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2018 Bookshop Review

The beginning of a new year is a funny time, when we both reflect the past and anticipate what’s ahead. In our reflection over 2018, a lot of things came to mind, so thought we’d share a summary of the year.

Shop:

We’ve stayed busy in the shop with a steady flow of great debut novels, new work from beloved writers, and fascinating non-fiction books filling our tables and shelves. We’ve had visits from illustrators Emma Farrarons and Brooke Barker, who both beautifully decorated our windows; we’ve also been lucky to have authors who pop in to sign their books and drop off proofs.

Emma Farrarons, creator of Art of Mindfulness

We’ve continued with our weekly storytime sessions on Thursday and Saturday mornings, and we’ve been lucky to have picture book authors join us to read their books on occasion, including Frances Ives and Lucy Reynolds.

Gabe reading at children’s storytime

We produced our own Christmas catalogue, with all of the titles selected by the bookshop staff, and had two late Christmas shopping evenings, offering 10% off purchases made on those nights.

With help from our customers, we raised money for Macmillan Cancer Support as part of their annual Coffee Morning fundraiser.

We said goodbye to Harry, our Events and Communications Manager, and welcomed in his replacement, Peter. We also welcomed a new part-time bookseller on Saturdays, the very knowledgeable and well-read Kitty.

Events:

The first few months of the year featured sold out events with Julian Barnes at All Saints West Dulwich and Matt Haig in the shop. We had to move to a bigger venue to accommodate the demand for Afua Hirsch and Leila Slimani, talking about their books Brit(ish) and Lullaby, respectively.

We were happy to arrange an event with historian Rachel Hewitt and novelist Imogen Hermes Gower, whose debut novel the Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was shortlisted for the 2018 Women’s Prize. We also had a full house for Mick Herron talking about Jackson Lamb and the MI5 misfits of Slough House, followed by another successful crime event with the author of the London Murder Mysteries series, Alice Castle, who came to discuss Death in Dulwich and beyond.

In June we organised an event which had former DC pupil Michael Ondaatje return to Dulwich to speak about his new novel, Warlight, which went on to be longlisted for the Booker Prize. In the autumn we had events focussing on non-fiction books—The Stopping Places by Damian Le Bas and I Am Dynamite: A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche by Sue Prideaux.

Cathy with Damian Le Bas, author of The Stopping Places

We also supported our sister company Live Lit with three literary festivals in 2018—the annual Balham Literary Festival in June and Dulwich Literary Festival in November, as well as the first London instalment of Festival America, which included an event in Dulwich Books with American authors Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott and Jonathan Ames.

Nick Hewer event for Dulwich Literary Festival 2018

In addition to these events we organised, we were also able to host private book launches, sell books for events at external venues, and at library events.

Tickets for our next series of events will be ready to book soon, so if you’d like to stay up-to-date with who is coming to Dulwich Books, there is a button on our homepage to join our mailing list, or just email us – hello@dulwichbooks.co.uk – to receive our newsletters.

Schools:

We have worked with local schools to fulfil book orders for classrooms, libraries, and events, as well as donated books for school fetes and fundraisers.

Bookseller Gabriel Nicklin is our schools liaison, and he has worked closely with educators to provide special events in schools throughout the year. This has included author visits, like having the authors of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, speak at the North Dulwich branch of Charter School for World Book Day, and arranging Greg James and Chris Smith, authors of the popular Kid Normal series, to speak to students from Dulwich Prep London and Dulwich Woods Primary.

Kid Normal authors, Greg James & Chris Smith

He also judged a short story competition for students at Dunraven School, provided a bookstall at a Michael Rosen event in support of the literacy charity Beanstalk, and provided bookstalls at Kingsdale parent evenings allow parents to buy the recommended study books.

If you are a parent or educator interested in how your school can work with Dulwich Books, you can send Gabriel an email – gabriel@dulwichbooks.co.uk.

Top Ten bestsellers of 2018 at Dulwich Books

  1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  2. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
  3. Slow Horses by Mick Herron
  4. Death in Dulwich by Alice Castle
  5. Milkman by Anna Burns
  6. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  7. Penguin Book of Brexit Cartoons
  8. Normal People by Sally Rooney
  9. Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  10. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Thanks to all of you who helped make last year great. We have a lot more to come this year, and look forward to continue talking about books together.

And as a reminder, here are the prizewinners announced last year:

Booker shortlist:

Milkman by Anna Burns (winner)
Washington Blackby Esi Edugyan
Everything Underby Daisy Johnson
The Mars Roomby Rachel Kushner
The Overstoryby Richard Powers
The Long Take by Robin Robertson

Women’s Prize shortlist:

The Idiot by Elif Batuman
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (winner)
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Costa category winners:

First Novel: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Novel: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Biography: In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott
Poetry: Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore (overall winner)
Children’s Book: The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

Pulitzer finalists:

Less by Andrew Sean Greer (winner)
The Idiot by Elif Bautman
In the Distance by Hernan Diaz