Meet the Mr B’s team
We are a bunch of book obsessives who love nothing more than to chat about books with customers. Here’s what makes us tick both on the page and off.
My reading homeland is littered with dangerous motels
I love a book that involves a journey or that takes me to a faraway place. The place doesn’t have to be glamorous. In fact, as long as it’s not in Britain, the less glamorous and more remote the better. Think cut-off Scandinavian islands, arid Spanish sierra, cobwebbed Central European castles or, mainly if I’m honest, down-on-their-luck American towns.
My reading homeland is littered with dangerous motels, empty diners and one-street towns surrounded by isolated farms. Throw in a couple of unhinged inhabitants, some dark humour and maybe a stranger arriving in the community to mix things up, and I’ll be raving about the book for a long time to come.
for me, any great book has to have unforgettable characters
I have found choosing my next read much more challenging since opening Mr B’s – I am much less likely to pick up a classic than to hunt for the next random, eclectic book that I can recommend to a customer. I am drawn to dark tales and gritty family dramas but for me, any great book has to have unforgettable characters.
I absolutely love an ambiguous ending – there is nothing worse than a novel where everything is neatly tied up with a bow!
I work from home a lot and I really miss the shop floor banter so do excuse any over-excitable bookish ramblings if you catch me on my day in!
it was a chance encounter with Raymond Chandler that set me back on the path
My love of books began early as mum bombarded me with great age appropriate stuff, dad read to me from a series of wildly inappropriate texts and I filled in the gaps with 2000AD. It was a chance encounter with Raymond Chandler that set me back on the path and instilled in me a life long devotion to quality pulp writing. My touchstone for bookselling is 84 Charing Cross Road, for parenting Atticus Finch, for photography Eugene Smith, for psychosis Jim Thompson, for wisecracking Philip Marlowe, and for gravitas Borges.
When not at work, I hang out with my wife and three daughters, encouraging their burgeoning love of Squirrel Girl and other graphic novels. I am also the reluctant part-owner of a whippet called Dashiell.
I like haunted sensitive males
I’m a bit of an erratic reader: I swing from devouring huge books in greedy gulps (often suffering heavy book hangovers in between great reads) and spending months savouring (or battling) one tiny tome.
My favourite books are always character focused – I like haunted sensitive males, stubborn gumptious women; and dark secretive narrators who keep you guessing. I love nothing more than a surprising ending, although I never actually remember the ends of books!
I sing all the time, spend as much time outside as I can, bake occasionally, and practice yoga (badly) whenever I can find the time.
I have 4 or 5 books on the go at once, just so that I know I’ve got the perfect title for every mood and eventuality
I don’t care what sort of books you read – every time you open a book you’re opening yourself up to someone else’s view of the world and that can only be a good thing. I do care very much what I read – and if that means 4 or 5 books on the go at once, so I know I’ve got something to satisfy every mood, so be it. I could be segueing from fiction to non-fiction…from South American magic realism to the real magic of science from classy noir to classics, from novella to great tome.
I know how important it is to find that perfect read so I love helping customers discover their book heaven.
...but there's something sensational about that sort of ambush
I love it when a book catches me off guard – it could be something shockingly violent or deeply moving, but there’s something sensational about that sort of ambush. I guess that comes down to good storytelling, which is what I really love about reading. (Duh!) Like a child sat on the carpet leaning in to listen closer to a story being told, I give myself over to a good book. There I await a warm embrace or else to be chewed up and spat out again. Both deeply satisfying.
Around the shop though, you’ll usually find me looking after all of our wonderful reading subscribers and when I’m not raving about my favourite short and punchy novels, I’ll probably be jabbering on about our selection of boardgames and vinyl.
....anything with wagon wheels rolling through the prairies, or gunfights at dawn.
I love anything out of the ordinary; weird speculative science fiction which fills me with unanswerable questions, magical worlds full of unimaginable beings, and anything dark, gothic and twisty that makes me feel a little uncomfortable. But I’m also weirdly Western-obsessed – anything with wagon wheels rolling through the prairies, or gunfights at dawn – you get the picture!
I run the Emporium Strikes Back Sci-fi book club at Mr B’s, and I can generally be found recommending China Mieville to everyone on the shop floor. I’m bonkers about my cat, love anything that tastes of coconut, I have a new-found love for herbal tea, and feel most at home somewhere in the countryside.
Translations, language play-grounds and the space between genres are my happy spots
As a wee one I read a lot in the backseat of cars – often down very curvy South-American roads – and am paying for it with a lifetime of car-sickness. Maybe that’s why I love reading on trains.
Translations, language play-grounds and the space between genres are my happy spots. The writing I really rave about makes the familiar strange, and the strange familiar, ideally with a radical dose of empathy and humour.
