The Bookseller's Tale by Martin Latham (2021)
Ah, bookshops. Rows of stories, shelves of possibility. From the bestsellers to the bargain bin, that comforting smell of paper and ideas has lured us all in at one time or another. Imagine, though, what it is to be a bookseller. Author Martin Latham knows all too well: he’s Waterstone’s longest-serving manager and has, under his stewardship, turned a number of rookie booksellers into authors. The first chapter is on comfort reading: need we say more?
In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens by Alice Walker (1983)
This collection of Alice Walker’s essays is a fairly exhaustive gathering of the reviews, journalism, essays and speeches she wrote in the previous two decades – from her very first – and prize-winning – essay. While feminism and the Civil Rights movement filter through much of her writing, I always think of In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens as a collection of literary essays. Walker is occupied with oft-overlooked writers such as Rebecca Jackson, Jean Toomer and – especially – Zora Neale Hurston. Her writing about them does what the best books about books can do: encourage you to pick up several others.