A SPECTATOR AND EVENING STANDARD BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020
‘A joy. Each chapter instantly became my favourite’ David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas
This is the story of our love affair with books, whether we arrange them on our shelves, inhale their smell, scrawl in their margins or just curl up with them in bed. Taking us on a journey through comfort reads, street book stalls, mythical libraries, itinerant pedlars, radical pamphleteers, extraordinary bookshop customers and fanatical collectors, Canterbury bookseller Martin Latham uncovers the curious history of our book obsession – and his own.
Part cultural history, part literary love letter and part reluctant memoir, this is the tale of one bookseller and many, many books.
Martin Latham thinks bookshops should have an “Aladdin’s cave feeling” and the same is true of this book, which combines anecdotes about his career (guest author Spike Milligan was a liability) with a cultural history of reading, printing, bookselling, libraries and anything bookish you care to think of (there’s even a digression on the 5,500 different species of booklice).
He’s been a bookseller for thirty-five years. He has a PhD in Indian history, and taught at Hertfordshire University before turning to bookselling. He is proud to be responsible for the biggest petty-cash claim in Waterstones’ history, when he paid for the excavation of a Roman bath-house floor under his bookshop. Martin’s other books include Kent’s Strangest Tales and Londonopolis.
Join us with Martin to celebrate books and bookselling from our own “Aladdin’s cave”!