The Essential YALC 2018 Guide

Here you can find out about early copies, proof giveaways, swag and fun activities at each publisher stall at YALC — you can find more information about signings, panels and workshops on their website. Keep checking back before YALC starts on Friday as there are still publishers we are waiting to hear from, or follow me on Twitter to find out when I’ve updated it.

This list was created thanks to help from Jenn at Jenniely and Lydia at Silver Wolf Reads, whose blogs this list is cross posted on. Special thanks to Jim from YA Yeah Yeah who made last year’s guide and was happy for us to go off to make this one.

For official YALC info, you can find the daily schedules here: Friday // Saturday // Sunday.

Want to add anything to this list? Email me at or DM me on Twitter.

Early Copies

Please bring enough cash for books at publisher stalls as they often do not have card machines — Orion, Harper360, HQ, BKMRK, Bloomsbury, Faber & Faber, My Kinda Book and Abram & Chronicle have confirmed they will have a card reader. Ink Road, Usborne, Scholastic, Atom Books, Andersen Press and Walker Books have confirmed they are cash only. Be aware that internet signal in YALC is unreliable, so card readers at individual publishers stalls may fail. It is recommended that you get cash out before you come to the show, as cash machines have long queues. There are several in the small shopping centre at Hammersmith Piccadilly and District line tube station (by the McDonald’s) and at the station at Kensington High Street.

What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K Arnold. Andersen Press stall.

Show Stealer by Hayley Barker (sequel to Show Stopper). Waterstones stall.

The Island by M. A. Bennett (sequel to STAGS). Hot Key Books stall.

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes by Holly Bourne. Waterstones stall. Take proof of purchase to Usborne stall to get some goodies, or you can email proof of receipt to

Dark Queen by Josephine Boyce. Stall A6, labelled “Josephine Boyce” on YALC map, but is actually a stall of multiple indie YA authors. Go say hi!

The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess. Waterstones stall. Bring your proof of purchase to Andersen press to claim a free copy of Junk, Doing It or Bloodtide.

Vox by Christina Dalcher. Harper Collins stall. Early exclusive hardbacks.

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. Walker stall.

The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin. Chicken House Books stall.

Bright Ruin by Vic James (third book in Dark Gifts trilogy, released day before). My Kinda Books and Waterstones.

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch. Hashtag Reads stall.

Giant Days by Non Pratt. Waterstones stall. Exclusive reusable coffee cup from the Abrams & Chronicle stall with receipt showing purchase.

Colour Me In by Lydia Ruffles. Waterstones stall.

Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager. Waterstones.

My (Secret) YouTube Life by Charlotte Seager. My Kinda Book stall.

The Hurting by Lucy van Smit. Chicken House.

Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton. Walker stall.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber. Waterstones stall.

It Ends With You by S. K. Wright. Atom Books stall.

Special editions

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (signed copy, film edition). BKMRK.

New Special Edition of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Walker stall.

Signed copies of The Extinction Trials and The Extinction Trials Exile by S. M. Wilson. Usborne. On general sale and there are competitions to win them.

Proof & Finished Copy Giveaways

In light of the accessibility issues raised in proof giveaways last year, it appears that most publishers are doing raffles for proofs. We will add any specific tasks alongside the proof information as we receive it, though you may need to ask at the stall for this information where not noted below. Remember, there are often a limited amount of proofs so consider only turning up for copies you really want.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. 10 copies per day will be given away to people who have purchased a book from the Hashtag Read’s stall, chosen at random.

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold. Harper Collins stall at 11.30am on Friday. This will be operated through raffle, get there on time.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. My Kinda Book100 copies available on Friday at 11am.

The Caged Queen by Kirsten Ciccarelli (sequel to The Last Namsara). Orion stall. Giveaways on Friday.

Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon. Win early finished copies at the Usborne stall. 25 to give away. Winners announced 5pm each day, on Saturday by Mel Darbon herself.

Izzy and Tristan by Shannon Dunlap. BKMRK. Saturday, giveaways between 11-12 and 3-4pm.

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox. Harper Collins. 4.30pm on Saturday.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls. Hot Key Books stall. 5 copies to win over the weekend.

