Welcome to The Woodstock Bookshop

The shop opened in May 2008 and is on the main road in Woodstock, just next to the bus stop. We can supply most books to order by the next day and have several thousand books in stock: to order books ring or email the shop. We have a large selection of children's books and are happy to advise and recommend. We can also supply second-hand and out-of-print titles. We offer discounts for school orders and for book clubs and have a free local delivery service.

We were on the regional shortlist for Independent Bookseller of the Year in 2008 and 2013, and listed in the recent Independent's Top 50 UK Bookshops.

We hold a series of informal talks and readings throughout the year. If you buy any book at the talk the cost of the ticket will be deducted. Please ring or email to book a place - early booking advisable.

The Woodstock Literature Society and Wootton Village Hall also hold excellent series of monthly talks - do visit their websites for further details.

Twitter: @WoodstockBooks

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Short stories - David Constantine and Carys Davies

A lot of people who come in to the shop won't buy short stories. I am not sure why this is. Perhaps they were forced to study them at school. Perhaps the feeling is that they are shorter so not as satisfying as novels. 

On Monday 2nd February at 7pm we have two of the finest short story writers in the country coming to read from their work here - so do come to their talk and prepare to be converted!
A good short story distracts and disturbs, and the stories in Carys Davies's The Redemption of Galen Pike are the best short stories I have come across in some time. The book is so slender and many of the stories are so short it is scarcely credible they should have the impact and resonance that they do. 

The Redemption of Galen Pike, Carys Davies        Tea-at-the-Midland-and-Other-Stories-Constantine-Da-NEW-Paperback-23-08-2012

David Constantine's collection Tea at the Midland won the 2013 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. As he says, 'The best short stories feel as though they've been scooped out of the flux of life' - his own collection is a wonderful example of this: 

'... a superb collection of stories: Constantine's writing is rare today, unafraid to be rich and allusive and unashamedly moving' - the Independent.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Other People's Countries shortlisted for Duff Cooper Prize

As a regular reader of this blog you might realise we are huge fans of Patrick McGuinness's book Other People's Countries. We have mentioned it a few times. It is our book of the year, without a doubt. So it's very good to see a few discerning people out there agreeing with us and to learn that the book has been shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize. The shortlist is excellent -

Duff Cooper Prize Shortlist 2014

The Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize celebrates the best in non-fiction writing. The first award was made in 1956, and it has been given annually ever since. The winner will be announced on 19 February.

George Prochnik: The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World
Helen Macdonald: H is for Hawk
Henry Marsh: Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery
Jenny Uglow: In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon's Wars
Marion Coutts: The Iceberg: A Memoir
Patrick McGuinness: Other People's Countries: A Journey into Memory

- for us, for the quality of the writing and the quirkiness of the concept and its humanity and humour, Other People's Countries is something very remarkable. To hear Patrick talking about the book see here.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Lawrence Home Nursing Christmas Cards

A huge thank you to everyone who bought Christmas cards for the Lawrence Home Nursing Trust here - we raised a total of £444 for the charity. This is a local charity providing nursing care for people at home - see here for more details. It's an excellent charity, founded in memory of a local GP, and the cards are locally produced too - our most popular this year were angels by Anuk Naumann,

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Angharad Price - The Life of Rebecca Jones

Our first talk this year is on Monday 19 January at 7pm, when Angharad Price is talking about her novel The Life of Rebecca Jones, based on the life of her great aunt and her family who have farmed the land in the Maesglasau valley in Wales for a thousand years:

Price's book achieves a rare feat indeed. A lovingly crafted account of Welsh-speaking rural life on the brink of dissolution or at least transformation, it serves both as a touching, tender document and as a thoroughly artful exercise in storytelling – one that, in methods and motifs, can claim a place on the shelf beside Berger, Sebald and Ondaatje. Widely hailed as the first Welsh classic of the 21st century... Boyd Tonkin (for the rest of his excellent review of the book see here).

The book was written in Welsh (and is very well translated by Lloyd Jones) and was awarded the Prose Medal at the 2002 National Eisteddfod and named Book of the Year by the Welsh Arts Council in 2003. Angharad Price is Senior Lecturer in the School of Welsh at Bangor University.

Horse - Katrina Porteous

The first parcel I unwrapped this year was an exquisitely wrapped little bundle from Katrina Porteous containing two of her limited-edition (only 200 numbered copies) of Horse. It is the work of three artists – Katrina’s sound poem about the Uffington White Horse, written for a BBC Radio 3 commission in 2011 with computer pioneer and composer Peter Zinovieff, illustrated with details from a series of specially commissioned prints by Olivia Lomenech Gill and three complete prints. The book contains a CD of the recording of a performance of Horse, an interview with Zinovieff and an afterword by Katrina about the writing of the piece – it costs £50. I am tempted to keep both but they are for sale and if anyone would like to buy a very special present...
Katrina was one of the highlights when she read with Liz Berry at our poetry festival in November and has offered to come again in early October. We will let you know if we manage to put something together – in the meantime do come and admire the book.
Happy New Year!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Our top 20 best sellers in 2014

This is the time of year when newspapers publish endless lists of top sellers and best books and it's interesting to see how our top 20 books for the past year compare with national lists.

