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 Bookshop of the Year in 2009, 2013 and 2017, and listed in the Independent's Top 50 UK Bookshops.

are both suspended during the pandemic. We hope to start again as soon as it is safe to do so.

The bookshop started and runs Woodstock Poetry Festival, a completely independent festival that has now been running for 8 years.

The Woodstock Literature Society also holds an excellent series of monthly talks - do visit their website for further details.

Twitter: @WoodstockBooks

Monday, 20 December 2010

Open Tuesday 21st December

No deliveries and very few customers! We are open today but may close a little earlier than usual - please ring before setting out here.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Christmas Opening Times

The shop is open as usual (including on Christmas Eve) except for the following dates, when we will be shut:
Saturday 25 December
Sunday 26 December
Monday 27 December
Tuesday 28 December
Saturday 1st January
As I write this the snow is falling thickly. Mattie and I went for a walk round Blenheim lake this morning - very still and surreal, the lake frozen with a layer of snow on top, just the occasional whisper as snowflakes pattered down through the trees.
No deliveries as yet but we do have several thousand books in stock...

Monday, 22 November 2010

Mini Grey at The Woodstock Bookshop

Author and illustrator Mini Grey visited the shop last thursday to present prizes to the winners of the illustration competition organised jointly by The Woodstock Bookshop and Creative Art. She not only gave prizes and posed with the winners and runners up, as you can see, but she discussed all the pictures and talked about her own work and how she uses different materials and collage techniques. Her latest book is Three by the Sea.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


We held a meeting of the shop book group last night at which we discussed Muriel Spark's A Far Cry from Kensington. A few people couldn't quite see the point of it but most found it hilarious. Spark writes with a very light wit which led to a good discussion about humour in fiction. I have one customer who asks each time she comes in whether there isn't something funny she could read and my mind always goes totally blank. We came up with a few titles as a group and mused on the recent discussion of humour following Howard Jacobson's Booker win. There is an interesting article here by Frances Wilson, one of the Booker judges.

Josceline Dimbleby - Family Secrets

We will be providing books for a talk by Josceline Dimbleby organised by Bartons’ History Group on November 26th at 7.30 at the Alice Marshall Hall, Middle Barton.
Josceline Dimbleby, the well-known cookery writer, will talk about her book A Profound Secret – the tale of her discovery of a cache of letters written by pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones to her great grandmother May Gaskell, who lived nearby in Kiddington Hall.
For the cooks amongst us, she will end her talk by explaining how family travels throughout her life inspired her love of cooking. Her new book Orchards in the Oasis is packed with recipes developed from her childhood in the Middle East.
She will be signing copies of both books.
Tickets £6 available from The Woodstock Bookshop - for more information contact Chris Jones, tel: 01869 340409, jacobs@meganj.demon.co.uk.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Oliver Reynolds

Another very well attended poetry reading at The Woodstock Arms - over sixty people came to hear Christopher Reid and Oliver Reynolds reading from A Scattering, The Song of Lunch and Hodge. We were lucky to hear poems from Hodge as the book isn't published until later this month. It is beautifully produced - you can just see it behind Oliver Reynolds in the photo above. Oxford-based Arete have published the poetry collections - The Song of Lunch was first published by CBeditions and has just been brought out by Faber.

Jane Gardam

The next talk here will be by Jane Gardam on Tuesday 19 October at 7pm. She will talk about Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat, her wonderful novels about Sir Edwards Feathers QC and Betty, his wife.
Old Filth, the story of Feathers, was published in 2004 and shortlisted for the Orange prize in 2005: it received outstanding reviews -
'The really outstanding work of fiction I've read this year, predictably neglected by the Booker judges, is Jane Gardam's Old Filth. A Rembrandt portrait of a lawyer from birth to death, it shuttles between east and west, love and heartbreak, murder and pity, repaying patience with luminous wisdom' - Amanda Craig, New Statesman Books of the Year
'This novel is surely Gardam's masterpiece' - Guardian
The Man in the Wooden Hat fills in Betty's side of the story, sending one back again to Old Filth to see what we, like Feathers, may have missed.
Jane Gardam is one of our very best novelists. who has written for children and adults. She won the Heywood Hill literary Prize in 1999, in recognition of her distinguished literary career - see here for an interview with her.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Poetry evening at The Woodstock Arms

We are hosting an evening with Christopher Reid and Oliver Reynolds at 6pm on Sunday October 10th at The Woodstock Arms, 8 Market Street, Woodstock.

