Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Whitby Weekend Book Loot
There are some great bookshops in Whitby, but you have to hunt around for them a bit. Most conspicuous is the Whitby Bookshop, on Church Street, where I do my annual reading - and this year I was able to buy a signed copy of Jane Lovering's 'Vampire State of Mind' - which i've looked forward to since reading her last, earlier this year. From the same shop Nick bought me a present of 'The Magician King' - the sequel by Lev Grossman to his 'The Magicians', which was in my top ten novels of 2010. I've held off reading the new one until exactly the right moment - and this season could be it!
There are also some tucked-away secondhand bookshops and streets of charity shops, too. 'Endeavour', quite near the swing bridge on the harbour, is an old favourite - not least for its Children's fiction section and one entire wall of vintage annuals. The haul this time included a Barbara Euphan Todd Worzel Gummidge i've not read - an original tale and a prequel no less! Issued as a Target novel during Pertwee's TV stint as the magic scarecrow (surely time for a remake..?) And Nick found me a volume from a series I've heard whispers about but never actually found... Roger Moore's Crimefighters..! They look a bit like a 70s British take on Alfred Hitchcock's 'Three Investigators.' How could anyone resist a title like 'Death in Denim'?
And then there's a new find. An old church (quite near to where Brenda's B&B ought to be) has been converted into a craft and antiques centre - and right at the back is a bookshop only open on some Saturdays. It's got a wonderfully eclectic stock - edwardian prints and photographs, 70s vintage films mags and marvel comics... spooky detective novels and classic children's books - and everything seems as if it's been carefully chosen.
I found two wonderful things - this triple-decker anthology of Victorian fantasy stories - one of which appears to be about a revived Dodo at the Great Exhibition and the strange animals that became the Crystal Park dinosaurs, like a kind of Darwinian Edith Nesbit adventure... and the other was another of those 'Charing Cross Crime Book Club' novels - the ones with the irresistable blurbs and lurid covers.
A perfect weekend of book-hunting. You have to be with fellow hunters who are prepared to spend as long as you in these dusty, often cold places. Also, you need a plentiful supplies of fancy cafes to hand. Our favourites in Whitby are both on Skinner Street (Silver Street to Brenda and Effie) - Beckets, where they do fancy cakes (peppermint and dark chocolate!) - and Bothams' tearoom, where I had a pork pie with mushy peas and mint sauce and everyone else had things that came served inside Yorkshire Puddings.