Posted in Personal life, Reading

The Books on the Bus Go Round and Round

In my column for the March 2021 issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News, I was talking all about books – no surprises there, except for the announcement of a new free book resource in the village which I launched on World Book Day, with Councillor John Turner representing Hawkesbury Parish Council. Drum-roll please for “Books on the Bus“…

Bust of Socrates at the Louvre (By Sting, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96296061)

Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, thought books were conversation killers: monologues that denied readers the chance to engage in discussion. Despite being credited now as one of the founders of Western philosophy, Socrates never wrote a single book. We only know his thoughts through books by Plato and others.

Socrates’ preferred method of exchanging ideas was to hold a conversation while strolling around the walls of Athens. If he were alive today, during lockdown he’d have to resort to Zoom.

In our Zoom-crazy age, in which we expect every public speaker on screen to have a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf behind him, Socrates’ backdrop would be book-free. He’d probably prefer to display a statue of an owl, symbol of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and of his beloved city of Athens, and maybe a Grecian urn or two.

This little owl followed me home from Athens and lives on my desk, the emblem of the Athenae, ancient Greek goddess of wisdom

Books by the Yard

But if media pressure persuaded him to join the bookshelf brigade, I know of the perfect solution to fill his bookshelves at one fell swoop: a call to Books by the Yard, a service offered by my favourite second-hand bookshop, The Bookbarn . Based near Wells, The Bookbarn not only sells pre-loved and vintage books individually to callers (though closed to visitors just now due to the pandemic), it also offers a shelf-filling service. Until now, it’s been mainly the preserve of stage set designers and themed pubs and hotels seeking an instant bookish look.

Despite the closure of theatres and hospitality venues during lockdown, their Books by the Yard business has been soaring lately. The reason? Zoom backdrop envy.

A yard of books – by Books by the Yard (Many thanks to the Bookbarn for this luscious photo)

Books on the Bus

If you’re hankering after a new read, there’s no need to travel to The Bookbarn – although once we’re allowed out to play again, it’ll be one of the first places I head for. From Thursday 4th March, for World Book Day, there’ll be a new Books on the Bus box in the bus shelter opposite Hawkesbury Stores. I’ll be keeping the box stocked with books for all ages to give bus passengers something to keep them entertained while waiting for their bus and on their journey.

There are books for all ages in the box
Delivering the new Books on the Bus box to Hawkesbury Upton bus shelter (Photo by Laura Young)

You don’t need a bus ticket to borrow from Books on the Bus. As for the Little Free Library on my front wall, you’re welcome to help yourself in passing. Return or keep the books you borrow, as you wish. Donations of more books in good condition will always be appreciated.

Thanks to Hawkesbury Parish Council for providing the plastic box to kick the scheme off, and to the kind donors around the parish who have given me more than enough books to fill the Books on the Bus box initially.

Even so, I don’t think Socrates need worry. There’s no danger that books will ever put a stop to conversation in Hawkesbury.

Photo of parish councillor and Debbie reading books in bus stopJohn
With thanks to Councillor John Turner for coming along to represent the Parish Council (photo by Laura Young)

 


IN OTHER NEWS

Writing Workshop (19th April)
If you’re interested in writing, you might like to attend an online event I’m doing on Monday 19th April, I’ll be answering FAQs about writing as part of the Wrexham Carnival of Words. This is just one session of an action-packed festival behind held online because of Covid. You can find out more about the whole programme here: www.wrexhamcarnivalofwords.com)

Cover of All Part of the Charm

cover of Still Charmed

Collected Columns in Book Form
If you’d like to read the archive of my columns for the Hawkesbury Parish News, you might like to know that they’re also available in book form in two volumes. Here are the buying links for the paperbacks and the ebooks:

All Part of the Charm (2010-2015) – order the ebook / order the paperback

Still Charmed (2016-2020): order the ebook / order the paperback 

 

Author:

English author of warm, witty novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Staffroom at St Bride's School series, both set in the Cotswolds. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors and for the children's reading charity, Read for Good. Public speaker for the Type 1 Diabetes charity JDRF.

3 thoughts on “The Books on the Bus Go Round and Round

  1. “Books do furnish a zoom,” (adapted from Anthony Powell).
    Many people must be disappointed by us, known as they think they do, to be ‘booky people”, since the places we sit to Zoom/Teams/Facebook are nowhere near enough to bookcases! They just might see part of a painting, or part of the sofa, or even if I’m in my ‘writing den’ the bulletin board and the washbasin (from when it was my Mum’s bedroom when she lived with us)! Sweet cliches – I’ll have to arrange a zoom backdrop of my grandparents’ bookcase with the glass doors, won’t I?
    Love the Book for the Bus idea!

    1. Bizarrely, although my house is overflowing with books, there is no bookshelf behind the desk from which I go o Zoom, as my chair is right up against the wall, with my desk squeezed into a corner. There’s no space to fit a bookcase behind the chair, so maybe I need to invest in some book-cover wallpaper instead – the physical kind, I mean, not the virtual stuff you put on phone screens! You grandparents’ bookcase with glass doors sounds like a lovely family heirloom.

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