Nothing quite beats the smell of a book shop. I’m not talking about your mainstream Waterstones or your multi-purpose WH Smith’s. I’m talking about your independent book stores, oozing character, shelves stacked with endless possibilities.
The Book Lounge in Kirkby Lonsdale fits that brief to a tee. It sits neatly on Main Street in the centre of town, quaint and unassuming. When you walk in, you’re greeted with a setup which makes you feel warm and comforted, as though you’re at home.
Of course, the homely feel is more than just appearances. Owner, Valerie, and her colleagues are super welcoming and always smiling. In fact, in keeping with typical northern hospitality, we’d barely said ‘hello’ and the kettle was popped on.
The front room at The Book Lounge is flanked with packed shelves containing books that range in age and genre; second hand to new, romance to young adult fiction. The centre piece? A cosy couch and accompanying chairs, a coffee table and a fireplace – the perfect setting for a few chapters, a cuppa and some peace and quiet.
Through an intriguing doorway you can discover the back room, with yet more books and stories just waiting to be (re)discovered. Standing behind the counter, which doubles up as a till and kitchen area, are the afore mentioned smiles from friendly members of The Book Lounge team, ready with advice and to also take your order – tea with a dash of milk please!
I first connected with Valerie over Twitter, following the Lancashire Book of the Year 2019 event in the summer. We got chatting, as you do, before Valerie suggested we stock The Disappearance of Timothy Dawson at The Book Lounge – I was absolutely thrilled.
Who would have thought? My self-published book… in a real life book shop!
I ventured over to Kirkby Lonsdale on an overcast Tuesday afternoon a few weeks later, along with my (now) wife, Nadina and little boy, Sonny, and delivered some copies of my book.
Fantastic hospitality aside (which included cake by the way!), what was immediately apparent was how much of a presence the shop had in the community in just a year since opening. A steady flow of local people buzzed around the place; young people dipping their toe into the promising ocean of books, older people browsing for new adventures or revisiting previous ones and those of us who consider ourselves somewhere in the middle perusing the shelves for a new read – and of course Elmer’s Friends for Sonny!
As we drained our mugs of tea, we chatted about all sorts; our lives, my book, the history of The Book Lounge, Sonny (who by now was getting restless and being a bit of a monkey!), we even ventured into topical issues in the cross over between literacy and lived experience and certain adversity which young writers are faced with.
My favourite thing about The Book Lounge? Their ethos around supporting local authors. Not only do Valerie and the team stock the books of local authors, they make it their focal point. There is an ever growing display of books by north west authors, who sit pride of place in either the window or on the first wall to the right of the shop, with copies of the books available to purchase in store. Valerie is on hand to offer a bit of back story about each of the books and their creators, which is such a unique and personal touch. I think it takes real confidence and bravery to think local in a world so fixated on mainstream and I for one feel very privileged to be amongst the special group that are being showcased as local authors in this fantastic, independent, north west book store.
Thank you Valerie and The Book Lounge team. For your hospitality and your faith. I hope I can visit again soon!
Check out The Book Lounge on Twitter or visit them in store today at;
Ciao for now folks,