Everyone has a favourite book shop, one that stands out from the rest. For me, my local favourite is Wardini’s of Havelock North, New Zealand, because they always go out of their way to make you feel welcome as soon as you walk into their shop.
Run by Louise and Gareth Ward and a small army of staff, the independent book shop – Wardini Books – is a literary oasis. From the cheery “Hello….can I help you find a particular book?”, to the lay out of the shop, to the friendly and knowledgeable staff, to the comfortable chairs to park yourself to read a few pages of a book you think you may want to buy. It’s a lovely shop with quality books. There are helpful notes attached to the front of a number of books on the shelves with reviews by Louise and the staff – all of them prolific readers. I think it’s really important that the people selling you the books know about the books that they sell.
Add to this the events that they run, or get involved in, both here at their first shop in Havelock North village and also in the next town Napier at their other shop, on Hastings Street – Book expo’s, book signings, poetry readings, staff reading to groups of children, book clubs, book quizzes….you name it. If it’s to do with promoting books Wardini’s staff are out there doing it.
Gareth and Louise organise a yearly book club quiz, held in the local community centre. I was lucky enough to be asked to fill in as a quiz team member when one of the members of my sister-in-law’s book club couldn’t make it on the night. I amazed myself at being able to answer a few of the questions, being a newcommer (it wasn’t easy), and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Our team of 9 ladies plus me – the lone male – managed to lead all the way through the various rounds of questions, only to collapse in the last two rounds to finish 4th of about 25 teams.
I won a raffle prize, which made up for the loss. When I say prize, it was actually prizes, as I received 3 bottles of Te Mata Estate Chardonnay – which was particularly delicious, and a book “Boundaries” by New Zealand writer and poet Brian Turner. The book is about the people and places of Central Otago – a wild, rugged and beautifully scenic part of New Zealand’s South Island. The writing is entertaining and informative and interspersed with beautiful colour photos along with poems dropped in here and there. The book alone would have been a wonderful prize, but having wine to drink whilst reading it makes it even better.
Not satisfied with just selling books, Gareth has also written his own best seller aimed at the young adult reader market – with a steampunk background – called “The Traitor and the Thief” – the hero of the piece is a resourceful 14 year old called Sin. It’s rated very highly by Goodreads scoring around the four and a half out of a possible five – so well done Gareth! There is to be a sequel released around August 2019 – all being well.
As if that is not enough involvement with the community at large, Gareth is also known as “The Great Wardini” – magician, hypnotist, mentalist and childrens entertainer. He’s been doing this for the last five years and his website can be reached here – http://www.thegreatwardini.co.nz/
There are lots of really good indie book shops all around the world. What’s your favourite?
They need our support and our custom if they are to keep providing the service to the community that they have been doing – long before the advent of the internet and the dreaded Amazon.com. Please help to keep our bricks and mortar bookshops alive and kicking. Go buy a book!