tree house bag designOne thing I didn’t mention in my last blog post, about what will be needed in the shop – books, of course!  We will always need books – of any kind, for any age, any books at all.  I want the shop to have as broad and deep a stock as we can muster.  I am always very happy to take donations, of course, but if you have more precious things that you would prefer to sell, do get in touch as well.

I have already been given lots of books, and have more donations waiting in the wings for when I have access to the shop premises, and it’s been great looking through the donations so far.  Lovely old hardbacks, of the kind you just don’t see any more, Latin and Greek literature, some really interesting little finds – a couple of copies of Folktales of the West Midlands, which I’ll be reading before adding to stock!  And a pile of pre-decimal Ladybird books, which I loved so much as a (pre-decimal) child.  I have people who are waiting to give me collections of books due to moving or downsizing, or from loved ones who have died and want their books to go to a good home or cause.  It’s all wonderful, seeing people’s lives through books and it’s part of what makes second-hand books such wonderful things.

If any students are reading this blog, student textbooks are always welcome – I know in some subject areas things go out of date quickly, new editions are published each year, but even recent editions may be useful for when the library copies are out on loan and heavy with hold requests!  So do bring your course books, and also bear us in mind if you are looking for second-hand copies of texts to buy.  We hope to get more involved with the student community generally – as a venue for things like poetry evenings, small drama events or acoustic music events, anything similar that may be of interest.  I work a few hours a week at the university, so do get in touch if you would like to find out more or discuss anything.

So if you have any books you are planning to get rid of – from a couple of paperback novels to a no-longer-wanted library, do consider the Tree House.  I can arrange collection if you are unable to bring your books to the shop (the shop to which I hope to have access very soon!).

I am hoping that people will treat the Tree House as a kind of personal library – you can come, sit and read the books, buy a book or two, and bring them back when you’ve read them – bringing back books with Tree House stamps in them will give you a discount on future purchases.

It’s getting closer to becoming reality…I just can’t wait!

On the scrounge!

TreeHouselogo copyHaven’t posted anything here for a few days, so this is just an update.  I am still, of course, hugely excited at the prospect of my own premises!  Hope to have the lease sorted and signed very soon, and I’ve already been making lots of plans, though am wary of tempting fate – until it’s signed and I have the keys, I’ll be worrying that something might still go wrong…

There are lots of fittings and furnishings I’ll need, and am looking around for these, but also thought it was worth putting the word out in case anyone has items  they would donate or things they may want to sell at a reasonable price – you never know what’s out there lying around unwanted!  These are some of the things we’ll need:

– bookcases (any size) and/or shelves
– tables
– chairs (desk or dining type – also folding chairs)
– armchairs (or other comfortable chairs) and sofas
– old crockery (mismatched is good, any cups, saucers or plates)
– lamps – standard lamps, desk lamps
– picture frames
– book stands
– bookends
– vases, or vessels that could be used as such (any size)
– cafetieres (plunger type) and teapots

I would also love a piano!  One that could be used for small concerts as well as having sing-songs, which I thought would be fun!  Happy to get it tuned, but if anyone can help at all with a piano, do let me know.

The Film Club continues on Saturday evenings – next one is Saturday 8 June, and the film is Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Frank Capra’s classic starring the great James Stewart. The website has more details – the website is also looking prettier than ever, so do pay a visit if you haven’t already.  You can also spread the word by sharing links from there on Facebook and Twitter.

I will soon be handing out flyers, for the shop and the film club and the £1 campaign, in the town centre, and finding places around the town to put them, in the hope of increasing advertising a bit.  If you can spread the word among friends and colleagues, that would be wonderful.

The email address if you want to get in touch is


The Tree House has premises!  I can’t quite believe it.  The lease has not been signed yet, but it should all be pretty straightforward and quick – the shop I have is ultimately destined for redevelopment, so it is a short term lease, and the owners can give me a month’s notice at any time.  But it means the lease is much cheaper than standard commercial leases, and I don’t have to commit to a two-year contract – I can also just give a month’s notice if it all goes wrong.

Which it isn’t going to do, of course…!

It’s so exciting.  It’s a great space, a great location, and a brilliant way to get the Tree House started and established and see if it’s a viable business, without too much risk.  I can’t wait to get in there and set it all up!  It should all happen fairly quickly – I’ll give more details in due course!

It does mean we will no longer be at Kenilworth market.  I was due to be there this Thursday, but as I am not very well this week – and I think still getting worse – I have decided to cancel this week’s stall as well.

It still hasn’t sunk in  – feeling unwell probably doesn’t help, but I really can’t believe it’s all going to start happening very soon!  It’s five months since I started this blog, about eight months since a friend and I first discussed the idea, and a lot has happened in those months – I’ve managed to keep the momentum going, though it hasn’t always been easy!  But then I didn’t expect anything different.

