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.

Two monthly book groups take place at the bookshop - a poetry group, initially formed to read collections submitted for the annual T S Eliot Prize and now following a slightly wider brief; and a book group focusing more on fiction. Both are open to everyone but occasionally space is limited - please contact us for details.

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 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

Saturday, 12 April 2014

An Introduction to Children's Picture Book Illustration with Mini Grey

If you came to hear author and illustrator Mini Grey talking in Stonesfield about her work - or if you have always wanted to try and create a children's picture book - you may be interested to know that Mini is running a three-day course this summer in Buckingham as part of a new summer school.

The course will be an informal exploration of ways to create children's picture books in words and pictures, from Wednesday 6th to Friday 8th August inclusive. For more information about Mini's course and the rest of the school see here.

Hermelin the Detective Mouse

The course should be excellent - Mini is a patient and hugely inspiring teacher and her work is outstanding - 

It’s extremely rare to find a brilliant illustrator who can tell a gripping, original tale so effortlessly. Like fine cheese, you feel Hermelin will only improve with age
Alex O'Connell, The Times

Thursday, 3 April 2014

British Gardens in Time

View towards the Italian Verona red marble fountain between the double borders in the Wall Garden in August at Nymans, West Sussex. Credit John Miller

Nymans, West Sussex - one of the gardens in BBC4's forthcoming 4-part series that tells the history of gardens and places them in their social and historical context by focusing on four gardens and the people who created them. Chris Beardshaw, one of the presenters, says ' This series is the perfect example of how it is possible to tell the story of not just gardens but of the social, industrial and political developments that have shaped, or themselves been shaped by, their external environment.'

Garden historian Katie Campbell has written a fascinating and beautifully illustrated book to accompany the series and will be giving an illustrated talk on British Gardens in Time in Woodstock Methodist Church on Tuesday 20 May at 7pm - tickets £5 from The Woodstock Bookshop, in aid of the building project at Woodstock Methodist Church.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Rooftoppers on Carnegie shortlist

The Csarnegie and Greenaway shortlists have just been published - see here.


We are huge fans of Katherine Rundell and her two books, Girl Savage and Rooftoppers (see my earlier post about her). Rooftoppers has not only just won the Blue Peter Prize but is now shortlisted for the Carnegie award. It is so well written, so imaginative - and can be given with confidence to anyone over about 9 of either sex. (I include adults - and would like to stress that the age recommendation is a guide rather than a limit).  Congratulations to Katherine - and to Faber, for publishing such a fabulous book in a cover that is neither pink nor blue but a design that draws in male and female readers (see below).

Faber are also the publishers of the outstanding Hog in the Fog by poet Julia Copus (who read at our last Poetry Festival). The text is particularly good, as you would expect from a poet. It rhymes, it scans,it flows apparently effortlessly. I haven't read it to a child yet but reading it aloud in the shop I can imagine the delight and the joint reading that would take place:

Pittery pattery,
tippety tappety,
off up thte hill
went Candy Stripe Lil...

Monday, 17 March 2014

Let Books be Books

Well, finally! If you click here you will see that authors and booksellers have started a campaign to end selling books targeted sepcifically at boys or girls - see my post for 5th June 2013, Can a Boy Read a Book by a Woman? I feel very strongly about this and always refuse to stock anything labelled 'boy' or 'girl' - but even if there are no labels, the design and colours send the same message. Congratulations to Malorie Blackman for drawing attention to this - just what a children's laureate should be doing....

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Mini Grey evening at The White Horse

We had another very good evening at the White Horse Barn on 4th March, this time with award-winning children's illustrator and author Mini Grey. Mini studied sequential illustration in Brighton under John Vernon Lord (inspirational creator of The Giant Jam Sandwich) and decided that she had to be able to generate her own stories if she was going to be a children's illustrator, 'otherwise you just have to sit and wait for other people's stories and that might take a long time!'

