First author event at the Tree House

peachey lettersThe Tree House is proud to announce its first author event.  On Friday 11th October, Coventry-based writer Sandra Peachey will be talking about her book, Peachey Letters, and the process of letter-writing as a healing, cathartic, revelatory way of coming to terms with our lives.  Letter-writing is seemingly out of fashion in these days of emails and texting, but Sandra has found letter-writing to be a powerful means of exploring ourselves and our experience of life.

sandra peachey

Sandra says, “The book is really an extension of this initial writing process, after I saw how it not only transformed my life, but that of the people who read my letters too. I want to encourage people to resolve issues in their own lives, live beyond their past and embrace their future. I want to show people that they can follow the same simple process as I have, to heal, reconcile and celebrate their lives”. 

Tickets for this event are £3, including tea/coffee; doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.  More details on our Facebook page.

Virago at 40

The wonderful Virago Press is 40 years old this year.  They have produced so many fabulous books – novels written by women that have been rediscovered, as well as new novels by contemporary writers such as Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters.  I am a rubbish feminist, but I am deeply grateful for the work they have done in getting neglected women writers back into publication.  My life would have been a lot poorer without the input of EH Young, Elizabeth Taylor (not THAT Elizabeth Taylor…), Rose Macaulay, Vita Sackville West and many others.  I love the dark green covers of the older publications – and we have a lovely collection of them in the shop.  So I have made a table of them, to help celebrate 40 years of this great publishing house.  There are now a few more titles there since I took the photo – but also a couple that have been sold!








virago 2







The Tree House is sadly closed on Wednesday this week, as I have to go to Oxford, but when it reopens on Thursday, do come and have a look at the Virago selection, and if you haven’t read one of these wonderful authors before, this is your chance.  All the books are £2 – but you are also welcome to buy a cup of coffee and sit and read on one of the sofas.  The Tree House is a reading room as well as a bookshop – but of course we hope you will enjoy the books enough to want to buy them and take them home!

Saturday 26th October

nickwarrenSeveral months ago, when the Tree House was still an unnamed idea slowly being developed by me and a friend, and before I knew it would even be a reality let alone that I would by now have premises – I booked tickets to see one of my great idols, Nick Cave, as a treat to myself for my 50th birthday, which will occur a couple of weeks after the concert.  The concert is on Saturday 26th October in London, and I am determined to go – I have never seen Nick and his Bad Seeds live (me, Nick and Warren Ellis in the same physical space…omigod!), and after Bob Dylan he means more to me than anyone else outside family and close friends…

My problem is that Saturday is by far the busiest day in the bookshop, and losing a day’s trading will be a major blow to the shop’s precarious financial situation.  So I am wondering if there are any of you out there who might be prepared to help keep the shop open on that day.  You wouldn’t need to do all day, but if anyone could offer an hour or two to cover even just the afternoon (it’s busier in the afternoon than the morning) that would be wonderful.

I can pay you in books!

I also still need volunteers for Thursdays, to avoid having to close the shop another day on a weekly basis – so again, if anyone can help at all, I’d be very grateful to hear from you.

Scarthin Books

Gill Sans poster (2)I have never been to Scarthin Books, but it is one of the most influential bookshops in the development of the Tree House.  Once I had begun to think about opening a second-hand bookshop, I was looking at other bookshops on the web, and came across this video for Scarthin Books, and it contains so much of what I would love to achieve.  They sell new books as well as second-hand, and have a proper cafe, neither of which I am planning at the moment; but in terms of the bookshop itself, its ethos, its aesthetic, its quirkiness amid the order, it’s what I aspire to for the Tree House.

Do watch this wonderful video, it really is a joy.

The kettle is on!

Gill Sans poster (2)Well, finally there is tea and coffee on offer again at the Tree House.  The verdict so far is that the coffee is excellent!  No one has tried tea yet.

The coffee is made with beans freshly ground in the shop; there is decaffeinated coffee on offer, but that is ready-ground.  Tea is ‘ordinary’ or Early Grey.  Both are served in cafetières, £1.50 for a small one, £3 for a large one.  There is also herbal tea at £1 a cup.  I am in talks with a local baker to supply cake – will let you know when that is available!

So if you fancy a cup of good coffee, and a sofa to sit on while you drink it, and a plentiful supply of books to browse with your coffee, and free wifi…the Tree House Bookshop is the place to come.

In memory of Johnny Cash

It’s ten years to the day since the great Johnny Cash died – can’t believe it’s ten years already.  We have a quote from Johnny in the shop – ‘I wear the black for those who never read.’

Here are Johnny and Bob Dylan (a few pictures of him in the shop too!) singing You Are My Sunshine together.  RIP Johnny Cash.

