C.S. Lewis knew what he was talking about when he said “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” In this instalment of our 2021 Refresh series, the lovely Laura from The Raven Bookshop in our beloved Market Hall is here to share her top tips for a literary refresh. Check it out!
Hello, I’m Laura and I own the Raven Bookshop in our wonderful Market Hall, underneath Shrewsbury’s famous clock tower. I’ve only been a bookseller for three years. Before that, I was an English teacher, writing lecturer and writer, so everything I’ve done has focussed on books and reading. My bookshop is my home away from home and I’ve been missing it dreadfully during these lockdowns. Luckily, people haven’t forgotten about us despite the closure - I’ve had some orders locally and nationwide to keep me busy.
Set yourself a challenge
To make a fresh start in 2021 feels so important, and one way to do this is to pick up a book you’ve never read before or, even better, begin a ‘Top Reads’ list from a national newspaper. It’s so easy to get yourself into a reading rut – reading the same authors or the same genres every time – so opening yourself up to something totally different can feel like a super change and challenge. Those books, essays or poetry collections you hated reading at school might actually be wonderful at your current stage of life. Re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird now, I’ve engaged with it in new ways and it feels very current.
Keep a list
Make a note of what you read. You’ll be surprised how soon you feel a fantastic sense of achievement, even if you don’t have much time with home-schooling and working from home. You read more than you think you do. I always keep a page or two free at the back of my diary so that I can add to my book list throughout the year. It’s a great insight into your own reading habits. Sometimes books take three months to read, others, a few days. Use your list to inform your next reading choices. Another important list to cultivate is a list of the books you want to read. Then go on the hunt in your local bookshops, new and second hand.
‘How’s it going?’
Don’t forget to discuss your reading habits with friends and family. Talking to others about your reading helps to combat the loneliness we can all feel during lockdown and uncertain times. Book clubs are harder to join because they have been forced to go online, but they are still out there. If you can’t find one, perhaps start one with friends. If you can’t see your loved ones in person, why not send yourself and them the same book to read. I did this last spring with my family. We read one of my favourite books, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and we all liked different things about it.
Perhaps the new year has led you to consider that bucket list of experiences and challenges you’ve been thinking about. If writing is on there, find a pad of paper and begin to note down ideas or interesting words you come across. There are dozens of competitions to enter in the UK and worldwide, for poetry, novels and short stories. Maybe have a go at a short story if planning and writing a whole novel feels overwhelming. Try to put aside some time every day. Like running or playing a musical instrument, writing needs time and practice, and can be very rewarding.
Thank you to all who continue to support us in these strange times. You’re doing a wonderful thing by shopping local. Keep safe and well in 2021.
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