LGBT History Month: Your Must Reads

February each year marks the celebration and remembrance of LGBT rights and civil rights movements, and the importance of support for the community.

Reading is the best and most effective way to understand the world, and to see things from a different perspective. Reading LGBT books broadens our understanding of the struggles of LGBT youth and adults, and makes us more empathetic and supportive.

So, we’ve put together a list of our favourite LGBT books of all time.

Continue reading “LGBT History Month: Your Must Reads”


Darwin Featured: Valentine’s Special

If you like old-world charm and full blown romanticism, The Darwin Rare Books Room here at Bookbarn International has got to be the most romantic setting for a bookish date.

So, in honour of Valentine’s Day, here is my Darwin selection of romantic poetry, featuring; “Sonnets from the Portuguese” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning,  “Sappho The Queen of Song” arranged by J R Tutin, and my favourite, “The Owl and the Pussy Cat and The Duck and the Kangaroo” by Edward Lear.

Valentine’s Day may well have become over-commercialised, but the spirit of romance is eternal, and in our busy contemporary lives, this day gives us a reminder, and an excuse, to express our deepest romantic feelings and appreciation for the one we love and desire. Being a romantic, in the smallest, and largest sense of the word, I personally would advocate we do this for the other three hundred and sixty-four days as well! But that’s just me. So, if the last year has rushed by in a flurry of practicalities and pressures, Valentine’s Day is the perfect chance to present your loved one with a collection of timeless romantic poetry, bound in beautiful decorated board, leather, or soft suede, which can be read and enjoyed every day of the year. In The Darwin Rare Books Room, we have a large collection of beautiful poetry books to choose from, which will charm, delight and seduce. So…the perfect gift!

First, a charming, green suede covered, miniature edition of “Sonnets from the Portuguese” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning(1806-1861), the well-known Victorian poet whose poetry, like that of many Victorian poets, including her husband, Robert Browning, was formally very skilled, and also richly sentimental.

This book is presented as a translation, but is really a collection of love sonnets about her love affair and engagement with her husband, where she immortalises the ideal of romantic love within a husband/wife relationship. It contains profound thoughts as well as delicate emotional passages. Her most well-known sonnet, “How do I Love Thee?” contains some of the most famous lines in the English language, so if you are searching for the verbal epitome of eternal romantic expression, this is it:

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and Ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith;

I love thee with a love I seem to lose

With my lost saints,– I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears of all my life!– and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.”

Sonnet XLIII. From “Sonnets from the Portuguese.”

Next, another green suede book, with a beautifully embossed cover; Sappho The Queen of Song, arranged by J R Tutin, comprises a collection of translations of poems, and fragments by Sappho.(630-570 BC) It also includes eight magical little watercolour illustrations of nude women.

Sappho was a prolific, archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos, and her poetry was well-known and greatly admired through the ages. Her poetry is still considered extraordinary, and she is best known for her lyric poetry, which was written to be sung and accompanied by a lyre. She is also well-known as a symbol of love and desire between women and the terms “lesbian” and “sapphic” were named after her.

In her poetry she explores individual identity and personal emotions of desire, jealousy and love. She writes directly, with such clear language and strong images, that I find it astounding that these poems were written so long ago. They have a freshness and an immediacy that catapult her words into the twenty-first century;

“You stopt with kisses my enchanting tongue,

And found my kisses sweeter than my song.

In all I pleased, but most in what was best;

And the last joy was dearer than the rest:

Then with each word, each glance, each motion fired,

You still enjoyed, and yet you still desired,

Till all dissolving in the trance we lay,

And in tumultuous raptures died away.”

Lastly, who could not be charmed and moved by the love stories in Edward Lear’s “Nonsense Drolleries” of two unlikely pairings; “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat and The Duck and The Kangaroo.” I loved these poems as a child, I loved them to read to my children, and reading them again now, purely for my adult self, their charm is just as great.

