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, 26 September 2011

Gillian Clarke

We had a great launch for Washing Lines last Saturday. Janie and Barbara had decked the Methodist Church with washing lines and poetry and the church was full. The photos show Gillian signing books after the reading, and chatting to Janie and her husband Nicholas just before the reading began. Barbara can just be seen on the far left.

Gillian Clarke's reading was wonderful - we have some CDs of her reading her work in case anyone would like a permanent reminder of how well she reads (the recording was not made at our talk so is not exclusively about washing). She began with tribute to the four miners who had just been found, reading an earlier poem in memory of another accident -

Six Bells - 28th June 1960

Perhaps a woman hanging out the wash

paused, hearing something, a sudden hush,

a pulse inside the earth like a blow to the heart,

holding in her arms the wet weight

of her wedding sheets, his shirts. Perhaps

heads lifted from the work of scrubbing steps,

hands stilled from wringing rainbows onto slate,

while below the town, deep in the pit

a rock-fall struck a spark from steel, and fired

the void, punched through the mine a fist

of blazing firedamp. As they died,

perhaps a silence, before sirens cried,

before the people gathered in the street,

before she'd finished hanging out her sheets.

She read a lot from Washing Lines, and from her own work. A treat was to hear unpublished, recent poems, including one just completed that day. She also read Shirt of a Lad, an anonymous poem translated by Tony Conran, which will surely be in a future edition of Washing Lines.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Anthea Bell and Boyd Tonkin

The photos show, from top to bottom, Anthea Bell signing books after her discussion with Boyd Tonkin; with Melissa from Pushkin Press; signing again and with Melissa. The Methodist Church was full (you can see the cross just over Melissa's shoulder). Pushkin Press produce the most beautiful paperback editions of literature in translation and have published many of Stefan Zweig's books, translated by Anthea Bell - for a look at their superb catalgue see here.
The other small publisher whose books we stocked for the evening is Arabia and Haus
publishing, who publish Rafik Schami. Schami was born in Syria but has lived in political exile in Germany since 1970. He is the winner of numerous international prizes and is among Germany's bestselling novelists - Anthea Bell has translated two of his books, The Dark Side of Love and The Calligrapher's Secret, and she picked out the former as one of her favourite translations. Her most recent translation for Haus is The Indies Enterprise by Erik Orsenna which is coming out very soon (we have early copies here - it is a fantastic story of the effects of discovery.

Boyd Tonkin asked excellent questions and, while Anthea was modestly describing her work as craftsmanship, he declared she was like Yehudi Menuhin, a virtuoso able to bring writers to life in another language. We were lucky to hear her.

On 9 October 2011 at the French Institute Anthea Bell will be sharing her passion for translation, and her experience of taking on upfront the most challenging of them all, the very Gallic Asterix!
Book online on http://www.institut-francais.org.uk/bdandcomicspassion/

Monday, 5 September 2011

Christine Holmes novels

Oxford was recently saddened to hear of the loss of author Christine Holmes. Holmes is probably better known as an historian of Captain Cook and Anglo-Saxon Benson, but she was also a novelist. The Lily & The Crocodile (published in Germany as The Queen’s Physician) is an exuberant read set inside Cleopatra’s royal quarters and beyond. The Song of Deborah, set a thousand years earlier in Palestine, is an intimate tale of two heroic women in the Biblical time before Kings….. Roke Elm is a gem of a modern story set in southern Oxfordshire. This is a truly magical tale of gentle love, and loss, rooted in the very fabric around Benson and the Chilterns. All three novels (in special paperback editions printed for Holmes’s memorial in Oxford) are available from The Woodstock Bookshop at £10 each.