Christopher Reid will be reading from A Scattering, his collection of poems written as a tribute to his wife. A Scattering won the Costa Book of the Year in 2009: 'Austere and beautiful and moving: we regard it as a masterwork by a man who for sad reasons has met artistically his moment. We would immediately give it to friends, whether they were suffering bereavement or not' - Josephine Hart, Chair of the Costa judges 2009; 'It is a collection that defies criticism in two ways - first, because it feels wrong to pick over such poignant elegies, and also, because so many of these poems are impossible to fault' - Tom Payne, Daily Telegraph.

Oliver Reynolds has had four volumes of poetry published by Faber and will be reading from Hodge, his forthcoming collection.

Hodge and A Scattering are both published by Arete, Craig Raine's Oxford-based publishing company.

Tickets are £4 each and must be booked in advance from The Woodstock Bookshop, 01993 812760.

Monday, 13 September 2010

National Poetry Day

People who came to the reading we held at The Woodstock Arms with Jo Shapcott and Daljit Nagra might be interested to see the following article:
http://www.booktrade.info/index.php/showarticle/29187. Daljit Nagra has been announced as poet-in-residence for this year's National Poetry Day.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Poetry and Illustration Competitions

This will be the third year of our poetry competition - details below. We are also running an illustration competition following the success of last year's - the entries were so brilliant I wished the shop could be several times larger, I simply didn't have space for them all!

closing date Friday 1st October
The Woodstock Bookshop is holding a poetry competition to celebrate National Poetry Day (7th October 2010).
Entry is free, and the subject and style of the poem is also free. A poem need not rhyme! The subject for this year's National Poetry Competition is Home and poets are welcome to use that title if they wish. (see http://www.nationalpoetryday.co.uk/education/ for more details of National Poetry Day).
There are two classes: 7-11 and 11-18.
1 Poems can be any length but no longer than 20 lines
2 All poems to be written or typed on A4 paper
3 Please write name and age of poet clearly below the poem
4 School, home address and phone number on back of poem
5 Entries to be received by FRIDAY 1st OCTOBER at THE WOODSTOCK BOOKSHOP, 23 Oxford Street, Woodstock OX20 1TH
The winner of each class will receive a £20 book token
Runners up will receive a paperback book of their choice
Prize-winners will be notified and their poems and other commended entries will be displayed in the shop window to celebrate National Poetry Day.

closing date Monday 18 October
Art in Woodstock falls during the October half-term. The Woodstock Bookshop is running an illustration competition with Creative Art Gallery for a window display during that week. Pupils should produce an A4 sized illustration for a book of their choice - any scene, any book (fiction or poetry), either in their own style or that of an existing illustrator, but NOT a copy - with a short line of text accompanying it and details at the bottom of the book and author.
Entry is open to everyone under 18 - age will be taken into consideration.
Entries must be clearly labelled on the front with your name and age;
please put school details on the back.
All entries must reach the shop by Monday 18 October.
As many illustrations as possible will be displayed in The Woodstock Bookshop and Creative Art Gallery: the winner will have their entry framed and will receive a book token of £10. Runners up will receive a paperback of their choice.

Friday, 10 September 2010

The bookshop dog

Yesterday afternoon I brought Mattie into the shop for the first time - she is slightly overawed by it all at the moment but we're hoping that, like Titch, she'll soon grow into it...

