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

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Top Christmas Sellers

Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol is the book trade's Christmas number one, I read this morning. When I checked my top ten best-sellers over the past month I came up with the following:
Howard's End is on the Landing - Susan Hill
Dogs that Know when their Owners are Coming Home - Rupert Sheldrake
Looking Back - Basil Mitchell
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
The World Cheese Book
Am I Alone in Thinking?
Cracking Cryptic Crosswords - Colin Dexter
Jesus' Christmas Party - Nicholas Allan
Red Sky at Night
True Deceiver - Tove Jansson
The first two (and the cheese book) are there because of events (Rupert Sheldrake was speaking at Wootton Village Hall as part of their hugely successful series of fundraising talks). Basil Mitchell is a retired academic living in Woodstock and I am posting his memoirs all over the world. It is an idiosyncratic list, to say the least!
The book I have sold most of since this time last year, however, is William Fiennes The Music Room - he came and read here, and it is set locally, but above all it is a wonderful book.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas Opening

Really, this should be called Christmas Closing...
We are open as usual except for the following:
Christmas Day - shut
Saturday 26 December - shut
Friday 1 January - shut
Monday 28 December is a bank holiday and we will open from 1-4.30pm.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Persephone talk & independents

We had a splendid evening with Nicola Beauman (here she is, signing a copy of A Very Great Profession). The shop was full of (mostly) women who seemed to have read most of Persephone's books between them. Nicola Beauman spoke very passionately about her list of authors and I thought how great it would be to borrow her for the shop occasionally - her enthusiasm is so infectious.
Just to continue my musing about the prospects for independents - someone came in this morning and asked for a paperback of the new William Trevor. I said it wasn't in paperback yet. 'Yes it is, I bought it from Waterstones in Witney the other day.' What can you say? An export edition? She looked at me closely - 'But YOU can't get it?' No, I said. 'And you can't compete on price either, they do these 3 for 2.'
The next customer bounced in a few minutes later saying cheerily, 'I see you put Borders out of business: well done!'
It doesn't do to take any of this too personally.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Back to the bookshop....

We will hold tonight's talk about Persephone Books by Nicola Beauman at the bookshop - sorry to change things at such short notice but several people have got flu and cancelled. If you would like to use the evening to do some Christmas shopping, you are welcome to arrive a little early and come to the shop first as we will be here and open from 6.30pm.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Praise indeed

'Earlier this year, I went to speak at the relatively new Woodstock Bookshop in Oxfordshire and found, in a compact haven crammed with good books chosen with taste and flair, just that dream of the perfect browsable space that so many readers cherish.'
So says Boyd Tonkin, literary editor of the Independent - for the full article see here. With praise like that, what could one need but many readers of the Independent!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Sue Heap presenting prizes

Here are the winners of the recent illustration competition being given their prizes by author and illustrator Sue Heap. The standard of entries was very high and it was hard to choose the three winning pictures but we agreed unanimously - the winner was Louisa McDonald, seen here holding her picture from The Return of the Killer Cat. Second prize went to Rachel Fry and third to Henry Chesterman - all pictured above with Sue during the prize-giving at the shop on Wednesday.
I have just come across a very nice article by Susan Hill on independent bookshops - see here. Regular visitors to The Woodstock Bookshop will recognise the bits that relate to the shop.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Susan Hill

Pictures of Susan Hill signing books after last night's talk at The Methodist Church. We had a great evening - Susan perched against the altar and spoke very fluently and informally about her year of tracking down books and the memories and portions of her life that the books recalled. Someone asked her about 'the writing process' - whether she planned, how she wrote. It was refreshing to hear that she just writes, without much of a plan.
I first read Strange Meeting as a teenager and am still amazed by how someone of under thirty could possibly have written so convincingly about the First World War.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


We are very lucky in Oxfordshire: we have the world expert on cheese living on our doorstep. We are particularly fortunate in Woodstock because Juliet Harbutt, world cheese expert and author, will be talking about the magic, myths and making of cheese at Hampers on Saturday 28th November at 5 pm. Find out how to look after your cheeses, create the perfect cheeseboard and enjoy a cheese tasting with a glass of wine. Juliet will also be signing copies of her recently published World Book of Cheese - the perfect gift for the cheese-lover in your life - and the event will end just in time for you to walk along to the town square where the Christmas lights will be turned on at 6pm with choirs, chestnuts, mulled wine, soup...
Tickets £4 (to include a glass of wine and cheese-tasting) from The Woodstock Bookshop. Please book in advance.