Looking Back - Basil Mitchell

Professor Basil Mitchell, a Woodstock resident for many years, died in June 2011. He had a long and distinguished career as an academic, mainly in Oxford, where he was Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, Keble College, Oxford, 1947-67, Emeritus Fellow of Keble, 1981, Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, Oxford University, Fellow of Oriel College, 1968-84, and Emeritus Fellow of Oriel, 1984. Before his death he published Looking Back: on faith, philosophy and friends in Oxford (£19.95). It is a fascinating account of his life and philosophy and very well written. If anyone has difficulty getting hold of a copy we are happy to send it out.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Gillian Clarke and Anthea Bell

The programme for the year's Independent Woodstock Literature Festival is now available and we are hosting two events as part of it:

On Thursday 15 September at 7pm, Anthea Bell, the very distinguished and versatile translator, is being interviewed by Boyd Tonkin (literary editor of the Independent who has a particular interest in translated fiction). Anthea Bell translates from French and German - she is the translator of many children's books, among them the Nicholas books and Asterix - see here. She is also the translator of a wide range of crime and literary fiction including several books for the European crime specialist Bitter Lemon Press, W G Sebald's Austerlitz (for which she won the Independent Foreign Fiction prize) and many Stefan Zweig novels - most recently a new translation of Beware of Pity.

On Saturday 17 September at 6pm, Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales and chair of the judges for this year's T S Eliot prize for poetry, is reading from her own work and also launching Washing Lines, a beautifully produced anthology of poems collected and published by Janie Hextall (who works in the shop) and Barbara McNaught. For an article in The Oxford Times see here.

Tickets (£8) are available by phone from 01865 305305, or from The Feathers Hotel Woodstock, or online at http://www.woodstockliteraryfestival.com/.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Richard Webster

Very sad news. Richard Webster has died, aged only 60. People who have come to the shop since we started three years ago will remember him well - he worked here for a year or so. I met him soon after I opened because he came in and introduced himself and said that he had thought of opening a bookshop in Woodstock after he stopped running the Southwold Bookshop and moved to Oxford. He hadn't quite got round to it and was rather relieved that I had done it instead, so he could continue to write while coming in to the Woodstock Bookshop and enjoying a stint as a bookseller whenever I went away. He used to call it living vicariously.

He was hugely supportive and I will miss him enormously. Not that he was uncritical. 'Rachel,' he said, shortly after we first met. 'Coming into your bookshop is like trying to read the front page of The Times without any headlines. Have you thought about putting up some labels?' It was great to have someone who believed in me but would also challenge me. 'I see you've been busy again,' he would note, as he came in to the shop after a week or two's absence. Which meant too much stock. 'A bookshop is like a river,' he would explain. 'You need the banks to hold it steady, the occasional big boulder to keep things together (such as the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations or the complete works of Shakespeare) - but the centre should flow freely.' I look around now and see too many books face out hiding other books (Richard would go round whenever he was here making little piles of authors with only the top book face out) and vow to do a clear-out in his memory.

He did his best to promote the shop and to keep me on the right path. He was the one who helped me put together this website and he read it regularly, always emailing me immediately he spotted a spelling mistake or error. He would bring friends in on quiet Sunday afternoons. He made sure the shop opened through a winter of snow, driving in from Hayfield Road whenever I got stuck in Dean and ringing me with reports of weather conditions in Woodstock. He made sticky labels for me because he thought the shop needed them. He was always there, on the end of the phone, for IT crises or to share gossip about the book trade. And we sold a lot of his lovely cards, too. He had been writing a book on Disgust - I wonder how much had been completed at his death.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Mark Ford and Bernard O'Donoghue

A very crowded Woodstock Arms

Bernard O'Donoghue signing Farmers Cross after the talk

The Woodstock Arms was full last night, around 80 of us gathered for the reading by Mark Ford (left, above) and Bernard O'Donoghue. Mark Ford read from Six Children, including the title poem, from which I quote the first and last verses:

The first woman I ever got with child wore calico
In Carolina. She was hoeing beans; as a languorous breeze
I caressed her loins, until her hoe lay abandoned in the furrow.

Some day, all together, we will stride the open road, wheeling
In an outsized pram my sixth, this broken, mustachioed
Soldier whose wounds I bind up night. His mother I forget.

