An Opinionated Heron – 23 March 2024

A box arrived on Tuesday. This is not unusual; it happens two or three times a day. On opening the box, a heavenly scent emerged. This is not unusual; the number of people who comment on the aroma of new books has led us to discuss developing a perfume. The box was full of coral pink copies of An Opinionated Guide to Bristol from the tasteful Hoxton Mini Press. This is new.

‘I wonder if we feature in this,’ I joked to Harry, flicking through the luxurious pages.

Well, it turns out we do. Heron Books is in a book. Surrounded by great company too. (The Garden of Easton, Swoon, Temple Cycles, Left Handed Giant – oof.) I feel that this is really quite cool. Certainly it merited a celebratory biscuit.

It has been a week of excitements from finding the shop in print to hailing Clare Reddaway’s warm and tender debut novel at the Clifton Library to supporting Alice Roberts’ launch of Crypt at St George’s to announcing the fluffiest event at Heron Books yet… So, if you see me skipping up and down the arcade, know that I have not yet come down from the ceiling. And, when you see me sitting in silence, gazing at my current favourite picture book, know that the drip leaking caffeine directly into my bloodstream has finally run dry.

Keeping the energy up for now, inspired by Alice Roberts, who held six hundred people captivated during her superb talk, may I recommend:

Crypt: Life, Death and Disease in the Middle Ages and Beyond by Alice Roberts
The third in the stunning trilogy (following Ancestors and Buried), Crypt explores the archaeological evidence for how humans lived and died in the Middle Ages. We are very lucky to have beautifully signed copies of the trilogy, Anatomical Oddities and the wonderful children’s adventure story, Wolf Road.
Change Everything: How We Can Rethink, Repair and Rebuild Society by Natalie Bennett
Good advice from the title. And it’s continued inside, with a holistic and practical approach to what our future could and should look like.  
Cuckooland: Where the Rich Own the Truth by Tom Burgis
Thrilling but also deeply concerning, Cuckooland uncovers the truth behind the phoney “truth” carefully presented by Mohamed Amersi. Who is this ultra-rich philanthropist and donor to the Tory party, really

Until August by Gabriel García Márquez
Every August a woman travels to the island where her mother is buried and there finds a lover, despite being married. Many debates have been and will be conducted about publishing ‘lost’ novels posthumously, not to mention letters, diaries, shopping lists… Sometimes those arguments fade when the book is just really good, as this is. It’s scalding hot yet told with cool detachment.
Not a River by Selva Almada
Three men return to a favourite fishing spot, revisiting the place and the memories of a terrible accident some years before. As they reminisce, the rural setting begins to close in and the river to seem less idyllic…
The Visitors by Jessi Jezewska Stevens
You know when you’re worrying about debt and your divorce and the dark web and Occupy Wall Street is kicking off and then you hallucinate a cravat-wearing garden gnome? Then this is for you…

Changing the energy somewhat, and your life:
Change Your Life by Rainer Maria Rilke
A new edition translated by Martyn Crucefix, with selections from the Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus as well as some of Rilke’s more rarely available poetry – one to accompany the contemplative Sunday morning cup of tea.

Then wildly increasing it again:
JACK-JACK, A DOG IN AFRICA by Ben Garrod
If you live nearby, you’ve probably met Jack. You may well have scratched his head, perhaps offered him a carrot, had a small cry over the beauty of his paws. Well Jack and human-friend Ben have written a book. This is the first in a series about his life looking after orphaned chimpanzees in Africa and how he came to be in Clifton. The illustrations by Charli Vince are brilliant – warm and funny and full of amazing details.

We are delighted to be launching Jack-Jack in the shop with many dogs and many children on 11th April. All the details are on our website. Before then you can pre-order a copy of the book AND you can enter our photo competition for a chance to win one! Come to the shop, take a picture of you and/or your fluffy pals in the doorway which is currently adorned with Jack-Jack artwork, and post it on Instagram. (Tag @heronbooksbristol and include #JackJack please!)

We are open as usual throughout next weekend. We don’t close the shop. We just get increasingly overexcited running around smelling the books.

May your weekend be impeccably tasteful, whether you’re in Hoxton or Clifton,
Lizzie

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