This weekend it was lovely to see an old friend and spend a relaxing couple of days rediscovering some of the more touristy aspects of York which locals often overlook such as the underrated Cliffords Tower and the brand new ‘Wheel of York’. (Personally I thought the views were better from the top of the Tower than the Wheel!) The only slight downside of the weekend was the weather and whilst no means unusual for this time of year it’s always a little disappointing to have to battle with wet and windy, especially considering today’s glorious sunshine.
Books were a big topic of conversation over the weekend as my friend also loves reading and so in between catching up on 10 years of gossip and visiting local drinking establishments (of which York apparently has one for every day of the year…maybe that’s next year’s challenge) it was fun to swop book recommendations and discuss our favourite topics. It also meant that due to the unpleasant weather a lot of time was spent browsing round bookshops.
Unfortunately the rise of cheap bookselling in places such as Tesco’s, and the desire by people to spend less than the cost of a glass of wine on a book means that the choice of book shops is quite limited, especially on a Sunday. Waterstones is of course always a great place to pass a few hours, however we also came across a shop selling all paperbacks for £2 each. It had a great selection (Yes I am happily hypocritical if it means I can buy the books I want for £2 instead of £7!) yet it was not the most welcoming of places, wide open doors meant it was cold and there were no seats anywhere. Although that didn’t seem to bother one woman who had quietly camped out on the floor and was happily sat reading.
Whilst I love reading, and will read almost anywhere sitting on a cold, wet floor being stepped over by people reaching for the latest instalment of Jordan’s biography does not seem enjoyable. Surely if a book is worth reading, it’s worth £2 or at least a trip to local library. The act of reading should be a pleasure and ideally comfortable. I always thought Border’s had the right idea with a joint coffee and book shop. I first encountered this idea on a visit to Dublin many years ago. They had a huge bookshop with a Bewleys coffee shop in the middle which was fantastic (if they had put it right next to the Jameson Factory I’d probably still be there) Obviously I hadn’t thought the commercial aspects through properly. As Borders found out to its cost, people sit with a coffee, read the opening of a book and then go home and buy it on Amazon .
Of course anything that encourages people to read is a good thing but rather than a floor in a cheap bookshop. A rainy Sunday afternoon, a comfy chair, a big box of Thornton’s chocolates, and a cafetiere of Hot Lava Java Coffee is more my idea of a nice time.
Despite the weather it was a lovely weekend, with lots of wine, food, and non-stop chatting, if not much reading so I am still only about three quarters of the way through ‘Don’t look back’. It’s going to be interesting to see how it ends as it’s the ending that makes or breaks a good crime novel. One of the main characters is currently on death row so there is an obvious ending, but I suspect there is a twist to come yet, only time and reading will tell.