As my last inspection had to be called off at the eleventh hour, I didn't really give Mostly Books in Abingdon much advance warning that the floors needed to be mopped, shelves dusted and all staff standing to attention as I made my entrance.You may have read about it first here but I needs must publish my own independent findings.
Thanks to Mary Cavanagh, my Oxford chauffeur, (that's Mary with her book and note that hard-working bookseller in the background) I did finally get to walk in the doors of Mostly Books and meet Mark Thornton. I had followed the fortunes of the enterprise from afar as Mark and Nicky blogged about the gestation of the shop and finally gave birth to it, and I have been desperate to go and visit.
Several things make an immediate impact at Mostly Books besides the books, and those are of course the best selection you could wish to find.
The first thing to note is the shop atmosphere and it's hard to miss this because but it's immediately apparent that Mostly Books has become a real community venue and one that just oozes a warm, welcoming, book-loving friendliness. A steady stream of people all known to Mark by name and greeted accordingly (my local Indie still doesn't greet me even generically as a person, let alone by name, and after all these years and all that money) flowed into the shop constantly and even better bought books.
But a result that Mark clearly earns. This was no bookseller sitting behind the counter munching a pastie and doing his knitting (doesn't that annoy you?) The man was working like a trojan, it was all a joy to behold; looking up titles, books off the shelf and browsed with customers, staff training in progress (new member of staff, first day, already very accomplished on the till, book lover, agrees unlikely to take home any wages) internet references written down for more customers including me. I have come away having been urged / challenged to read some science fiction and given a list to make sure I do.
My stock inspection took a couple of hours, a pot of tea and some lemon drizzle cake to complete plus I chatted to a lovely customer about all the books we'd read, but I was beyond impressed.
I decided not to deplete the book stock but I did buy this as the perfect souvenir of my first real trip off the blog and out into the Big Wide World to be seen, and it seems entirely appropriate as a fitting memento of the whole Oxford Literary Festival event.
My good wishes to Mostly Books, long may they sell books.
And a PS for all the Endsleigh Salon-ites who are frantically pondering next month's read which is usefully themed as Science Fiction, here is the promised list that Mark was feverishly scribbling down in the background
The Time Traveller - H.G.Wells
War of the Worlds - H.G.Wells
Illustrated Man - Ray Bradbury
Darwin's Radio - Greg Bear
Blood Music - Greg Bear
The Man in the High Castle - Philip Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip Dick Now Wait for Last Year - Philip Dick
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenso
The New World Order - Ben Jeapes
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut