In the past 10 years, I’ve lived in 13 flats, apartments and houses. When you move that frequently you need to find quick and secure anchoring points. For me, one of the first is always a good local independent bookshop. When I look at my bookshelves now I see those shops again, their unique atmospheres and secluded corners evoked in the spines of the books I bought in them. But they’ve also performed another role offering themselves as places of temporary refuge; caesuras in the day in which my rhythm slows and my mind breathes out for a moment.
Having a local bookshop where you know this experience awaits you is a privilege. But when you find it far from home, as I did recently in Oswestry in Shropshire it can be even better. I’d broken a long drive north to search out the Wilfred Owen memorial bench in the town of the poet’s birth. Having sat there for a while reading Owen’s verse, I headed back to my car. On the way, however, I was ambushed by Booka, an independent bookshop whose open doors I could not refuse. I emerged an hour later rested and full of ideas with a new notebook, a CD of Ivor Gurney’s songs and a collection of poetry. The shop had hummed with community, in the works of the writers on its shelves and in the conversations of the people in the cafe. It might seem a bit much to say but Booka’s few hundred square feet of retail space felt like a force for good in the world that day. My time there, along with Gurney’s songs on my stereo, made the next 200 miles of motorway all the more bearable.
Why I love Booka … by Owen Sheers
It’s not a bookshop – more of a plunge pool for literature and culture (but you can buy books there).
Great books, lovely gifts, exemplary customer service and a tasty coffee and cake. Booka is what Oswestry has been crying out for and now it has it: should cherish every aspect of its wonderfulness. Carrie is constantly working on the next event to promote local authors and engender a love of reading
My 85 year old mother loves it. She enjoys a coffee and browsing for books as presents. Most recently my 9 month old grand-daughter has benefited from the Ahlbergs’ Peep-o and my brother in law from an encyclopaedia of cheese. So they must love it too! My 30 year old son visiting from the big city of Sheffield loves it because it’s friendly, stocks unusual items and the staff are well informed. People taking part in all the events and competitions love it. I’m an English teacher and I love it because it’s full of people loving books; all ages, all interests, all reading!
Booka Bookshop is an exquisite experience – incredible books, beautiful things and wonderful coffee and cake. It has given the whole community the opportunity to enjoy literature in an attractive and welcoming environment. I’ve never met a person that doesn’t love it!
Booka Bookshop have revolutionised the literary scene in Oswestry, Shropshire In a short space of time, they have established a real reputation for hand-picked books, a gorgeous cafe and a stunning array of literary events. Booka Bookshop have been instrumental in the success of our fledgling Oswestry Festival of the Word and their energy and creativity is astonishing. This is not hyperbole, it’s understatement. All these words do not do justice to this absolute gem of a bookshop. And this is from someone who once spent his time visiting all the bookshops in London for a publisher.
Booka is unique and a treasure.
A relative newcomer to Oswestry, Booka Bookshop has fast become an unmissable port of call for visitors to the town due to a fantastic combination of the very best in new fiction and non-fiction, an enticing programme of author events, and tasty cakes. As a librarian at Oswestry Library, I’m really enjoying a successful working partnership with Booka which is allowing both of our venues to spread passion for reading far and wide in our town.