In conversation with Gemma from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights
Mr B's is a beautiful, energetic and innovative bookshop on John Street in the heart of Bath. It's a bright labyrinthine space where book-related chatter and advice seems ever-present and you never know what you might encounter next, from claw-foot bath book displays to toilets illustrated by Chris Riddell. Established in 2006 by co-owners Nic and Juliette Bottomley, Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is a favourite of locals and visitors alike, who are drawn to its eclectically curated selection of books.
For the first time in our conversation series independent bookstore bookseller Gemma Dunnell shares her favourite new novels for some much-needed escapist reading.
1-WHICH ARE THE BOOKS TO READ THIS AUTUMN-WINTER?
There are so many we’ve loved as a team over the past few months, but here are some of our favourites...
Greenwood by Michael Christie - Structured like the rings of a tree, this remarkable novel moves from a futuristic world in which only one forest remains to the start of the twentieth century, where two young boys survive a train crash, setting them on a path that will forever change their lives and the lives of those around them. – Tom
Betty by Tiffany McDaniel - Born in 1954 to a Cherokee father and a white mother, Betty is one of eight siblings. Her curiosity of the natural world, a fierce love for her sisters and her father’s stories all help her escape a world of poverty and violence. An astounding book that will forever stay with you. – Emma
Humankind - A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman - Fascinating and thoughtful, yet easy reading. Humankind covers everything - anthropology, sociology, history, criminology and even literature – and remains unshakeably optimistic about human nature. It is, after this year, a book whose outlook and philosophy are much needed, and well-argued. - Rhian
Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn - This refreshing collection of essays from a range of experts explores love in all its different forms, from romantic relationships to families and friendships, and how all of these relationships change and are sustained over our lifetimes. – Nicole
2-DO YOU THINK READING HAS BECOME MORE POPULAR DURING THIS RECENT PANDEMIC?; WHY YOU THINK THIS HAS HAPPENED?
Throughout the pandemic and lockdowns so many customers have told us they've rediscovered or found a love for reading. Not only have people had more time to sit down and read, but books offer such an amazing chance to escape to any time or place, something a lot of us desperately needed during the past year.
3-WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MAGIC BEHIND A GOOD READ?
Everyone’s definition of a ‘good read’ will be different, but whether it’s complicated and emotive characters, a gripping plot, or some beautiful prose, there is something for everyone in a book.
4-CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR READING SUBSCRIPTIONS AND READING SPAS?
At Mr B’s we offer two bespoke reading experiences - our Reading Subscriptions and our Reading Spas. With a Mr B’s Reading Spa you sit down with coffee, cake, and one of our booksellers to have a chat about your favourite books. From there, we will find you a tower of books especially selected to suit your tastes and chat you through each one. The Reading Spa includes £55 to spend on your favourite recommendations, a Mr B’s mug and cloth bag and a £5 gift card for your next visit!
We’re unfortunately not selling Reading Spas at the moment because we’re working on honouring and rebooking all of those Spas that were purchased before the pandemic, but if you’re still interested in personalised book recommendations from us we are selling our award winning Reading Subscriptions. You begin by completing a short consultation so that we can get a feel for your reading tastes. Then one of the Mr B’s team will be appointed as your dedicated bibliotherapist and will hand-pick a book each month, chosen especially to suit you. Every book arrives through your letterbox beautifully presented in our beautiful wrapping. And you also receive a stunning, limited edition bookmark to make sure you never lose your place!
5- CUSTOMER SERVICES IS AT THE CORE OF YOUR BUSINESS. HOW DO YOU FIND THE PERFECT BOOKS FOR YOUR READERS?. WHICH ADVICE WILL YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE NOT SURE OF WHICH BOOK TO GO FOR?
We’re very lucky to have a knowledgeable team who read a lot of books! That way, if someone comes in asking for a particular genre, author, or feel for a book there will be someone who has a few recommendations up their sleeve. For people searching for their next great read, we always suggest chatting to your fellow bookish friends about what they are loving at the moment, checking out the book lists on our website of all our favourites across genres and topics, or using our Recommendation Station on our website for some personalised suggestions from our booksellers.
6-PAPER COPIES OR DIGITAL BOOKLETS?....WHICH ONE YOU PREFER AND WHY?
Although digital books are light and handy, nothing beats a paper book, does it? The feel, the cover art, even the smell of a book - paper is the winner for me. Although, I am a bookseller, so I’m probably a bit biased!
Photographs by Mr B Emporium
Reviews by Gemma from Mr B Emporium of Reading Delights.
Not local to Mr B’s Emporium? Discover more about their reading subscriptions and reading spas on their website.