Borders Vs Brendon Books

My biggest weakness (and I never admit this to prospective employers) is that I cannot be told. I always have to find things out my own way, even if it means doing it wrong and having to begin again from scratch. I realised this some years ago, but knowledge of the fact apparently does not change my inherent stubborness when it comes to advice from others, because I have only just discovered the joy of the independent bookshop. (Sometimes I just want to kick myself and howl ‘Why didn’t you LISTEN!’) Hence my belated discovery of the joys the independent bookshop has to offer.

My bookshop of choice always used to be Waterstones (the largest UK bookshop chain). In the city where I went to college, there were two branches, each with slightly different stock. One was better for poetry, one was better for novels and plays, and I used to visit both of them on a regular basis and buy significant numbers of books each week. I loved Waterstone’s – it always had what I wanted and I was always able to find something I wanted to read every time I visited. When I went off to university, I was in bookshop heaven. The city where I studied had zillions of the things, ranging from academic specialists to chains to independents dealing with travel, spiritualism, art. Not to mention the libraries! Sadly, now I’m all done with university and have moved back home for a few months, all I have is a measly Waterstone’s which stocks almost nothing I want to read. I went in to search for world literature inspiration and found a mere two books that I was slightly interested in. I left in a huff, missing Borders madly (they always have stuff I want to read).

Then I got a tip off – did I know about an independent bookshop tucked away down a little alley? Well yes, but I’d never bothered visiting it. Fed up as I was and thinking it could do no harm, I trundled off to visit Brendon Books and discovered a veritable treasure trove! They have books I’ve never seen anywhere else, and the shop is packed with stuff I want to read. And if they don’t have it, they operate this wonderful overnight order service! It’s like a miracle – there is light! Naturally I was transported with joy and spent an hour wandering around with a huge grin on my face browsing the shelves, and left with three new books (oops). Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, Red Dust by Ma Jian and A Thousand Years Of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li. A bit of a Chinese kick because I’ve been missing all things Chinese recently (yes, I know Dai Sijie is technically French, but I don’t care). The upshot is that I am a total convert and you couldn’t pay me to set foot in the other bookshop now. If only I’d listened before…

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Borders Vs Brendon Books

  1. Dorothy W.

    I’m a terrible advice taker too. I’ll happily listen to whatever advice anybody wants to give me, but then I’ll go off and do exactly what I was planning on doing in the first place. What can we bad advice-takers do?

  2. Anonymous

    Nothing wrong with listening to good advice but making up your own mind. That’s the foundation of independent thought, right?

    But hey, Traveller, now that you’ve discovered this treasure trove, when are you embarking on Chinese Lit? Or have you done that and I missed it?

    I’m personally curious how bookstores around the world represent English translations of Chinese Literature. Do they carry Eileen Chang’s “Love in the Fallen City” or “Fortress Beseiged”?

  3. Anonymous

    Oh, I am positively GREEN with envy…all our indies are gone (sob!)

  4. BookGirl

    How wonderful that you can have the big bookstore and an indie one to go to. I love the big bookstores but it would be nice to have the option of going to an indie bookstore too.

  5. The Traveller

    Dorothy, I think we should start listening! Not that I have much hope of that…

    Dark Orpheus, I haven’t done China yet – I’ve read a lot of Chinese literature but mostly scar literature or May Fourth writers, so I’m looking forward to getting into some more recent stuff! As for when I’ll be starting, I have no idea – I think I’ll be abandoning my reading-by-continents idea next month though as I have such a mish mash of Asian and South American stuff waiting to be read.

    Equiano and Bookgirl, I’m so sorry you don’t have indies near you. I love mine so much, I can’t wait to get back in there!

  6. Stefanie

    While I don’t quite learn things the hard way, I am very resistent to being told what to do too. I always prefer suggestions. Glad you found the bookshop. I see lots of new books in your future 🙂

  7. Munckwood

    I’m so glad you enjoyed our lovely local little bookshop – Julie from Brendon Books

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