If I had to pick a favourite bookshop this is it. Located just off Milsom Street in Bath, Mr's B's Emporium is a beautiful, energetic and innovative independent bookshop. Opened in 2006 and it has twice been named the UK's best independent bookshop and in 2015 the Guardian named Mr B's one of the ten best bookshops in the world. I couldn't agree more! With the shelves piles high with books you might not find in more mainstream bookshops, Mr B's is the place to head to if you need some reading inspiration. The lovely booksellers are only too happy to offer recommendations - indeed probably that'll be the question you are greeted with upon entering the bookshop. They love chatting with you about what you are reading at the minute and are a fountain of all reading knowledge! I've never come across someone who didn't know what book I was talking about. I also always find Mr B's invaluable when searching for presents for people (the selection of books the booksellers are reading is always a great place to start for inspiration). To me this is what separates Mr B's from other independent bookshops and why I keep going back. They really do strive to learn their customers reading tastes and now when I enter the shop I'm usually greeted by Lottie trusting a book into my hands and telling me I need to buy it!
As well as all of this Mr B's also offer personalised picks for their Reading Subscribers (I'm going to sign up to this soon!) and Reading Spas. I was lucky enough to be gifted a Reading Spa for Christmas and so the other day I escaped work early and headed over to Mr B's. With a Mr B’s Reading Spa you meet with one of the team of booksellers (they match you up with a bookseller who has similar reading tastes so it really is a tailored experience) who will learn all about your favourite reads by having an informal chat over coffee or tea and some delicious cake in one of their lovely bibliotherapy rooms, before introducing you to a tower of books especially selected to suit your tastes. The Reading Spa includes £55 to spend on your favourite recommendations, a Mr B’s mug and cloth bag and a £5 gift card for your next visit. Do note that the Reading Spas are incredibly popular so that waiting list is usually pretty long!
On arrival I was taken to a separate room where I met Amy. We chatted for ages about my reading habits, favourite books/genres and anything I wanted to change about my reading. Amy's knowledge was absolutely incredible and I knew instantly she was going to pick out some amazing recommendations. She cleverly managed to tease out what I want from my reading life and, after leaving me with some very tasty cake, went off to pick out a selection of books for me. I was absolutely thrilled when Amy came back with her arms full of books and I had only read one of them (quite an amazing feat!). Amy talked through all the books with me and answered any questions I might have before leaving me alone with the pile of books which I desperately struggled to narrow down to decide which ones to buy. Although I didn't ask for books exclusively written by women I was really impressed that Amy picked up on this and that my pile was mainly by female authors. In the end I came away with the books in the picture above. I am particularly excited about Jessmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing and Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being - I have already started Samanta Schweblin's short story collection Mouthful of Birds which is just stunning. I obviously had to leave some books behind (pictured below) but I have since been back for The Good Women of China and know I'll be back to pick up the others very soon!
I couldn't recommend a Reading Spa enough! The experience helped me find authors I'd never heard of and I really do feel it has helped broadened my reading horizons. In fact it has lead me to set myself an epic reading challenge which I will be revealing very shortly!