This month’s professional bookworm is Michael McEntee of The Big Comfy Bookshop. Michael quit his job of five years to jump into bookselling online, then after a few months nabbed some bricks and mortar in Fargo Village, Coventry (an old industry spot where the very first bicycles were made). Determined to create the exact, dream experience he’d want as a customer, he built everything from the ground up – mixing together music, second-hand books and coffee with huge spoonfuls of love, enthusiasm and daring. It’s paid off – as well as the snug and homey set up, the shop’s now famous for delicious cakes, big book signings, eclectic events, and gigs galore. There’s even a documentary about it. You can follow Michael’s adventures on his blog, where he keeps you up to date on what he’s reading and listening to. Better yet, pop into the shop in person for a glass of wine (yep, he’s fully licensed).
His three big books
‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy: It was the first McCarthy book I read, and it blew me away. The writing style is so unique – and the worlds created so vivid. Throw in the emotional weight, and it’s one I tell everyone to read.
‘His Dark Materials Trilogy’ by Phillip Pullman: Yes, it’s three books… but really it’s one. The perfect fantasy writer takes you away and blocks the world out – but makes it seem so real, too. Every single character is memorable, even those that don’t feature much. I zoomed through them all, and have re-read them a lot.
‘Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World’ by Haruki Murakami: I only recently read this, but I can’t get it out my head. The ideas and themes it creates are so out of this world. I don’t know how he comes up with them and still grounds it in a type of reality that hits home.
His two contemporary titles
‘Our Endless Numbered Days’ by Claire Fuller: There’s a theme here in what I’ve chosen, isn’t there? Bleak, chaotic, almost apocalyptic… A story featuring a young girl taken into the wilderness by her father. But why? What happened in the bleak cold? Can the narrator be trusted? I read it in one go.
‘Burial Rights’ by Hannah Kent: This is getting silly now… Bleak landscapes, a murderer, a disjointed community. The best book in recent times – paints the landscape perfectly, and creates a character out of it. Read it right now.
The one on his ‘to read’ list
‘His Bloody Project’ by Graeme Macrae Burnet: This was a Booker nominee. The book is told from different perspectives, including evidence files, about a murder in 1869. I can’t wait to read it. It sounds similar to the Booker-winning ‘The Luminaries’, which is a fave of mine.