Behind the doors of the bookstore where magic is made to bring literature to life in Holmfirth

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Louise and James Ashmore prepare to celebrate National Bookstore Day at their independent store, Read Bookshop in Holmfirth. Photo Tony Johnson

Today marks Bookshop Day, with author visits, book signings and literary festivals at special events across Yorkshire.

At Read in Holmfirth, every day sees such a celebration, said owners Louise and James Ashmore, as readers scour the piles in search of their next wonderful world.

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“In all beginnings dwells a magical force”, quotes the bookstore’s motto, quoting the famous phrase of the poet Hermann Hesse. It echoes Read’s survival and the love of literature she hopes to inspire.

Louise Ashmore in the children’s section, ready to celebrate National Bookstore Day, at their independent store, Read Bookshop in Holmfirth. Photo Tony Johnson

“Every day is a bookstore day here,” Mr. Ashmore said. “We’re going to make it special, there will be buntings and balloons. But that’s really what we have all year round.

“Our faith in our community has been overwhelmingly rewarded. We just have such wonderful clients.

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The Ashmores, both former teachers, started Read in February 2019. It’s not a big bookstore, but there are stacks of adults and quiet corners to read, where their three young children are often found. Then came the pandemic, and a closed store. Holmfirth rallied.

Louise and James Ashmore at their independent store, Read Bookshop in Holmfirth, before Bookshop Day. Photo Tony Johnson

“We have become a delivery service,” said Ashmore. “Traveling around Holmfirth, bringing books to people’s doors. It has been a strange time.

“We are only really here because of our customers. We are so grateful that people have stayed with us.

The past 18 months have been incredibly difficult for many businesses and freelancers. Bookshop Day, of the Booksellers’ Association (BA), champions local shopping to keep the country’s shopping streets thriving, and this year is particularly poignant with events in Yorkshire and across the country.

At Read, like every Saturday, there will likely be a constant flow of visitors. Holmfirth has three stores selling books, and families often “take a walk”.

“It’s wonderful to see,” said Ashmore. “There is a certain pride in a city that has a bookstore. That says a lot about a place, if it has one.

“People trust us to choose their books. They all come on weekends, or after school, to find their next reading.

“Then they come back and tell us they loved it. It is a massive community of book readers and reviewers. Book buyers are very loud, they will tell you what is right and what is not.

To celebrate Bookshop Day, author Phil Earl has visited places across Yorkshire to sign books, while Graeme Macrae Burnet will begin a mystery visit to The Book Case at Hebden Bridge today.

Joe Shute, former Yorkshire Post reporter and now author of Forecast: A Diary of the Lost Seasons, will host an event at the Ilkley Literature Festival with The Grove Bookshop today.

Catherine Menon and Neema Shah will also discuss their first novels during panel discussions as part of the festival.

A community bookstore in Rotherham, Typeset Space, hosts a quintaine contest, with vouchers for the best five-line poems from visitors.

The national campaign is also supported by authors such as Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, who provided signed books.

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