This month’s bookworm is Roisin Daly, bookseller at The Sheen Bookshop in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. A great local establishment, The Sheen Bookshop (along with its sister shop, The Kew Bookshop) changed ownership back in 2016. There was a worry around the time of sale that both shops were waning in popularity, but since taking them on, owner Adam Hewson and his team have made some changes, primarily sprucing up the interiors and bringing the stock levels up. Both shops are now thriving hubs of literature in West London. You can find almost anything nestled on the shelves at the Sheen Bookshop, and if you venture to the back area you’ll discover a vibrant children’s ‘zone’ (complete with beanbags and jigsaw matting!) Roisin has played a big part in all this, joining the team just over a year ago. She’s actually been in bookselling for four years, having started out at Waterstones Piccadilly (the flagship store!) following completion of an MA in Culture and Colonialism. After working at other branches and working up to manager level, she decided to try her hand in an independent, and found her home at The Sheen Bookshop. Be sure to follow Roisin and her colleagues on Facebook, where you’ll find anything from beautiful pictures of their window displays right through to details of book-signings, author events, and literary discussions.
Her three ‘big books’
‘Murder on the Orient Express’ by Agatha Christie: I only read Christie for the first time last year and it was such a wonderful reading experience for me. I read Murder on the Orient Express in a day and just couldn’t put it down! It is a classic tale of whodunit that kept me guessing right until the end. The character descriptions are fantastic and the language style is very accessible and readable. She truly is a master of mystery and I will continue to read a couple of her books every year.
‘South and West’ by Joan Didion: This is a collection of Joan’s diary entires, written during a journey she took across the Southern American states in the 1970s. It highlights the great divide in America at the time as she meets the locals. Joan’s style is complete honesty while looking at class and race divides. And she writes of a world that in many respects has dramatically changed and yet in others remains almost the same. Everyone should read Joan Didion at some point in their life!
‘Chess Story’ by Stefan Zweig: Zweig is probably my favourite author and this is my favourite of his books. He offers a fantastic style of writing that offers very real descriptions of raw human emotion. This book follows an ex-prisoner of war as he tries to battle his inner demons on a sailing across the Atlantic. In certain respects the book could be described as a psychological thriller but it is so much more. Zweig champions novellas that offer a perfect insight into early 20th Century Europe.
Her two contemporary titles
‘Conversations with Friends’ by Sally Rooney: Sally is certainly one of my favourite debut authors and this book for me was fantastic. A simple tale that follows two young female students through the conversations they have with friends and each other. But the book is so much more than this; it looks at what goes on behind closed doors, female issues, the difficulties with trying to fit in and the Celtic Tiger… A great language style means this book is a pacy read and her upcoming title Normal People (out in September and on the Man Booker long-list) is very much the same!
‘My Absolute Darling’ by Gabriel Talent: This book in many ways was not the easiest book for me to read and yet I enjoyed it throughout. We follow a vulnerable young female, Turtle (a nickname), who is a victim of abuse at home. But Turtle knows so much about the world and wants to explore it. The emotion in this book is raw but it offers a real insight into something that I do not think we talk about enough. Talent offers a true female heroine who we all grow to love and want to help escape.
The one on her ‘to read’ list
‘Lowborn’ by Kerry Hudson: This is an upcoming title with Vintage and I heard Kerry speak about it a few months ago. She travels back to her hometown and continues through the poorest towns in Britain. It is a very personal story that forces her to confront her past and the reality of what it is really like to be poor in Britain today.