I love reading. I am fortunate to come from a family of readers, whose houses are full of groaning bookshelves. When I was younger I loved nothing more than cycling down to the library on my Raleigh Bianca and filling up the saddle bag with new books (or old favourites) to devour. I wished I could be Matilda (without the horrible parents) or Maria and her little white horse and her wild red hair. I read about Anastasia Krupnik and a Proper Little Nooryef. I did every Summer challenge available and the Brownie book badge.
I love reading so much that I did my degree in English Literature & Philosophy. Now, that is a whole lot of reading. When I graduated, having perhaps worked too much and not read enough, I was a bit fed up and weary of reading. I resorted to magazines for a few years after graduating. After whinging at Mr Charming that I was bored of reading magazines and felt unfulfilled and that my brain was wasting away to nothing, he came up with a brilliant solution. Read books instead of magazines. Lightbulb!
My friend and clever writer type challenged me to read a book a week for a year. I catalogued that journey with this as the first post, in this blog. I gave it some structure by applying some rules around reviewing every book and following an alphabetical by author first/last name path.
Since then, although I haven’t managed a book a week, I’ve kept up with a book or three every month.
After I read this post at the tail end of 2013, I knew I had to visit Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights for one of their book spas. It hopefully sat on my birthday and Christmas wishlists for a year or so, before I managed to kill the proverbial two birds by booking a half marathon in Bath, and the ever lovely Mr Charming offered to bankroll a good ol’ portion of it too.
I booked the appointment just after Christmas 2014, with delightful responses. Then I waited and waited for February 27th to HURRY UP. We set off from Norwich on Friday morning. It’s a looooong way.
We were going brilliantly until we got three miles away from Bath, and then the apparent one road in jammed completely. We took about forty five minutes to travel about a mile and a half. I managed to ring the bookshop and let them know that we might be a bit late but we’re on the way. Mr C dropped me off in the middle of Bath and I used my handy smartphone to navigate to the shop.
I opted for the £100 spa. In for a penny, and all that.
You can find all of the details on the website (on this page) but basically that meant that I got as much coffee/tea/water I could drink and a lovely yummy cake, sat in a comfy chair and having an excellent book based chat with the brilliant Emma, as soon as I got there. Mr B’s does a lot of work in matching bibliotherapists with clients, and I had a small questionnaire to fill out before the appointment so they can be sure I had the person with a similar taste in books.
Emma asked me brilliant questions, such as how comfortable I am with gore or violence (an excellent question) along with what I wanted to get into. My favourite thing was that she’d read literally everything I talked about. She also handled my slightly rubbish ‘I read this book once that had a thing with a thing and then that thing time travelled, what was it called?’ questions with grace, and knew all of the answers too.
After about an hour and a half (the quickest 90 minutes ever), she went to gather The Pile. I got to devour my cake, refill my coffee and have a nose at the beautiful room. Even the bathroom is papered with books!
Emma came back with a massive pile of books, which was very exciting. Even more so, she then talked me through each one’s basic plot and what she loved about it. Some of them I had read already and loved, which was fantastic because it showed me that she was definitely on the right track. After that, I then had the terrible job of choosing which books to buy and which ones to leave behind!
As part of the bookspa, as well as the tea, cake and Emma’s time, you get £75 to spend on books, a full Mr B’s voucher (for £5 off your next purchase), tote bag and mug. I definitely spent the £75 on this little lot:
In fact, I had to go back the next day and pick up a couple that I’d put in the wrong pile, and couldn’t stop thinking about!
I had a lot of fun at Mr B’s – everyone clearly loves books and I could spend hours and hours there. If I lived closer, I’d love to get involved with their book clubs and author events, as it reminded me of how great reading is at taking us to other places and introducing us to new people.
In fact, it’s probably worth mentioning that they do a postal service, called Mr B’s Reading Year. Subscribers get adorable brown paper parcels throughout the year based on an initial consultation.
For the book lover in your life (which could be you…!)
I’m going to try and write reviews more regularly than I have been, and will pledge to review at least every book in this pile this year. Definitely.
First up – The Miniaturist!