Meet the Bookseller with Imogen Dewey from Readings Carlton
We chat with Imogen Dewey from Readings Carlton about Zadie Smith, Enid Blyton, and getting to meet Bernard from Black Books.
Why do you work in books?
I really love them. Reading is pretty essential to me. Helping people find the right thing is very satisfying and often very fun, whether it’s something they love, something new, or a gift for ‘someone who doesn’t like books’ (incidentally, there’s also a pleasingly large potential to enforce one’s taste on the general public.) Secretly, the best thing is probably just getting to hang out and browse. there is an awe-inspiring amount of great stuff – it never gets static so it’s impossible to ever reach the end.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
I usually end up juggling a few … So, I recently reread Zadie Smith’s book of essays, Changing My Mind, which is just brilliant. She makes me want to write. Uni’s just started with its associated tonne of titles and I’m struggling unsuccessfully to stay away from the Game of Thrones books. Nick Harkaway’s new book Angelmaker is wonderful. A friend just gave me Emerson’s poems. They are light and beautiful – all simple and clean. And let no one say that Terry Pratchett is not a master of the craft … he is.
What have you noticed people buying lately?
Lots more Christopher Hitchens, still.
What’s the strangest experience you’ve had in a bookshop?
The oddly constant stream of people who come in looking for ‘something for someone who doesn’t really like books, or reading’. Multiples of strange.
What’s the best experience you’ve had in a bookshop?
Meeting Bernard from Black Books (his real name, definitely). I loitered winningly behind the counter for an awkward amount of time, and then finally coyly approached and stammered out some kind of profession of undying love and admiration for ‘your work’, and then blushed, very hard. He muttered vaguely at me and went back to looking through his book. It was wonderful.
What was your favourite book as a kid?
Too many. Narnia and Redwall should get special mentions, though I went through a couple of copies of The Long Patrol. And The Elephant and the Bad Baby. Phillip Pullman. Madeline. The Five Children and It – bit of tireless reading aloud there. Dragon books. The Neverending Story, The Owl Service, The Hobbit. Any book about King Arthur or Odysseus (and their respective posses). Everything by Enid Blyton, ever.