In Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop, Florence Green opens a bookshop to polite but ruthless opposition in a small East Anglian community.
In reality, Suffolk’s independent bookshop scene is thriving. Here, Emma Shercliff, who has more than 20 years of experience working in publishing and who founded the literary agency Laxfield Literary Associates, tells us about her favourite independent bookshops in Suffolk.
The Halesworth Bookshop
The friendliest bookshop in Suffolk! A huge champion of local authors, Abbie Clements and her team host a wide-ranging programme of author events in the shop and at nearby venues. There’s often a book signing for kids on a Saturday morning, or you may find the shop taken over by readers on bikes, cycling for charity. Abbie also helps to organise the annual Low House Litfest in nearby Laxfield, a free festival in the local pub beer garden which showcases books by authors in Suffolk (and occasionally Norfolk!).
The Aldeburgh Bookshop
A former winner of the industry’s Best Independent Bookshop award, the Aldeburgh Bookshop has been expertly run since 2000 by John and Mary James. It boasts an incredible array of hand-selected fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, as well as a fabulous range of greetings cards, board games and stationery. Head here for summer beach reading picks as well as Christmas shopping. The bookshop also runs the widely-renowned Aldeburgh Literary Festival, now in its 21st year – and for which the highly-prized tickets are much sought after by local residents!
The Woodbridge Emporium
Great for children’s books and YA fiction (it does a good line in jigsaw puzzles too), the Emporium has hosted events with authors including Anthony Horowitz. Bookseller and Teasmith Jules Button can provide you with recommendations for the perfect tea or tisane to complement your latest book purchase; her stated mission is to transport customers ‘to a magical happy world where everything is Teatastic and Booklicious’. Definitely the most delicious-smelling bookstore in the county!
Browsers Bookshop, Woodbridge
Just up the street from the Emporium, Browsers has a loyal following and an excellent selection of locally-authored titles. Staff member Catherine Larner runs a wide-ranging events programme, both in person and online, as well as a popular Book Club, which takes place at the shop on the last Monday of each month and has been running since 2007. Try Browsers for word-of-mouth recommendations.