23 January at 16:55 ·
“I’ve been a bookseller for just over a year. We had a beautiful boat that needed a stable future. I have always loved books and used to work in a library, and our area of Leeds felt a bit cold with not much community so we put those things together and came up with Hold Fast Bookshop!
I get to the shop in the morning and everything is quiet and still. I get my brew (Yorkshire Tea obviously) and have a few moments of calm, then the customers arrive and the place comes alive – the conversations begin, the books are picked up and the mood is instantly different – I love that transition. It changes from a room full of books to a bookshop once the people come in.
My favourite part of the bookshop changes all the time. Boats are very seasonal. In winter, it's the bow, where the ship curves around a gorgeous wood burning stove – it’s a lovely snug place to curl up with a book. In summer, it's the upper deck – we have plants up there and it's a little green oasis in the middle of a mostly concrete city centre. Of course, there are seats up there too to read in the sunshine!
It is not often you get to explore onboard a Historic Ship filled with books and plants – Marjorie R is a national historic ships flagship of the year with a fascinating history in Yorkshire. And there are so many books! We have both new and second hand.
At one of our events we some second hand books with pages missing and decided to chop them into slips and make paper chains – our customers helped us decorate the boat whilst chatting to each other and it felt very communal and lovely.
Another memorable moment was when a school teacher came in and bought a book for her students – Migrants by Eduard Altarriba – they are now working with their governors to become a 'School of Sanctuary'. As readers, we all know the power of books and it feels such a privilege to be even just a tiny link in a chain that leads to positive changes.
Recently, I’ve enjoyed recommending the below books to our customers:
• The Glutton by A. K. Blakemore – I have never physically cringed so much reading a book before but could not put this down.
• Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix – we have all had a bad experience in a large Scandinavian furniture shop so it’s kind of relatable but with added death by billy bookcase.
• Love's Executioner by Irvin D. Yalom because it is such a beautiful study of human nature.
• 199 Ships and Boats by Kristie Pickersgill and Illustrated by Gabriele Antonini – a little nod to our maritime heritage - gorgeous simple illustrations for children.
I’m currently reading Ghost Signs by Stu Hennigan.”
Victoria Bonner is the owner of Hold Fast Bookshop, Leeds.