There was a very brief period in 2022 when I looked at my overflowing bookshelves and thought to myself, ‘I need to go on a book-buying ban next year.’ Well, the next year has arrived, and yes, less than three weeks in, there’s six new books next to me, waiting for space on the bookshelves.
The Waterstones at Piccadilly is supposedly the biggest bookshop in Europe, and I’ve never been there before. So, when I was left unsupervised on a cloudy Sunday afternoon, I decided to check it out. Just to check it out. I didn’t even bring a bag with me so I would be forced to not buy any books.
The store was undeniably beautiful. The very first pile of books that greeted me was The Theory of Everything Else by Dan Schreiber. My partner loved Randall Munroe’s What If?, and I figured this would be a nice surprise for him. Plus, one of my reading resolutions of the year is to read more non-fiction, so I picked it up.
A bit further on, and Haruki Murakami’s Novelist as a Vocation sat there waiting. I can never say no to sprayed edges. Not the most intricate design, but still lovely. And besides, a book by one of my favourite writers on being a novelist? Research for my own writing, I told myself. I was a bit dismayed at the ‘Half Price’ and ‘Waterstones Exclusive Edition’ stickers on the cover, but luckily, they were actual stickers I could peel off and not those godawful printed stickers that you see too much of these days.
Moving on, before I end up in a rant. To no one’s surprise, I spent the most amount of time in the Crime Fiction section on the first floor. After a lot of picking up books, debating over them in my head, and putting away books, I stuck with Murder at Crime Manor by Fergus Craig. It’s advertised as a crime fiction parody, which I love and am excited to read. Who else has seen and absolutely loved Clue (1985)? (Looking at the book again now, I realise it’s the second in a series, so I might have to buy the first one now. Oh well.)
I then came across Agatha Christie, specifically And Then There Were None. There is a different conversation to be had about the original racist title of the book and some of the story elements within. The book has been revised for contemporary audiences, and the plot remains brilliant. My partner had mentioned an interest in reading this book, his first foray into Christie, and I wanted to buy it for him.
Just above Christie in the Cs was Julia Chapman and The Dales Detective Series set in the fictional town of Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales. The series has been on my radar for a while because of the setting. Julia Chapman has mentioned that Bruncliffe is loosely based on the town Settle. Settle holds a very special place in my heart. Autumn of 2021, my partner and I threw an imaginary dart at a map and chose Settle for a week-long vacation, and we have loved it since. The town is absolutely quaint, it’s railway station even more so. There’s a yearly Flowerpot Festival with amazing creations made out of flower pots set up all around the town, which is incredibly fun. I could go on and on about Settle, but I’ll stop here and let some photographs do the talking.
All this to say, I picked up the first book in the series, Date with Death.
And I was done.
Or so I thought. I was on my way to the till when The Princess Bride beckoned me so very sweetly. The 1987 movie of the same name is a masterpiece, and I think Cary Elwes was at his best as Westley. And so was Mandy Patinkin. Who could have watched the movie and not memorized these lines for the next decade?
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
I’d been meaning to buy the book for a while now, and there were already five books in my hand. What’s one more?
Thanks to my overconfidence that I would actually stick to my book-buying ban, I got to buy a beautiful Waterstones tote at the till. Mistakes were made, but at least they were happy ones. I came home with enough joy to last a few weeks.
I think a Daunt Books tote should be next on my list. Preferably with another six books inside.