An Independent Future?

I have just read the most annoying article in the Independent by Tom Sutcliffe - see here for the full text. The part that caught my attention was this:
'I noticed that Richard Dawkins had published a new book and then noticed that the hardback price was £20 and hesitated. And then I went home and discovered that Amazon would deliver it to my door for £9.99...Since then I've found myself wondering exactly how much of a premium I'd pay to keep that small bookshop in business... My guilt, in the instance I've given, was compounded by the fact that the real-world bookshop did much of the work of securing the sale – acting, in effect, as a walk-through interface...'
That sums it up really. Tom Sutcliffe feels guilty because he likes bookshops and knows that he wouldn't have come across the book at all if it weren't for that well-stocked, well-informed local bookshop. But he buys it from Amazon because it's cheaper. Not every book is cheaper on Amazon, and the hidden costs of the whole process - to publishers and everyone involved in book production - are vast. But so long as local bookshops are viewed as a charitable concern by their (very occasional and often simply browsing) customers, their future is clearly limited.
Interestingly, I read Tom Sutcliffe's article online - why buy a paper when you can read it online for nothing? - So we are all equally involved in this virtual undermining... If I buy your paper, will you shop here?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Jamie McKendrick

We had a full shop last night for Jamie McKendrick's reading. He read some unpublished poems, as well as poems from Embrace, his new translations of Magrelli, and from Crocodiles and Obelisks. He also read from See How I Land, the collaboration between Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre and Asylum Welcome. There is another chance to hear some of the writing from this book on Monday 23rd November from 7-9 pm at the Quaker Centre in St Giles - free entry. For details see http://www.asylum-welcome.org/.

Friday, 6 November 2009

William Boyd

I have been invited to sell books at this event: WILLIAM BOYD book launch & reading, Saturday 14th November 3 pm. William Boyd, Jesus College alumnus and Honorary Fellow will be reading an extract from his new novel, Ordinary Thunderstorms, followed by a Q&A session and a book signing, at the Taylorian Institute Library, St Giles, Oxford. Tea will be served from 3pm; the reading will start at around 3.30 and afterwards there will be an opportunity to talk to William Boyd and buy books. Tickets are priced at £6 per person or £3 for current students: ring Elizabeth Robson at Jesus College to reserve tickets - 01865 279695. For more information please visit: http://alumni.jesus.ox.ac.uk/Events/williamboydevent.php
For more information on Ordinary Thunderstorms see http://living.scotsman.com/books/Book-review-Ordinary-Thunderstorms.5578008.jp
There are still a few tickets left!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Susan Hill

On Tuesday 24th November Susan Hill is coming to speak at the Methodist Church just across the road from the bookshop. She will be talking about her new book, Howard's End is on the Landing, about a year spent away from bookshops and the internet reacquainting herself with the books already on her shelves. As a bookseller I have to admit I viewed the project with a certain lack of enthusiasm! But the book itself is an intriguing blend of thoughts and memories and this is a wonderful opportunity to meet one of our very best writers. I know of few better books about the First World War than Strange Meeting - and have you read The Woman in Black or The Beacon? Or her Simon Serailler crime novels? Tickets are available from the shop, £4 each - advance booking essential.
We are very grateful to the Methodists for allowing us to hire the church for the evening. We expanded into the Methodist Church for the talk by Patrick Gale last month and thought it made a very good venue. The church is much more spacious than the shop but still feels intimate. The chairs are extremely comfortable and a huge plus for me is that I don't have to carry them up and down the road!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Patrick Gale at The Methodist Church

There was such demand for this talk that we have moved it across the road to the Methodist Church...

