Two brilliant bookshops

I’ve recently been to a couple of immensely cool bookshops that I wanted to share.

Waterstones Bradford Wool Exchange

IMG_0580[1]Bradford isn’t somewhere that I associate with history and tradition. But a couple of weekends ago I went there to visit Jane of Jane & Bex book blog who works in a Waterstones in the centre of Bradford, and that visit proved how wrong I was.

I expect a certain soothing but uninteresting uniformity from Waterstones stores – after all, this is the biggest book chain in the country. But the Bradford shop is amazing. Occupying the town’s Victorian Wool Exchange building, it’s a fabulous piece of architecture that just happens to have a bookshop inside. What’s not to love about that?

Wool exchange 2The best views in the shop come from the mezzanine café. From there you get a closer look at the heraldic sculptures on the ceiling beams, those beautifully structured windows, the elegant pillars, and the in house statue.

That’s right, this is a bookshop with its own Victorian statue. How awesome is that?

Oh, and the café also does brilliant cakes. I had the cappuccino slice and a big Americano for a double coffee treat.

I won’t lie, I was a little fidgety after that.


Second hand bookshop at Lyme Park

I’m going to start this one by making the Pride and Prejudice fans jealous. Lyme Park, which played the part of Pemberley in the BBC’s 1990s production of P&P, is just a few miles down the road from me.

That’s right, I can spend my Sundays walking around the lake Mr Darcy dived into, and buying ugly over-priced Mr Darcy mugs from their gift shop.

IMG_0596[1]This place was already pretty awesome from a book lover’s perspective. A few years ago they did a huge restoration project on the library in the grand house at Lyme Park. Since the restoration they have comfy seats and books available for you to relax with in the library. So halfway round your tour of this stately home, with all its fine art and furnishings, you can take a rest and have a read. I can tell from personal experience that it’s a good place to stop with small children, to give them a break from the sight seeing, but I also love it as an adult, getting to sit and read in a proper old school aristocratic library.

And now they’ve added an extra little joy, shown in the photo (no, that’s not the library, the library is far grander). They’ve put in a second hand bookshop next to the gift shop. So now instead of buying a tea towel showing Colin Firth in a tailcoat I can pick up a cheap paperback and help fund the National Trust that way.

I love finding interesting bookshops in unexpected places. If you have a chance you should check these two out.

Does anyone else have any others they’d like to recommend? Where ever you are in the world, tell us about your interesting bookshops.


I love a good adaptation. Whether it’s HBO’s Game of Thrones or the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, seeing something I love on the screen, seeing how script writers, actors and directors turn those familiar elements into something new, it’s pretty exciting.

Tonight I’m off to see Catching Fire, the second Hunger Games film. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve written before about how powerful and skilfully written I think the books are, and I think that the first film did a good job of a potentially difficult transition from page to screen. But I’m going to see it with my friend John, whose criteria for judging adaptations are slightly different from mine. For John, as for many fans going to see stories they love, what matters is how faithfully it sticks to the original. For me that has a place but, more than with presenting the past on screen, what I’m really after is a film or TV show that can stand on its own two legs, inspired by the source rather than bound by it.

These two different attitudes to adaptation are where film and TV producers can get in trouble with their potential viewers. I think that the way Elizabeth is portrayed in the 1990s BBC Pride and Prejudice is fantastic, drawing out sympathy and contrasting with other characters. But I know that others feel she’s not as faithful to the book as she could be. And in the second season of Game of Thrones, I thought that putting Arya and Tywin Lannister together strengthened the narrative, but some people look at that and mutter about how it didn’t happen in the books.

You can never entirely please both sides.

The show that probably comes closest is The Walking Dead. They’ve taken a clever approach, one that probably only works because the original writer is involved and this gains the trust of fans. They’ve kept the characters and the scenario, as well as some of the story arcs, but thrown the detail of the narrative out of the window. In this way they’ve set their stall out from the beginning. They’re actually being more faithful to the unpredictably terrifying world of the comics by being less faithful to their storylines, and that works for fans both new and old.

Of course it’s an approach that wouldn’t work for a story like Game of Thrones, where that epic story is crucial, or a small, more contained work like Pride and Prejudice. But it’s an interesting experiment, and one that seems to be paying off.

So what are your favourite adaptations? What works for you and what doesn’t? How do you judge their success? Leave a comment, let me know.