So once I have signed the lease and picked up the keys I will post a few photos.  I have some friends who are going to help get it shipshape.  The main thing I need to get is lots of shelving and/or bookcases!  So when I’m feeling better I’ll get on with that.

In the meantime, back to the buttercup syrup and an early night…feeling rough, but soooo happy!

Online book group

tree house bag designI was wondering about setting up an online book group, and wondered if there would be any interest out there.  We could aim to read a book a month – but the good thing with online groups is that even if you don’t finish the book by the discussion date, you can still add your own thoughts when you have finished, and we can revisit earlier discussions.

Any takers?

I would also say that I belong to a book discussion board already, and if anyone does want a forum for discussing books more generally, as well as joining in discussions on particular books and group reads and other bookish things, I would recommend it.  It’s called Big Readers (it grew out of the BBC’s Big Read in 2003 – wish they’d do that again!), and some of us have been together since then, but new members are always welcome.  Go to if you are interested.

But if you would be interested in a Tree House book group as well, just reply below.

This week

This week I should hear whether I have secured the premises I mentioned in my last post.  But to avoid dwelling on that (I hate waiting!), I am focusing on other things that will be happening this week.

The Tree House will be at Kenilworth market again this week, Thursday 23 May.  Market officially starts at 9am, but I’ll be there earlier.  I will have mugs (£7) and magnets (£1.50) to sell, and also a stock of Film Club membership cards, so you can sign up to the Film Club if you’d like to – a £5 joining fee, then £3 per film on the night, including tea or coffee – can’t say fairer than that.  Cheap night out in Kenilworth!  You can join at any time, on the night or at the market stall, through the website or the Film Club tab here – both places have a contact form.

Which leads neatly to the fact that the next Film Club meeting is on Saturday (25 May) at the Kenilworth Centre.  Doors open at 7pm, film starts at 7.30.  This week’s film is Wonder Boys – chosen mainly because it has a theme song by Bob Dylan, the official video for the song has Bob interacting with scenes from the film:

…and Bob’s birthday is on Friday (24th), so it’s a homage to him.  I considered other films where Bob is more central – Masked and Anonymous, I’m Not There, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid…all wonderful films, but perhaps not as wonderful to those of you who for some strange reason are not fans of the great man as they are to me.  Wonder Boys, however, should have much broader appeal. It’s based on an excellent novel of the same name by Michael Chabon, and centres around a writer and English professor played by Michael Douglas trying to finish a novel he has been writing for several years and is still nowhere near finished.  His agent (Robert Downey Jr), two of his students (Tobey Maguire and Katie Holmes), the woman he loves (Frances McDormand) and a colleague’s dog all contribute to a weekend that threatens to spiral out of control.  It’s more fun than it might sound from that inadequate summary, it’s a bit eccentric (well, several of the characters are) but it’s mainly a lovely film, with excellent performances, especially from Douglas and Maguire.  Here’s a trailer:

And it has a janitor who listens to Bob Dylan on his iPod while he mops the floor, and sings along…happy 72nd birthday, Bob!

So maybe I’ll see a few of you at one or other of these events.  And I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything about those premises…

Here Comes Everyone

treehouselogo-copy6.pngI want to use the blog today to mention an excellent new online arts publishing venture.

Here Comes Everyone, founded in 2012, is an online network and magazine for those in, or interested in, the arts.  The founders and editors are Warwickshire-based, and are trying to connect those working in the creative arts, including writing and publishing, and giving them/us an online place to submit work and engage with the work of others.

Gary and Adam, the founders, are hoping to produce hard copies of the magazine, and if/when they do, we will be selling them at the Tree House.  This is a great venture, which ties in very well with what I am hoping to do – my plans are to use a physical space, theirs to use an online space, and these two things go hand in hand in our contemporary world.

It’s also great to find out who is doing what, to read articles, stories and poems by people who haven’t found a published platform elsewhere, and to think about the arts and connections between them.

It’s part of Silhouette Press which Gary and Adam run as a not-for-profit company (something else the Tree House shares!), and it’s great to see this sort of project taking off.  I have linked above to the About page, but you can read current and past issues of the magazine on their website – definitely worth exploring!  The issues have themes – the latest issue is Dinosaurs – the previous one was Colour – the forthcoming one is Prophecy.

This is a lovely and exciting venture; do go to their website to find out more.  I hope we can continue to support each other as things develop both for HCE and the Tree House!

The right direction

mier_prod-1 (2)There have been a few practical developments in the last day or so.  Well, developments may be a more exciting word than is strictly required…but a few more reasons for optimism, at least!

I am going to be able to store my boxes of books under the communal stairs where I live, which will make a huge difference on market day.  It’s exhausting moving books around, so the less moving I (and my next door neighbour!) have to do, the better.  That makes the market stall more viable – I have been thinking of giving it up, but this does change things.

There are also a couple more very vague leads regarding premises – temporary ones in all instances, but it would be wonderful even to have somewhere for a few months, just to get started and to prove that the business will support itself.

