In the same week that we celebrate International Women’s Day, we also witnessed the devastating and shocking news that Russia bombed a Children’s & Maternity Hospital in Zhytomyr in Ukraine.

The press coverage is undeniable and horrifying.  How in the 21st Century can we still stand by and watch the violence, destruction that war brings.

As an average person in the street, how can we make sense of it? Turning to books can help.

Have we become a more violent species?  This is one of the questions that Rutger Bregman refutes in his best-selling book ‘Humankind – A Hopeful History’.  This is one of the books that has been keeping me going over the last couple of years.  It is hopeful and positive – it counters negativity and shows examples of how humankind can be peaceful and kind.

Gordon Brown’s book ‘Seven Ways to Change the World’ reflects on the seven global challenges facing the world and how we need to think differently about solving these problems.  The world needs to work collaboratively and come together, rather than pulling apart.

Over the Summer, I took part in a ‘Transforming Leaders’ course which helped me to think differently about our Business in the aftermath of Covid-19.  We have all been impacted by the pandemic and it has made us all think differently about our values and the legacy we leave behind us.

The course was based around 4 pillars: Purpose, People, Planet and Profit.

It was clear to me that we needed to define more clearly who we were and what we stand for and over the last couple of months we have been working on our purpose and vision statement.

I’ve been reading some incredible books and listening to some very inspiring podcasts.

‘Doughnut Economics’ by Kate Raworth is a radical new look at how we view economics and a call towards changing the focus of economic success to face the challenge of meeting the needs of all within the limited means of the planet – ensuring that no one goes short of life’s essentials whilst safeguarding the planet and addressing the issues of the climate emergency.

Books like these can help us make sense of ‘big’ problems and give us a better awareness of where to put our energies.

After all we only have a limited amount of time on earth as pointed out by Oliver Burkeman in his most recent book ‘Four Thousand Weeks’

Having lived through the pandemic years, there seems to be a more collective agreement that time is precious and we need to think carefully about how we spend our time on earth. This book gives a new perspective on how we live in the brief time we have on this planet and provides the tools for leading a more meaningful existence.

As a retailer I’ve always been a fan of Mary Portas and her latest book ‘Rebuild’ has helped to confirm my ideas about the role of retailers in this new changed consumer landscape.  Building a business that invests in its people, its community and one that takes care of the planet is our ultimate goal.  This has also been echoed by Holly Tucker (founder of Not on the High Street) whose book ‘Do What You Love, Love What You Do’ is a klaxon call for all of us to invest our skills and passion into creating ‘Good Life’ businesses.

I can also recommend their Podcasts ‘The Kindness Economy’ by Mary Portas and ‘Conversations of Inspiration’ by Holly Tucker along with ‘Diary of a CEO’ by new Dragon’s Den panelist Steven Bartlet.  They all interview entrepreneurs who are re-thinking the way business is done.  I have found them incredibly thought provoking, honest, authentic and hopeful.

We all struggle and think we aren’t doing enough, but listening and connecting with other people’s stories and ideas can be reassuring and empowering.

All the above are non-fiction so I must just mention a fiction title that filled me with hope over the last few years, The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare.  It is an incredible story of Adunni a young girl, sold by her father as a housegirl.  It highlights a shocking picture of how women and girls are still exploited by men even in our so called modern world.  Despite her precarious circumstances, Adunni manages to keep her dreams and ideas for a better life.  It is uplifting and heartwarming.

These books have made me stop, reflect and amend the way we work at Booka. I feel in a better place by having invested in reading more widely particularly with regard to non-fiction.  I can honestly say that it is through books that I have renewed my motivation, faith and hope in life and know that whatever happens next in my daily existence and the wider world, I can find comfort and guidance in books.

Our purpose is to empower everyone to live a life made better through books.

Books and well-being are at the heart of what we do.  We believe that books help us all feel better, allow us to be better and encourage us to do better.

Booka is more than just a bookshop.  We are at the centre of our community, a place for people to meet and come together.

Now feels like a time where we and our customers can work together for the greater good.

On 12th April a book called ‘Maya and Her Friends’ by Larysa Denysenko, a writer, lawyer and human rights activist is being published by Bonnier Books.  All the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Unicef.  Independent Bookshops (including ourselves) around the country will be stocking and donating all proceeds to Unicef via the publisher.

It feels like an important thing to do and the publishers are making it an easy thing for us and our customers to be involved in – so that we can all make a difference.  Pop into the shop during April to buy a copy or pre-order your copy here.

At Booka we have been putting our heads together to decide how we can contribute to the Ukrainian crisis – we work locally but we want to do something to help globally, something to help Ukrainian people, even in a small way.

As a team we have decided to host a ‘Coffee Morning for Ukraine’ on Thursday 17th March from 9.30 am to 12pm.

Come along buy a coffee and then help yourself to a delicious selection of cakes, baked by our team of booksellers.  All we ask is that you donate what you can afford.

We will have some other fund-raising activities taking place eg. a raffle and a treasure hunt and we will be donating 10% of our takings from the day.

All monies raised will be donated to the Disaster Emergency Committee for their ‘Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal’ to raise money for shelter, food and water:

Home | Disasters Emergency Committee 

The bookshop is a safe space for people to gather and collectively we can do good, we can spread a little love and a lot of hope.

We hope you will join us and let us know the books that are sustaining you at the moment – the #booksthatgiveushope #hugabook

  • Carrie