Born in Yorkshire, raised in Shropshire, travelled the world. Lived in Adelaide and currently in UK. Love travel, ancient history, horses, cello playing, the unusual and obscure, and pottering in my own back yard. Visit my website www.wadders.co.uk
Published August 29th 2013
"So many books, so little time"
Blackwood Book Exchange, Blackwood Plaza, Main Road, Blackwood
Frank Zappa's quote really does spring to mind when you enter the Blackwood Book Exchange. For book lovers, it's three good sized rooms, and a couple of smaller side rooms of sheer book heaven. If time allows, you can lose several hours exploring the floor to wall shelving stacked with books from every genre. Plus there are the little piles here and there of yet more books begging to be opened. And it's not just every genre – the shelves contain a diverse mix of modern and not-so-modern books.
Book shops have always held a fascination for me; there is a certain smell and atmosphere to them which fill me with a certain amount of anticipation, and the Blackwood Book Exchange is no exception. It is delightfully eccentric. The owner David is a larger than life character and has a wealth of knowledge to share. Behind his desk there's an old fashioned till, a few shelves with trinkets from around the world and Mr Arg the alien who was on a spaceship which stopped off at planet earth for a toilet break…
In the first room, there are worlds waiting to be discovered as you walk down the sci-fi aisles and murders needing to be solved as you wander down 'death row', aisles lined with books by authors such as Patricia Cornwell and Clare Francis. Mr Bones in the corner reminds you of what has happened to many a poor hapless victim of their imagination. He apparently changes his attire on a regular basis, but when I was there, he was positively undressed.
Just off to the side, there's a little creative room which houses poetry, drama, music and audio books, while the next big room has the child's section. There are plenty of books by modern authors, including Duncan Ball, Christopher Paolini and John Marsden, and fans of Animorphs and the Saddleclub can snaffle a bargain read too. Being of a certain age, I'm transported back to my childhood when I see Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, and Hans Anderson, and there's also the Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden and a Boys Own Annual if you want to really reminisce.
If it's classics you're after, there are shelves with beautifully bound Dickens or Edger Allen Poe, or paperback books by the Brontes and Jane Eyre. Take a wander into the next room for factual books, although you'll also find general fiction books housed here too. The business section has a great selection and in amongst the 'Adobe for beginners' and the 'Idiots guide to the Internet', there is a set of five thick hardbacks with ornate writing; I wonder what the compliers of this 1926 set of Harmsworth Business Encyclopaedia would think of the online businesses today, and I also suspect today's listing would be somewhat larger than a set of five.
Sport enthusiasts will find plenty of books about their heroes, including Adam Gilchrist and the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame. Or perhaps you'd like to learn something new and buy a book on a martial art. Medical students can pick up a Grey's Anatomy, although I think they'll find the 1950s edition of the 'Family Physician' somewhat dated. Lovers of true crime can discover the facts behind the Mafia, train robberies, Jack the Ripper and other notable murderers. While others might find the Myths and Legends of Peru, books about the ancient Celts or world wars more slightly more to their taste.
Whether it's losing yourself in an author's imagination, or discovering facts about the world, you're bound to find something in this shop which will hold your interest. And if you can't find what you're looking for, ask David. If he hasn't got it, he'll happily give his fellow second hand bookshop colleague a ring on Goodwood Road and see if they've got it in stock.