The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Chicken House stall. Win copies through their competition.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. Egmont/EMT.

Pages & Co by Anna James. Harper Collins. Raffle tickets given out from 12pm on Saturday, and will close on Sunday afternoon when they will announce the winner.

Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes. Penguin Random House stall. 15 proof copies of will be dropped every hour on the Friday, via a raffle draw.

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa. Harper Collins. Sunday 11am, exclusive early bind-up giveaway.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. Bloomsbury. Simply post a picture of you using our A Curse So Dark and Lonely Snapchat filter on twitter using the hashtag #BreakTheCurse and we will pick 10 winners!

That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger. BKMRK. Friday, giveaways between 11-12 and 3-4pm.

Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff. Harper Collins. Competition/giveaway on Friday.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang. Harper Collins. Competition/giveaway on Saturday.

The Chaos of Now by Erin Lange. Faber & Faber. Can be won at the stall.

Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand. Harper Collins at 3pm on Saturday. This will be operated through raffle, get there on time.

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo. Abrams & Chronicle. 25 copies available every day between 10-12.

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu. BKMRK. Sunday, giveaways between 11-12 and 3-4pm.

Killer T by Robert Muchamore. Hot Key Books, available on Sunday.

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen. Andersen Press. Saturday and Sunday: Enter to win by joining in with our No Fixed Address quiz. Five winners will be selected at random each day.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. Hodder. Proofs to be given away throughout the weekend.

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti. Hot Key, be in with a chance to win by tweeting the trailer to win a copy (check the stall for timings).

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce. Harper Collins. Competition/giveaway of the proof on Sunday.

Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner. Atom Books. Daily giveaways.

Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Saturday 28th July, 2pm people in the signing queue will be given raffle tickets. Samantha will then be drawing 2 x winning raffle tickets for a proof giveaway and Bloomsbury will contact the 2 winners to come to the stand to collect their proof.

Beneath The Citadel by Destiny Soria. Abrams & Chronicle. 25 copies available every day between 3 and 5.

You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance. Hot Key Books stall. Roughly 20 copies available to giveaway. Tweet us your YOLO moment to win, six copies a day to giveaway.

The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth. Chicken House. Competitions to win a copy.Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton. Hodder. Proofs to giveaway throughout the weekend.

The Girl King by Mimi Yu. Orion stall. Giveaways on Friday.

Samplers and Fun Stuff at the Stalls

Some samplers are available freely, whereas some you can win at the stalls; check at the individual stalls to confirm.

A6, Indie authors stall:

    • Free bath bombs with book purchase, limited to first 30 sales.

Abrams & Chronicle:

  • Samplers of Stain by A.G. Howard. Win on their stall through a lucky dip — pull a purple flower out of the box to win.
  • All books discounted by up to 25%!

Andersen Press: all paperbacks £5, hardbacks £10.

Atom Books: Samplers of Every Colour of You by Amelia Mandeville, Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner and of a currently unannounced project.



    • Competition to win your very own Harry Potter House Common Room print signed by Levi Pinfold. Simply post a photo of yourself with your Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets House Edition with the hashtags #HarryPotter20 and #YALC on twitter or Instagram for your chance to win!
  • Friday 27th 1pm — 5pm: free Sarah J. Maas Nail Art in the communal area of YALC with two professional manicurists. Take your nail design from the book covers on offer – A Court of Frost and Starlight, A Court of Wings and Ruin, A Court of Mist and Fury or A Court of Thorns and Roses. Limited availability, sign up at the Bloomsbury stand via a sign-up sheet as soon as doors open on Friday.

Chicken House:

  • Party to celebrate the publication of The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin, 4pm Saturday. There are a limited number of goodie bags for people who buy a copy at this time.
  • Kiran Millwood Hargrave will be signing books from 12.30 on Saturday at the Chicken House stall.

Egmont/ Electric Monkey:

  • Holly Jackson will be available to sign proofs and samplers Friday at 11.30-12.00 and 15.30-16.00, Saturday at 10.15-10.45 and 14.30-15.00 and Sunday at 12.30-13.00 and 14.30-15.00.

