Recently, a couple of friends and I took a much needed day off. We didn’t want to travel too far from home, but wanted to get away from the same old cafés in the centre of Nottingham. We were hoping to spend the day drinking tea, eating cakes and having a good old girlie natter and catch up. At the suggestion of one of our parents, we drove over to the nearby town of Southwell, which seems to be the land of lovely tearooms.
We did indeed spend a couple of hours eating, drinking and chatting, but left enough time to have a little explore. Southwell is a picturesque town with a beautiful minster and some interesting shops. Of course, my eyes were kept peeled for a good bookshop, and as luck would have it, I did not need to look very far!
Just across the road from our chosen tearoom, we found exactly what I was looking for! Bookwise is a charity secondhand book and music shop.
As we entered, we were given a warm greeting by the friendly woman behind the counter. Inside, the shop is bigger than I had imagined and I felt a rush of excitement at the sight of rows upon rows of fiction books and a sign saying ‘more upstairs’.
The fiction section had everything from Sebastian Faulks to Stephanie Meyer and Zadie Smith to John Grisham. The average price seemed to be approximately £2, which is a bargain for a presentable and well looked after secondhand book.
Also to be found downstairs were the usual penguin classics and a decent amount of children’s books. You could also browse through history, art, music and other non-fiction. I particularly enjoyed looking through the ‘Special Interest’ shelves which had some charmingly old and battered books with a mix of oddball titles and different subjects.
After having a nosey around downstairs, I thought it was about time to take a quick look upstairs. I say quick, but I did not realise quite how many books I would find up there! As well as more general fiction, there were shelves filled with crime and romance.
There was also more non-fiction on offer in the form of biographies, study guides, science and Tv and Theatre. But best of all was the ‘Books for 50p’ section. I’m surprised my friends did not send up a search party as I must have been quite a while rummaging through the 50p books. In the end I decided upon one book only, trying to restrain myself. I think 50p isn’t too bad for Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits.
Returning downstairs with a smile on my face, I was then told something that would only make my smile bigger – There was an offer on the 50p books of buy two get one free! Three books for a pound? Surely that was just too good to be true! In the end, overwhelmed by choice, I handed the decision over to my friends and ended up with More Cat Stories by Stella Whitelaw (because I am a cat lover) and one friend chose The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini for herself.
Overall, our visit to Southwell was a pleasant and successful one. This lovely little town is a definitely a welcome place for tea drinkers and book lovers. I also found out that there is another Bookwise just a ten minute walk from my home in Nottingham, so expect another review in the next few weeks!
Money raised at Bookwise helps to support Music for Everyone, an independent arts organisation in the East Midlands whose aim is to get people of all ages and across all communities involved in music making. To find out more about the Bookwise shops, take a look at the website.
If you would like to visit the shop in Southwell, the address is: 2 Queen Street, Southwell, NG25 0AA. (phone: 0115 9596484 ).