Book: The Bookshop That Floated Away
Author: Sarah Henshaw
Available: Out now
If you enjoy this book you might like: The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford
Summary: In early 2009 a strange sort of business plan landed on the desk of a pinstriped bank manager, asking for a £30,000 loan to buy a black-and-cream narrowboat and a small hoard of books. The manager said no. Nevertheless The Book Barge opened six months later and enjoyed the happy patronage of local readers and a growing number of eccentrics. This account follows the ebbs and flows of Sarah’s journey as she sought to make her vision of a floating bookshop a reality.
Hope you all had good Mondays despite the rainy weather (perfect if you’re having a cosy night in with book and tea though!). I’ve just finished Sarah Henshaw’s The Bookshop That Floated Away, a book which is actually perfect for these types of rainy days!
For anyone who’s been on holiday on a canal boat, this book is very, very relatable. For anyone who isn’t a seasoned canal boater, Sarah’s hilarious descriptions of the locks, of the general lack of facilities and just basically trying to moor anywhere that isn’t inconveniencing someone are spot on. She even writes a chapter from the perspective of her boat, Joseph, which I really loved because it was a unique way of telling us a bit about the history of her boat.
I went on a canal holiday with some friends a while back and remember trying to work a series of locks while still in pyjamas, going through a town at midday and realising that in the outside world people were properly dressed and showered and generally not being as shambolic as I looked!
Reading Sarah’s book totally brought those memories back – her narrative is very funny, if a bit awkward at times. I liked that she didn’t hold anything back. She is always honest about her experience, and her frustrations as she tries to make a living from the bookshop. Her description of her break-up with boyfriend Stu is also heart-breaking. While her sadness isn’t at the forefront of the story, she makes it clear that she was going through a tough time.
I love the idea of The Book Barge – it’s a unique way of selling books, and meeting book lovers from around the country (And a bit more daring than me sitting on my sofa sharing my love of books via my computer). She admits that it’s a tough choice at times (for example when she meets up with friends and they comment that her hair is greasy and don’t 100% understand her decision), but she also talks a lot about her love for books. Every other paragraph she references a novel or story, her knowledge of such a wide variety of books is impressive – I hope to be like that one day!
All in all, I’d recommend this book to people who seriously love literature – you need to be, to understand why she happily gave up a stable income in order to essentially travel around the country surrounded by books!
What have you all been reading?