IBW2021: Jessica Ryn on her number one bookshop memory

We’re continuing our Independent Bookshop Week series with a trip down memory lane with Jessica Ryn, author of The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside. Continue reading to reminisce along with her!

My Number One Bookshop Memory

What did you miss most about bookshops during lockdown?

If you’re anything like me, the shock of not being able to go into one for months made me think about life without them.

I looked back at my fondest bookshop memories. I remembered the smell of new books and fresh coffee, the sense of peace and sanctuary. There’s something special about the hum of conversation in a bookshop. The knowledge of the bookseller as they point someone in the right direction with a well-informed recommendation. The knowing smile from one customer to another as they pick up a book they recognise. ‘I’ve read that. It’s wonderful,’ they might say. Some excited book chat will inevitably follow.

Bookshops bring people together and provide a safe space to escape to. The shelves don’t just hold books, they carry doors to other worlds and keys to unlock just the information we’ve been looking for. I love nothing more than looking at the tables for new releases and browsing the genre sections I love the most.

I’m always thankful my mum is an avid reader because it meant I spent hours in bookshops as a child. My favourite bookshop memory is from when I was ten. My class teacher was raising funds for an orphanage and asked the school to carry out a sponsored read-a-thon, which was music to my ears. I devoured books at that age (I still do) and my mum told me I could choose a whole selection of new books for the occasion. I’d never been more excited!

It was a gorgeously cosy independent bookshop. I’ll never forget the way the bookseller helped me choose my books and cheered me on for my read-a-thon. She asked me questions about what books I liked and listened to my preferences without talking down to me or talking to my mum instead. It made me feel important and valued. I read seven books that week and raised the most money in my class.

As an adult, I’m grateful for the beautiful independent bookshops we have around us such as my local Harbour Books in Whitstable which I’m so looking forward to visiting again. Let’s continue to support our independent bookshops so they can keep furnishing us with lovely memories.

That book you’ve been eyeing up for weeks? Pop into your local independent bookshop and treat yourself this weekend.

Want to read more bookshop memories from some of your favourite authors? Click here.

The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside is available in your local bookshop or on bookshop.org!

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