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Jenny McCann's Bear Bookshop Column First of our new monthly columns from the Bear Bookshop

Jenny McCann's Bear Bookshop Column

First of our new monthly columns from the Bear Bookshop

by Jenny McCann, Owner, Bear Bookshop
first published: November, 2022

approximate reading time: minutes

Ever wondered what your neighbours have in their book bag?

Bear Bookshop logoBearwood Bookshop Bestsellers
October 2022

Welcome to Jenny McCann, the proprietor of the Bear Bookshop. Jenny's new monthly column (without a name as yet), will highlight the titles that are doing well in her Bear Bookshop, Bearwood's acclaimed independent bookstore. Like a Times bestseller list without the suspicion that a media based pyramid marketing scheme is afoot.

Since opening her bookstore, Jenny has rapidly become a critical figure in the community. Jenny’s bookshop is the epitome of what a modern independent bookshop needs to be. “I always wanted the shop to have a strong community identity,” Jenny says. Located alongside the ridiculously great Tamu restaurant, the Bear Bookshop is a lynchpin of the Great Bearwood Revival, and is perfectly situated for picking up something to read over lunch. Jenny's bookshop is an essential stop on any trip to Bearwood Road. We're so thrilled that Jenny has found time to create this monthly column. Because I love words, this is just the most exciting thing... (lamontpaul, founder & publisher)

Bear Books
Jenny McCann, Bear Book Shop

 

Books

cover - SilverviewSilverview
John Le Carre
Penguin

Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the City for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian's evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish emigre living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian's family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise.

When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . .

Silverview is the mesmerising story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In this last complete masterwork from the greatest chronicler of our age, John le Carre asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognise it.

Order Online from Bookshop.org


cover - Burning QuestionsMargaret Atwood
Burning Questions - Essays and Occasional Pieces 2004-2021
Chatto & Windus

From cultural icon Margaret Atwood comes a brilliant collection of essays -- funny, erudite, endlessly curious, uncannily prescient -- which seek answers to Burning Questions such as:

Why do people everywhere, in all cultures, tell stories?
How much of yourself can you give away without evaporating?
How can we live on our planet? 
Is it true? And is it fair?
What do zombies have to do with authoritarianism?

In over fifty pieces Atwood aims her prodigious intellect and impish humour at our world, and reports back to us on what she finds. The roller-coaster period covered in the collection brought an end to the end of history, a financial crash, the rise of Trump and a pandemic. From debt to tech, the climate crisis to freedom; from when to dispense advice to the young (answer: only when asked) to how to define granola, we have no better questioner of the many and varied mysteries of our human universe. 

Order online from Bookshop.org


cover - Three Men in a BoatThree Men in a Boat
Jerome K Jerome
Penguin Classics

What could be better during the golden age of boating on the Thames than a relaxing row up the river? So think J., George and Harris - not forgetting Montmorency the dog - but little do they suspect the mishaps, the scrapes and the japes that lie along the way. 

From becoming impossibly lost in the maze at Hampton Court to battles with tins of pineapple chunks, all the while attempting to limit the destruction wrought by the mischievous Montmorency, Jerome K. Jerome's classic novel of humorous misadventures and comedic authorial digressions is a paean to the banalities of everyday life and has entertained readers for more than a century.

Order online from Bookshop.org


cover - Elif ShafakElif Shafak
The Island of Missing Trees
Penguin

It is 1974 on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet, in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic, chilli peppers and wild herbs. This is where one can find the best food in town, the best music, the best wine. But there is something else to the place: it makes one forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its immoderate sorrows.

In the centre of the tavern, growing through a cavity in the roof, is a fig tree. This tree will witness their hushed, happy meetings, their silent, surreptitious departures; and the tree will be there when the war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to rubble, when the teenagers vanish and break apart.

Decades later in north London, sixteen-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. Desperate for answers, she seeks to untangle years of secrets, separation and silence. The only connection she has to the land of her ancestors is a Ficus Carica growing in the back garden of their home.

In The Island of Missing Trees , prizewinning author Elif Shafak brings us a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature, and, finally, renewal.

Order online from Bookshop.org


cover - The Women of TroyPat Barker
The Women of Troy
Penguin

Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home as victors - all they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind has vanished, the seas becalmed by vengeful gods, and so the warriors remain in limbo - camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, kept company by the women they stole from it.

The women of Troy.

