You’ll find Martin in the shop most days. He does most of the stock ordering for non-fiction titles. He is always telling us that the thing that makes Browsers different is that, as well as stocking the usual books, we search out unusual titles that customers won’t readily see elsewhere (he can be a bit boring when he goes on about this – get him to tell you about the interiors book featuring designer Margaret Howell, with text in Japanese, which he used to order from Japan – we did sell quite a few copies).
He likes to read all the book reviews at the weekend and thinks he has a good general knowledge – although, to be fair, he has been selling books for quite a long time now.
His particular interests are architecture, history, the history of science, letterpress, bookbinding and design, boat building and children’s books – he’s got a bit of a thing about Gilbert White and Samuel Pepys. Really, he’d like it if we had enough space to have a hand printing press and bindery.
Anna is in a few days a week (when Martin is not in as they find it difficult to work together harmoniously – Martin thinks he can run the shop best, Anna knows he can’t). She is very widely read in 19th and early 20th century fiction and will be pleased to tell you which authors she doesn’t like (Jane Austen) as well as those she does (George Eliot, Edith Wharton). She also reads a lot of modern fiction and particularly likes Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Smiley and Tim Winton. Along with Catherine, Anna is hugely knowledgeable about children’s books.
Catherine reads voraciously – she sets herself an annual target to read 52 books and usually doubles that figure, keeping a journal so that she remembers them all.
She reads across a wide range of modern adult and children’s fiction, which is just as well as she is responsible for the whole of the event programme at Browsers and is constantly searching out authors to invite to Woodbridge. If we say it ourselves, she runs a fantastic events programme and it is not an easy job!
Catherine is not in the bookshop every day as she is also a freelance journalist and that takes a lot of her time. She is also a keen rower, and a few years ago travelled the length of the Thames in a Victorian skiff.
Ismay has started working part time at the shop, when she can be forced away from hockey and netball. She, too, is widely read and has a particular interest at the moment in historical fiction – if you need to know anything about Lyndsey Davis or Philippa Gregory, she is the one to go to. She also enjoyed 'John Saturnall’s Feast' and 'The Wilding' which her father persuaded her to read. Under her mother’s influence she is working her way through the 19th century classics, although she prefers the spiky Becky Sharp and the resourceful Agnes Grey to the feeble Austen heroines.