Faber & Faber:

  • Samplers of The Curses (sequel to The Graces) by Laure Eve
  • Opportunity to win short story sampler Tales of Sand and Sea by Alwyn Hamilton at 2pm Saturday and Sunday followed by signing.
  • Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton tote bags and t shirts can be won at the stand
  • In Paris With You competition for a copy of the book and other goodies
  • Laure Eve will be at our stand to sign copies of The Graces on Saturday at 12pm

Firefly Press:

  • Kat Ellis will be on the stand to sign copies of Three Strikes and chat on Saturday 28 July from 12 midday.

Hashtag ReadsAmy McCulloch will be on the stall to sign copies of Jinxed on Saturday at 12.30pm

Harper Collins (one stall for Childrens, HQ, Harper Voyager & 360)

  • On Friday at 3pm, there will be a raffle based giveaway where you can win one of 50 Alice Oseman signed prints.
  • Friday at 2pm: VOX Jumper and Hardback Giveaway
  • On Saturday, there will be a Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth print giveaway
  • Charly Cox framed poem/photo giveaway on Saturday, 1.30pm.
  • Sunday: Fantastic Beasts super prize raffle
  • Samplers of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (sequel to Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue) by Mackenzi Lee; Fierce Like a Firestorm (sequel to Wicked Like a Wildfire) by Lana Popović

Hodder: Running several competitions to win a mammoth book bundle, a set of Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares proofs, and a Jasper Fforde hibernation pack! Check at the stall for details.

Hot Key Books

    • Alexandra Christo will sign To Kill a Kingdom on the stall 10-11am on Saturday.
    • M. A. Bennett will sign copies of STAGS and The Island 12-1pm on Saturday.
    • To Kill a Kingdom themed siren makeovers on Saturday 10-2pm. Check the stall to book a slot.
    • Samplers for The Wicked King by Holly Black and The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge samplers available on stand
  • Hot Key will be running the book swap stand again!

Ink Road: Samplers of Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman.

Interlude Press: 

  • Author Julia Ember will be signing sneak peeks of her new book The Navigators Touch, the sequel to The Seafarer’s Kiss.
  • All books will be discounted!

My Kinda Book:

    • Friday, from 2pm a chance to win Floored Converse.
    • Saturday 12-2pm, Children of Blood and Bone inspired lip looks with MDM Flow; from 2pm Children of Blood and Bone cupcakes and discover your maji clan.
  • Sunday: 1-3pm Vic James (Dark Gifts Trilogy) signing, followed by afternoon tea with Vic.
  • Double sided sampler of Muhammed Khan’s books, featuring I Am Thunder and their forthcoming release Kick the Moon.
  • Samplers of Enchantée by Gita Trelease.


  • Sunday there will be chances to win Mirror, Mirror by Cara Delevigne and fun activities to promote Overshare by Rose & Rosie.



  • Original short story in sampler format – Noah Goes Nuclear by Simon James Green!


  • Aisha Bushby will be singing copies of Change book from 1.30pm on Saturday.
  • #ProudBook cover reveal at 3.30pm on Saturday.
  • Sneak peek pamphlet from Proud Book will be available after the reveal.

Titan Books:

    • Samplers of The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman and Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin
  • Pins for A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney

Walker: Samplers of Dry by Neal Shustermann


    • Friday: Kim Curran will be holding a ‘Slay your demons workshop’ and will be available to sign copies of Slay afterwards on the UsborneYA stand.
    • Sunday: Will Hill, YA Book Prize winner, will be signing copies of winning book, After the Fire, following his appearance.
    • Sunday: All attendees of Holly Bourne’s origami workshop will receive a #KindnessIScontagious goodie bag. Help Usborne spread the Kindness virus — visit the UsborneYA stand to find out more on the Sunday.

A Night at the Theatre | Theatrical Blog Tour

To imagine my life without the theatre in it would be very difficult. I’ve been lucky enough to spend time both in the seats and on the stage. When the lovely team at Usborne asked me to write a little about my love for the theatre in order to celebrate the release of Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt, I leaped at the chance.


