Veronique discusses what constitutes a good read, the necessity of wine at book discussions, and Per Petterson’s ability to set the mood.
I moved to London a year ago and when people ask me what I like best about London, I always reply with ‘my local bookstore’. But I must admit, although they carry a treasure of a diverse collection, I mainly go there for the people.
The owners Jonathan and Justine have created a wonderful meeting place for people who like to read, discover, share and have a nice time. They host numerous events, monthly book groups, thick book groups, book launches, literary events, author readings… They both have a passion for books and authors and also for people who like books. Everything is made accessible and from the first step into the store you’re made to feel at ease. No stuffiness here. High brow literature or crime novels, everything is presented with the same passion and down to earth manner.
Jonathan brings, in a very soft spoken way, a wealth of knowledge of the literary world to the table (local or global). And Justine brings a lot of spirited insights.
And apparently book discussions work better when everyone arrives with a bottle (admittedly, the non-alcoholic bottles are in minority). Not to forget the writer-in-residence, Karen, who has a wicked sense of humour and somehow manages the diverse opinions and responses at book club!
I love the variety of books that I’ve read thanks to the book group. I love Per Petterson’s ‘Out Stealing Horses’ the most, which got me on to ‘I curse the river of time’. What I love about Petterson is that his books are about creating a mood, about introspection and the growth of a person. And that book discussion was also very memorable – everyone had something to say. We each grasped that there was more to the book than just the words. People felt connected, like something had awakened in them, but there were nuances in the way that people read things – some found the mood distanced, cold and depressed; others found it aware and present. We all agreed that it was a powerful trigger.
Out Stealing Horses
The book club has taught me – through Jonathan, Justine and Karen choosing books that are a ‘good read’ – that a good read can mean many different things. For that reason, James’ Salter’s ‘A Sport and a Pastime’ and A. M. Homes’ ‘The End of Alice’ are both memorable – I wouldn’t have read them were it not for book club, and they challenged me in terms of style and strucure with Salter and in terms of uncomfortable subject matter with Homes. The subsequent discussions surprised me too!
The thing about Bookseller Crow is that it’s not about selling books: it’s about reading, discussing and sharing books.