When I’m not at Mr B’s I write stories which sometime appear in magazines. I produce the Mr B’s Podcast and would love to imbibe more coffee than my system can handle.
...throw in troubled characters, some history and darkness and I will be captivated in no time
When I am not raving about Dachshunds, or in fact, any dog in general you will probably find me clutching a copy of ‘The Book of Lost Things’. This book represents my reading taste perfectly, which is why I always return to it. It is all about magic for me, I find myself drawn to anything fantastical or mythical – throw in troubled characters, some history and darkness and I will be captivated in no time.
I may be hard to recognise on a day to day basis due to my whimsical hair dyeing. If you catch a glimpse of some patterned clothing or head to ‘The Emporium Strikes Back’ our Sci-Fi/Fantasy book group you will have found me!
...if there’s a giant spider in there somewhere, so much the better
In my life before Mr B’s I worked various jobs, many of which I was horrendously unqualified for: tour guide (usually for cities I was seeing for the first time), zoo security guard (to keep animals in, or people out? I’m still not certain), and a gardener (with hayfever). Around books is where I’m happiest. Natural history and science fiction are my favourites, but I love to read and talk about everything and anything; if there’s a giant spider in there somewhere, so much the better.
Other hobbies include knitting, and memorising shuffled decks of cards. Also, I get outdoors a bit: I run the Mr B’s Walking Book Group, Paperback Ramblers, which goes for a stroll and a literary chat once a month.
It represents nights from childhood spent under the covers with a torch
To me, reading always feels indulgent. It represents nights from childhood spent under the covers with a torch and the latest Lemony Snicket; maths lessons with one eye on quadratic equations and the other on the hidden copy of The Woman in White under the desk; the many days at university when procrastinating meant sitting in the sun reading The Bell Jar. A great book is like a great coffee or a bar of chocolate – it is best dark and strong.
When I’m not ranting about historical fiction in Bath, I’m working at Tyntesfield House as a Conservator for the National Trust.
I have an enduring fondness for family sagas, and books that evoke a particular time or place
Having visited Ed at work numerous times over the last decade, I am very excited to have joined Mr B’s in my own right!
I have always loved reading and discovered at an early age the pleasure of losing myself in a good book – whether it might be fact, fiction, or a heavyweight coffee table book full of inspirational photography! I have an enduring fondness for family sagas, and books that evoke a particular time or place.
I am so happy that Ed and I seem to have passed the reading bug on to our three girls – even if the piles of books at home threaten to overwhelm us at times!
...science fiction and fantasy authors he likes just happen to be at head height and this may be linked to how his reading tastes have evolved
Being one of the shorter members of staff Henry has trouble getting books from the higher shelves. It’s a good thing then, that most science fiction and fantasy authors he likes just happen to be at head height and this may be linked to how his reading tastes have evolved.
Henry’s other talents include making the perfect glass of squash, preventing Amy from stealing dachshunds (this is time consuming) and thinking about lunch. When he does find a quiet moment, he tends to fill them with reading, vinyl and videogames.
He’s also been known to go on the occasional run.
...I’ve still got a pile of fifteen by my bed which need to be read before my essay’s due next Thursday
Between studying English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, to working at Mr B’s in holidays, hardly a day goes by where I don’t interact with books at least once. And to be honest I am perfectly happy with that. That is, until I buy another couple of books and realise I’ve still got a pile of fifteen by my bed which need to be read before my essay’s due next Thursday.
I shoot myself in the foot a lot working in a book shop I think it’s fair to say, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Mr B’s Alumni
Here are some people we miss...
We’re lucky that very few full-time team-members have left us over the years, but those that have left a firm bookish imprint at Mr B’s as we continue to sell their cherished favourite reads. Do you remember?:
Harvey Packham (co-founder!) Still emotionally involved and so not true alumnus. Juliette’s brother co-founded Mr B’s helping on every aspect from writing the business plan to figuring out how to work the till!
Caroline Allen (now Caroline Bush) Our ridiculously bubbly and efficient very first employee!
Lydia Frater Her of colourful jumpers and pumpkin outfits! Lover of the quirky book.
Becky Milford Cosy crime lover who famously put a dying bird in our fridge on her first day (don’t ask).
Libby Harris Lover of YA fiction, who liked to find dresses to match our book events.
Naomi Ishiguro Guitar-playing, writer-in-the-making. Obsessed with Dr Who and Horatio Clare.
Vlashka Again, not technically alumna, but our very hairy Czech shop dog now takes about a minute to get out of her basket so it’s tricky for her to be in to bark at delivery men or trip up customers these days.