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Poetry at The Woodstock Arms with Tower Poetry

We had such a full house on wednesday. 75 people poured into The Woodstock Arms, in spite of the rain and the wind and Daljit Nagra and Jo Shapcott read so well. Unfortunately I was by the door welcoming people and selling books, so I didn't take a photo of them from the front. Here is something taken, I think, by the barman while Daljit was reading, which gives an idea of the atmosphere.
There is clearly an audience in Woodstock for poetry which is a good thing because we are currently organising a poetry weekend for October 9-11 - details will be posted here as soon as they are finalised.

Sunday 29 August

The shop will be shut today but is open Monday 30 August from 1-4.30 pm. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Woodstock Independent Literature Festival tickets

Tickets are now on sale - if you want to book you should ring the box office on 01865 305305. For full details of the programme this year see here.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Family Workshops at The Oxfordshire Museum

Put aside two dates early next term - we are holding family workshops in the Coach House at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock on Sundays 26 September and 3 October at 3pm. Both will last around an hour. This is in collaboration with Creative Art Gallery who are holding an exhibition of children's book illustrations ('Art You Grew Up With' - 100 years of illustration and animation) from 9th October to 7th November.
Sunday 26 September, Katie Cleminson
Katie is a writer and illustrator - she won the Best Emerging Illustrator Award at the Booktrust Early Years Awards 2009 with her first book Box of Tricks. Her latest book is Wake Up! Join Katie for a family workshop for children aged 3-7 and their parents at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock at 3pm - learn how to draw bears, elephants, dancing rabbits and more...
Sunday 3 October, Sue Heap
Sue Heap is one of our best illustrators. Author of many books for young children, among them the wonderful Cowboy Baby, she has also worked as an illustrator with Nick Sharratt. Join Sue for a family drawing session to celebrate The Big Draw. All ages welcome, particularly 5-11: everyone will be drawing together...

Places for both days must be booked in advance through The Woodstock Bookshop: children £3, accompanying adults free.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Shop Book Group

The meeting arranged for this wednesday 11 August is postponed - many apologies. The next meeting will be on wednesday 15 September in the shop at the usual time of 7.30pm and we will be discussing Ragtime by E L Doctorow.
The book group meets monthly, usually on the second wednesday of the month. It is an open and varied group and currently has around 12 members, most of whom attend most meetings. If anyone is interested in joining please contact me at the shop - there is no charge and we give 10% discount for any book group orders - as we do for all book clubs. Books discussed so far include A Scattering; Lorrie Moore's short stories; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Razor's Edge; the Orange prize shortlist; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - quite an eclectic mix...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Man Booker Prize Longlist 2010

Here, in alphabetical order, is the longlist, just announced -

Peter Carey - Parrot and Oliver in America
Emma Donoghue – Room
Helen Dunmore - The Betrayal
Damon Galgut - In a Strange Room
Howard Jacobson - The Finkler Question*
Andrea Levy - The Long Song
Tom McCarthy - C
David Mitchell - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Lisa Moore - February*
Paul Murray - Skippy Dies*
Rose Tremain – Trespass
Christos Tsiolkas - The Slap*
Alan Warner - The Stars in the Bright Sky*

It is a good list. I have read about half of them and next on my list is Room (I started with the Rose Tremain, which I thought excellent). These prizes are a strange business, with books suddenly being yoked together, the barely comparable being compared. Books with asterisks are available in paperback.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Edmund de Waal

The Hare with Amber Eyes is one of the best books I have read this year and I am delighted that Edmund de Waal will be talking about it for The Woodstock Bookshop as part of the Independent Woodstock Literature Festival on Saturday 18 September at 7pm in the Methodist Church. Ceramicist Edmund de Waal traces the history of his family through ownership of a collection of netsuke inherited from his great uncle: the story is fascinating and he writes as well as he throws pots.
Booking will open shortly and I urge you to book in advance. I am not alone in loving it - the book has had great reviews (it was described by Frances Wilson in the Sunday Times as 'a work of rare and sustained brilliance...nobody since Lorna Sage in Bad Blood has shown so well how a memoir can overflow with riches and yet remain light, fragile, compact. Like the netsuke themselves, this book is impossible to put down. You have in your hands a masterpiece.' The review in the Economist was equally ecstatic: 'From a hard and vast archival mass of journals, memoirs, newspaper clippings and art-history books, Mr de Waal has fashioned, stroke by minuscule stroke, a book as fresh with detail as if it had been written from life, and as full of beauty and whimsy as a netsuke from the hands of a master carver. Buy two copies of his book; keep one and give the other to your closest bookish friend'). I imagine tickets will sell out fast.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Jo Shapcott and Daljit Nagra