Tree House open today

Gill Sans poster (2)The bookshop is usually closed on Tuesdays, but thanks to a volunteer called Phil, it will be open today – normal hours, 10am-5pm.  Thank you Phil!

Also a reminder about two events happening on the same day at the end of the month – a Macmillan coffee morning, and a gig by Sutton Coldfield band English Jones in the evening.  Both on Friday 27 September – see the Events tab or the Facebook page for more details.

If anyone can offer a nice raffle prize for the Macmillan event, do please get in touch!  Sweet As have offered tea and cake for two, for example – prizes like that, or any sort of prize, would be great.  Any offers of cake to sell would also be very welcome.  We will also have handmade cards for sale, and Ernie Boxall of Balance Fitness and Health is offering Shiatsu sessions.  Again, any offers of other things to raise a bit of money are welcome.

If local people could spread the word about both events, and encourage people to follow this blog (which is now the website for the shop too), that would be great.

Thanks to everyone for continued support and, in some cases, exceptional kindness.


Art History at the Tree House Bookshop

Gill Sans poster (2)Last week I realised that things had become too much, and that I wasn’t the right person to be running the Tree House…several people have managed to persuade me otherwise, one or two more have come forward to help, and my offer to sell the business has been withdrawn – you are stuck with me!

So I have been working on putting into action some of the ideas I have been considering and developing in recent weeks and months, and the first one is to start doing some art history talks/lectures in the shop.  I am an art historian by profession, having taught at a few different universities and other institutions, and still work as an art history lecturer as well as running the Tree House.  So I have devised a short series, to kick off this new aspect of the project, on the subject closest to my heart, the art of Renaissance Germany.  Not the widest known nor best loved of art historical periods, but it contains untold riches and many surprises.

As a starting point, I have chosen what I consider the jewel in the wonderful collection at local Compton Verney, a limewood sculpture of a female saint by Tilman Riemenschneider.  A name that trips off the tongue, no doubt…  But here she is – the finest example of Riemenschneider’s work in the UK.

Female Saint by Tilman Riemenschneider (c.1515; limewood; Compton Verney)

Female Saint by Tilman Riemenschneider (c.1515; limewood; Compton Verney)

I rarely get to Compton Verney, as I don’t drive and it’s impossible to get there without private transport, but it’s almost enough in itself as an incentive to learn (I have a long-held dream of owning and driving a Morris Traveller…).  It is a wonderful museum to have in our locality, and I would urge anyone who hasn’t been to go when you can – they have a lovely collection of German art, a rarity in itself in this country, but a wonderful collection generally, in beautiful grounds and with a lovely cafe!

So a local starting point, but an expansive journey onwards through the riches of German art of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.  The lectures will be on Tuesday mornings at 11am, and the charge will be £5 per lecture, to include coffee and biscuits.

The programme is:

12 November – The Compton Verney Saint: German sculpture c.1500

19 November – German printmaking

26 November – Albrecht Dürer

3 December – Landscape and German art

10 December – German art and the Italian Renaissance

They will be standalone lectures, but as a whole they constitute a short exploration of German art of the period. If there is any interest, I can repeat them in the evenings at some point; and I will be planning further talks in 2014.

If you are at a loose end on Tuesday mornings and want to escape the colder, darker days of autumn and winter, come and spend an hour or two looking at glorious images by some truly extraordinary artists.

Book donations – and opening times

Since well before the Tree House opened, there has been fantastic response in terms of donations of books.  The books keep coming, and I am truly and deeply grateful for the generosity of so many people in and around Kenilworth (and in some cases well beyond!).  However, I am now at the stage where there are so many books to unpack and sort that it is becoming an impossible task, as books are coming in much faster than I can get them onto the shelves.

So reluctantly I think I need to say that I can’t take any further donations for a while, especially as the future of the shop is uncertain (though I am sure it will continue in some form).  The reach of this blog is limited, but it’s a start!  It’s hard to turn books away, and to pass up what might be some very good donations, but I am on the verge of disappearing under unpacked boxes.

There are a small number of exceptions.  I am always keen to receive quality (literary) fiction, history, art history, poetry, travel writing (ie literary travel books) and nature writing.  These are always in short supply.

I will no doubt let you know when we start to run out of stock!

Opening hours have to be a bit flexible at the moment.  The shop is officially open from 10am to 5pm, Wednesday to Saturday, but my health is not good at the moment, and there may be times when I have to open late or close early.  I will also need to find some sort of contingency plan for Thursdays before too long, as I won’t be able to be here on Thursdays from the start of October and throughout the university term.

I am still looking for a long-term solution as I can’t continue to run the shop on my own, but for the time being the shop is open.