There are certain books you always see in charity shops, right? ‘Eat Pray Love’, ‘Me Before You’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, any/all Lee Child… and ‘One Day’, originally published in 2009, winner of Popular Fiction Book of the Year at the Galaxy National Book Awards in 2010 and perhaps one of the most well-loved stories in modern British fiction. No wonder there are always so many going spare in charity shops; everyone bought it back then and folks still talk about it these days – and it’s now being made into a TV series, even though it was already adapted into a film two years after the book’s publication. That says it all, really. Oh, and so do my many old blog posts gushing about the story and what it’s meant to me at different times in my life… I have no chill.
Anyway, back to the charity shops. I am a big fan of a chazza splurge. I have been known to frequent the ones near my homes and workplaces over the years, always finding new (well, actually quite old) treasures for myself and others.
My personal favourites would have to be the Refugease shops in Kent (RIP to the Tunbridge Wells store, that was a real treat on my way into work now and again!), any/all of the Shelter clothes shops in London (especially the one with a cafe and an endless supply of sparkly vintage in Finsbury Park), Julia’s House in Poole (has to be seen to be believed, trust me!), St Michael’s Hospice in Bexhill, Hastings and St Leonards (perhaps the most popular charity shops in this area who have been known to refuse donations, just because they can) Oxfam Books in Winchester (they always have a great selection of recent hardbacks. And they somehow boast a whole Literary Criticism section within the non-fiction shelves? Fancy pants!). If you have any other recs for me to check out, let me know!
I started a little project a few years ago. I told myself I’d always buy a copy of my two favourite books when I saw them in charity shops if I had some spare pennies; these books being ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls, and ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger (another bestseller, but let’s not talk about the adaptations, hey). I would then store these books on my bedroom shelves/in a cupboard, so they were ready to be gifted to friends who told me they’d never had the chance to read either of these excellent tales. It was a silly little idea, but I actually found it really rewarding to share books I cared about with people. For the same reason, I used to donate whole suitcases of well-thumbed middle grade and YA fiction books to my old school’s library – I haven’t for a while, as I’ve been told they’re a bit snowed under at the moment, and I actually haven’t read much MG/YA in the past year or so, sadly. I’d often swap books with friends when we went for coffee dates, way back when; one friend and I even traded a box of books each when I went round their house for the first time. It’s just a joyful thing, isn’t it?
I recently saw some news online about the TV series adaptation of ‘One Day’; the major roles have been cast, and people seem to be generally delighted with the choices (myself included!). This led to me digging out my spare scuffed copies of the book, collected from various charity shops all over the place, over many months, and offering them up to anyone who fancied one. Comments on the IG post (and my DMs) went a bit nuts for an hour or so, and I managed to find new homes for every copy, promising those who were too slow that I’d keep hunting for more copies in the future that they could claim. Packing each one up in recycled parcels and scraps of brown paper was joyful, and I will definitely do it again one day (hehe) when I find my stocks have built up again.
I’m curious. What’s one book YOU would always want to grab in a charity shop for £1.99 (the price scribbled in pencil on the inner cover or dedication page) in case you ever met someone who hadn’t read it yet? And if you were to become an author, how would you feel if you saw your book on a shelf someday, in your local Oxfam Books?