Really excited to have a favourite author of mine, Patrice Lawrence, talking about a favourite bookshop of mine, Pages of Hackney!
Why I Love It?
Until very recently, it was my very local bookshop, at the top of my road, next to my bus stop. (The original and thoughtful window displays almost made me miss my bus a few times.) Clapton, in Hackney, east London, has a reputation for being a bit hipsterville. And, yep, it is. But that’s just surface. It’s home to diverse communities in every sense of the word, including many social housing estates among the million pound-plus terraces.
Pages opened in 2008, when there was less sourdough, oat milk and shops displaying goods with no prices on them. It has always reached out to locals. They snagged a Paul Beatty event when he was promoting The Sellout and offered free tickets to a local sixth form. Free tickets have been offered to young people for other events too even though I’m sure the income from ticket sales would be welcome. As a local writer, I have been well-supported even though they are not primarily children’s bookshop. (Check out the Eight Pieces of Silva promo in the Xmas gift guide!)
Oh, and Jo, the manager, has a heart-melting puppy to aid and abet in the shop.
What would I buy?
The joy in going there is not knowing what I’ll come out with. All the staff are passionate about books, so I completely trust their recommendations. I’ve just bought Caleb Femi’s Poor for me and Dan Hicks’ The Brutish Museums for my daughter. (During lockdowns, books bought by locals are being delivered by courier bikes.) Last year, I bought many, many Xmas presents there, ranging from Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie to a book about the Wu-Tang Clan. They have always been big on books exploring racism (long before Black Out Tuesday) and, I think, Reni Eddo-Lodge has popped in to sign a few copies of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race in the past. Likewise, Lemn Sissay is a local and tops up signed copies of My Name is Why now and again. There’s always a fantastic selection of work by women of colour, trans writers and a nifty little shelf for Japanese writers in translation.
The basement is home to secondhand books, though, rather surreally, my daughter once picked up a Peter Gabriel album in German for a fiver. I raid out the London shelf for mid-20th century guidebooks. As you do. Well, I do.
Patrice Lawrence is an award-winning writer of stories for children and young people. Orangeboy, her debut book for young adults was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award, won the Bookseller YA Prize and Waterstones Prize for Older Children's Fiction and has been shortlisted for many regional awards. Indigo Donut, her second book about young adults, was published in July 2017. It was book of the week in the The Times, Sunday Times and Observer and one of The Times top children's books in 2017. Both books have been nominated for the Carnegie Award.
Blog: The Lawrence Line