My earliest memories of the theatre all involve my tiny grandma, Betty Little. She would pick me up in her little red Mini, which had absolutely no suspension whatsoever, and we would head over to the Rhyl Pavillion, a theatre that literally had a waterpark known as The Sun Centre attached to it for most of my childhood (I’m always a little bit surprised that other lobbies don’t have a slight odour of chlorine). We would watch all manner of shows, with a bag of Werthers Originals between us — surreptitiously unwrapping each sweet without causing any sound was all part of the experience. I loved seeing stories unfold before me, the rush of excitement knowing that anything could happen.

Throughout primary school, I was regularly on the stage — I was Mary twice, a fox cub in Fantastic Mr Fox, the lead girl in this really strange musical that seemed to be a rip off of both Rocky Horror and Petshop of Horrors (I just played the sample of Looking for the Action, a song which has haunted my memory for 20 years), and one of the ugly sisters in Cinders, amongst others. I remember playing Mary Jones, a young Welsh girl who walked miles to get a bible from Bala, more than once; the scent of the plastic fish and bread I was supposed to mime eat so very vivid twenty years later. My childhood is punctuated by learning lines, being fitted for costumes made of impossibly shiny material, the drying sensation of the heavily painted lipstick and of Jonathan Fisher-Jones and I trying to box people in during the waltz part of Cinders, just to make it a little more fun.

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My parents absolutely pegged me for a theatre kid, but as my high school had no real drama program and we couldn’t afford the local theatre school, my thespian days were over and I focussed more on my voice. Our high school put on annual summer concerts at the very same theatre I spent my childhood, in which I would usually insist on singing at least two solo pieces. I belted out I Dreamed a Dream, the intonation entirely copied from Ruthie Henshall as I’d never heard another version sung. I bounced along to the achingly sweet Walking Back to Happiness, a song I was gifted by my music teacher due to my low rich voice. I performed a definitely-too-raunchy version of Fever while wearing a plunging dress and a feather boa in my final concert, aged seventeen. And in between these performances, we ran around the backstage and its corridors, walked by so many before us. We would find hallmarks of previous visitors, consigned to history like ghosts — a rogue lipstick, a song list, a sign designating whose dressing room was whose. Those memories are some of the happiest of my teenage years, the giddy rush of performance and the camaraderie of local showbiz.

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This year, I’ve been incredibly lucky to see some fantastic shows. My dear friend Ruth and I have made a pact to go see as much theatre in the next year or so as possible, and my musical obsessed friend Lauren has promised to show me all her favourite shows when I move to South London later this year. I howled with laughter at Verity Rushworth’s performance of History of Wrong Guys from Kinky Boots. I sobbed extensively through Hamilton, a musical that occupied every waking thought of mine in 2016. I marvelled at Laura Linney’s almost chameleonic ability to switch between the characters of Lucy Barton and her mother in the monologue adaptation of My Name is Lucy Barton. I marvelled at the dialogue and playfulness of Friel’s Translations at the National Theatre, all the time thinking of how colonialism scours the land.

Each experience so different but unforgettable to all my senses; the collective held gasp of the audience, the sooty vapour of stage smoke, the change in lighting to draw the eye. Theatre’s all-sensory nature amazes me, and even a bad play can still be an interesting night.

And this is what I think Harcourt’s novel Theatrical explores so effortlessly — not only the life behind the scenes, but that brought to the stage, the life in the seats. I was completely absorbed into Hope’s story, not only her swoony romance but her work managing the stage, which Harcourt has clearly researched extremely thoroughly.

Here’s the blurb for you:

Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume-designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one. But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool…and her secret.

Theatrical is the perfect summer novel, not only for theatre lovers, but for anyone who has ever wanted to follow their passions and dreams.

You can pick up your copy of Theatrical here:

Hive (UK) // Book Depository (International)

Why not go check out the other stops on the tour and learn about other people’s relationships with the theatre.

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Thank you kindly to Stevie Hopwood for inviting me to be on the tour and for sending me a reading copy of Theatrical, and to Maggie Harcourt for writing it.

Please note that Book Depository links from this site are affiliate links.

London Book Shop Crawl 3: Part 3 – Soho and London Pride!

Part three: in which we take part in London Pride, realise the time, buy too many comic books.

The bus we hopped on from Sloane Square terminated at Green Park, meaning we had a long, slow walk through the wealthy areas of Savile Row, past shops with their own security guard. I feel very small-town when I see those.

