Jasmine Denholm is Wenlock Books' apprentice who reviews Young Adult fiction for our website (you can read her book reviews by clicking on the Young Adult tab!) and for her own blog, Jassyfizzle.
1) Why are high street and independent bookshops important to you?
“Bookshops are important to me because there is nothing more fabulous than an entire shop filled with books! Ordering online might feel easier, but the process is entirely boring. I love the excitement of choosing a book from and shelf and knowing that it will soon be mine!"
2) Name your three favourite independent bookshops (apart from us, of course!). What makes them special?
“1. Foyles at Charing Cross - it's utterly spectacular! I visited for the first time at the beginning of July when myself, Anna and Susie were in London for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2015. The shop is gigantic and has the most fantastic YA section. We were so lucky to be able to chat to Jonathan Ruppin (web editor), Chloe Coles (children's buyer) and Joanne Stapley (children's bookseller) about independent bookselling on a much bigger scale than Wenlock Books. It was so interesting to talk about the differences between small indies and large indies, and it was even more interesting to hear about the similarities.
2. The book shop at Hay - I include this because it was where I bought a copy of Remix by Non Pratt a couple of weeks ahead of publication. I visited Hay festival for the first time earlier this year and I saw a discussion with Louise O'Neill, Non Pratt, Malorie Blackman and James Dawson called Love Hurts, about love and relationships in YA. I had read Non's debut novel Trouble a few weeks earlier and I was SO excited to be seeing her in real life that I got all jittery when I saw her book in the Hay bookshop earlier than I had expected. I actually got a little bit worried that I'd missed the publication date and googled in whilst I was stood in the shop! That was really exciting and I will always have fond memories of my first time at Hay.
3. Pengwern in Shrewsbury is very cute and I'd love to go again. It was there that I bought Matt Haig's Reasons To Stay Alive which I'm gradually making my way through. I'd been reading reviews about it for ages but hadn't felt like I wanted to buy it just yet but then when I saw it on the shelves and noticed how teenie it is, I suddenly wanted it very much!"
3) What is the best, funniest, quirkiest or most moving experience you have ever had in a bookshop?
“I'm going to answer all of these!
Best: the best moments are always when we have Storytime on a Friday morning. Babies, toddlers, really lovely parents, tea and cake - what more could you want! It's always so much fun having the shop filled with Storytimers!
Funniest: Michael Rosen performed at the Wenlock Poetry Festival this year so Anna asked me to dress the shop window with his books and as we had so many copies, the window looked really full and fun. Me and my sister were working in the shop over the festival weekend and we were counting how many poets would visit us in the shop. Obviously, we were desperately hoping that Michael Rosen would make an appearance but he just kept walking past the window! I think he walked past 5 times before popping in to thank us for the window display, at which point I was so giddy that I couldn't control the 'Thank you so much Michael Rosen - look it's Michael Rosen!!!' that fell out of my mouth. We had the best time laughing with customers all day, exchanging stories of poets that we'd met and poets that we were dying to meet. When I got home my face hurt from smiling!
Quirkiest: this is less quirky and more ridiculous because that's how it feels every time I think of this. Back in August 2014, I had just begun to work my Saturdays again after being off work for about a year due to illness and I had just finished sixth form so was feeling a bit lost since I was neither in full time education or full time employment. I was walking out of the staff toilet and bumped into Anna who asked how I was doing and before I knew it I was complaining about having to pay for antidepressants, when Anna said, 'why not do an apprenticeship here?' That's the story of how I was offered my apprenticeship; I was complaining about a prescription charge whilst stood next to the toilet!
Most moving: the most moving experiences are always when customers ask how I am, and are genuinely interested. I've met some of the kindest people that I know through Wenlock Books and it makes every day that I spend in the shop special. A moment that will always stay with me is when I got a message from Anna saying that some customers had brought me a bunch of flowers as a congratulations on winning the Desmond Elliott Prize window display competition. I went down to collect the flowers later to find that the lovely Philippa and Julian had cut some beautiful flowers from their garden and written a wonderful card with some really kind words inside. I'll never forget that."
QUICK FIRE ROUND!
4) What three words come to mind when you think of Wenlock Books?
"Comfort, opportunity, love."
5) What has been your favourite book of 2015 so far?
“There have been a lot of AMAZING books that I've read this year:
One by Sarah Crossan
Lobsters by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen
Boo by Neil Smith
Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
The Next Together by Lauren James
Go Set A Watchman (audio CD read by Reece Witherspoon) by Harper Lee"
6) What books are you looking forward to reading before the end of the year?
“My TBR pile is unbelievably big but I'm most excited to read:
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting by Holly Bourne
Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow
Red Ink by Julie Mayhew
Sophie Someone by Hayley Long
and some Australian YA too!"
7) What are your top three desert island reads?
“1. Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl will always be one of my favourite books - the idea that Little Red Riding Hood carries a pistol in her pants was the funniest thing in the whole world when I was 6.
2. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran deserves a second read - a desert island would surely be the perfect opportunity.
3. Solitaire by Alice Oseman because it completely transported me back to being in year 12. My heart thanks Alice for such an accurate time-capsule of being 16."