Bernard O'Donoghue was reading from Farmers Cross - including the poem below:


Then they talked together until Dunstan spoke about St Edmund,
as Edmund's sword-bearer told the story to King Aethelstan, when
Dunstan was a young man and the sword-bearer was a very old man.
- Aelfric's preface, The Life of King Edmund

Magie Din Beag, aged four in 1865,
was lifted on to her father's shoulders
at Abraham Lincoln's funeral.
Her father said to her: 'Never forget
That you were at Abraham Lincoln's funeral!'
He said it at the time, she told me, and again
at intervals throughout the rest of his life.
She told it to me in 1956
when I was ten, and said: 'Never forget
that you once knew an old woman
who had been at Abraham Lincoln's funeral
when she was four.' Fifty years ago now;
so what I say to you is: never forget
that you once read something by someone
who said they had known when they were young
someone who said their father told them
they had been to Abraham Lincoln's funeral.

Sadly, I didn't take a camera to Anna Kemp's reading at the library on Saturday - she was lovely with the children, getting them to join in and even to do a little balletic warm-up between readings. If you haven't yet read Dogs Don't Do Ballet, you should - and Fantastic Frankie is brilliant too, in a Roald Dahl-ish style.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Video of Henning Mankell in Woodstock

Karen, the BBC producer, has sent me a link to a short video they filmed of Henning Mankell just before he gave the talk in Woodstock last weekend - see here. It all looks suitably grey and misty.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Salley Vickers talk 14 June

The Woodstock Literature Society is organising a talk by Salley Vickers on Tuesday 14th June at 8pm in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Woodstock. Salley Vickers is perhaps best known for Miss Garnet's Angel, her first novel. She has written five other novels and, most recently, Aphrodite's Hat, a collection of short stories.

Tickets for visitors are £8.00 and can be purchased from The Woodstock Bookshop, or by post from Stephanie Bliss, email: blisses@waitrose. Tickets can be reserved by phone and collected at the door if more convenient.

The society is also offering a great deal on half-year membership this year: a ticket for the Vickers talk plus membership for the four autumn lectures will cost just £16.00 compared to £28 if purchased as separate guest tickets. Details of the programme can be found here.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Henning Mankell comes to town

We had a fabulous afternoon on saturday - the church in Woodstock was packed with around 300 people and the BBC did a superbly professional job on the sound system so everyone heard perfectly. It was fascinating being part of a broadcast - Karen, the producer of the BBC World Book Club, told us what to expect and not to worry about fluffing our questions as the recording wasn't going out live, and Harriet Gilbertt, the interviewer, also put people at ease. And then we were off - Harriet's voice changed immediately into a BBC announcer's voice, and Henning Mankell began unexpectedly with a short speech about voice amplification, questioning the need for microphones in a church where people have spoken and been heard for hundreds of years unaided. The amplification was, in this instance, necessary as there was a soundman, Tim, in the vestry, recording everything for a broadcast on the BBC World Service on July 2nd at 11 am. So if you were not able to be there on saturday or would like to hear it all again and find out the differences between a live and an edited discussion, you can listen to the radio on July 2nd.
The top picture shows Harriet Gilbertt introducing Henning Mankell; the one below shows the aftermath of the talk, me on the left and Henning Mankell in the middle, signing books.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Henning Mankell in Woodstock - SOLD OUT

On Saturday May 28 at 1.30 we are holding a very unusual event: Henning Mankell, author of the Wallander series of detective novels, will be discussing Faceless Killers for the BBC World Book Club, introduced by Harriet Gilbertt. He will also be signing copies of his books afterwards, including the final Wallender mystery The Troubled Man. This is a very rare chance to meet Henning Mankell as he spends most of his time in Maputo and Sweden. The discussion will take place at St Mary Magdalene Church in Woodstock. Tickets are £4 and must be booked in advance from The Woodstock Bookshop: 01993 812760. We will not admit people unless they have booked a place in advance.

Henning Mankell will be interviewed by Harriet Gilbertt who runs the BBC World Service Book Club. As this is a book group discussion, one book will be discussed - Faceless Killers. When we first sent out publicity for this event the book to be discussed was announced as Before the Frost - please note that it has been changed to Faceless Killers.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

International Day of the Book

I have just discovered that April 23 is the International Day of the Book. This is even more worrying than the daily emails that arrive declaring the end of the printed book, the percentage of new novels being bought solely as ebooks, the number of people using Kindles, the number of books bought on Amazon, the heroic small booksellers sending out distress signals to their customers asking everyone to please buy a book otherwise they might be forced to close. This is worrying because International Days are usually for things under threat of extinction, like Peace or Whales. I am not sure whether to hang out the balloons and the bunting on April 23 or celebrate the day more quietly by bookselling as usual in the spirit of the wartime poster, Keep Calm and Carry On.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Orange Prize Shortlist