As we neared Soho, we heard the wonderful sounds of celebration. We stood by and enjoyed the Pride parade – my first in fact. My queerness is something I’ve come to understand over the last few years, so I’ve never really taken part in a Pride, so it was nice to witness it and feel like I’d been part of something wonderful. We wandered through Soho, smiling at the rainbow covered tottering tipsy attendees, as we made our way to one of my favourite book shops in London.

However, this also seemed to be the point that we got distracted about taking photos and so there are NO MORE PHOTOS from this point, gaahh.

Book Shop 5: Gosh! Comics

Gosh! Comics is an absolutely lovely shop situated just off Wardour Street, amidst Soho, and minutes walking distance from China Town, Oxford Street, Carnaby Street and Shaftesbury Avenue. Basically, so conveniently situated that you have no excuse to not go.

They have a great selection of graphic novels, both independent and more mainstream. Downstairs the basement is filled with the latest single issues, Marvel graphic novels (i.e. collections of single issues into handy books for those who don’t know) and lots of manga – Tim found a bunch of Blade the Immortal for £5, a series that lines a whole shelf in our house. I have promised to go back and buy the rest of them later this week for him.

Upstairs is dominated by a central table, with a number of novels and comics on display. I have, a number of times, picked rather randomly from this selection and it has never done me wrong. I selected Skim by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Kamaki as the book I was going get, having absolutely loved their touching collaboration novel about teenagers on holiday, This One Summer and Jillian Tamaki’s absolutely hilarious webcomic (which I recommend you buy) Super Mutant Magic Academy.

But then we got a little carried away when we were looking on the shelves and ended up also buying the latest volume of Alex and Ada (a great comic about owned androids and what it means for them to be conscious), plus two volumes of Hawkeye and another comic that Tim chose that I must admit I have forgotten. It was naughty! But in our defence, while there, we did realise that it was 4.30pm and that we hadn’t had lunch, so CLEARLY we were delirious with hunger.

IMG_20150628_175942We were also gifted a copy of the Pride Zine that had been put together by Gosh! featuring awesome comics, including one by my friend Akbar Ali on cool queer people he knows. You should go listen to ALL the bands he name-checks as they are all awesome – they are Colour Me Wednesday, Ay! Carmela, Daniel Versus the World and Blockfort. Not just only about books over here.

Steven the sales assistant is always very helpful, and Gosh runs a number of workshops and book clubs to take part in. While I’ve never made it to the book club as yet, I’ve found the comics they choose tend to be really interesting so I recommend if you go in there, ask what they’ve been reading recently for that.

I am liable to witter on about comics, so I’ll save up the rest for another “what I’ve been reading” but you can catch up on my last note about girls in comic books here. 

Book Shop 6: London Review Bookshop

After spending too much in Gosh! we headed over to the British Museum area, where London Review Bookshop is, and hurriedly stuffed ourselves with pizza (gluten free for me, hurrah!) before heading over there. LRB is another of my faves in London though I had only been once before, and Tim never. They have a great selection of nature writing downstairs where I tend to stand, Tim found another architecture section, though after Gosh! decided to save his pennies.

LRB hosts a lot of events, including shopping evenings where you can pop in after work and a 10% discount applies on all their books. The upstairs is brightly lit and shelves to the ceiling display fiction all around the back of the shop. I have been reliably informed that the cakes they sell are delicious, especially the date cake according to Ella of Eating With My Fingers, who I trust completely on food choices, as I’ve told you before.

I felt that ending on something naturey would be the right way to end the crawl (having finally accepted that by 6pm I wasn’t going to finish the job), so I settled on Fox by Martin Wallen, part of the Reaktion series. The week before I’d been curled up on my friend Nell’s bed staving off a seizure, so she lay down next to me and grabbed her copies of Snail and Fox from the Reaktion series and read me a timeline of the snail. I instantly felt calmer and it helped me stay in the moment enough to get a cab home and not seizure (huzzah!). Foxes have long been my favourite animal and I get an absolute thrill when I see one, which we did as I came out of the anxious wobbly fog, peeping its head down from under a tree that covered a roof.

