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I have recently returned from a most amazing trekking trip in Peru. It is a fascinating country with a very long history, friendly people and stunning scenery. We trekked is a gentle way in several different areas, particularly the Cordillera Negra and Cordillera Blanca. I was very anxious about altitude sickness before we left but we ascended slowly so all was well.

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Yumbilla waterfall, the fifth highest in the world at 895.5 metres on the left, a wonderful hike through virgin rainforest from the village of Cuispes. On the right, mountains in the Cordillera Blanca.

Nick Coffer


Yesterday I went for the last time to the BBC Three Counties Radio Studios in Luton. Next time I go they will have moved to Dunstable. Handily that is a bit nearer home for me which is good. The pictures look great so it will be fun to be in the new studios.

Now to get reading for the next batch of recommended books on July 6th. Summer reading!

Today’s titles on Nick Coffer’s Show


The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton published Jan 1st 2015 by Pan Macmillan £7.99  paperback

This is a kind of 17th century thriller. A bit spooky as well

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey published Jan 1st 2015 by Penguin £7.99 paperback

Maud is 81 and has dementia. This is her story. Funny, poignant, sad and very readable.

Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan published July 2014 by Vintage £16.99 hardback

This is going into my top ten books of all time at number 3. It is the winner of the Man Booker prize and is just stunningly unputdownable. The hero, Dorrigo Evans, is a doctor from Tasmania, who finds himself held by the Japanese in a prisoner of war camp. The inmates of the camp are expected to build the Thailand Burma Railway.

The Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen published by Random House Children’s January 2015 £6.99

This has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and for the Blue Peter fiction award which will be announced on World Book Day on Thursday. It is a gripping read aimed at 9 – 13 year olds

Sophia by Anita Anand published by Bloomsbury January 15 2015 £20 hardback

This is a biography of Sophia Duleep Singh, granddaughter of Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Punjab and god daughter of Queen Victoria.

H is for hawk by Helen MacDonald published by Vintage February 2015 £8.99 paperback

Wonderful autobiography of Helen Macdonald training a goshawk called Mabel and learning to deal with her grief at her father’s death. Woven in is a biography of T.H.White, one time teacher and author of The Once and Future King

Monthly book slot


My monthly book slot with Nick Coffer on BBC Three Counties Radio comes around very quickly! Always great to chat about books though and we managed to squeeze six books in today including 2 childrens books and one non fiction. You can see what I recommended by looking at the radio recommendations page. You can hear the programme by clicking on this link BBC3CR It will be there until Monday August 4th.


Book News this week


I have just added the entry form for the Chorleywood Literary Festival Writing Competition to the Chorleywood Bookshop website. Get writing all you budding writers! The theme is Bravery, 800 words and you could win the Dominian Short Story Prize. Closing date October 27th

I have read all my books ready for the radio on Monday. You will have to listen if you want to know what my books are this month! BBC Three Counties radio, the Nick Coffer Show on Monday July 28th from 12 noon to 3pm.

Michael Morpurgo


Amazing! Quite the most moving event in a long while. Fabulous to have met an icon of children’s literature and to discover he is just delightful. We all sang the theme from War Horse, heard how it came to be written and had a lump in our throats as we listened to great stories of WW1 and how various other books of the 134 books that is Michael Morpurgo’s oevre came to be written. Some story or meeting with a particular person has sparked them all off. He recommended a visit to the Museum at Ypres as he considers it one of the best places to learn about WW1.
I gave the vote of thanks to him at the end.

Nick Coffer Show


Just returned from my monthly (or thereabouts !) slot with Nick Coffer.  We had a good chat about books, what constitutes a summer read and Independent Booksellers Week.

Six books mentioned, well 5 and a 1/4 really as the Unknown Unknown is more of a pamphlet but really good for a quick 10 minute read.

The books are:

The Beach Hut next door by Veronica Henry published by Orion at 7.99 Published 03/07/14
This Boy by Alan Johnson published by Transworld at  £7.99
The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell published by Headline at £7.99
The Best British Short Stories 2013 collected by Nicholas Royle published by Salt Publishing  at £9.99
The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman published by Transworld at £7.99
And The Unknown Unknown by Mark Forsyth, a special publication for Independent Booksellers Week. It is about the reasons for keeping the independent bookshop alive. There are things we know we know, things we know we don’t know and things we don’t know that we don’t know. And books are the same – there are those you have read that you know you know; those that you know that you haven’t read that you know you don’t know and there are tose that you have never heard of that you don’t know you don’t know! You will never discover these on the internet. he takes the example of Romeo and Juliet who might in the modern day have tried internet dating. However, one would have stipulated ‘no Montagues’ and the other ‘no Capulets’ so they would never have met that way.  (They might have lived longer if they had!) So with books –  talk to an independent bookseller next week, ask for their recommendations and see where it takes you. It might get an unknown unknown to at least a known unknown!
Bye for now!

New Events


I have just updated the events pages of the website to include everything that has been booked (so far!!) until the summer. Take a look – there are some wonderful authors of everything from travel and history to brilliant fiction. A lunch and a tea and cake events with a couple of cooks add to the mix!

Our best sellers


I’m so pleased with our top 20 best sellers since December. I think it shows that we, as a staunchly indie shop, don’t necessarily follow the trends.

Here is the list

1) The Best of Matt

2) Tom Kerridge – Proper Pub Food

3) Capital – John Lanchester

4) Stoner – John L Williams

5) Sweet Tooth – Ian McEwan

6) Urban Rajah’s Curry Memoirs – Ivor Peters

7) Dear Life – Alice Munro

8) Keep Calm and get a cat

9) Private Eye Annual

10) Alex Ferguson My Autobiography

11) The Last Runaway – Tracey Chevalier

12) And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

13) A Guinea Pig Nativity

14) Fun Home – Alison Bechdel

15) One Summer – Bill Bryson

16) Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out … – Jonas Jonasson

17) Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela

18) Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck

19) Eat – The Little Book of Fast Food – Nigel Slater

20) You Made me Late Again – Pam Ayres