It’s Independent Bookshop Week this week, so I’m posting about some favourites in my part of Wales, starting today with Book-ish in Crickhowell, run by the energetic and lovely Emma and Andrew.
It’s not exactly my local but as it’s only about 45 minutes away by car and close to where my in-laws live, I often wangle a bookish stop off on the way to or from there. And in between those visits? Well, Book-ish is always worth a special trip of its own, if you’re even remotely close to the area.
Crickhowell is a pretty town on the banks of the river Usk, just south of the Black Mountains. Apart from the wonderful walking and beautiful surrounding scenery, Crickhowell has managed to keep independent shops on its high street and that one of these is a bookshop makes it especially appealing to me.
Earlier this year, Book-ish moved a couple of doors up from the corner shop it started life in and now has more room for books, stationery, gifts and toys than ever before. It has a well curated book choice and I always find something new when I’m browsing the shelves and either come away with an exciting find or a previously unknown (to me) author. There’s usually a good selection of books signed by the author as well, largely thanks to its programme of events. I lust after their stationery selection, have sent quite a few of their greetings cards to friends, eye up a new Lamy fountain pen every time I visit and crave bookish gifts for myself from among their totes and mugs.
If you needed any further encouragement to visit, venture down the alleyway to the left of the shop and you’ll find the entrance to its wonderful new cafe. This is a great place for a snack or lunch and serves as a very comfortable place to deposit the less bookish people in your life, leaving you free to browse without any huffing and pointed watch-checking. The Book-ish cafe offers tasty lunch options and has the MOST AMAZING CAKES and The Loft upstairs pulls double duty as spillover cafe seating and an event space.
All of which is great news because this means that Book-ish is expanding what was already an impressive programme of author events and craft, foraging and storytelling workshops which culminate in the Book-ish Literature Festival every Autumn. So far, I’ve been lucky enough to go to open book clubs with Emma Chapman and Katherine Webb, author events with Rob Cowen, Kate Hamer and Alex Hourston, Cathy Rentzenbrink and Owen Sheers. Crickhowell was also one of the stops for the Cover to Cover poetry tour last year. Next week, I’ll be taking Mum to a Tony Robinson event and later in the month, Welsh author Rebecca John will be talking about her debut novel, The Haunting of Henry Twist.
Be sure to check it out when you’re in the area. It’s the bookshop you’ll wish was your local.