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Bookshop of the Quarter: Autumn 2018

The Corsham Bookshop

This independent bookshop, located in the historic Wiltshire town of Corsham, has long welcomed all locals, tourists and passing booklovers through its smart blue doors. The windows are adorned with painted peacock feathers and are always furnished with beautiful book displays, the bookshelves are laden with specially selected reads, and temptations of greetings cards and stationery abound.

We’re delighted that the Corsham Bookshop has sold copies of Slightly Foxed for the past thirteen years and recommends us to readers each and every quarter. Therefore, it was a pleasure to learn more about life at the bookshop, as well as add to our reading list, courtesy of bookseller Janet Brakspear.

Please tell us about your bookshop. What makes it special?

We really are a bookshop at the heart of our community; we know an awful lot of people by their first names and more importantly what they like to read, but we are also at pains to make sure everyone feels welcome in our shop, young and old, locals and visitors. For a small shop we have a wide range and we like to come up with our own personal selection of titles based on what we enjoy but that also chimes with our customers.

What inspired you to become a bookseller?

I think my love of a good bookshop started at a very early age as I have loved books as long as I can remember. Choosing a book at my local bookshop with a crumpled book token in my nine-year-old hand is probably one of my happiest childhood memories. I always had the makings of a saleswoman, but it was only when I tried bookselling that I realized these were the products I could sell as I really believed in them. They are often beautiful objects and provide great entertainment, but are also the basis of our civilisation: without books we could not be ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’.

What are your all-time favourite reads and why?

I still love some of the children’s books I read as a child and can pick up an E. Nesbit or Noel Streatfeild at any time. As for adult books it depends on what I happen to be reading at the time. I had an eighteenth-century phase recently and immersed myself in the period, reading Evelina and Fanny Burney’s letters and diaries which really gave a feel for the time. I also just read a P. D. James which was an addictive read and so well-written – I had quite forgotten! In times of trouble, I will often return to The Diary of a Provincial Lady which can often put one’s troubles into perspective . . . Though at least we can bypass ‘the servant problem’ these days!

Who would be your dream bookshop party guests?

I don’t think that all great authors would make equally great party guests, so this list reflects a lot about the perceived personalities of these writers as much as my opinion of their work. I think Edward Ardizzone would be very jolly company and he clearly liked a drink which would make things go with a swing. Mary Beard also seems like a lovely woman whose knowledge of the ancient world would make for some interesting conversations. I’d love to meet Fanny Burney and maybe she could bring a friend or two like Mrs Thrale or Dr Johnson, although he might dominate the conversation somewhat! Not to mention many of our friends – old and new – customers, authors, publishers and reps.

Who has been your favourite customer?

We really love most of our customers and it seems rude to have a favourite, but I particularly like any customer under the age of ten who runs into the shop saying loudly, with no sense of reverence, ‘Come on mum, let’s go into our bookshop!’

What are your top picks for autumn 2018?

Skylarks War by Hilary McKay; Normal People by Sally Rooney; Lateral Cooking by Niki Segnit (of Flavour Thesaurus fame!) and Eric Ravilious Scrapbooks compiled by Peyton Skipwith and Brian Webb.

The Corsham Bookshop
16 Martingate
SN13 0HL

Tel: 01249 715988

Twitter @CorshamBookshop
Instagram @thecorshambookshop

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