We are joining forces with Tower Poetry to host an evening of poetry at The Woodstock Arms on Wednesday August 25th at 8pm. Tickets £4, students free, MUST be booked in advance. More information soon!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Independent Woodstock Literature Festival 2010

After a very busy June (with visits by Alexandra Shulman and Robert Sackville-West) we are not holding talks in July and August but are hosting a poetry reading (see above) and will take part in the literature festival by hosting two authors. The festival will be held in Woodstock and Blenheim Palace from September 15-19 this year - details available here.
Our programme of talks resumes in October with Jane Gardam who is coming to speak on Tuesday 19 October, by which time her book The Man in the Wooden Hat will be available in paperback. It is the wonderful companion volume to Old Filth and tells the story of Elisabeth, Filth's wife. Do try and re-read Old Filth over the summer if you're planning to come to the talk, and get hold of The Man in the Wooden Hat when it comes out in September (anyone buying the book from me will be entitled to a free place at the talk). The books are entirely separate but The Man... tells Elisabeth's story in a way that makes you instantly want to re-read Old Filth.
Filth (Failed In London Try Hong Kong) is a successful lawyer when he marries Elisabeth in Hong Kong soon after the War. He is sent to England from India as a child and finds it hard to demonstrate his emotions. But Elisabeth is different - a free spirit. She was brought up in the Japanese Internment Camps, which killed both her parents but left her with a lust for survival and an affinity with the Far East. No wonder she is attracted to Filth's hated rival at the Bar - the brash, forceful Veneering. Veneering has a Chinese wife and an adored son - and no difficulty whatsoever in demonstrating his emotions ...How Elisabeth turns into Betty, and whether she remains loyal to stolid Filth or swept up by caddish Veneering, make for a page-turning plot, full of surprises, revelations and humour. Jane Gardam is one of our best novelists.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Knole Talk Tuesday 29 June

Robert Sackville-West's talk about Inheritance, his book on Knole and the Sackvilles, starts at 7.30pm and will be held at The Methodist Church.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Judging the Orange Prize

Well, as you can see, Orange judge and Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman showed her enthusiasm for independent bookshops by coming to talk to us in the Methodist Church about the process of judging the Orange Prize for Fiction. Despite what most people would consider an unbelievably hectic job for the past eighteen years - and a teenage son - she reads a lot too. We were all impressed by her stoicism and endurance in having read so many books in such a short period of time while she was selecting books for the Orange longlist and shortlist ('And then I caught flu which was quite a relief because I managed to read three books while I was recovering!') and it was interesting to hear her talk about the titles that didn't make the shortlist as well as those that did. The talk was followed by questions during which she and the audience agreed on the dearth of well-written books about contemporary middle-class life - a modern Jane Austen, for example - and shared Daisy Goodwin's view that there was rather too much misery in the books submitted. The Woodstock Bookshop is currently compiling a list of amusing or even funny books - any suggestions please to info@woodstockbookshop.co.uk ...

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Independent Booksellers' Week

As you can see below, we are starting Independent Booksellers' Week with a flourish - and on Monday 14 June our main event of the week is the talk by Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue magazine since 1992, who is coming to discuss the Orange shortlist and prizewinner. Alexandra has been one of the judges this year and will tell us something about why and how the shortlist and winning title were chosen from the vast number of books submitted for the prize. Please note that this talk begins at the earlier than usual time of 7pm.

