This week I have to share the sad news that Browsers Bookshop in Woodbridge has closed.
Many of us will have considered the bookshop as the anchor, the hub of the town for so many years and this comes as quite a blow.
For me, it's been a part of my life for some 20 years. I joined thinking it would be a nice part-time job for a few months, supplementing my freelance writing and helping me to accommodate some changes in my life, but I loved it so much I could never step away!
It was the most perfect bookshop.
I was employed by its creator Martin Grindley. He seemed a hard taskmaster but he ran a tight ship and he had a wonderful vision, which was very much ahead of its time.
As a result, in Woodbridge, we had one of the first dedicated children's bookshops, Young Browsers, with Browsers Bookshop and Cafe serving the best coffee and the most delicious cakes when such a concept was almost unheard of. The fantastic selection of books was displayed on bespoke shelves and furniture, with wooden floors, and the lighting made the covers glisten and glow.
When Martin Whitaker took over the shop in 2008, I was able to introduce evening events in this beautiful space. First it was a monthly book group and then the author events started to take off, many much bigger than the bookshop could accommodate, so I moved to venues throughout the town. I was also engaged as the director of the town's children's book festival.
Though I only worked a few hours in the bookshop in recent times, I'm going to miss seeing familiar faces and chatting about books.
So what of the future for me? I will continue to host author visits, now as Catherine Larner Events, bringing both big names and debut writers to the town. I hope these will be of interest and you will support where you can. Take a look below for details about Victoria Hislop coming to the Riverside Cinema in the autumn and there will be other events announced soon.
The book group meetings will continue in September with the Booker Challenge and our discussion for 'The Half Life of Valery K' at the end of the month.
And I will continue sending these weekly e-newsletters.
They began as I wanted to keep you informed of the events I was organising but during lockdown they proved a great way for us all to keep in touch and share our reading recommendations.
I've been so touched and encouraged by your comments over the past few years. As a freelance writer you don't always hear from your readers so it's been incredibly gratifying to get such kind and positive feedback.
It does take time to put together these emails, though, and while I still hope that you will support your independent bookshops wherever you can, perhaps I can make a plea that you support me too?!
If one of my recommendations proves interesting, it would be lovely if you could buy it from bookshop.org, through my portal of moreaboutbooks.com? I receive a tiny commission for every sale, and a further small commission is passed on to the UK's independent bookshops. You might like to bookmark this link for easy reference!
Alternatively, you can 'tip' me via Kofi here.
And if you know anyone who might be interested in receiving these newsletters, please do send them the link here, too.
Thank you for your support and I look forward to seeing you again soon wherever we meet to talk about books!