Wrapped in a shop and hid on a street
This is a story where all stories meet.
As tall as a tale and as full as a life
This is a world where adventures are rife.
Pull out a book, get ready to go
This is a place we call ebb & flo.
My local bookshop has a hold over me. I go into lots of bookshops and each of them are a joy, run by dedicated people and filled with wonder, but only ebb & flo really inspires me.
It’s not just the books, chosen to intrigue, delight and surprise. Nor is it the welcome I get whenever I walk in, or the welcome I see other people receive as they jangle through the door gasping for the book air after a busy few hours shopping around the local area. I don’t even think it’s Diane, ebb & flo’s magical shopkeeper as she stands always ready to find something that fits the reader.
I think the hold ebb & flo has over me comes from its roots. These extend deep beneath the shop and spread out across the entire area. I live four miles away and yet those roots reach into my home and my community and hold me tightly. I feel them each time I think about stories, and each time I listen to the stories of everyday life.
How a bookshop can do this, can create such a root system, amazes me. But it does. Readers, artists, parents, wanderers and wonderers all become entangled and find themselves pulled towards the heart. I see it all the time. I see mums and toddlers appearing from corners of the shop having made pictures or hats or heard stories. I see readers eager to talk about a book they’ve read, to talk and then leave the shop energised by a shared story. I see rows of eyes staring at rows of paintings and photographs hung about the upstairs space and I see the old and lonely coming in off the street to hear a friendly word - and where better to friendly words than a bookshop?
My local bookshop has a hold over me. I’m not letting go.
This Christmas, I’d recommend you pick up a copy of Phoenix by S F Said - a thrilling space adventure for 8-12 year olds. Also on my beady eye list is The Spindle and the Sleeper by Neil Gaiman, The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane (this one is for grown-ups), and The Queen of Dreams by Peter F Hamilton.