Woodstock Literature Society

The society is entering its second year and has arranged the following talks for 2010 for full details see their website:
23 January, 3 pm Woodstock Museum: 'Happy Birthday Anton Pavlovich!' - illustrated talk on works & life of Checkhov by Rosamund Bartlett on 150th anniversary of his birth. Followed by tea and AGM.
18 February, 8 pm, Woodstock Town Hall: 'Witchcraft in Shakespeare', Diane Purkiss (fellow of Keble) - bar from 7.30.
17 March, 8 pm, Woodstock Library: Harry Sidebottom will talk about his Warrior of Rome novels set in 2nd century Rome - bar from 7.30.
21 April, 8pm, Woodstock Library: 'Dreaming Spires: Literary Oxford' - talk by Clare Connors of Queen's College Oxford.
11 May, 8 pm, Woodstock Town Hall: Alison Weir, 'Princes, Paramours & Prisoners: Woodstock Palace from Fair Rosamund to Elizabeth I - part of Woodstock@900 Festival.
19 June, 3 pm, Woodstock Museum: 'TV Drama: the writer's challenge' - illustrated talk by Nicholas McInnery (who has written many episodes of The Bill). NB This lecture has been re-scheduled to Saturday 11th December. It will still be in the Oxfordshire Museum and will be followed by a seasonal tea.
15 July, 8 pm, Woodstock Town Hall
: 'Race & Conflict in Two American Novels' - Tessa Roynon, lecturer in English at St Peter's, Oxford, will discuss The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison) and The Human Stain (Philip Roth).
21 September, 8 pm, Woodstock Town Hall: 'Contemporary Crime Fiction', Heather O'Donoghue.
6 October, 8 pm, Woodstock Library: Claire Letemendia will talk about her historical romance set in the Civil War, The Best of Men.
Annual membership £20; individual lectures £5 (except for Alison Weir, £8). For further details contact Linda Glees: lindaglees@btinternet.com

Wednesday, 30 September 2009


The Festival is over and we have begin to recover and make plans for this autumn. It was a very good time for the shop - we were busy and had two brilliant events here. Jeremy Mynott was every bit as fascinating as I thought he would be - his book Birdscapes is a delight even if you are not passionate about birds. I - like his wife, as I discovered - have never been remotely interested in identifying birds but I was so enthused by his talk that I have read parts of the book and can now begin to understand...
Tracy Borman came to talk about her new book on Elizabeth I and her women - she explained that she had always wanted to discover more about Elizabeth and that by approaching her through the women who surrounded her she could find out more about what she was actually like as a woman. It is a very interesting approach and the book has since been on Radio 4 so some of you may have heard parts of it.
The next event at the shop is an informal and open meeting here on Monday 5th October at 7pm for anyone interested in forming a new book club (the date was fixed before I realised it was the annual Fair in town so we will meet to the background of fairground music - parking may be tricky for anyone living outside Woodstock). Free entry; wine. This is an exploratory meeting - so far several people have contacted me to say they would like to come and others have said they are interested but can't make that night. It is open to everyone of any age and if there is sufficient enthusiasm for the project we will have a shop reading group soon. Do ring or email if you would like to be involved or kept informed.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Mini Grey at The Oxfordshire Museum

Mini Grey, the children's illustrator and author, is coming to give an informal reading of her latest books at The Oxfordshire Museum in the Coach House on Sunday 11th October at 3pm. Mini Grey is one of the best children's illustrators in the country. Her second book about Traction Man - Traction Man Meets Turbodog - comes out in paperback at the beginning of the month and she has also illustrated Jim, Hilaire Belloc's poem about Jim who ran off and was eaten by a lion -

When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:—
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, “Well—it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!”

This is a family event - admission £2 per child, accompanying adults free - please ring the shop to book places. Unaccompanied adults also very welcome. If the weather is unseasonally balmy we will have the reading in the museum garden.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Patrick Gale

Patrick Gale, whose Notes From an Exhibition has been such a huge success, is coming to talk at the shop on Monday 12th October at 7.30pm. Tickets are £4 and should be booked in advance at the shop; the £4 is refundable if you buy a copy of any of Patrick's books on the night including of course his new collection of short stories, Gentleman's Relish, which is published by 4th Estate at the beginning of October. For more information on his life and books see his website.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Woodstock Festival Speakers

We are holding two talks in the shop this year as part of The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival. Tickets for these are now available from tickets oxford.
On Thursday 17 September at 7.30pm, Jeremy Mynott is speaking about Birdscapes, Birds in our Imagination and Experience. Jeremy Mynott is the former chief executive of Cambridge University Press and this book is a wonderful meditation on birds and our relationship with them.
On Saturday 19 September at 7pm the historian Tracy Borman will speak about her forthcoming book Elizabeth's Women, which explores Elizabeth's relationships with the women in her life: advance copies of the book will be available. Tracy's previous book is Henrietta Howard: King's Mistress, Queen's Servant.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Autumn Talks

