Bookstore Buddies - Nicholas Bottomley

We are pleased to present a new Bookstore Buddy; Nic Bottomley of Mr. B’s Emporium of reading delights. He was part of a wonderful group of booksellers who joined us for The Norwegian Festival of Literature at Lillehammer.

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Could you please describe the final stretch of the route you take in the mornings to your bookshop?
What a great question. The last stretch is across Pulteney Bridge in Bath – one of very few bridges in the world to have shops along both sides (like Venice’s Rialto) so you could actually not know you’re on a bridge unless you peek through one of the shop windows to the weir below – and then to Society Café to pick up my (second) morning coffee. From there I walk up to Bath’s wide Milsom Street – the upper end of our high street here – and then left onto Quiet Street (which we always hope is not too quiet) and right onto our street, John Street. A narrow street one block from that main shopping thoroughfare, close enough to be very handy once everyone knows where you are…which by now the locals do!

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Mr B's Emporium of reading delights

Throughout the day … When the bookshop door opens and someone steps inside…
You never know what will happen next. And that’s the joy of bookselling. Will you be asked for a book on mushrooms, or a romantic saga or a thriller set in Norway. Or will you be asked what book might get a youngster off his screen or be the perfect book for someone who’s fallen out of love with reading. Or will you be asked if there’s a toilet here, or if you’d like to stock a self-published book… on mushrooms.

There is this wonderful thing that happens when we read. What is it?
It depends why we’ve picked up the book. We learn; we escape; we laugh; we discover; we are outraged; we feel happy or sad about what’s going on in the book and how that reflects our world. And the great thing is, whatever our motivation for reading the book in our hand, we’re never 100% sure which of these feelings we’re going to encounter.

Nicholas bottomley
Nicholas Bottomley

Many say they don’t have the time to read. What can they do about it?
I never go anywhere without a book. Keys first, then wallet, then book and then (only then) phone. It depends how much you value reading as a past-time. Of course our lives are full but if you’re reading the right book – right for you at that moment I mean – then you’ll choose to use your limited time enjoying that, rather than doom-scrolling or watching the 8th episode of that box set. We fill our lives with a mix of activities and it’s just about keeping reading in that mix and recognising how valuable a past-time it is for our enjoyment of life and our stress-levels.

Has a Norwegian book given you a reading experience that you remember with pleasure?
Talking about stress-levels, Tore Renberg’s See You Tomorrow is one the most dysfunctional and stress-laden novels I’ve ever read, and yet it was also hilarious despite the appalling behaviour of the central characters. I adore the quiet contemplation of The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen. Having met Victoria Kielland I’m excited to read Mine Menn once it is translated into English.

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Our slogan as Guest of Honour is “The Dream We Carry”. What is your dream?
Personally, to see more and more of the world and encounter many more different cultures and landscapes, and for my kids to do the same, and to be able to do so without harming the planet or becoming even more overwhelmingly despondent about its future. Professionally, for bookshops the world above to remain at the forefront of vibrant townscapes, high streets and communities for decades to come, regardless of technological advances.

Read more

Visit the website of Mr. B’s Emporium of reading delights

About NORLA’s Bookstore Buddies
NORLA initiated a bookseller strategy as part of Norway being Guest of Honour at the 2019 Frankfurter Buchmesse. And we were very happy to get to know, and cooperate closesly, with great booksellers all over Germany and also Switzerland.
Read the interviews with our Bookstore Buddies here (also available in German).

When Norway was Guest of Honour at the Warsaw Book Fair in May, we also befriended three Polish Bookstore Buddies.
Read their interveiw here (also available in Polish)