One of the reasons we visited Bath recently was to attend a reading spa at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights.
This is a cute book store where staff make bespoke recommendations. The store is really well displayed with separate sections for children, board games, non fiction, and myths amongst the usual genres of books you might find in a book store.
On top of that they offer a reading spa in their aptly named bibliotherapy room.
And that is what we did. Included in the reading spa is the following:
- Reading consultation with one of the well read book sellers;
- Hot beverage and slice of cake;
- £60 vouchers to spend in store on the day, most likely on the bespoke recommendations;
- £10 voucher to be spent after online or in store, with no expiry date;
- Mug; and
- Tote bag, to carry all the books you will likely buy.
My future explorations
I spoke with Tessimo and told her I was keen to get back into reading and that I was mostly interested in Greek retellings of marginalised women who were previously minor characters.
I had read Madeline Miller’s Circe and Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne and absolutely loved them. I also had Natalie Haynes’ Pandora’s Jar and Miller’s other book The Song of Achilles waiting for me on the shelf at home.
I also told my book consultant that I was keen to get into non fiction self help books. I had recently received Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People for Christmas which is a pretty hefty non fiction book, but was keen to read something a little more accessible.
My past likes
I was asked if I had read books by certain authors; whether I particularly preferred plot or characterisation or writing style; and whether there were any authors or books that I actually disliked.
I answered that these days I preferred plot and good lyrical writing styles, like Circe. I adored Ariadne but at times felt there needed more plot to grab me. I also mentioned how much I liked reading Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, giving a voice to the marginalised mad woman in the attic.
I also communicated my dislike of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently, finding it not as funny as the TV show; and my lack of interest in most contemporary fiction, preferring classics or modern retellings of classics.
Whilst I waited I was recommended Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, which was sitting on the nearby shelf called the “Hall of Fame”, where the workers displayed their all time favourite books.
I had my tea and brownie and perused the rest of the shelves nearby, eagerly waiting for the book selection to be brought before me.
My book consultant came back with about 15 books! Some were self help books, ranging from instructional to anecdotal social science; some were the original Greek retellings of marginalised women that inspired the Circe and Ariadne I so very much adored; some were mythical retellings of non-Greek countries or folklore; some were what were termed “off the wall” that were more contemporary but also had aspects of what I was after.
Tessimo patiently outlined the plot of each book, describing what she enjoyed about it; or if a colleague had recommended it and she hadn’t read it, then what the colleague particularly enjoyed about the book. Very informative.
Some books I knew I wanted to read, some books I was intrigued by, and some books I felt were interesting but not for me (as the others sounded far superior).
And here is what I ended up purchasing with my vouchers. I am super excited about reading these books and am so glad that a tote bag was included too!
The hubby’s bibliotherapy
The hubby’s future explorations
The hubby spoke with Henry, who is apparently the Emporium’s resident Terry Pratchett enthusiast. When asked what Pratchett books he liked, the hubby replied he preferred the witches books, tying in with folklore.
The hubby also communicated that he likes fantasy but hadn’t read the big fantasy books, and lately had been going into bookshops and selecting books off the shelf on a whim.
Having tried to get into sci fi, though unsuccessfully, the hubby was informed that classic sci fi authors hadn’t aged well and advised to try more contemporary sci fi authors instead.
The hubby’s past likes
The first thing the hubby was actually asked was what he was reading at the moment, to which he responded Gervase Phinn’s The Other Side of the Dale – not the usual fantasy or science fiction that the hubby said he wanted to explore further.
The hubby was asked whether he preferred plot, writing style, or atmosphere; and what he mainly reads.
The hubby replied he preferred plot these days, stating his inability to read one of my old favourites: Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. (Sacrilege! I jest; I understand this book is not what one usually expects, and some say there is absolutely no plot.)
The hubby also communicated that he mainly reads Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Guy Gavriel Kay. Based off Kay, the book consultant asked if the hubby would be interested in historical fiction, and the hubby replied he would be open to it.
The hubby’s recommendations
Whilst the hubby waited, he was recommended a couple of sci fi books, a couple of folklore books, and a couple of fantasy books – everything he was interested in exploring further.
The book consultant pointed out N K Jemisin’s The Fifth Season about extinction, which he hadn’t recommended anyone in a while as it was a bit too on the nose but recommended it to the hubby.
Henry came back with a few more books, totalling 11 recommendations, and the hubby purchased 7 on the day with his vouchers. One of these books was Arden’s The Bear and The Nightingale, which was in my maybe pile, so I was super pleased the hubby ended up getting that one so I could read it too.
When we arrived home after our trip the hubby went on to use his vouchers to purchase 2 other books that he was umming and ahing over. So the hubby ended up getting 9 out of the 11 that his book consultant recommended!
Definitely worth a visit to this book store if you’re into books and in Bath – it’s in the centre of the city right by all the other tourist spots. The staff are really friendly, the brownies are really good, and the displays are really cool.
If you have more time and would like a load of book recommendations or simply want to know more about certain genres, then I’d highly recommend the reading spa here.
The hubby liked that his consultation felt like a conversation and not a survey, enjoying the back and forth chit chat. I liked that I have new authors and new books to explore.
If you can’t make it to Bath, then Mr B’s also offers an online book subscription, sending out one book a month based on an initial questionnaire you fill in.
I’m really looking forward to reading my books – as is the hubby, who said he wanted to read most of mine too! So I’d say, for us, it was definitely worth it as we can share our recommended books with each other. And of course who wouldn’t want a mug and a tote bag thrown in too!
What are some of your book recommendations that you usually give people looking for something different to read?