Thursday, 1 March 2007


Here is a little story told to me more than ten years ago....

At the time, along with WHSmith's, there were two other main places to buy books from - two independant book stores. One was called Paperback Parade (now an outdoor persuits store) and the other was called Peter's bookshop (now just an empty building). Once a week, I would end up in one or another of these bookshops; if one didnt have the book i was looking for, I would happily toddle along to the other, possibly to WHSmiths or even the bookstall in the local market. There was lots of choice in - dare I say it? - the good ole days.

Of all these shops, my personal favourite was Peter's. The choice was always pretty good, the people working in the shop actually liked to read and could hold a good conversation about various books and authors. They would also remember their clientele and their reading preferences, keeping books under the counter til they could be collected, without even being asked.

One time - near Christmas, if memory serves, I was indulging my book loving self, spending ages merely browsing, every so often choosing something appealing, until I had an armload of books to take to the counter.
"Christmas presents?" The cashier asked (I'm afraid I dont remember her name, but I have a suspicion it might have been Mary)
"Yes." I said, smiling, "For me"
She laughed a little. "Those are the best kind."
We chatted for a little while and then she told me about a gentleman customer of hers who had been coming into the shop every week all year, and twice a week since the beginging of November. Every visit, he would purchase a £5 book token. (Books back then cost about a fiver each)
He had told Mary that his fiancee was a complete book worm and that he planned on presenting her with all these book tokens just before christmas so that she could come in to the shop and buy exactly what she wanted.
I had thought this the most wonderful and romantic gesture possible. I could think of nothing I would like more than to receive a surprise like that.

A couple of years later, I recounted this little story to my boyfriend, hoping that he would get the huge "hint hint".. but of course, it fell on deaf ears.
"Bit daft of him wasnt it?" he'd said. "why didnt he work out what he was going to spend on her, keep the money in the bank till the end of the year - he'd have the interest that way. He'd have saved himself all the journey's to the shop too."
I remember much for romance...
My boyfriend continued, warming to his subject..."And if he'd given her money instead, she wouldnt be limited to just buying books." (he completely missed the point) "plus," he continued, unabated "If she got the tokens, or money after christmas, she could buy stuff in the January sales and get more for her money."
I remember him smiling, totally satisfied with himself.
His advice was practical, it had to be said... but as for as being romantic goes,
Casanova he was/is not.

I do think I may treat myself to that particular gift....



Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Do it...treat yourself! :)

And that was a very romantic gesture on the man's sweet of him!

An Extraordinary woman in a mediocre life said...

I thought it was totally sweet too :)

I do intend to do the book thing myself...any excuse for a book
btw, what say you about Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong?... Have you read theirs? and if so, how good are they?


Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Kim she the one that wrote "Dead Witch Walking"? I read the very first in her series and while it was well written, I like a tad more smut in my vampire/witch/werewolf novels...;)

I can't recall ever reading Kelley Armstrong but I will have to check her out.

There's another series I've recently gotten into written by J.R. Ward called "The Black Dagger Brotherood"...I think the first book in the series is "Lover Eternal"...and it's got lots of smut in's very good!

gdtownshende said...

'Daft' doesn't quite cover that old boyfriend of yours!

I'll tell you what I've been known to do, though... take whoever was the woman of my life at the time, blindfold her on her birthday, put her in the car, and then drive off. To make sure she didn't know where I was going, I'd take a different route, to confuse her, just in case she was able to figure out my destination by the turns I was taking. Then once we got there, her blindfold was removed and she was given $50 to spend on all the books she wanted to buy, and I went along with her, watching as she browsed, talking to her and enjoying her company, instead of just going off on my own to look for what I wanted. It was her birthday, so it was all about her.

Al said...

Those who don't share the love of books just don't get the thrill of the hunt, the pleasure of discovering a new author, the long term committment to a series of good books. So much the less for them.
I had to buy a new book today. "Deep Storm" by Lincoln Child. One half of my favorite pair of authors, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
It sits at my elbow as I type.

An Extraordinary woman in a mediocre life said...

PQ - JR Ward, duly noted :).. thanks for the tip ..hehe

MIR - Yep.. my boyfriend is a dunce. He recently asked what I want for my birthday..I said books.
He looked at me like I grew an extra head then said "no, really?"
Sounds like a great birthday treat MIR.. lucky girlfriend.


Al - So true. Hope you enjoy your new book. Im currently reading The testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson.. which is pretty good.. and I'm eager to get started with Laurell K Hamilton's Merry Gentry series.


Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Oooo girl, you have GOT to get this new Joe Hill book ("Heart-Shaped Box") I have (I think you saw on my blog that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son?)

Anyway, the book was delivered to me on Tuesday...and I guarantee you I will have it finished by tomorrow morning at the LATEST.

It is a VERY good read...a true ghost story. The kid writes almost as well as his can see a lot of his dad in his writing.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Le laquet said...

Peter's bookshop on the High Street? Memories! I also LOVED the second hand book stall in Swansea market. They knew me by name and you could take books back and get money back to re-spend!

An Extraordinary woman in a mediocre life said...

PQ - I certainly intend getting the Joe HIll book. :)

Le laquet - I loved the stall in the market too. I always loved it when I happened on a book that i wouldnt necessarily have found in the other bookshops.
I did get put off the books stall somewhat one Saturday old man was browsing through the books, just as i was, when he nose started leaking. Nose slime dribbled all over the books.. ive not had quite the same look on the place since.