Not only that, but earlier that week I attended a talk by the lovely Helen MacDonald, author of H is for Hawk, at Foyles (therefore technically Book Shop -1?) who authored Falcon from the Reaktion series, which I picked up after the talk (if you haven’t read H is for Hawk you must, must, must. It really is as good as they say). It felt right to end on yet another nature book, so I sleepily looked up at Tim and asked him to go downstairs to get the plastic sealed copy for me.

Honourable Mentions

Book Shop 7 would have been the lovely Persephone Books, had it not shut before we even reached anywhere near Holborn. Persephone specialise in out-of-press books written by or about women, and all of them come in beautiful grey covers with brightly coloured insides and a bookmark to match. I have several books from their series, but I would have bought A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf if we had made it there. Their books also make lovely gifts.

Book Shop 8 would have been Gay’s the Word, which I’m super frustrated about missing out on, on PRIDE of all days. But I plan to go back in the near future, to find something new and exciting. Or at least Oranges are not the Only Fruit in this cover which I cannot find anywhere. I would have also tried to fit in a trip to Skoob, which I’ve heard good things about.

Book Shop 9 would have been Word on the Water, and while we still had time to get to the FLOATING BOOKSHOP I think we’d completely ran out of energy to get there. I had no plan of what to get there except a sense of sheer happiness at being on a boat that is also a bookshop. I recommend following them on Twitter to double check where they are moored and what their opening times are.

Book Shop 10 which I would have visited definitely the day after was Church Street Books in Stoke Newington which always has at least four things in it I want to buy at all times.

I curated a map filled with the bookshops I intended to visit, split into whether they sell new or used books (some both, I later discovered) and labelled red if I’d not been to them before. You can see it below – I will add to it over time, and may make it extend beyond London, so perhaps book mark it if that’s your thing.

The bookshop crawl was really a great way to value the differences in shops around us. Homogeny of the high street is a dreaded curse, and while I love the assurance of Waterstones’ stock, I love the excitement of the unknown in independent stores more. I got excellent service in all those I visited from staff who were genuinely eager to assist. I will definitely be re-visiting all of them in future, and may do a follow up mini crawl or series of blog posts where I try and make it to the other shops on my list. A good bookshop is never not worth exploring.

London Book Shop Crawl 2015: Part 2 – South Kensington & Sloane Square

Part two: in which we briefly forget how to use the tube

After our long wander through Notting Hill, we hopped on the circle line to Gloucester road to reach Book Shop 3.

IMG_20150627_134807Book Shop 3: Slightly Foxed on Gloucester Road

Now I’m going to be honest with you all and say that the reason why this one made the final cut was partly to do with the fact that foxes are my favourite animals, but also due to their own printing press.

Slightly Foxed sell second hand and new books, which include those printed by themselves in a number of hardback and paperback collections. I was very tempted by Elspeth Huxley’s memoir on growing up in Africa, one of the hardback Slightly Foxed Editions, but couldn’t decide whether I should instead pick Dodie Smith or experience another author I hadn’t heard of or shared most of a name with. I feel like any of their own printed books would make excellent presents for bookworms looking for something new. Seeing them all lined up on the shelf is a thing of beauty.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 22.36.19All the new books are upstairs in a clean, cute book store decorated with fox drawings. On the day we went, there was a stack of shelves outside with very good relatively new fiction piled up for cheap (sadly I had all the ones I’d have wanted on there). Down the stairs is an immense grotto of second hand books – biographies, history, old penguin paperbacks galore. You are hit with a smell that is intensely “old words” and reminds me of adventures in the lesser visited sections of libraries. There is a couch that I was very tempted to curl up on, but I plan to leave that for another day. Down here, I found an almost new copy of the Accidental by Ali Smith which I decided to take with me and leave browsing every single book for another day.

We were helpfully assisted by co-manager Ben Scott who told me all about their book clubs and explained the Slightly Foxed Quarterly magazine to me, which is what I eventually purchased. He described it as “accessible literature critique, featuring essays on lesser known authors for you to discover”. That seemed to be what I was looking for, some guidance and direction through to a new world of books. I really enjoyed visiting this shop and I most definitely will be back there, hopefully for a book club.