I will post the list of Autumn talks very soon: there is a very enticing list of speakers! I have decided, reluctantly, to charge for the talks. Space is limited and occasionally people have booked and then not turned up which is a great shame for the people who have tried to book and been turned down. So from September all talks will be £4, payable in advance, but if you buy a book at the talk £4 will be deducted from the price. Wine and juice will be served.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival

Dates for the festival this year are 16-20 September and details will be available soon. See here for information.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Alice in Woodstock

The sun shone (just) on Sunday, as we gathered in the Oxfordshire Museum gardens to listen to storyteller Adam Guillain retell Alice in Wonderland. We all sat on benches and lounged on rugs under the big tree. This was a lovely event with an audience of all ages and Adam retold Alice with his usual flair and humour. Keen Alice lovers should visit The Story Museum to see what events are planned in and around Oxford for Alice's Day on Saturday 4th July.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Harry Sidebottom

Woodstock must have the most authors living in and within a ten-mile radius of the town of any small town in England. Well, I haven't explored this scientifically but it is astounding how many writers there are here. Harry lives in Woodstock, is a don at Lincoln College and when he's not teaching Oxford undergraduates classical history he writes bestselling novels. Last year Fire in the East was published by Penguin, the first in a series set in Ancient Rome called Warrior of Rome. His second novel, King of Kings, is published in July and we are delighted that he is coming to The Woodstock Bookshop on Thursday 16th July at 7.30 to give a talk about the books. This should be fascinating - not only is Harry a distinguished scholar but he is a gifted storyteller.

Carnegie/Greenaway winners

I was very impressed by the standard of entries for the competition we've been running alongside the Carnegie/Greenaway awards. Woodstock and Wootton primary schools both entered and their work has lit up the window all week. Very hard to choose just one winner but it has to be Tom Samson for his extraordinary picture of Savage. I will try to add the image soon so you can see it. Runners up are Alfie Sherlock from Woodstock Primary School and George Parker, Calla Cambrey, Chloe Flack and Megan Dyer all from Wootton-by-Woodstock Primary School.

The winner of the Carnegie Medal this year is Siobhan Dowd for Bog Child: sadly she is not alive to receive the prize - she has left us some fine children's books. The Greenaway Medal goes to Catherine Rayner for Harris Finds his Feet, a charmingly illustrated book about a little hare's relationship with his grandad and his growing independence.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Yes, Dogs at The Woodstock Bookshop!

Well, it was a howling success (excuse the pun) - and here we are after the talk to prove we made it! Helen is on the left, with Pythius-Peacocke, then a couple of people lurking in the doorway and me looking delighted that it's over with everyone in one piece and nobody bitten or trodden on. There were 20 humans and 6 dogs in all, making an audience of more or less the usual size for talks at the shop.
The first picture shows one of the smaller dogs sitting patiently on the infant-sized wooden chair in front of the fiction section - a model member of the audience...

Helen gave a short and humorous account of some of her research and signed copies of Paws Under the Table - then everyone trotted off for a Woodstock walk finishing at The Woodstock Arms where the promised nibbles were superb.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Carnegie/Greenaway Competition

The shop window is currently alive with children's pictures and reviews of shortlisted titles they particularly loved. The winners of the awards will be announced next week, as will the winners of the shop competition. The standard of work submitted by Woodstock Primary School and Wootton-by-Woodstock Primary School is fantastic. It is interesting that so many children chose The Savage: all the entries from Woodstock Primary School were on that title, as Year 5 had read it together, and many of the Wootton entries were too. The Savage is a graphic novel by David Almond and Dave McKean, and explores the grief and longings of Blue Baker whose father has recently died. The book is raw and alive and much loved by the children who read it.

