17 local literary events for Independent Bookshop Week
It's Independent Bookshop Week from 18-25 June so what better time to support your local store and unleash your inner bookworm with these events happening across Herts & Beds
We all know how important it is to shop indie for the business, community and our peace of mind. Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) is helping to encourage more people to love their local, and there are tonnes of events from bookclubs and workshops to author talks, taking place around the country to help raise awareness. Here’s our pick of the crop in Herts and Beds.
BOOK, Leighton Buzzard
This new bookshop on the block only opened last year, with a focus on lifestyle and children’s books, as well as creating a real community hub with it’s family friendly events.
It’s hosting three authors for IBW. First up, comedian, author and host of podcast No Such Thing as a Fish, Andrew Hunter Murray will be there on 17 June at 6pm to talk about his new thriller The Sanctuary (Father’s Day gift, sorted!) plus there’ll be a competition on the night to win a copy of this and his previous book.
On 24 June at 6.30, multi-million copy bestselling author, Ruth Hogan will be swinging by to talk about her inspiration and writing processes. She’ll also be reading from her latest novel, Madame Burova.
And for the kids (and big kids alike!) comedy genius Olaf Falafel will be in store for a story and illustration session on 25 June at 10am. He’ll also be creating a bespoke window design throughout the day, with illustrations from his new book, Blobfish.
Books on the Hill, St Albans
An old-fashioned curiosity cabinet-style bookshop (in a building dating back to c.1600), this one’s long been a local favourite. Books on the Hill stocks a range of new releases and rare books – showcased in its traditional Green Room, while you can easily lose yourself for hours in the red room, which is packed to the original beams with antiquarian, vintage and classic reads, which have been pleasingly categorised by colour. It’s an Insta dream for book lovers.
For IBW it’s twinned with local publisher, Castle Books, to present an afternoon with crime writer Jane Jesmond on 18 June at 4pm. Described as a modern day Daphne Du Maurier she’ll be talking about her writing process and her new novel On The Edge, where protagonist Jen, an avid climber is quite literally left dangling from a lighthouse with no idea how she got there! Cliffhanging stuff!
Next Page Books, Hitchin
Another newbie, this children’s bookshop, which specialises in neurodiversity, opened in September 2021. It’s a partnership between a publishing pro and a SENCO teacher, so the stock and recommendations are spot on, and the shop has a range of titles from baby to young adult (as well as some grown-up reads too), which celebrate and support diversity in all its forms.
There’s loads going on for IBW – most are free, drop-in events, too! For starters it’s offering 10% of all purchases throughout the week (it’s open Tues-sat from 9.15am – 5pm). To kick off the week (well, a day early, but we won’t tell) there’ll be a visit from the author and illustrator, Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovlie, of inclusive children’s picture books, The Boys and The Girls on 17 June at 3pm.
Then on 21 June at 6.30pm, specialist publisher Barrington Stoke will host an event for parents and teachers (£5 + booking fee) about how to make reading more accessible for those with challenges such as dyslexia, plus there’ll be a free info pack to take away. And calling all pre-schooler parents! Drop in on 22 June at 11am for a Bus Party, based on the new board book of the same name. There’ll be paper chain and party hat making, story time and colouring activities.
On 23 June at 4pm, author/illustrator Tom Vaughan will be in store for an interactive chat about his hilarious yet heartfelt stories for ages 7+ and signing copies of his new book, A Gangster Stole My Trunks.
And finally, on 25 June at 11am there’ll be a monster drawing workshop with local author, Laura Trinder, linked to her Midnight Hour trilogy.
The Chiltern Bookshops Group includes our own Chorleywood branch and another store over in Bucks’ Gerards Cross, and they’ve become the go-to bookshops for highbrow literary events, boasting a host of high profile authors and celebrities in their always packed programme.
For IBW Chorleywood is taking part in the Berkofest Children’s Book Festival on 18 June. Therell be author talks (Logan Maex, Olaf Falafel, Mo O’Hara, Jack Meggitt Phillips, Vashti Hardy to name a few), storytelling in the woods and a special appearance from The Gruffalo (who’ll also be popping in to the store on the morning of 18th!)
Join the Boutique Bookclub on 21 June at 7pm to hear from author Clare Pooley about her latest novel, The Authenticity Project, while writer and broadcaster, Melvyn Bragg will be discussing his memoir, Back in the Day, on 22 June at 7.30pm
On 24 June bestselling crime author, Mark Billingham, will be in store from 11am-2pm, not to talk about his books (although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you picked his brains!) but to serve customers, stock bookshelves and maybe even do a tea round or two!
And on 25 June at 10.30, 12.30 and 2pm, botanist Leif Bersweden will lead a guided plant and wildflower walk on Chorleywood Common, sharing stories and finds from his book Where the Wild Flowers Grow.
Our Bookshop, Tring
Originally opened to support the long-running and super popular Tring Book Festival, this little indie gem is now a very much established part of the High Street and community. In fact, it was an Independent Bookshop of the Year regional finalist in The British Book Awards. It runs a good mix of events through the year and posts some fab author interviews on the site, too.
On 21 June it welcomes anaesthetist, comedian and now author, Dr Ed Patrick to talk about his hard-hitting yet darkly hilarious memoir, Catch Your Breath. He’s performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and hosts the Comedians’ Surgery podcast where guests including Joe Lycett and Reginald D Hunter discuss their health stories, so we’re expecting some big laughs! Tickets include a free drink with an option to purchase the book for an extra £3.
David’s Bookshop, Letchworth
Not only does David’s sell books, but music and games, too, plus it has it’s own café, making it a perenially popular hangout for the fine folk of Letchworth. It’s all about the natural world this month, thanks to a partnership with sustainabilty focussed publisher, Chelsea Green.
Look out for the display on natural history and agriculture during IBW, ahead of an event the following week, with Derek Gow on 29 June at 7pm, farmer-turned-rewilder who has dedicated his life to saving Britain’s threatened species from white storks to wildcats. His book Birds, Beasts and Bedlam tells of his adventures from returning species to their natural habitats to hand rearing wild boar piglets. Sounds like Attenborough gone rogue!