Firestation Book Swap, 20th January 2011

Having thoroughly enjoyed the Firestation Book Swap on Tour at the London Review Bookshop last August, I thought it was about time I checked out the Book Swap on its home turf; so off I went to Windsor last night. The Firestation Arts Centre is a lovely little theatre space in what used to be, yes, Windsor’s fire station (it still has the bright red doors), police station and magistrates’ court. The stage was decked out with chairs for the hosts, sofa for the guests – and, of course, a table full of cake.

Tonight, Scott Pack was joined by a guest co-host, Robbie Hudson, and the two guest authors were Elizabeth Buchan and Emma Townshend. I hadn’t read books by either of the latter, but certainly became interested in doing so after hearing them talk about their work. Of the two, I was instinctively more interested in Townshend’s book, Darwin’s Dogs (which examines the significance that Darwin’s pet dogs had in shaping his work), and it is now definitely on my to-read pile; but Buchan’s Separate Beds (about a couple whose relationship is already under strain who then have to deal with their family moving back in because the financial situation demands it) also sounds worth a read.

The conversation was as varied and entertaining as I remember last time; this is the sort of event where an author may be asked, ‘What’s the difference between Darwin’s genius and Shakespeare’s genius?’ just as she’s about to tuck into a macaroon, or the host may give impromptu tips on how to get five minutes’ silence at a children’s party. You just never know.

Speaking of which: the swapping. I took along my copy of Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, and ended up swapping it for Harry Hill’s Whopping Great Joke Book, which is about as random a swap as I can imagine. Sitting next to me was my fellow-blogger Jackie from Farm Lane Books, who tried unsuccessfully to exchange her copy of David Nicholls’ One Day (the most-swapped book in the history of the event, said Scott), and very kindly gave it to me afterwards – thanks, Jackie!

And so, I returned home with new books to read, and further books to go on the ‘must read that some time’ list. Oh, and the cake was delicious, too.


  1. Will you be going along to the next London Review Bookshop Firestation event in February? I’m very excited to see one of my literary heroes, William Fiennes there.

    Thanks for the tip about One Day – I’ll make sure I bring something else along!

  2. David Hebblethwaite

    21st January 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Will you be going along to the next London Review Bookshop Firestation event in February?

    I’m thinking about it…

  3. It was a lovely surprise to see you at the book swap last night. I hope that you enjoyed your stay in Slough and that you like reading One Day. Perhaps I’ll manage to successfully swap a book next month!

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