The shortlist is announced today - we tried to predict what it would be and got it half right... Room, Emma Donoghue; The Tiger's Wife, Tea Obreht; Great House, Nicole Krauss; Grace Williams Says it Loud, Emma Henderson; The Memory of Love, Aminatta Forna ; Annabel, Kathleen Winter. Quite strange that A Visit From the Goon Squad wasn't on the list, as it recently won the National Book Award in America. Of the ones I have read, I think Room should win. It is very well written and quite brilliant. But I must read the others too.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Easter and Bank Holiday opening

We will be open as follows over the Easter weekend: Friday 22 April 1-4.30; Sunday 24 April SHUT; Monday 25 April 1-4.30. We will be shut on Friday 29 April, open as normal Saturday and Sunday and open from 1-4.30 on Monday 2nd May. On Saturday 30 April the shop will be three years old. We are planning a celebration...

Friday, 8 April 2011

Poetry at The Woodstock Arms

We had a very good evening as you might be able to tell from the photos taken by Kathryn from Tower Poetry on her mobile. The top one shows, left to right, me, Peter McDonald, David Morley and Stephen Franks (a customer and member of the audience) and the bottom one shows David Morley reading. Peter and David had spent the day judging entries for the Tower Poetry prize, a prize for 16-18 year olds. It was great that they were able to come on and read to us - do look out for their poems if you haven't come across them before - Enchantment, by David Morley and Torchlight by Peter McDonald.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Best New Illustrators

Ten young illustrators have been named as the Booktrust Best New Illustrators 2011, among them the fabulous Katie Cleminson who came and gave a workshop for us at the museum last year. Also on the list is Sara Ogilvie whose illustrations are perfect for Dogs Don't do Ballet, the very funny book by Anna Kemp who is coming to read it at Woodstock Library on Saturday 11th June at 10 o'clock. Entry is free but tickets must be booked in advance either through the bookshop or at the library. All children need to be accompanied - the age range is approximately 3-7.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Orange Prize longlist 2011

Great to see Room on the Orange Prize longlist. It's a very good list - I've read some and would like to read all of them. A Visit from the Goon Squad has been a huge hit in America where it recently won the National Book Award. I am halfway through it and enjoying it though the constant change of focus is slightly disconcerting. When a book arrives with such hype it can be hard to see it clearly. I have just finished Great House and The Tiger's Wife, both very good. Tea Obreht is extraordinary. Born in the Balkans, she is only 25 but writes with tremendous flair and sentitivity - her first language wasn't English and her written English has something very delicate and different about it - not unEnglish, but highly distinctive.

Lyrics Alley Leila Aboulela (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Jamrach's Menagerie Carol Birch (Canongate)
Room Emma Donoghue (Picador)
The Pleasure Seekers Tishani Doshi (Bloomsbury)
Whatever You Love Louise Doughty (Faber)
A Visit from the Goon Squad Jennifer Egan (Corsair)
The Memory of Love Aminatta Forna (Bloomsbury)
The London Train Tessa Hadley (Jonathan Cape)
Grace Williams Says it Loud Emma Henderson (Sceptre)
The Seas Samantha Hunt (Corsair)
The Birth of Love Joanna Kavenna (Faber)
Great House Nicole Krauss (Viking)
The Road to Wanting Wendy Law-Yone (Chatto)
The Tiger's Wife Téa Obreht (Weidenfeld)
The Invisible Bridge Julie Orringer (Viking)
Repeat it Today with Tears Anne Peile (Serpent's Tail)
Swamplandia! Karen Russell (Chatto)
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives Lola Shoneyin (Serpent's Tail)
The Swimmer Roma Tearne (HarperPress)
Annabel Kathleen Winter (Jonathan Cape)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Book Group

