Category Victoria sponge

Steyning Bookshop, travelling editor, Lisa Highton, Water for Elephants

The Steyning Bookshop hosted the first 'travelling editor' reading group featuring Water for Elephants and Two Roads publisher, Lisa Highton

As part of Independent Booksellers’ Week and on National Reading Group Day I was in Steyning (pronounced Stenning – don’t you love English place names) in West Sussex. The Steyning Bookshop (Sara & Robin Bowers) had invited me to talk about Water for Elephants, Two Roads and publishing in general. A day out in the country and the promise of cake? I was already at the station buying my ticket. Steyning is a beautiful

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town and the Steyning Bookshop is delightful. I feel I could have spent a lot more time browsing in both.

Cake and tea at Steyning Bookshop, Travelling Editor, Water for Elephants, Lisa Highton

The lovely set-up with tea and cake in the garden tent

Proving that there are Book Gods, the sun came out, people turned up, there was bunting and we had cake and a great time. There are over 33 book groups in Steyning – there may even be more by now, in fact I did hear someone say they were determined to start number 34. We talked about books to film, what we loved and what we didn’t, hardbacks versus paperbacks, the Depression era in the US, circuses and how publishers choose books. Books and the bookshop are clearly part of the wrap and weft of that community and,

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if I rambled on, they were all far too polite to say. Is the book dead I was asked? Not even close.

Thank you for having me.

Next stop on the travelling editor train… the Gerrards Cross bookshop.

Guest blogger: Lucy Foster, Editorial Assistant, Sceptre

‘The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something lofty about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included.’

Two Roads book club, Alan Bennett, the Uncommon Reader, the Queen, The End of Your Life Book Club, bunting

a royal flush

We all love Alan Bennett. But first things first – Will and Kate are tying the knot this month so the April Two Roads Book Club was a patriotic feast of HRH bunting, regal tea towels, commemorative paraphernalia, strawberries and cream, Victoria sponge, and pictures of all of our favourite royals and their gigantic engagement rings.

We opened the discussion with thoughts of different ways in which to mark The Big Day (Cornish street parties, camping on Clapham Common, running for the hills, TV watching) and then we moved onto the book. For anyone who doesn’t know The Uncommon Reader, the first thing to mention is that it is gloriously, audaciously short – a brevity that perhaps only King Alan could get away with at £7.99. The second thing to mention, also audacious, also only excusable if carried out by a national treasure, is that it is written almost entirely from the point of view of the Queen, and in many of her own words. ‘Is one allowed to borrow a book? One is a pensioner…’.

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