IBW2021: Sophia Money-Coutts on the unique treat of book shopping

This Independent Bookshop Week, we are joined by Sophia Money-Coutts (author of The Wish List, Did You Miss Me? and more!) as she revels in the ‘unique treat’ of book shopping!

The unique treat of book shopping

Almost inevitably, books about ponies came first. What is it about young girls and books about ponies? Among others, I was obsessed with the Pullein-Thompson books, The Saddle Club, and a Choose Your Own Adventure about a horse show, which I read over and over again until I’d memorised all the options. My pocket money didn’t stretch very far back then; every week, I was allowed 10p per year of my age. When I was 8, this meant 80p, but if I wanted to put this towards a book (instead of sweets or a plastic egg of Silly Putty in the toy shop), Mum would top this sum up. Our local was the Petworth Bookshop, in the West Sussex market town where I grew up and would idle away as long as I could, always unable to decide on my next book because the choice seemed so momentous. How could I pick just one world when there were so many options? 

From ponies, the cliché continued as I graduated to boarding school books (Malory Towers; The Worst Witch series), followed by a war phase (Goodnight Mister Tom; When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit), and then it was Goosebumps. My parents divorced when I was 10, and I buried myself in books. It seemed an escape then as it does now and, although I often get into bed and spend half an hour faffing about on Instagram, I’m always happier when I’ve (finally) turned off my phone and picked up my book.

Bookshops are my sanctuary

Books are my saving which makes bookshops my sanctuary. Heading to my local, The Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace, I feel the same thrill that I did as a child. Luckily, I usually have more than 80p in my pocket but I will still loiter in the aisles, agonising over what to buy next. It’s a unique treat, going to a bookshop. For me, it feels delicious and comforting in a way that no other shopping does. Let’s be honest, you rarely get that warm glow after an afternoon spent jeans shopping, do you? 

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

The Wish List is out today in paperback, and Did You Miss Me? is coming soon! Why not pick up both from your local bookshop or on bookshop.org?

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