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, 15 December 2014

Our top 20 best sellers in 2014

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

1. Other People's Countries, Patrick McGuinness

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

20. Hog in the Fog, Julia Copus

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

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

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

1. The Stairwell, Michael Longley

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

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

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

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A few pictures from Woodstock Poetry Festival

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Moorings

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Longley signing a book for Pat Winslow

Neil Astley with Rosemary Tonks' niece 

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

Katrina Porteous signing books

Liz Berry reading in Woodstock Methodist Church...

...and signing afterwards

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

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Woodstock Poetry Festival 2014 - Friday 14 to Sunday 16 November

Friday to Sunday, 14 - 16 November
Tickets and information 01993 812760

Events are held in Woodstock Methodist Church unless otherwise indicated.
Children and students half price.
Festival ticket, giving entry to all events - £40

Carol Ann Duffy, 7pm. The Poet Laureate reads from collected and recent work at St Mary Magdalene Church. Carol Ann Duffy writes for children and adults and has also edited several outstanding poetry anthologies. £10

Carol Ann Duffy

Oxford Stanza 2: Falling Leaves, 3.30pm. An Oxford-based group of poets affiliated to the Poetry Society, some published and some newer to poetry, who meet monthly to listen to and discuss their work. £5 to include tea and cakes after the reading.

Michael Longley, 6pm, reading from The Stairwell, his tenth collection. His new poems include meditations on the Great War and the death of his twin brother, with echoes of The Iliad and detailed observations of Carrigskeewaun, his house in County Mayo. Michael Longley is a central figure in contemporary Irish poetry, 'a keeper of the artistic estate, a custodian of griefs and wonders' (Seamus Heaney). £10

Michael Longley

Bernard O'Donoghue, 8.30pm - with Irish traditional singer Mick Henry and guitarist Nick Hooper.This evening is now being held in Woodstock Methodist Church: no drinks in the church, I'm afraid, but wonderful poetry and music, and there are plenty of pubs in Woodstock for before or afterwards! An evening of Irish singing and music, and recent poems by Bernard O'Donoghue. £8. 

Bernard O'Donoghue

Andrew McNeillie, Jenny Lewis and John Greening, noon. Winter Moorings, Andrew McNeillie's sixth collection, returns to the sea and its immensity as a metaphor for fate. in To the War Poets, John Greening writes across the years directly to the poets, while Taking Mesopotamia, originally inspired by Jenny Lewis's search for her father, extends to a wider exploration of the Iraq wars. £8

Andrew McNeillie

Jenny Lewis

John Greening

Jo Shapcott and Neil Astley - A celebration of Rosemary Tonks, 4pm. Between 1963 and 1974 Rosemary Tonks published two 'epoch defining' and widely admired poetry collections, six novels, many reviews for leading journals and papers and collaborated with the BBC on an experimental sound-poem. She stopped writing and disappeared from the literary scene and from public life, suppressing publication of her work for four decades. Following her death at the age of 85 ealier this year, her poems and a selection of her prose are now available - for the first time in 40 years - in Bedouin of the London Evening: Collected Poems, edites by Neil Astley and published by Bloodaxe Books. Neil will introduce her work - read by Jo Shapcott, a long-term admirer and supporter of her poetry, whose own most recent poetry collection is Of Mutability. £10

Rosemary Tonks

Neil Astley

Jo Shapcott

Katrina Porteous and Liz Berry, 6pm. Katrina Porteous has lived in Northumberland since 1987 and wrote about the fishing community of the Northumberland coast in her first collection The Lost Music (Bloodaxe). She is reading from her new book, Two Countries, based on her radio work, drawing on Border Ballads and Northumbrian song and story-telling - a continuation of an oral tradition, these poems are meant to be heard out loud.

Katrina Porteous

Liz Berry has just won the Forward Prize for best first poetry collection with Black Country. Like Katrina, she often uses dialect in her poetry - 'I wanted to tell a story about the place where I grew up... In many ways, the book is a love letter to the Black Country'. 'Liz Berry's Black Country is a thing of wonder' (John Field). £10 

Liz Berry

Poetry Platform with Jenny Lewis, 8.30pm. Open evening for local poets in The Woodstock Arms with Jenny Lewis, who teaches poetry at Oxford University and runs poetry workshops. This is a very relaxed event - people who would like to read are asked to bring along two or three poems - there is no theme.  Free entry - please let us know if you would like to read. A soup and bread supper is available for £5 at the pub from 7.30pm but only if you pre-book.