The Woodstock Bookshop Bookgroup meets on the second wednesday evening of the month at the shop at 7pm. So far we have discussed:
Lorrie Moore's Birds of America; The Razor's Edge; Absurdistan; Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress; To Kill a Mockingbird; the 2010 Orange Prize shortlist; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; Ragtime; Little Brother; A Scattering; A Far Cry from Kensington; The Glass Menagerie; The Photograph and Room.
On March 9 we will be discussing Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea.
If you like the idea of joining please contact us as we hold a waiting list for new readers. We take it in turns to choose what to read and meetings last around an hour.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Emma Donoghue - Room

We had a full house at The Methodist Church last night for Frances Wilson and Emma Donoghue.
Emma began by reading from Room and now when I read it her voice is in my head. If you do get the chance to hear her, go along - or listen to her on the radio. She reads superbly. She and Frances then discussed the book which was fascinating. I should have taped it or at the very least scribbled notes. Above is a picture of Emma signing books at the end, when a long line of people filed up the aisle to meet her.
Frances's questions were enthusiastic and very acute and provoked answers that made me want to read the book yet again. I particularly loved what she said about Jack feeling safe in Room, surrounded as he was by all his transitional objects. Emma said she was pleased with how she managed to depict Ma through Jack - it's not an easy thing to do, and the adult reader has to be able to see beyond Jack's descriptions and interpret what is said or what happens. We gradually realise Ma's vulnerability and weakness but also her strength. She wanted to show Ma could be strong when it came to dealing with Old Nick over Jack, that Ma had managed to protect Jack and also to prevent Old Nick from forming any relationship with him. She wanted Ma to make Jack strong, like the hero of his story rather than a victim. It was important that Ma and Jack stage their own release and also that Old Nick should be polite and inoffensive - evil, she said, is so often banal.
It was interesting, too, to hear Emma describe how she writes. She said she spends a long time planning, going over and over things in her head, writing what should happen when. The book is as tightly organised as any detective story, and she gave a hilarious account of wrapping her (willing) son up in a rug to check what it would feel like and how long it would take to escape. She made the language as clear and simple as she could and didn't put in any swear words or descriptions of sex because Jack is protected by Ma and in spite of everything has no knowledge of sex. It is beautifully written.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Emma Donoghue talk sold out

We have sold out for the talk by Emma Donoghue and Frances Wilson on February 8th. If you would like a ticket we can add you to a waiting list for return tickets - do ring or email the shop.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Emma Donoghue

There is an article in this week's Oxford Times about her talk in Woodstock on February 8th:

A novel sparked by the Josef Fritzl abuse case might seem likely to be a miserable read. But Room, by Emma Donoghue, is one of the most heart-warming books I’ve read in a long time.
Like Fritzl’s victim, Donoghue’s protagonist is imprisoned in a room and gives birth to children after being repeatedly raped. The story is told by her five-year-old son Jack, who has never known a different life and accepts as normal his meagre existence with rationed food, a few books and occasional access to television.
It has become a word-of-mouth bestseller, translated into Dutch, Swedish, Italian, Hebrew and South Korean. Now the author is travelling from her home in Canada to visit Woodstock for a paperback launch event hosted by the town’s tiny bookshop.
In an interview with the Oxford Times, Donoghue said the choice of Woodstock was partly a way of marking the importance of independent bookshops. “A lot of them are very passionate about books, and often people buy the book as a result. And Room has been one of those books that’s become a success partly because of word-of-mouth.”

Tickets are selling fast but we do some some space left.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Our Christmas Bestsellers

I am always intrigued to see how we compare with other shops and lists at this list-making time of year, so for those of you who enjoy such things here is our list of the top 10 best sellers for the month leading up to Christmas:
The Hare With Amber Eyes
One Day
Twelve Days of Christmas
Simple Pleasures
Twelve Poems for Christmas (edited by Carol Ann Duffy and published by the excellent Candlestick Press who have produced a great series of poetry pamphlets to send as cards)
Any Human Heart (always a strong seller here but boosted by the TV adaptation)
Shadow (the latest Michael Morpurgo)
Wait for Me! (The Duchess of Devonshire's memoirs)
Eric (the book by Shaun Tan taken from Tales From Outer Suburbia)
BBC National Short Story Award 2010
So - an eclectic collection. The Hare with Amber Eyes has just been named as winner of the Costa Biography Prize, see here.