She brought along several of er sketchbooks and also the zigzag books and the miniature books she makes to show her agent and publisher, small early versions of the finished books. It was fascinating to see the gestation of the books. Some, like her latest book Hermelin, take years and start off in very different forms - Hermelin began as a story about missing cats. She uses a lot of bits and bobs in her initial sketchbooks, and brought a tiny cheesebox back with her from Prague, for Hermelin cheese, that seemed to be crying out for a small creature to live in it.

The sketchbooks are a glorious exploration of ideas and themes, sketches and storylines, which simmer together until they form something. She works on different ideas at the same time, cutting and pasting until she is ready to produce a zigzag book, a long concertina of a book where the words and images first really come together. There is a structural discipline to children's books - all illustrated children's titles have to fit into 32 pages - and that constraint makes the books somehow more focused. 'All the rough stuff where it doesn't have to be perfect is the most exciting part of making a book... The process can be less creative than you'd like it to be - you want them to say, "Be more weird!" - but they've got to sell the book...

'I've always used Dr Marten's watercolours but they do fade. I use ink, pencil, Quink. But I always come back to watercolours. I love the unexpectedness of watercolour. You can be messy with them. Masking fluid is good, you can spray - there is an unexpected, random element. I do try to make them messy. Some books are hard to be messy with...  My least favourite part of the process is the final artwork - you're committed then.'

Mini spoke about books she encountered as a child that particularly influenced her - Dr Seuss, Tove Jansson's Moomins, Edmund Dulac's watercolours, Arthur Rackham. She loves animation, too, in particular Wacky Races, Disney and the Cl;angers - 'Fundamentally, The Clangers, the home-made world of Oliver Postgate.'

- Did her English degree prepare her for her career? 'Words and pictures... I didn't think there was an option for words and pictures. I never did a proper art degree or training.  I should have done an illustration degree but it was seen as a lower form of art. Now it's got a new profile. Also, there are children's picture book courses - exciting things are happening now, they are seen as a proper art form.'

Someone asked whether she tested her books out on children - 'No! That's a disastrous idea! Children can be terribly cruel... Also, you have to be certain in yourself that something works. If you need to test it on a child, something's not right. And part of the reason for not showing work to children is that I don't want the book to be judged till it reaches a certain stage... Making the books is like playing, so maybe I'm thinking like a child. You go wherever your imagination takes you - all of us have got inside us the person that we were.

'Reading with a child is fantastic. Children's books build empathy in the brain. You need to imagine being in someone else's place, that's a key. Picture books do this. It's a journey you undertake with a child.'

Friday, 14 February 2014

Harry Bingham Tuesday 11 March 8pm

The next Woodstock Bookshop talk is by Harry Bingham. Harry lives locally and is a hugely prolific novelist, author of - among other books - The Lieutenant's Lover and Glory Boys. He also runs the Writers' Workshop, an editorial consultancy for writers.

His three latest detective novels are BRILLIANT! They feature DC Fiona Griffiths, living and working in Cardiff. She is entirely her own character, but has aspects of the wonderful Sara Lund from The Killing, and of Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the Stieg Larsson (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) trilogy. Fiona is unconventional, partly because she was very ill as a teenager with Cotard's syndrome - 'It took quite a long time to develop Fiona, but the thing that locked everything in place was her Cotard’s Syndrome, an illness where sufferers believe themselves to be dead. It seemed to me that the condition was perfect for a crime story. It’s a mystery in itself. It walks a dark edge between life and dark. And it places the detective herself as the ultimate outsider.'


There are three Fiona Griffiths novels so far - Talking to the Dead, Love Story, With Murders and, just about to appear, The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths. I have found each more compulsive than the last.

Congratulations to Jane Gardam

We are very glad to see that novelist Jane Gardam has been shortlisted for the first Folio Prize, a prize open to English language writers from around the world. If you haven't yet read Jane Gardam this is as good a time as any to start: Last Friends, the final novel in her Old Filth trilogy, has just been published in paperback. This trilogy is excellent - each book is based round one of three main characters and tells their story, which intersects with and overlaps the stories of the other characters in fascinating ways. Start with Old Filth (not about some pervert, but an international lawyer - the initials stand for Failed In London Try Hong Kong) and you will become addicted.