My thanks to Simon from Stuck-in-a-Book for organising what seems likely to be the inaugural UK bookbloggers’ meetup in London and giving me the delicious excuse for a weekend jaunt down to London.  My thanks also to that unpronouncable and unspellable Icelandic volcano for calming down enough to allow my flights to and from Glasgow to proceed without too much disruption.

Up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning  and out of the door at 4:50 to find this:

Hence no picture of what was an absolutely beautiful dawn.  I’m afraid once I had defrosted the car (in May!), I had to step on the gas to make it to the airport.

Discounting W H Smith, I live 35 miles from my nearest bookshop, so when I go to the city – any city – bookshops are high on my agenda.  My first destination, a  tube ride straight from Heathrow to Wood Green,  was The Big Green Bookshop.  Where else really?  As one of the bloggers asked to submit a monthly recommendation, I was curious.  As I turned the corner from the main road to the shop, I was astounded to find that we had shop window prominence.

Inside I found Simon and Tim preparing the shop for a busy day of social activity. The cunning plan is to make the shop a social hub.  That was certainly evident in the hour I was there.  10 kids – the Premier League Reading Stars –  and their parents arrived to claim their free books.  This is an educational scheme sponsored by the Football Association and run in association with the local library.  For a moment I wanted to be a child again – I could have picked a book for up to £15.   While the kids were picking their books,author John Lenahan arrived in store to promote his young adult novel, Shadowmagic.   

My attention returned to the book bloggers’  bookshelf.  According to Simon, the initiative, which started in February,  is gaining a following with some customers returning each month to study the new selections.  He promised to reveal the sales statistics sometime soon.  This makes me nervous.  I can think of many reasons to remain in blissful ignorance! It’s good to know that the bookshop feels the promotion is meeting its objectives – of course  it’s about sales but also about putting books in the shop that they may not have stocked otherwise …

… and flagging up titles that I wouldn’t have known about either.  And so I popped one such into my bag – only one as it’s a  hand-luggage only weekend.  Best European Fiction 2010 was a recommendation from A Common Reader.

For info my first four recommendations were:  Clara – Janice Galloway, Grace – Alex Pheby, Carter Beats the Devil – Glen David Gold, Hearts and Minds – Amanda Craig