Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published May 11th 2013
Classics, children's, and a whole lot more
Regency Bookshop, Surbiton
I very rarely go into Surbiton, but when I do, I always bake it a point to visit the Regency Bookshop. It is an independent book store that sells general fiction, classics, and houses a large selection of children's books. Although the shop is not big, I can get lost in there; I enter my own little world and lose all track of time. I went in on Saturday at about 2pm, and when I came out, looked at my watch and saw that it was quarter to three. I would have actually spent a good deal longer in there, but I was with my Mum, and she was getting a bad back from standing so long waiting.
Before I even started looking at the books, I spent a good ten minutes reading all the humorous cards, most of which were comic-strip style drawings, including one of King Charles having a dog named after him.
Beautifully bound classics.
Even though I do not particularly like the style or themes of the novels by writers such a Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Leo Tolstoy, I can never resist browsing the 'Classics' shelves, simply because I love the bindings. I can't tell you the number of times I have almost bought novels that I already own simply because I have a soft spot for the cover. I know they say, 'never judge a book by its cover', but it really does make a difference. For me, a nicely bound book garners instant respect.
No matter how lovely the front cover looks though, classics are available at pretty much every bookshop you can find. What is so special about Regency Bookshop is the vast number of books it has that I have never seen anywhere else. Most of these are non-fiction, such as a book on the history of the Royal Mail, or books with interesting factoids, but there are also a number of fictions that are hard to come by elsewhere. My mum is a crime fiction aficionado, and even she found novels to buy from authors she's never heard of before.
I didn't even know Roald Dhal had written adult fiction until I came across these short stories.
Short Stories these days don't get much of a look in. If you want to get them published, then the best chance you have is in a magazine or online. Most bookshops only sell a small selection of the short stories by the most famous authors like Anton Chekhov, but at Regency bookshop they had new authors as well, including a book called Ripple, which contains fiction & poetry by Kingston University students. I myself had a poem published in Ripple a few years ago, so I was pleased to see that the book gets a wider audience than just the university.
Beatrix Potter gets her very own display case.
While most genres were given about two bookcases of space each, the space for children's books takes up the entire back half of the store. They give Beatrix Potter the limelight, keeping her collection attractively arranged in a display case. Among my other childhood favourites, I found Mrs. Pepper Pot and Old Bear Stories, which I was very tempted to buy, but managed to resist.
'The Moomins and The Great Flood' by Tove Jansson
I did again fall victim to my love of front covers though, when I spotted The Moomins and the Great Flood, which was the original Moomins story written by Tove Jansson in 1945, and only recently discovered. At £9.99, it was a bit pricy for such a short book, but that's the price you pay for a hardback.
I was hoping to find some Paddington Bear books while I was there, but it appeared to be about the only series they did not have. When I asked, they said they could order them and have them in by Monday. As I was only passing through, I told her not to bother, but they can usually have book orders available to collect within twenty-four hours (or two days if you're ordering on Saturday), which is very fast. I remember when I had to order school and university books from Waterstones, and they always took between three days to a week.
One final highlight about Regency Bookshop is that is frequently invites guest authors to come and talk. They are holding their next event at Glenmore House (the shop is too small) on 3rd June at 7.30pm, and it will feature not one, but three writers: Colin Cotterill, Elly Griffiths, and Martin Walker. Tickets will be £10 and will include canapes, a Q&A session, and a book signing.