Posted by: billpurdue | June 26, 2008

13 Nothing like a good browse!

As I began to type this, I realised that this is the thirteenth edition of my blog, so I looked up titles just containing the word “Thirteen”. One by Sebastian Beaumont sounds pretty good: a Brighton taxi driver works very long hours and begins to give lifts to strange people. In particular he regularly picks up Valerie from No 13, Wish Road, but then the lifts stop and when he tries to find out why,he discovers there is no such address. Things get even more weird after that…. Sounds pretty good – anyone read it?


Now to my main topic – browsing. I don’t often get enough time to spend an hour or two in a good bookshop. One of my favourite bookshops is Scarthin Books at Cromford ( a wonderful Aladdin’s cave of both new and secondhand books) and I always try to find time to see what’s new in WHSmith in Mansfield, but yesterday I took myself off to Waterstone’s in Nottingham where you can have a good browse in a spacious shop on 3 (or was it 4?) floors. Of the four Waterstone’s  shops within a reasonable distance of my home (Derby, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham), the Nottingham branch has the edge and a coffee bar too. Waterstone’s Sheffield comes next, but it’s not quite as big and the last time I went, the coffee bar was a bit scruffy, though perhaps they’ve improved things by now.


Booksellers are very good at drawing your attention to titles they want to promote by putting piles of them on tables and I have to admit it works with me. In the gardening/cookery section I found several interesting and quirky titles. I thought just about every aspect of gardening had been covered in some way or another, but new angles on the subject keep appearing; Garden your way to Fitness and Health (2) is by a garden designer and a physiotherapist. We all know that digging , mowing, and most other garden activities are all good for burning those calories, but  this book doesn’t just state the obvious, but helps you to avoid all the stresses and strains as well as turning your garden (if it’s big enough)  into a sort of outdoor gym.


Published this month is Using the Plot  (3) by Paul Merrett – yet more about allotments, but this time it’s by a Michelin starred chef who decides to try and do without supermarket fruit and veg and grow them on an allotment instead. It’s not all plain sailing and he tells of his trials and tribulations (including a visit to the osteopath) and his successes including, apparently, winning the battle against lettuce –munching slugs (I don’t believe it!).  The book also includes “over 85 allotment inspired recipes”


Just two more titles on gardening and then I promise I’ll give it a rest for a while – The Art of the Lawn (4) by David Parfitt is a little book you can’t miss, because there’s a layer of artificial grass on the front cover, cut very short of course. It’s all about how to make your neighbours envious by creating patterns on the lawn with your mower. I would think you need bowling green quality grass before you can start making fancy patterns. Finally a gift book for gardeners who have everything – Gnome and Garden: a gnovelty kit (5). It includes a miniature garden gnome, a miniature lawn setting and flowers as well as “The Garden Gnome Book”, described as a condensed illustrated celebration of these whimsical creatures.


In case you think I stayed in the home and garden sections, I did look elsewhere, until I realised what time it was. Here are three more titles that caught my eye which I’ll come back to in future blogs – Great Western Beach (Emma Smith) a memoir of a Cornish childhood between the wars, not a railway book;  Only in America (Matt Frei) about Washington DC, a city of stark contrasts and Last Train from Trent Station by Geoffrey Kingscott , about the railway station in the middle of nowhere that survived for 106 years.


Just a final word about the book I’ve been raving about: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Since finishing the book, I gather that the author, Susanna Clarke, has been unwell and so hasn’t been able to write anything else. I do wish her a speedy recovery as I am really looking forward to her next novel.



1 Thirteen by Sebastian Beaumont. Myrmidon Books £9.99. 9781905802036

2 Garden your Way to Fitness and health by Bunny Guinness and Jacqueline Knox. Timber Press Inc £14.99  9780881928815

3  Using the plot by Paul Merrett  Collins  £16.99 9780007252619

4 The Art of the lawn by David Parfitt   David and Charles £9.99 9780715325773

5 Gnome and Garden by Marcus Mennes. Quirk Books (US)  £9.99 9781594740107


  1. Oh my god loved reading this blogpost. I submitted your feed to my blogreader.

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