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Books provide a salve for an aching soul

By Barbara Henderson

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Logie steading.
Logie steading.

As I write this, it is Super Thursday in the book world; the day more than 600 books will be published in the UK on a single day!

It makes sense, really – with the uncertainty of a global pandemic, many publishers postponed and rescheduled their releases. In addition, September publication dates maximise the pre-Christmas run-up. You would think an early September launch, even without any physical events, would give a book its very best chance.

By the time you read this, the long-awaited big releases such as Caitlin Moran's More Than a Woman or Nick Hornby's Just Like You will be face out on shelves in bookshops around the country, and cook books by Jamie and Nadiya will vie for your attention with H is for Hawk author Helen MacDonald’s Vesper Flights and Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library.

However, there is always the fear that many smaller publishers’ and lesser known writers’ work will simply stay under the radar. Only around 40 to 50 per cent of titles will be jockeying for a place on the shelf, even in the biggest of bookstores. Review space and publicity opportunities will be limited – the underdogs will need all the help they can get.

A brand-new book has that lovely just-printed smell, doesn’t it? Crisp pages, a shiny cover.

In our house, a new story is also unfolding. Super Thursday, today, is my daughter’s last day of living at home. One more night, and we will board an actual plane for the first time since the pandemic, fly to London and drop her in Hackney before returning on the Sleeper.

Logie steading.
Logie steading.

Letting go is hard. It is fair to say that I have had my moments over the last few days, but books, as always, have provided some solace. Since she stopped work, we have had the opportunity to take some walks and day trips and I discovered a brand-new favourite haunt. After a combined 16 years of living in Inverness, I was astonished that I had never come across this place before.

If, like me, you have never visited Logie Steading near Forres, I thoroughly recommend you do. Not only is there a lovely café, shop, art gallery and walks, but it has an absolute treasure trove of a second-hand bookshop which any self-respecting Highland booklover simply must visit.

The outside display on its own afforded a taste of the browsing experience, but once you step inside you find a winding hopscotch of rooms with an attractive selection of sections and an array of colours.

I unearthed, among others, a first edition of a long-out-of-print children’s story I had long wanted to read. The element of treasure hunting has always appealed to me – I love markets, charity shops and jumble sales. But the bookshop in Logie offers something more.

Beneath the counter and the friendly face of co-owner Annie, and beside the wagging tail of sprocker Gus, is an artistic display of gorgeous, intricate, attractive antique book covers which would root even the most discerning buyer to the spot for a moment.

I leave with an armful of reading loot, my sore mother-heart cheered for now. Wherever you are and whatever would wear you down, I wish you this kind of day! A day of fast flowing water, good coffee and old books is a salve for the soul.

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