I think the shortlist this year is excellent - I have read most of them and although I sometimes feel weak in the face of the huge number of book awards and prizes each year and slightly sceptical about some of the winners, I think the Orange Prize has a good history of rewarding excellent writers - Marilynne Robinson, Rose Tremain, Kate Grenville, Linda Grant, Anne Michaels, Helen Dunmore, to mention just a few of them.

Martin Amis was speaking at the Hay festival recently, where he complained that only unenjoyable books win awards: "There was a great fashion in the last century, and it's still with us, of the unenjoyable novel. And these are the novels which win prizes, because the committee thinks, 'Well it's not at all enjoyable, and it isn't funny, therefore it must be very serious...It all started with [Samuel] Beckett, I think. It was a kind of reasonable response to the horrors of the 20th century - you know, 'No poetry after Auschwitz'. But I think it's footling and it's a mistake and it's a false lead...You look back at the great writers in the English canon, and the American, and they are all funny...The reason for that is that life is funny. It's horrible, and there are disgusting atrocities et cetera et cetera, but we all know that life is very funny - that's its nature."

Martin Amis has never won a major prize but he has a point - I often find it hard to think of funny books. The Orange prize shortlist - and the longlist, too - if not wildly funny, is certainly enjoyable and I am looking forward to hearing what Alexandra has to say about how on earth the judges choose between books as different as Black Water Rising and The Very Thought of You...

Paws for History

Walk and Tea, 12 June 3.45pm - meet at The Woodstock Bookshop
You may remember that last year we held a launch at the shop for Helen Peacocke's book Paws Under the Table, a book of 40 dog-friendly walks throughout Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds (see the entry for June 2009). Well, she's done it again, she's written another dog-friendly guide, Paws for History, this time not only describing 35 walks and pubs but also giving information about aspects of historic interest - ranging from the stained glass windows in Fairford church to the Maharajah's Well at Stoke Row (there is even a picture of The Woodstock Bookshop on p.156 - not historic yet, but who knows!).
Do join us for a walk (dogs welcome) to celebrate - meeting at The Woodstock Bookshop at 3.45, we aim to have a walk round Blenhiem Park and then finish at Harriet's tea room for a well deserved cup of tea while Helen talks about the adventures she had while writing the book. Entry £2.50 to include tea and scone, must be pre-booked at The Woodstock Bookshop.

Woodstock and the Royal Park - launch

The book is here, the result of months of hard work by the writers and editors and years of their combined knowledge and research on many aspects of the life and history of Woodstock and Blenheim Park and the surrounding villages. It is fascinating and I urge anyone living in the area to have a look at it. There is to be a launch at the Museum Coach House on Saturday 12 June at midday and you are very welcome to attend provided you book in advance. Entry is free; wine and nibbles will be available and the authors will talk briefly about the book. Please ring or email the shop for further information.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Sex & Stravinsky

Tonight's talk by Barbara Trapido will be held across the road in the Methodist Church.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Discuss the Orange shortlist with the editor of Vogue

The shortlist below will all be for sale here at 10% discount until June 14th when Alexandra Shulman (one of the four judges this year) is coming to discuss choosing the winner. I would like as many of the audience as possible to have read at least one of the books - just think how many the judges had to read! It's a brilliant list so there's no hardship involved. Here they are, in no particular order:

The Lacuna Barbara Kingsolver
Black Water Rising Attica Locke
Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel
A Gate at the Stairs Lorrie Moore
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle Monique Roffey
The Very Thought of You Rosie Alison

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Woodstock and the Royal Park

This is the title of a forthcoming book published to mark the 900th anniversary of the enclosing of Woodstock park. The book is a fascinating history of Woodstock, Blenheim and the seven surrounding demesne villages and will be availably shortly at £14.95. I am collecting a list of orders...

Robert Sackville-West

Robert Sackville-West is coming here on Tuesday 29 June at 7.30 to talk about his recent book Inheritance: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles. Robert is the 13th generation of Sackvilles to live at Knole - he inherited the title when his uncle died and he lives at Knole (now owned by the National Trust) with his wife and family.