The shortlist for the Carnegie Medal is particularly strong this year and also appeals strongly to boys which is no bad thing when boys' reading has become a matter for concern. If anything might tempt a boy to read, the books on this list might!
Creature of the Night - Kate Thompson
Black Rabbit Summer - Kevin Brooks
Ostrich Boys - Keith Gray
Bog Child - Siobhan Dowd
The Knife of Never letting Go - Patrick Ness
Airman - Eoin Colfer
Cosmic - Frank Cottrell Boyce

The Greenaway Medal shortlist:
How to mend a Broken Wing - Bob Graham
Harris Finds his Feet - Catherine Rayner
The Savage - David Almond & Dave McKean
Little Boat - Thomas Docherty
Molly & the Night Monster - Chris Wormell
The Way Back Home - Oliver Jeffers
The Snow Goose - Paul Gallico, illustrated by Angela Barrett
Varmints - Helen Ward

An Unusual Evening

Mark Mills and Francesca Kay are not writers one would usually link together so it was a rare treat to welcome them both to the shop on Tuesday. They are both very successful in different areas - Mark is a prizewinning crime writer whose third novel, The Information Officer, has recently been published, and Francesca's first novel An Equal Stillness has just won the Orange prize for new fiction. Each had recently read the other's work and they hadn't known each other before meeting briefly to prepare for the talk at the shop. So when they started to talk about their work the discussion was unrehearsed and fascinating. They were very generous about each other's books, finding a huge amount to admire. Both novels create a very strong sense of place and are driven, in different ways, by a sense of mystery: we do not, for example, discover the identity of the 'author' of An Equal Stillness until the final pages. It was a treat to eavesdrop on writers discussing their writing and then to contribute to the discussion, as so many of the audience did.

Friday, 5 June 2009

James Harpur

James read here last night from The Dark Age to a packed shop. The shop does fill fairly quickly but it is gratifying that there's an audience for poetry. A friend has already written to say how much she enjoyed it: 'I must say I like his poetry. There is a really rigorous combination of intellectual and spiritual exploration with a wonderful sensitivity to language and form.' He also reads them very well. Thanks to everyone who came and particularly to James for including us on his English visit.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Dogs at The Woodstock Bookshop?

Possibly the wildest event we have organised yet... On Sunday June 21st at 4.30pm we will be welcoming Helen Peacocke and her dog Pythius-Peacocke, joint authors of Paws Under the Table, to talk about their book. Helen is a food writer who has reviewed most pubs in Oxfordshire and she and Pythius-Peacocke have produced a charming guide to some of the best pubs in the county including The Woodstock Arms, which does excellent food. You will find out more about the book here. Come to the launch at the shop - well behaved dogs very welcome - Helen will tell us a little about her researches and sign copies, then off for a short walk before retiring to The Woodstock Arms where free nibbles will be served when you order a drink.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Katherine Swift

I know that everyone who came to Katherine's talk last night will want to visit her garden as soon as they can - perhaps when all the roses are out. So here are the details:

The Dower House
Morville Hall
WV16 5NB

The garden is managed on organic principles. It is rich in wildlife, and is a haven for many species of birds. Katherine is also a skilled beekeeper, and visitors can visit the hives. Honey is usually available for purchase during the season, together with an array of jams made from the produce of the garden.The best times to visit are April and May for a stunning display of tulips and other bulbs, June for the roses, July and August for agapanthus and clematis, and September for michaelmas daisies and heritage varieties of apple.

Open Wednesday, Sunday and Bank Holidays 2pm to 6pm. Open for groups by appointment only Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
For further information look at The Dower House

Friday, 15 May 2009

Independent Foreign Fiction Prizewinner

The Armies by Colombian author Evelio Rosero has won the 2009 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize - it is the second time translator Anne McLean has won the prize. The Armies is set in a village in the remote mountains of Colombia and follows the story of a retired schoolteacher who stays in his village as other people gradually leave to escape the war. Rosero is a major writer and The Armies has been hailed as 'one of the most important Latin American novels of the last few years'.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Working conditions

Merle was here yesterday afternoon. She is spending some time here finding out whether working in a bookshop is as nice as she imagined. While she was sitting on the beanbag checking off a delivery and I was pottering round on the computer a woman came in, looked around, and said : 'How lovely. What bliss. Just the two of you, piles of books and NO MEN.'
We do occasionally have men. Some even work here...

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

First anniversary

One year old! And the shop is looking great - I filched a small table from our sitting room for Boyd Tonkin's talk on the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize on Saturday, and the shortlisted books fill it nicely. I have read Voice Over which I highly recommend and am half-way through Beijing Coma. The writing is superb - translated by Ma Jian's wife, Flora Drew, it details personal and political events leading up to the massacre in Tiananmen Square and I can't believe there's a better book on the list. Though I will read the others just to check...

