Recently my daughter lent me her copy of The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Blythell, who owns The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town. I’d never heard of Wigtown—a whole town dedicated to second-hand bookshops. Not only that, Wigtown lies on the edge of the sea, the area around is steeped in history, and even more beguiling, the climate is said to be mild. It certainly looks lovely and sunny in the online pics, and I won’t let my pessimist-person chip in and tell me that photographs—especially those depicting holiday destinations—can be deceiving. Imagine staying in a town dedicated to second-hand books in a B&B above The Open Book, a second-hand bookshop by the sea! I am talked into it already. Apparently, there’s a waiting list of 18 months or so, so I would have to plan ahead—not something I’m especially good at!
But travelling to the other side of the globe requires a loaded wallet, so I’d need a little more justification than one small town full of books. Curiosity and an idle hour or two prompted me to search for other places dedicated to books. I found Hay-on-Wye tucked into the Welsh side of the border between England and Wales, “famous for its second-hand and antiquarian bookshops”. Maybe I could stay at the Baskerville Hall Hotel—although the climb to get into the bed pictured in their online info would probably leave me too exhausted to read!
And then reason prevailed. Instead of travelling all the way to the other side of the world (although I’m not counting it out altogether) I could probably trip around my own country and find some great second-hand bookshops right here in Aotearoa/New Zealand – just a day-trip away. Indeed, we have an excellent shop in my own town not much more than a five-minute drive from home. Check out Atlantis Books. I’ve picked up some wonderful buys from Atlantis without needing to spend a fortune. Even if I don’t come away with anything, browsing the shelves, or sitting on the sofas leafing through possibilities can use up endless amounts of time.