Both couples elope to fulfil their romantic desires for each other, with the owl and the pussy-cat singing sweet-nothings to each other, getting married, then honeymooning by the moonlit sea;

“And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon,

The moon,

The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.”

The duck and the kangaroo take a slightly more practical approach with not just one pair, but four pairs of woolly socks, which in their case, does not seem to diminish the passion or happiness one bit;

“So away they went with a hop and a bound,

And they hopped the whole world three times round;

And who so happy,-O who,

As the Duck and the Kangaroo?”


All the above mentioned poetry books are available from our Darwin room, so pay us a visit today, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

By Diane Newland

World Book Day 2019

-By Emma Bilsborough, Sales & Marketing Coordinator

It’s that time again!

FtonBookbarn is very excited to once again be participating in World Book Day on Thursday the 7th of March. Any chance to encourage reading in young people is a chance we are going to take!

Last year, you’ll remember, most of the UK ended up postponing WBD celebrations due to the snow that we ended up battling in early March. Getting to school and work was a bit like climbing Everest, at least I think so, with no idea what it is like to climb Everest. The snow was lovely, and it was nice to have a few extra days off, but we were sad to put off celebrating this wonderful day.

However, we managed to have a lovely delayed celebration a week later.

This year, we’re going bigger than ever on our celebrations, and spending the days leading up to it hosting students from a local primary school, creating reading lists and doing lots of fun activities, provided by the World Book Day website.

On the big day itself, we’ll be inviting children and young people from the local area to join us in continuing the World Book Day celebrations after school. Our team will be dressing up as their favourite characters, and there will be a Book Lucky Dip (the proceeds of which will go to Beanstalk charity), story time session and many more fun little activities. We will also be bringing out our very best books to display in our Children’s area and shop.

Please keep an eye on our social media for posters and more information on what we’re up to on the day.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. Call us on 01761 451333 or email FAO of Emma.

Our first Darwin Featured Book!

We’re very excited to begin this new blog series. 

Our Darwin room sits just beside the café, and is filled with a variety of old, rare and unique books. The shelves are floor to ceiling and are bulging with plenty of interesting reads, and we felt it only fair that we begin to showcase these special tomes. 

So, with that said, we are going to be featuring a Darwin blog on our social media each week. One of our hardworking Darwin booksellers, Diane, will be selecting a book, delving into its pages and writing up her thoughts on its content and any other notable things she’d like to discuss. 

Diane, like all of our team here at Bookbarn, has experience with books of all different shapes and sizes, but it is important to note that none of us are experts in Antiquarian books, so she will be bringing us her thoughts purely on the enjoyment and experience of reading the book.

If you have any interesting knowledge on any of the books that we feature throughout the year, we welcome this – as it’s always wonderful to learn something new about something old!

Without further ado, let us begin this series with Diane’s first choice, The Compleat Angler, by Isaak Walton. 

Continue reading “Our first Darwin Featured Book!”

Books to Get You Through the January Blues

-By Emma Bilsborough, Marketing and Retail

January, my friends, is the worst of all months. There’s no use fighting it. We’re all poor, it’s cold, it lasts for about ten years, and going back to our usual routine after a month of nothing but merriment is almost impossible.

So, with that in mind, we’ve created this little list of recommendations for books to keep you going! Let us know what you think, and if there are any books that always cheer you up when you are in a slump, let us know those too. We love receiving recommendations from our customers and fellow book lovers.

So, let us begin.

Continue reading “Books to Get You Through the January Blues”

New Year, New Books

You may have noticed if you’ve paid us a visit that we’ve recently created a large space in our entrance area for new books of varying prices. We’re very excited about this change, as it’s bringing us some high quality, interesting books, that still fit in with the rest of our stock, as they’re all different and you may not find them in your usual high street bookshop.

We have a range of different subjects available, from fiction, to memoirs, to photography books, there’s even some particularly interesting looking Encyclopedias.

Continue reading “New Year, New Books”