We had a very good first birthday talk from Boyd Tonkin. The shop was full and Boyd talked about previous years of the prize as well as this, so it was a very good way for people to catch up on what they might have missed in the way of translated fiction. I have tried to stock a lot of it, as it's so often neglected in larger shops. Recent enthusiasm for Swedish detective fiction has brought a great audience for Henning Mankell and Stieg Larssen and I also do a steady trade in Andrei Makine (fantastically translated by Geoffrey Strachan who lives locally).

Boyd was kind about the shop and said:

'I'm sure the shop will thrive - it was such a rare and wonderful experience these days to see so many great books within reach rather than theoretically on sale to anyone with the persistence to ask five clueless assistants and navigate miles of shelves.'

Saturday, 2 May 2009

William Fiennes

I had to turn down so many people who wanted to come to William's talk on Monday. Nearly everyone who was there has either phoned or come in to the shop to say what an extraordinary evening it was and how very moved they were. Someone who booked too late to get a seat and so stood for over an hour said she couldn't believe how long she had been standing for when she looked at her watch. Time was suspended: William stood reading from the beginning of the book and a great stillness came over the room. When it is read aloud, the book has the power and inevitability of poetry. He has managed something truly remarkable. The final image of Richard standing in the music room, about to sing, captures something of the atmosphere William created for us here.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2009 - shortlist

I have just got back to the shop after an Easter weekend in Yorkshire and realise I forgot to post the shortlist before I went. Apologies. This is the shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize that Boyd Tonkin will be discussing at his talk here on 2nd May at 6pm:

Voiceover by Celine Curiol, translated by Sam Richard from the French (Faber)
Beijing Coma by Ma Jian, translated by Flora Drew from the Chinese (Chatto)
The Siege by Ismail Kadare, translated by David Bellos from the Albanian (Canongate)
The Armies by Evelio Rosero, translated by Anne McLean from the Spanish (MacLehose Press)
The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, translated by Anne McLean from the Spanish (Bloomsbury)
Friendly Fire by A B Yehoshua, translated by Stuart Schoffman from the Hebrew (Halban).

There are still a few places left for the talk. I hope that anyone planning to come will read at least one of the shortlist! They are all available here.

The awards ceremony will take place at Tate Britain on 14 May, with the winning author and translator receiving £5,000 each. The prize is supported by Arts Council England with Champagne Taittinger.

Friday, 20 March 2009

The Woodstock Bookshop bookmark

For those of you who haven't been into the shop yet, here is the picture (drawn by my daughter Anna) on our bookmark.

Katherine Swift - The Morville Hours

Janie - who works here on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons - was sitting next to a lovely person at a poetry evening who turned out to be Katherine Swift. 'The Katherine Swift, The Morville Hours Katherine Swift?' asked Janie. Yes. And so it is that Katherine Swift is coming to The Woodstock Bookshop on Monday May 18th at 7.30 pm to talk about The Morville Hours, which comes out in paperback in April. If you have never heard of it you should check it out online and then wait and buy it from us at her talk. It is the most wonderful book for anyone interested in gardens, history, religion,or simply very fine writing.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Prue Leith

What a star! Prue arrived looking wonderful, sat down in the middle of the people who had gathered early to get good seats and started to chat to them. She was friendly and charming and, once she started to talk about her writing career, hilarious about the various scrapes her recipe-writing days had led her into. One story involved marmalade, dentures and the bomb disposal squad - I leave you to imagine the link. She is a brilliant speaker and quite inspirational for women. I began to think she should be somehow bottled and sent into every school in the country as an example to girls of what they could achieve with their lives. She spoke passionately about why she had written about older women and we heard how her publishers had tried to persuade her that she couldn't write about women over 50 because no one would be interested. Thank goodness she didn't listen to them. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, take it. My neighbour has resumed her Tai Chi classes since Monday.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Mr Toppit

Charles Elton drove all the way from London last night to talk here about his new book Mr Toppit. We did a Q and A session instead of a talk, which I hadn't done here before. I thought it worked very well but since I was the one asking most of the questions I might be biased. He was very funny and it was fantastic to have a writer so willing to talk to us all about his work. I have several signed first editions of Mr Toppit for sale which will no doubt become collector's items. In fact, a book dealer drove all the way from Surrey to get some books signed by Charles which I found rather astounding.
Mr Toppit is slightly haunting me today. It is a curious book, unlike anything else I've read. Somehow one totally believes in the Hayseed Chronicles - the sections quoted in the book are very resonant and compelling - and the characters Charles invents are very real in spite of their almost Dickensian level of caricature. Martha, Lila, Laurie, Rachel, Arthur and Luke - if you haven't read it you should give it a try.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Screening of 'Secret'

I have been a great fan of this book since I first read it and will be selling copies at the only Oxford screening of the film which is taking place on 27th February. Afterwards there will be an interview between the translator, Polly McLean, and the writer Philippe Grimbert. Places are limited and I advise you to book in advance.

