IBW2021: Michelle Rawlins on bookshop communities

To celebrate Independent Bookshop Week, Michelle Rawlins – author of The Steel Girls – shares her love for the very special Barnsley bookshop she visits with her family.

Something rather special

For as long as I can remember, I have loved bookshops. It stems from being a regular visitor to my local libraries as a child, where I could get lost for an hour or so, delving into stories and transporting to another world made up of adventures and faraway lands.

Reading, alongside running, is still my ‘go to’ when I either want to relax or escape from the all-consuming busyness of everyday life. To sit and devour a book whether it be in snippets for half an hour at a time, or on the rare occasion, indulging in a full afternoon sitting in the sun, turning page after page, I savour these moments.

But, before I even get to that stage, there is something rather special about meandering through a bookshop, perusing the shelves for my next choice. It often feels like a luxury to dedicate the time to go and spend an hour deciding on what to buy. This process is made even more enjoyable when you get to know the owners or managers of a store.

Precious communities

I have been incredibly lucky since I have started writing books, in the sense I have got to know Keith and Ivy who manage The Book Vault in Barnsley. Not only do I enjoy popping in, often with my children, who also never walk away empty-handed, but they have also been incredibly supportive with my own books, The Women Of Steel and The Steel Girls, asking me to go in and sign them, and then displaying them in their window.

We always have a good old natter and it’s just lovely to see how invested they are in supporting not just myself, but all authors, especially those who live in the area, including Milly Johnson and Dan Jarvis.

Local bookstores aren’t just shops, they are precious communities, and we should cherish them, as to lose them, would be a sacrilege.

Liked this? Discover the rest of our IBW2021 series here. The Steel Girls by Michelle Rawlins is out now. Buy it from your local independent bookshop or bookshop.org.

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