Today’s Independent Bookshop Week post features Griffin Books in Penarth. It takes its name from its lovely, calm and gentle owner, Mel Griffin, and is a cool haven on the busy high street of this seaside town just south of Cardiff.
At the front of the shop, there are carousels of pretty greeting cards and postcards which are as hard to resist as the tempting top table. This is directly in front of you as you step inside and is regularly updated with titles which Mel and her customers put forward as recommended reads. She also asks one customer a month to give their top three reads to be included in a regular What’s On My Bookshelf? feature in Penarth View magazine.
Mel gives everyone space and time to browse and even makes coffee to sustain you through it! (Or squash if you prefer.) As you can see, Squizzey and I took breakfast along for us all to enjoy during last year’s Independent Bookshop Week.
The shop’s well-stocked and has a good mix of titles on offer including authors local to the area. It’s easy to find your way around, fiction is to the left, non-fiction to the right, reference books in the middle and the children’s section is at the back of the shop by the counter. And if there’s a particular title you need, Mel can generally order this in for you very quickly.
Once a month, Mel runs a late night opening event at the bookshop where you can browse in the evening and enjoy a glass of wine, and sometimes has a guest author or local poet, like Fran Smith, there to showcase their work.
Together with running the Penarth Literature Festival, Mel puts on a great range of author events throughout the year, which range from lunches to afternoon teas to evening readings and signings and venues for these range from the local tea rooms to a church to a hotel overlooking the sea and even the local rugby club. I’ve got Mel to thank for being able to meet and chat with Welsh rugby heroes Eddie Butler and JJ Williams for which I’ll be eternally grateful! But I’ve also enjoyed lunch with Jessie Burton, afternoon tea with Belinda Bauer, and evenings with Julia Forster, Kate Hamer and Emma Donoghue. Okay, yes, there may have been some other people there, as well.
This year’s Penarth Literature Festival is being held in July and the programme’s focus is on authors local to the area. There’s something for everyone, young and old, whatever genre you read. I’m looking forward to getting to events with Miranda Emmerson (Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars) and Natalie Haynes (The Amber Fury and The Children of Jocasta). You can get tickets in the shop or online (subject to a booking fee) through Ticketsource. For more details on the programme or to book tickets, click on the logo.