Helen - poor Helen. All that beauty, all that grace - and she was just a mouldy old bone for feral dogs to fight over.

Cassandra, who has learned not to be too attached to her own prophecies. They have only ever been believed when she can get a man to deliver them.

Stubborn Amina, with her gaze still fixed on the ruined towers of Troy, determined to avenge the slaughter of her king.

Hecuba, howling and clawing her cheeks on the silent shore, as if she could make her cries heard in the gloomy halls of Hades. As if she could wake the dead.

And Briseis, carrying her future in her womb: the unborn child of the dead hero Achilles. Once again caught up in the disputes of violent men. Once again faced with the chance to shape history.

Masterful and enduringly resonant, ambitious and intimate, The Women of Troy continues Pat Barker's extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest classical myths, following on from the critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls .

Order online from Bookshop.org


cover - Stone Blind - Medusa's StoryNatalie Haynes
Stone Blind - Medusa's Story
MacMillan

Medusa is the only mortal in a family of gods. Growing up with her sisters, she quickly realizes that she is the only one who gets older, experiences change, feels weakness. Her mortal lifespan gives her an urgency that her family will never know.

When the sea god, Poseidon, commits an unforgivable act in her sacred temple the goddess, Athene, takes her revenge on an innocent - and Medusa's life is changed forever. Appalled by her own reflection: snakes have replaced her hair and she realises that her gaze can now turn any living creature to stone. Medusa can no longer look upon anyone she loves without destroying them,, and so condemns herself to a life lived in shadow and solitude to limit her murderous rage.
That is, until Perseus embarks upon a fateful quest to fetch the head of a Gorgon . . .

Order online from Bookshop.org


cover - Bob MortimerBob Mortimer
And Away - The Autography
Gallery UK

Bob Mortimer's life was trundling along happily until suddenly in 2015 he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required immediate surgery and forced him to cancel an upcoming tour. The episode unnerved him, but forced him to reflect on his life so far. This is the framework for his hilarious and moving memoir, And Away... 

Although his childhood in Middlesbrough was normal on the surface, it was tinged by the loss of his dad, and his own various misadventures (now infamous from his appearances on Would I Lie to You? ), from burning down the family home to starting a short-lived punk band called Dog Dirt. As an adult, he trained as a solicitor and moved to London. Though he was doing pretty well (the South London Press once crowned him 'The Cockroach King' after a successful verdict), a chance encounter in a pub in the 1980s with a young comedian going by the name Vic Reeves set his life on a different track. And now, six years on, the heart condition that once threatened his career has instead led to new success on BBC2's Gone Fishing. 

Warm, profound, and irrepressibly funny, And Away... is Bob's full life story (with a few lies thrown in for good measure.)

Order online from Bookshop.org


cover - Lonely CastleMizuki Tsujimura 
Lonely Castle in the Mirror
Transworld Publishers Ltd

In a tranquil neighbourhood of Tokyo, seven teenagers wake to find their bedroom mirrors are shining.

At a single touch, they are pulled from their lonely lives to a wondrous castle filled with winding stairways, watchful portraits and twinkling chandeliers. In this new sanctuary, they are confronted with a set of clues leading to a hidden room where one of them will be granted a wish. But there's a catch: if they don't leave the castle by five o'clock, they will be punished.

As time passes, a devastating truth emerges: only those brave enough to share their stories will be saved. Translated by Philip Gabriel.

Order online from Bookshop.org


cover - BewildermentRichard Powers
Bewilderment
Vintage

Theo Byrne is a promising young scientist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son Robin is funny, loving and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from school for smashing his friend's face with a thermos.

What can a father do, when the only solution offered to his rare and troubled boy is to put him on psychoactive drugs? What can he say when his boy comes to him wanting an explanation for a world that is clearly in love with its own destruction? The only thing for it is to take the boy to other planets, all while fostering his son's desperate attempt to save this one.

Order online from Bookshop.org


Essential Info
The Bear Bookshop is at 588 Bearwood Road.
The Bear Bookshop website is here

Jenny McCann
Owner, Bear Bookshop

Jenny McCann's is the owner of Bear Bookshop in Bearwood which she opened in 2020. The Bear Bookshop which is a great example of how essential and what a local indie bookstore can be. Jenny also was one of the 2022 Outsideleft short story competition judges.

The Bear Bookshop is online here: www.bearbookshop.co.uk


about Jenny McCann »»

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