Friday, 6 February 2009

And more snow

Very frustrating not being able to drive in to Woodstock. Apologies to anyone who has tried to collect or buy a book in the past couple of days and found the shop shut. I have driven in as soon as I could but whenever it snows the smaller roads where we live are impossible: no grit and a lot of skidding around. At least the children are pleased!
Richard has been fantastic and driven in from Oxford to open the shop when I haven't been able to get in. So today, as of midday, The Woodstock Bookshop is open.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Shop closed!

I'm sitting at home watching the snow fall thickly outside and imagining how pretty Woodstock must look. We live up a steep narrow lane in Dean and in weather like this we just stay put. To my daughters' disgust, the teacher who drives them into Oxford has a four-wheel drive so was able to collect them this morning. And the village school is open, so the youngest stomped off down the drive to get a lift with a neighbour who also has a four-wheel drive. I am a coward in the snow, entirely lack frontier spirit. So, apologies to anyone who has an order waiting to be collected: I won't be coming in to the shop today.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Trans-Siberian Railway

The bookshop was crowded last night as people came to hear Deborah Manley's talk. She and her friend Clive read from the book she edited which is a wonderful collection of writings - from Murray's Handbook for Travellers, 1893, to Bob Geldof, Eric Newby and Lesley Blanche. For those of us who aren't likely to be going across Russia soon, the book is a great companion and inspiration.
I was overwhelmed by the number of people who turned up for the talk - almost 40 - and wished the shop were twice the size so that everyone could have been accomodated with greater ease and the windows wouldn't have steamed up so much (I heard a couple of teenagers commenting in a surprised tone as they went past, 'They've got a lock-in at the bookshop!'). It is great that people want to come and I shouldn't complain of it, but I might have to introduce some sort of more formal ticketing system to control the numbers because I do want the evenings to continue and I also want everyone who comes to enjoy them and be able to relax. 25-30 is a more comfortable number...
So please, if you are thinking of coming to the next talk (Charles Elton) could you let me know in advance, and I will reserve a place and close bookings when the numbers become too great for comfort.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Henry Porter and talks

Last night the village hall in Wootton-by-Woodstock was packed to hear Henry Porter give a talk about thrillers. This was the fourth talk organised by Wootton Village Hall talks (see their website http://www.woottontalks.co.uk/ for full details and pictures) and the first I have managed to attend. There was a mock-up of the Berlin Wall at the back of the hall, decorated with copies of original graffiti from the wall by a small team of Wootton residents one of whom has worked as a set designer on the Bond films at Pinewood. The atmosphere in the hall was great - very friendly, and there was food and drink which was most welcome as I had gone there straight from the shop. I had a stall and sold all Henry's books. He has written four thrillers - the last one, Brandenberg, has been a huge success here where it won the Ian Fleming award 2005 for the best thriller. In France it was voted the best thriller published last year. If you haven't read it, give it a go: it's unputdownable. He has also written a good children's book. He offered to give a talk here when his next book appears in the summer, so if that comes to anything I'll let you know.

Talks are very popular in and around Woodstock. I went to the inaugural talk of the Woodstock & Area Literature Society last week - Dr David Grylls on 'Sex in Victorian Fiction', which was every bit as fascinating as it sounds. And I thought what a great way to spend an evening - sitting with other people, all listening together to someone who speaks with great enthusiasm and energy. It feels very retro and I suspect it's the way forward.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Talks for the first few months of this year have now been fixed - see the column to the right. Adam Guillain came and did yet another spellbinding story session last Sunday afternoon. If you haven't heard him yet, I strongly recommend you visit the shop for his next session on Sunday 8 February at 4pm. You don't have to be a child to come along. (photos: Matt Kay)