Knole was purchased in 1604 by Thomas Sackville. It is set in a deer park just outside Sevenoaks in Kent, a vast rambling house more like a huge Oxford college than a manor house. Knole is perhaps most famous now for its connections with Vita Sackville West and Virginia Woolf - Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando for Vita and the book starts and ends at Knole. Vita described the Sackvilles as 'a race too prodigal, too amorous, too weak, too indolent and too melancholy; a rotten lot, and nearly all stark staring mad'. Robert seems to have escaped the general Sackville condition and his book draws on unpublished letters, archives and images, weaving a wonderful story of Knole and the Sackvilles throughout four hundred years.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Carnegie & Greenaway shortlists 2010

On a more positive note, I have just seen the shortlists for the Carnegie and Greenaway prizes - Neil Gaiman appears in both lists - and Julie Hearn's excellent book Rowan the Strange is on the shortlist.

Carnegie shortlist 2010

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Vanishing of Katerina Linden by Helen Grant

Rowan the Strange by Julie Hearn

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Nation by Terry Pratchett

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist

Leon and the Place Between by Grahame Baker-Smith

Harry & Hopper by Freya Blackwood (text by Margaret Wild)

The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

Millie's Marvellous Hat by Satoshi Kitamura

Crazy Hair by Dave McKean (text by Neil Gaiman)

The Graveyard Book by Chris Riddell (text by Neil Gaiman)

The Dunderheads by David Roberts (text by Paul Fleischman)

There are Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwarz

High Street Trading

This is a beautiful book and it is currently in my window. It costs £24.95. A man came in to the shop yesterday and asked to look at the book, so I took it out of the window and gave it to him. He spent a long time looking at it and then said, 'What are you asking for it?' I said that I couldn't sell for below the retail price as I am an independent bookshop and don't have the margins to cut prices. When he heard what it cost he gave it back to me, saying, 'I don't want to pay that much for it,' and walked out. The point is, he has a choice and he can buy it for less.
I have checked on Amazon - the book is on sale for £14.64 and it even has super saver delivery. It costs me slightly more than that to buy the book from my wholesalers. I doubt the man would have come across the book unless he'd seen it in my window but he undoubtedly went home to buy it online, congratulating himself on having saved so much money. Not surprising, then, that I read this morning, 'Online retailer Amazon reported a 68% rise in net profits for the first quarter of the year to $299m (GBP194.5m).'
It doesn't make sense. I am proud of my stock and the advice we can offer customers. We have to pay for the premises and all the costs associated with trading, such as electricity, Nielsons book data and so on. We are not overcharging, and give discounts to schools and book groups. But if most customers behave like that there soon won't be any independent high street booksellers: we can't depend on the enthusiasm of a bookish minority who buy from us in spite of the ruthless undercutting because they value our services.
Still, it's a glorious morning and I'd rather be here in the shop than most other places, so I'll enjoy it while I can.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


Please book in advance for these talks - otherwise I end up torn between having to turn people away or squeeze too many people into the shop. If I know the talk is going to be very popular I can always book the Methodist church at short notice but I do need to know at least a day in advance! The church has very comfortable chairs and is a nice venue if not quite so cosy as the shop.
We had a crowd here last night to hear Jane Robinson talk about Bluestockings, her book on the history of women's university education in England. Jane said she was inspired to write the book when she realised that while Cambridge university recently celebrated its 900th anniversary, two of the Oxford women's colleges were celebrating 60 years of being fully part of the university - it was the gap between these that interested her. After a clear and compressed account of how women managed to achieve degrees (they were very charming and determined not to be confused with the suffragettes - 'it's called being subversive,' suggested one member of the audience), quoting from several diaries and letters, Jane finished with the story of Trixie Pearson and her mother Ruth which left me almost in tears (see Bluestockings, pp 1-4). We had questions and some fascinating contributions from the audience that made us all realise this wasn't some remote account of wrongs long rectified but something that still affects us daily. There was the story of a professor who went to a doctor recently and when her details were being checked she pointed out that she was 'Professor', not 'Mrs': the computer came up with 'status incompatible with gender'...