Honourable Mention #1 – South Kensington Books

It was around this point, I realised I really wanted to get to John Sandoe books and get into town, so sadly South Kensington Books was missed off our itinerary this time around. I have definitely perused the shelves here previously, being drawn away on a walk to the museums by the cheap prices. It’s worth popping into if you are by the museums.

However my excitement to get to John Sandoe did mean that we got the tube the wrong way and ended back up in Notting Hill Gate where trains were running sporadically. However, we got there eventually!

Book Shop 4: John Sandoe Books

IMG_20150627_141547John Sandoe Books is just a few minutes walk away from Sloane Square and the Saatchi Gallery. The bookshop is on a small side street, somehow protecting you from the hectic hurriedness of the main street. It’s amazing how the character of individual streets in London is so often like that; you turn a corner and its a completely new atmosphere.

Tim was especially happy to be here as there is a good section on architecture. I plonked him in that corner and went exploring through the dark wood shelves. Downstairs I found a few graphic novels and poetry but most importantly a children’s section where I found The Wonderful Egg by Dahlov Ipcar which seemed like the perfect present for my 12 week old nephew. Being a child of a philosophising paleontology lover and the nephew of someone who spent their childhood parading herds of dinosaurs along the lounge carpets (which at one time were the perfect colour for sand blasted desert lands), little Dyl doesn’t really have a choice about loving dinosaurs I fear. He already has a number of dino onesies and this book explicitly gives you the full name of each dinosaur meaning its a good revision session for us. The art is so desperately beautiful in it that it makes me wish I bought a copy for myself!

IMG_20150627_142713Upstairs (yes Tim was still in architecture) are amazing sliding shelves that host the fiction. I tried to keep clear of these as I was determined to keep this my first #giveabook bookshop, and so apart from whizzing the shelves around a bit, I didn’t get to explore this as much as I wanted. However, I did sit on the window seat (pictured beneath the excellent dinosaur book) for a few moments of repose. I am a big fan of bookshops with cosy sitting areas. Another one to return to in the near future I feel. Tim joined me eventually clutching a copy of Why Cities Are Good For You which he had been pouring over, and we celebrated our purchases by heading out for a bus to Soho.

This, my lovely readers, is when it dawned on me that getting to bookshops 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 would take a relatively long time due to the Pride parade, but I cast off these concerns and decided to go for a long walk through central London to soak up the atmosphere.

Stay tuned for part 3 in which we wander through the Pride parade and celebrate and carry on our tour.

London Book Shop Crawl 2015: Part 1 – Kensington & Notting Hill

This year, I decided to take part in an independent book shop crawl in honour of Indie Book Shop Week 2015. My lovely, patient partner Tim even agreed to come with me and indulge my ridiculous attempt to visit approximately 15 book shops (we managed 6 ha!). The upside of my overly-excited plans, my readers, is that I’ve compiled a nice little dossier for you all on all the book shops SO HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS GUYS WE’RE GETTING WILD OVER HERE

Also I’m splitting this up into multiple blogs because otherwise this is HUGE.

IMG_20150627_110130In order to placate lovely Tim, I took him out for a substantial Bill’s brunch while I wittered with glee about which shops we were going to visit in order and why, with detailed Citymapper plans waved in his face – yes I had pre-added every single bookshop into my Citymapper before hand WHAT OF IT. Once caffeine-d (me) and lemonade-d (Tim) up, we hopped onto the Circle Line from Hammersmith and headed to Notting Hill for our first book shops.

Just as a note, the route we took also is a nice way to walk through bits of London, so if you have a bookish pal who also wants to see London, the three routes we managed were great.

IMG_20150627_114555Book Shop 1: Lutyers & Rubinstein

This was a previously known bookshop, but I wanted to visit it again because it’s such a lovely bit-of-everything shop, nestled off Portobello Road, with lovely staff (one of whom likes Sleater Kinney and had a spare ticket that helped me go to Sleater Kinney). That first time I visited, I picked up a copy of Walden in the MOST beautiful simple cover that has been waiting for summer to come around for me to read it. I’ve been reading a lot of non fiction about Britain’s wildlife and outdoor living, that coincided with returning to my homeland of North Wales and rediscovering some green places.