1. Other People's Countries, Patrick McGuinness

2.Americanah, Chimomanda Ngozi Adichie
3. The Glass Bird Girl, Esme Kerr
4. Doughnuts for a Dragon, Adam & Charlotte Guillain
5 Rooftoppers, Katherine Rundell
6. Marshmallows for Martians, Adam & Charlotte Guillain
7. H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald
8. The Stairwell, Michael Longley
9. Iron and Rust, Harry Sidebottom
10. Larkswood, Valerie Mendes
11. A Soldier's Friend, Megan Rix
12. Black Country, Liz Berry
13. The Christmas Wren, Gillian Clarke
14. Cuckoos Calling, Robert Galbraith
15. The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
16. Stonor, John Williams
17. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
18. The Examined Life, Stephen Grosz
19. Last Friends, Jane Gardam

20. Hog in the Fog, Julia Copus

These mainly reflect the events we have had - though I think we would say that Other People's Countries is, by any reckoning, far and away our book of the year. Janie and I both love it and no one who we have sold it to has returned with anything other than huge praise and enjoyment of the book (perhaps those who don't like it don't dare say anything in the face of our enthusiasm!).

We had school events for books 3, 4, 5, 6 and 11 and shop events for 1, 7, 8, 9 (Harry's annual launch party) and 12.

If we look at our top selling titles of the past month, the list looks a little different though there is obviously some overlap:

1. The Stairwell, Michael Longley

2. On Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti
3. Black Country, Liz Berry
4. The Christmas Wren, Gillian Clarke
5. Bedouin of the London Evening: Collected Poems by Rosemary Tonks
6. Lila, Marilynne Robinson

7. H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald
8. The Twelve Poems of Christmas, Vol 6 (Candlestick Press)
9. Playing to the Gallery, Grayson Perry
10. Dorothy Wordsworth's Christmas Birthday, Carol Ann Duffy
11. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan
12. Six Poets, Hardy to Larkin, Alan Bennet - CD
13. Germany, Memories of a Nation, Neil MacGregor
14. Balancing Act, Joanna Trollope
15. Politics and the English |Language, George Orwell
16. Selected Poems, Bernard O'Donoghue
17. Winter Moorings, Andrew McNeillie
18. When Marnie Was There, Joan G Robinson (reprinted after many years)
19. Do No Harm, Henry Marsh
20. By Night the Mountain Burns, Juan LAuren Avila

Not quite so many event titles this time, though there can't be many independent bookshops whose top-selling Christmas title is a book of poems!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A few pictures from Woodstock Poetry Festival

What a festival! So many fantastic readings in one weekend - Carol Ann Duffy filled St Mary Magdalene and it was great to see so many people from Woodstock and so many regular customers there. 

Saturday's readings were just as well attended - Stanza 2 from Oxford all read their work, and we had tea afterwards in the church hall so people could chat. 

Peter Macdonald, who lives in Woodstock, introduced Michael Longley and the hour that followed was very special. One of the poems he read was Marigolds 1960, and if you click here you can hear him reading it - and introducing it, too: his introductions were perfect, leading you gently to the poems so that when he read each one you encountered it as something already slightly familiar.

The Irish theme continued with an evening of poems and music from Irish traditional singer Mick Henry, a regular at the Half Moon in Oxford on Sunday evenings; guitarist Nick Hooper (who runs pop-up folk sessions in Stonesfield) and poet Bernard O'Donoghue, with often reads with Mick. Mick perched on Mr Taylor's old work-stool, left in the kitchen here since I took the shop over from the electrical business in 2008 - I knew it would come in useful some time! The reading by Michael Longley had been so extraordinary it didn't seem as though it would be easy or even possible to follow, but the music created a wonderful atmosphere in the church and framed the poems perfectly and the magic continued. We had more people than we could fit and have promised to try and do another similar evening.

The Carcanet reading on Sunday was a particularly moving event - they each read beautifully - below is a taster, the title poem from Andrew McNeillie's collection:

Winter Moorings

Anchored stern and bow, sea-logged to the gunwales:
So I have moored my mind for the winter ahead.
To be the more sea-worthy if all else fails 
Come better weather and spring buries its dead.

Neil Astley had driven all the way down from Newcastle for his introduction to Rosemary Tonks - he and Jo Shapcott gave an excellent introduction to Rosemary Tonks' poems - Jo read several and described how she had got to know the poems; Neil filled us in on the biographical background and told us how he finally published her work.

Liz Berry and Katrina Porteous had never met and never read together before, though Liz has long known and been influenced by Katrina's work. Together they wove a very particular and electric magic. Both are brilliant performers - Liz is elfin, with an unexpectedly husky and arresting voice and she reads with the most tender Black Country accent; Katrina filled the church with resonant declamations (at one stage getting the audience to participate in a choral poem) and brought the language of Northumberland fishermen alive again for us - as someone wrote to me yesterday, 'that was a stunning festival, with superb poets and an enthusiastic audience. The women at start and finish shone out like diamond bookends.'

Jenny Lewis organised a Poetry Platform in The Woodstock Arms (who kindly served soup) - a lovely way to end the festival, sitting in the pub listening to local poets... 

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(left to right) Andrew McNeillie, Jenny Lewis and John Greening, three Carcanet poets

Michael Longley signing a book for Pat Winslow

Neil Astley with Rosemary Tonks' niece 

(left to right) Cathy O'Neill and her daughter Emily Pritchard with Jo Shapcott 
having tea following the Rosemary Tonks reading

Katrina Porteous signing books

Liz Berry reading in Woodstock Methodist Church...

...and signing afterwards

The end of Carol Ann Duffy's reading - she can just be seen in the far distance standing on the left, while I, an equally tiny figure, am thanking her!