Monday, 12 April 2010

Prue Leith at Wootton

Another hugely enjoyable evening at Wootton Village Hall on Friday night when Prue Leith came to talk about life beginning at 70. She was charming and funny and made starting several businesses sound as easy as making a cake. This picture shows the aftermath, with Andy in front offering very delicious sandwiches and everyone chatting (the talks are very convivial). Prue is signing books far left.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Easter opening hours

We are open as follows over the Easter weekend:
Friday 2 April 1-4.30
Saturday 3 April 9.30-5.30
Sunday 4 April SHUT
Monday 5 April 1-4.30
Orders may take slightly longer than usual to arrive as our suppliers are shut on Friday, Sunday and Monday.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Independent Foreign Fiction prize longlist

The longlist for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction prize has just been announced - it looks a fabulous list and I have no idea how the judges will choose even a shortlist from this selection let alone an eventual winner. No surprise to see two of the books are published by the MacLehose Press - Christopher MacLehose has a brilliant track record in publishing writers in translation - Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson as well as Peter Hoeg and Ismail Kadare and a host of others. Also interesting that Anthea Bell has translated two of the titles. She has had a long, varied and distinguished career as a translator, bringing us hundreds of books from Asterix to Stefan Zweig (the latter recently most unfairly maligned by Michael Hofmann in the London Review of Books - you should read Zweig and make up your own minds). Many of the following are already in paperback and are in stock here:

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize long-list
Boris Akunin, The Coronation
(translated by Andrew Bromfield from the Russian) Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Ketil Bjørnstad, To Music
(Deborah Dawkin & Erik Skuggevik; Norwegian) Maia Press
Hassan Blasim, The Madman of Freedom Square
(Jonathan Wright; Arabic) Comma Press
Philippe Claudel, Brodeck's Report
(John Cullen; French) MacLehose Press
Julia Franck, The Blind Side of the Heart
(Anthea Bell; German) Harvill Secker
Pietro Grossi, Fists
(Howard Curtis; Italian) Pushkin Press
Elias Khoury, Yalo
(Humphrey Davies; Arabic) MacLehose Press
Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones
(Charlotte Mandell; French) Chatto & Windus
Alain Mabanckou, Broken Glass
(Helen Stevenson; French) Serpent's Tail
Javier Marías, Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell
(Margaret Jull Costa; Spanish) Chatto & Windus
Yoko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
(Stephen Snyder; Japanese) Harvill Secker
Claudia Piñeiro, Thursday Night Widows
(Miranda France; Spanish) Bitter Lemon Press
Sankar, Chowringhee
(Arunava Sinha; Bengali) Atlantic
Rafik Schami, The Dark Side of Love
(Anthea Bell; German) Arabia Books
Bahaa Taher, Sunset Oasis
(Humphrey Davies; Arabic) Sceptre

The shortlists for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize has also just been announced - too long to list in full but anyone interested in finding out more can see it here.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Wootton Village Hall talks

Soon after I opened The Woodstock Bookshop Andy Morgan appeared in the shop, wanting to discuss an idea he'd had for raising money for Wootton village hall. People might be interested in talks, he thought. I thought so, too, and it seems we were right as the talks have almost always sold out. Andy has succeeded in attracting extraordinary speakers to Wootton and the talks have the most wonderful, friendly atmosphere. There is a bar; sandwiches and delicious bits and pieces appropriate to the talk are served afterwards (I am sure whoever provides the food will rise to the challenge of a Prue Leith inspired evening!). I will be selling books at some of the talks - this is what the next few months have in store:

Friday 19 March, OLIVER JAMES, leading clinical psychologist. He has called his talk 'Affluenza - Did Thatcherism Drive Us Bonkers?' It is based on his best-selling books examining the theory that people are much wealthier than 50 years ago, but pressures to keep up have now led to the UK having some of the highest levels of stress and mental health problems in western Europe.

