We stayed in London for this month’s Bookshop of the Month, taking a short walk over to the delightful neighbourhood gem Primrose Hill Books where we spoke to owner Jessica Graham about the area, some of her favourite books in store this Christmas and of course the bookshop.
Jessica Graham, Primrose Hill Books –
It’s nearly 30 years since I first took over the bookshop so we’re very firmly rooted in the neighbourhood now and have forged strong relationships with local schools, shops, offices, churches, the library and the community centre. We’re one of several established family businesses in a friendly, lively area where loyalties run deep. It helps that Primrose Hill is such a beautiful place and a tourist destination and that Regents Park Road is flanked by leafy residential streets in which many local families have lived for decades.
We’ve always aimed to be efficient and flexible and to run an interesting bookshop stocked with a carefully chosen selection of books which reflect the interests and enthusiasms of our customers. As avid readers ourselves, we and our staff all spend a great deal of time recommending personal favourites and it is that above all which keeps people returning for more. Our biannual catalogues highlight our seasonal choices and garner an enthusiastic following! Fortunately, we are never short of local authors and there are plenty of tempting signed copies most weeks.
This Christmas, for example, we have a rich selection of books by local writers – Alan Bennett’s latest volume of diaries Keeping On, Keeping On, Nicholas Crane’s superb new history The Making of the British Landscape – From the Ice Age to the Present. From erstwhile local Diana Athill there’s a gem of a travel book A Venice Diary which would make a beautiful gift as would those by longstanding locals – Helen Fielding’s humorous Bridget Jones’s Baby and Jamie Oliver’s latest collection of festive recipes Christmas Cookbook. There are also books with local connections such as Artemis Cooper’s Life of Elizabeth Jane Howard, John le Carre’s memoir Pigeon Tunnel. and a fascinating book by Isobel Charman entitled The Zoo – The Wild and Wonderful Tale of the Founding of London Zoo.
We’ll be recommending lots of fiction as always, but two exceptional page-turning novels stand out News of the World by Paulette Jiles and an unusual thriller, Darktown, by Thomas Mullen.
For lovers of second-hand books we have a vast collection (over 10,000 titles) in our basement and these are catalogued by subject on our website. The most extraordinary and unusual items have turned up over the years and we all live in hope that one day we’ll find an overlooked but priceless first edition of a rare masterpiece quietly residing in a dusty corner by the fireplace!