IMG_20150627_163952With all these feelings in mind, a single white book on the corner of the display table named “The Homing Instinct” basically leapt out at me. The book has the subtitle “Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration”; it combines all the feelings I’ve had about nature being inextricably tied to a concept of home for me, and thus it became book purchase 1. Leviathan by Philip Hoare got a look in, as its a book I’ve been meaning to buy for years, but as this was the first time I’d ever seen this book and for it to appear RIGHT NOW felt really kind of right.

Tim poured over a few copies of books and the cute art on the walls. He somehow did not bash his head walking down the little staircase to the fiction basement, which feels like a cosy hideaway from Portobello, only one street away.

I love L&R bookshop and was really pleased to have made a 2nd trip there.

IMG_20150627_121010Book Shop 2: Books for Cooks

Round the corner from L&R is Books for Cooks. I wanted to try and include some explicitly themed bookshops in my crawl, as I was mildly concerned I’d come home with an armful of fiction to add to the rest of my house. I found Books is for Cooks on a few good independent bookshop lists and decided to give it a whirl. My friend Ella, of essential blog Eating With My Fingers, supported both my choices for 1&2 and as I trust her on all thinks cooking, I decided that I’d made a good choice. And boy had I!

The shop itself is wonderfully organised into cuisines or styles, with a cafe in the back where they use recipes from their cookbooks, with helpful staff wandering the shelves. I was welcomed and offered help by a member of staff once I arrived, and I said no to start with, not sure what I wanted.

For those who don’t know me personally, I’m a human who collects medical maladies with almost as much perseverance as books – that’s not to say I’m a hypochondriac, I’m just not blessed with good genes. After finally sorting out what was going on with my brain, I considered investigating my chronic issues with food that have plagued me since childhood. Nice GP suggested I had IBS and that I should investigate FODMAPs as a treatment choice. I’ve found so far that cutting out gluten and most dairy has helped a lot (though hardly a surprise as they were always top of my list of “things I feel sick after eating”). I leafed through a FODMAP cookbook and felt sad; everything was just so bland and rudimentary. Garlic and onions, a reliable duo in the kitchen, have remarkably unkind effects on me it turns out, but that doesn’t mean I have to throw the love of cooking out with the delicious garlic sent does it.Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 21.45.51

I scuttled up to the sales assistant and said “give me gluten free baking but gluttonous”. I’m not really one for moralising types of food and the words “detox” and “clean” in reference to food fill me with dread and boredom. So our sales assistant picked up the most ooey gooey cakey cookbook that contains gluten free recipes – Sweet Cravings by Kyra Bussanich. Turns out Kyra owns her own gluten free cupcakery as well which I’ve just been sitting staring at for the last five minutes. While yes this is yet another book for me and not really a give a book as the book shop crawl was intended to be, I feel that this book will yield the gift of cake to my gf pals, and really thats the best gift isn’t it. Give a man a fish and all that.

Speaking of fish, I then poked around in the fish cookbook section and found a book written by the owner of a really great sustainable canned fish brand called Fish Tales. I Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 21.45.58love eating responsibly caught fish, and what easier way than a reliable can of pole-and-line tuna for days when things are too tiring. However, awkward as it may be, I don’t know any reliable recipes beyond a stonkingly good spaghetti puttanesca recipe that I overuse salty anchovies in. Tim and are going to be engaging in some thrifty living and lunch box life over the next few years, so I thought this will come in handy. The recipes have a good variety and are split up by types of canned fish you commonly find on shelves, and have some stories about the fishermen themselves in it. I recommend you checking out the book and Fish Tales themselves.

So all in all, a good haul from this shop too. Other books that caught my eye were Oranges by Clarissa Hyman, and some books on Jewish cooking that have resided in shared houses with me in the past. But these were the two that won out – so here’s to sustainable tuna and glutenless cakes!

After we left the book shops, we turned onto Portobello Road and walked up through the market (if you ever wanted to buy a fur coat, this seems to be the place!) and onto Notting Hill Gate area. The buildings here are that beautiful tall white cleanness that small-child-me thought was what all of London looked like. We even came across one quaint little garden that boasted home made jams for sale, atop a black framed chair.

Stay tuned for part 2, in which we get the train the wrong way and enjoy the Pride parade!