter book, but I was very pleased when Sam told me yesterday that they took it to school (they have just started "big school") and made their teacher read it to the class for story-time. Success!


  1. May I say firstly, Happy birthday! Ur presents look great and it sounds like you had a good day.
    I'm originally from coventry and I'm very pleased to here of this new book shop development- I'll definitely be looking it up when I next return. Also I'd love to know what you make of the star wars Shakespeare books, as my husband has been asked to join in with a performance of one of them and we were wondering 'what the heck...?'

    1. I'd love to see how the Shakespeare Star Wars works out as a stage production, although I think it might work better as a radio play, as the "chorus" fills in a lot of the description of what's going on when there is no dialogue. I recommend the Big Comfy Bookshop, it is a fine specimen of bookshop (and coffee and cake shop!)

  2. *sails in very late* God, I suck at commenting. I've had this post open in its own tab since it went up, and now my computer's trying to reboot and I'm like "NOOO! I HAVEN'T COMMENTED YET!" So, hello. :) I hope your week at work wasn't TOO awful. Rearranging books is something that's meant to be fun, but it really isn't at those kinds of volumes. You have my sympathies... Also, may the Christmas fever sneak up SLOWLY, give you chance to adjust each step of the way. Far easier that way.

    Now, BOOKS! I have Cell on my shelves too, and it MIGHT be my next King read. I like the modern technology focus, it seems a bit different from the other novels of his that I've read so far. Can't go wrong with Mary Roach, good call. I reviewed Life Support recently and BOUGHT Gravity, so maybe that's the link you couldn't put your finger on?

    I have a couple of newer titles to add to my Marvel pile at some point too. Let me know how those Shakespeare Star Wars books are - I've seen them around a fair bit on BookTube but no one's really reviewed them yet! POP SPOCK AND SHERLOCK, oh yes. I just got my first Pop figurine as well, it's so cute! Hope I picked well on the chocolate front - there were about 15 flavours and they all sounded so niiiiice! Fuzzy felt card and Life After Life, very nice. I want to read that one too! I had a feeling Bex might buy you the Arthur Ransome book - another one you have to read so I know whether to buy it immediately, haha! That bag is gorgeous - and funnily enough, every time I buy a new one (even a smaller cross-body one for days out) I always take a paperback with me to try it for size.

    THIS POST IS FULL OF WONDERFUL THINGS KATIE. I hope your October as a whole turns out to be the same, even if it's a busy month! :D

    1. Ellie! Work hasn't been too bad these last couple of weeks. My colleague and I managed to talk the manager out of some of the proposed Christmas moves, so in the end we only moved a couple of bays, thankfully. Next to crime fiction is NOT a good place to put the humour books.

      BOOKS! I'm not sure what made me pick up Cell over some of the other titles, but I am looking forward to reading it. I think 2014 is the Year of Stephen King (as well as the Year of Awesome Books With Yellow Covers.) I'd read a couple of his books before, but now I'm recognising him as a master storyteller, not just a horror writer. I probably saw Gravity in one of your book hauls. I'd never really been interested in reading Tess Gerritson, but any story set on a space station is going to get my attention.

      I've read one of the Star Wars books, which is very interesting, with a couple of surprises even if you know the story. The author wrote at the back that even though it was on the surface a ridiculous concept, Star Wars was intentionally written drawing on some of the same mythological and storytelling archetypes that Shakespeare used.

      I LOVE MY POP SPOCK! He is sitting on the shelf above my desk looking down at me right now. I saw your Pop Loki as well. They are so awesome. I could quite easily start a collection...

      I wasn't too surprised by Bex's choice of book either (except that I'd forgotten it was on my list.) I'd looked for it in every bookshop I encountered in the Windermere/Ambleside area in the summer, but with no luck. Mr Ransome seems like a very interesting person.

      But of course you need to be able to test every bag with a book. What use is a bag with no room for books? (This one is really more of a satchel than a handbag, which suits me just fine.)

    2. Also, those chocolates were an excellent choice. The caramel cheesecake in particular was AMAZING. Thank you very much.


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