As a result of the last couple of years we’ve been reflecting on our ‘purpose’ and re-examining who we are and what we do.
Experiential bookselling is embedded in the Booka DNA. We don’t rely on algorithms, we are here and present for you – a physical bookshop with a very human face.
We want our customers to enjoy the ‘Booka-sperience’ and have been inspired by so many incredible bookshops around the country – Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights and their ‘Book Spas’ in Bath, The Poetry Pharmacy and their ‘Poetry on Prescription’ consultations in Bishop’s Castle.
All our ideas have come together and we have a multi-sensory programme of events for a ‘Mindful May’ at Booka.
Recently, I heard someone say, that reading was a very special kind of meditation because you are completely present when you open the book and enter in.
It resonated with me completely – losing yourself in story, memoir or whatever genre you enjoy takes you away from your worries. It opens up new worlds and helps you connect with others.
Reading makes us all less stressed and more mindful. Reading a little each day is a way to capture a moment for yourself, to be still, to be silent, to just be at one with a book.
That’s the feeling we are trying to capture with our whole month of Mindfulness – Mindful May is our way of celebrating books and the well-being that they can bring to each of us.
We have events for all ages, we have events to suit everyone. We have free events, low- cost events and events that are more expensive because they are packaged up with a range of activities that allow our readers to experience books and the bookshop in different ways.
We are taking the bookshop outside with Rosie Evans and her ‘Mindful Walk’ on Thursday 5th May.
We are inviting other local businesses to partner with us to host activities that bring different audiences into the bookshop – why not bring a friend and try our ‘Jam Jar Workshop’ with Jodie from Ragged Botannica?
May also marks our re-opening on Sundays – so if you fancy a slow Sunday where you can browse and have a coffee, meet friends and chill-out, then join us on Sunday 22nd May. If you come in the afternoon – there will be ‘Jazz in the Bookshop’ from Gary Foote and friend.
Putting it into Practice
We are all living such hectic lives and anxiety levels are at an all-time high. We know this from personal experience – we have all been impacted by Covid-19. At Booka we have been working together as a team, to help us navigate those times when we are feeling fragile. Working in a retail environment means that there is often nowhere to hide. Our customers come first and we try to provide the best possible customer experience.
In the last couple of months, we have been working with the delightful Jess Jones from ‘Yoga with Jess’ and Liar Liar Coffee Shop. Our Thursday mornings have begun with Jess bringing love and light into our workplace by guiding us through a gentle, meditation session, showing us how to breath and allowing us time to settle into our day. It is proving to be so valuable, incredibly relaxing and accessible for us all.
During Mindful May, Jess is helping us with our ‘Bread Therapy Book Retreat’. Taking place on Sunday 15th May, we are thrilled to be hosting this very special ‘Booka-sperience’ in the shop.
On arrival you will be greeted with a restorative herbal tea, followed by a meditation and yoga workshop with Jess. You will take part in a ‘Bread Therapy’ workshop with author, baker, mother and counsellor, Pauline Beaumont. Pauline is the author of ‘Bread Therapy: The Mindful Art of Baking Bread’. This book helped me to navigate the endlessness of lock-down, it taught me how to slow down and take time to enjoy the timeless tradition of kneading dough, feeding not only my family but my mind and soul. Pauline believes in ‘the power of breadmaking to aid our emotional and psychological well-being’ and I believe in the power of books to improve our lives.
Books and well-being are at the heart of what we do.
During this ‘Bread Therapy Book Retreat’ – Pauline will show you the simple pleasure of making your own bread, there will be bread to taste and you will go home with your own loaf to bake along with a signed copy of Pauline’s book.
We will be partnering with Honeysuckle Wholefoods – where I buy my flour. If you need to take some time for yourself to nourish your mind, body and soul, then this ‘Bread Therapy Book Retreat’ is the place to start.
This event makes my heart sing. The combination of meditation, movement and mindfulness will give you a very unique and valuable opportunity for self-care.
If you can’t make the event, make sure you pop into the shop to look at the book and our ‘’Bread Table’ which will also feature our first non-fiction Book of the Month ‘Breadsong – How Baking Changed Our Lives’ by Kitty and Al Tait. It is a beautiful, brave, open account of the life-changing magic of mixing, kneading, baking and of course eating bread on the mental well-being of Kitty and her family. We can’t recommend its life-affirming properties highly enough.
Make Time for Conversation
As booksellers we always say that one of the most rewarding parts of our job is the conversations we have with you – our customers. Bookchat is a daily requirement for all of us at Booka and we want to talk to you about books we love and books you love too.
Recently we have had lots of opportunities to chat one to one with readers about their book likes and dislikes as part of our ‘Mother’s Day – 3 Month Subscription Bundle’. This involved the lucky recipient meeting with a bookseller for a 30 minute ‘Bookchat Session’ accompanied by coffee and cake (of course). It has been such a privilege to sit with readers and find out about their book passions – swapping recommendations and noting down preferences so that we can hand pick books to send out to them. We’ve all felt a real sense of joy and connection with each reader who has booked in for these sessions.
Bookchat time is precious and important, so don’t be shy, we are here to encourage and engage with you.
Sharing a passion for books enables us to bring books to life through our regular and varied events programme. It allows us to extend the life of the bookshop and spend time with readers in a more relaxed way. Putting readers and authors together and fostering an environment where people can meet and be entertained is incredibly enjoyable.
Booka is a safe space and it’s great to see our customers having the confidence to come to events on their own as they know they will have a friendly welcome.
We have lots of fun planning events and particularly love it when the event includes food.
During May we are hosting ‘An Evening and Cheese Tasting with Angus D Birditt’ – for his new book, ‘A Portrait of British Cheeses: A Celebration of Artistry, Regionality and Recipes’.
There may also be wine. We can’t think of a better way to socialise in your bookshop than with an evening dedicated to books, cheese and wine in celebration of artisan cheese-makers from across the UK.
Gathering like this is also a way to help support local charity ‘OsNosh’ – Oswestry’s Community Kitchen and Food Hub – £1 from every ticket sale will go to OsNosh.
We know 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 and we want to share who we are and what we do with you.
How do you make time to slow down? What mindful tips do you have for getting through the day?
Come and share them with us. If you’re feeling brave, use our typewriter to type up your suggestions or any helpful advice for living mindfully and display on our ‘Mindfulness Tree’.