Friday 9 April, PRUE LEITH, fabulous cook, restaurateur, food writer and novelist. She was Businesswoman of the Year in 1990 and more recently has been very active in the School Food Trust. She is publishing her latest novel Serving of Scandal in March. Prue, who recently celebrated her 70th birthday, has called her talk 'Retirement - What Retirement?' If any of you came to her talk here last year (when Choral Society was published) you will know what a brilliant speaker she is.

Friday 7 May 7, GERRY ANDERSON, legendary creator of iconic marionette shows such as Thunderbirds, Fireball XLV and Captain Scarlett. A professional puppeteer will demonstrate how the marionettes were used.

All talks start at 7.30pm and entry costs £6 for everybody.
The easiest way is book is through the website http://www.woottontalks.co.uk/.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Beautiful for Ever

This is the cover of the new book Helen Rappaport is coming to talk about on Monday 8th March at 7.30pm. I can't wait to see copies - it looks very enticing and will, I am sure, be fascinating. I hope the snow snows somewhere else (recurring theme this year) and that the talk is able to go ahead as planned.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Letters from the Front

Pictured are John Ledingham, left, and Arthur Stockwin, following last night's talk at the Methodist Church.
Arthur brought along the letters he found after his mother's death, still in the Fuller's box where she kept them. He also brought family photographs and a long photograph of part of the Front. Hearing some of the letters it was hard to believe they were written almost a hundred years ago - they are so fresh and the relationship that develops between the young couple is so vivid.
John somehow managed to reduce over 250 pages of letters to a twenty-minute summary, quoting brief extracts as illustration. The book itself represents only about a quarter of the letters between Gerard Garvin and his parents. I can't think when I have read a more moving collection of letters. They give a fascinating picture of life in England during the war: Gerard's mother kept him supplied with food and clothes - he sent his washing home weekly and in one of his final letters he says, '...can you send me some Tiptree, or some of Beach's Farm, which I'm told is as good, and a folding knife, fork and spoon. Please don't send many sweets because I don't eat them much now.' The letters from his parents survive because Gerard packed them up and sent them all home just before he died. He also wrote a final letter of farewell shortly before the final battle. His reading list while at the front is extraordinary - Moliere, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Thucydides - a full list is at the end of the book. He was clearly a very clever and very well educated boy. A year after his son's death, J L Garvin visited the Somme and saw where Gerard had been killed. Afterwards he wrote about the battlefield in the Observer (he was the editor): 'Here are poppies, deep cornflower, wild mustard, thyme and the rest...The spirit of earth is weaving patterns of bright wonders and robing our dead as kings.'
I am so glad we were able to rearrange this talk and very grateful to John and Arthur.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

First World War Letters talk - new date

We have rearranged the talk that should have taken place yesterday. It will now be on Friday 5th February at 7.30pm, across the road in the Methodist church. Please ring or email to book. If you had previously booked and are unable to make the new date you will be refunded.
The shop is shut today because all the staff are snowed in. Many apologies. We hope to reopen tomorrow.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Talk and book group postponed

The talk on First World War letters scheduled for Tuesday12th January is postponed due to the snow. We will try to rearrange the date as many people had expressed an interest. Everyone who paid will of course be reimbursed.
Wednesday evening's book group at the shop is also postponed and will take place on Wednesday 20th January at 7.30pm.
The shop is open as normal today though may shut slightly earlier than usual - please ring for details.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

9th January 2010

The shop is open but may close earlier than usual. Please ring before venturing out!

Friday, 8 January 2010

shut early

Friday 8 January - shut at 3.15 - many apologies. Please ring to check what time we are open tomorrow.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Thursday 7 January

It is Thursday 7 January (in spite of what the date of this posting says) and the shop is open today until 4pm. I managed to crawl in from Oxford after digging the car out of its snowy cocoon but the roads and pavements in Woodstock are so icy I will be very surprised if anyone ventures out...