I also have new merchandise to sell – some mugs and fridge magnets with the Tree House logo on – and some membership cards for the Film Club plus new business cards. All look excellent, and the mugs have arrived packed in individual boxes, which is great!  I have ordered cotton bags too, but they will take a bit longer.

So all small things, but moving in the right direction.  I need these regular, small energy boosts!

I have also slightly redesigned the website, still not sure about it – design is not my forte…but I like the cleaner, less cluttered homepage.  And there is space for an address when I finally get one!  Let me know what you think, and how good navigation, legibility and other practical issues are.

No market stall this week – will be back there next week, Thursday 23rd May.  Next Film Club night two days later on the 25th.

Divine books

treehouselogo-copy6.pngToday is publication day for the latest Dan Brown novel, Inferno, using Dante’s epic work as its theme.  Twitter is awash with publisher excitement, bookshops boasting plentiful supplies, signed copies and special offers, and reviews by individuals and media outlets.  Much excitement – a sure-fire seller to boost the coffers of publisher and bookshops, so who can knock that.  A writer making a good living from writing – a dream for many.

But how many copies do these booksellers stock of Dante’s Inferno, or the Divine Comedy as a whole?  How much are they promoting this cornerstone of European thought and literature?  It’s a great read, especially the Inferno with its circles of hell, its wonderful array of characters, its extraordinary imagery, its theme of punishment adapted to crimes, some crimes still very much in the news today; it’s also profound and beautiful.

dante dore

One of Gustave Doré’s fabulous engravings for Dante’s Inferno – his illustrated edition was published in 1861.

I doubt many bookshops will have piles of Dante as high as the piles of Dan Brown’s novel.  I don’t blame them too much – I fully understand the enthusiasm for something that will bring in some income in these cash-strapped times – though I hope some will take the opportunity to introduce new readers to Dante.

But the great thing about a second-hand bookshop is that it is not at the mercy of market forces in the same way.  It fulfils a different need – the need of those who are looking for something specific, something out of print, something that hasn’t made the headlines, or hasn’t done so for years, who are hoping to find inspiration among the stacks and perhaps a lovely edition of an old favourite.  Second-hand bookshops rely on diversity rather than multiple copies of the latest bestseller.  That is the joy of the enterprise – variety, depth, richness, the unexpected waiting to be discovered.

Of course second-hand copies of Dan Brown’s novels will always be good sellers, I am sure; but one of the things I found most interesting on my stall at the Kenilworth Festival on Saturday was that the books that aroused by far the most interest were the editions of Greek and, especially, Latin literature that were on display.  I was recently given a donation that included a good number of these, so it’s lovely to know there is a market for them – lovely in terms of having stock that people want, and lovely in terms of knowing that there is still such enthusiasm for such literature. The variety of people who picked these books up with a degree of alacrity was encouraging too – from a young woman studying Classics to a retired gentleman, with different ages in between, both genders well represented.

Second-hand bookshops are heartwarming places.  That lovely involuntary expression of joy when a customer chances upon an unexpected find, or something they have been looking for for a while, is always a wonderful thing to hear.

It’s been an exhausting week, but the constant and increasing sense that people still want second-hand books is a huge motivational factor in keeping the determination going and the physical and emotional energy alive.

Good luck to Dan Brown, good luck to bookshops everywhere, we need bestsellers and we need bookshops.  But all the best to Dante too, whose work inspired a thousand other stories and who will, I hope, be a regular contributor to the Tree House stock.

Good times for the Tree House

treehouselogo-copy6.pngYesterday was a great day for the Tree House.

Firstly, the PleaseFund.Us crowdfunding campaign came to an end, and I am thrilled to report that it raised £1180 for the Tree House.  Fabulous!

Secondly, I had a stall at the street fair as part of the Kenilworth Festival, and used it primarily as a means of telling people about the project.  I did take a few books, and a number were sold – good to know that there are several people in Kenilworth interested in Greek and Latin literature, as I have a few books in that category that I can see will sell!

But it was mostly a great opportunity to tell people about the project, give out flyers, and gauge interest.  Lots of people were enthusiastic, and I had a little bucket for the £1 Campaign, and took nearly £70 – again, fabulous!  Plus lots of leads and ideas for the future, and an important sense that people in Kenilworth are getting to know about it, and that there is a lot of positive feeling towards the project.

Thirdly, I launched the Tree House Film Club in the evening at the Kenilworth Centre.  About 20 people came, and we watched The Big Chill – it was a fun evening.  Free this time, but I hope it will raise a little more money for the Tree House from next time.  Next meeting is 25 May – see the Film Club tab here and on the Tree House website for more information and details about joining.

The night ended with a beer in the company of friends and new acquaintances, which was the perfect end to an exhausting but very positive day.  Many thanks to all who came to either event yesterday – it feels as though the Tree House is beginning to make its way towards being a community venture.

We just need premises…then there will be no stopping us!