The Book Trail meets Cogito Books
In celebration of IBW, The Booktrail headed up to Hexham to speak to the lovely Claire and Kate who work in Cogito books,a veritable book haven that you get to via a cobbled alley under an archway just like something out of a Harry Potter novel itself.
The magic is everywhere....
Claire Grint, owner of Cogito books, hands me a piece of cake and a glass of fizz as I walk through the door. It’s Cogito’s 15th birthday this year and so celebrating this as well as IBW is going to be one great party!
Claire, what does IBW mean to you?
It’s the celebration of all that is good about bookshops and booksellers. I love my job and love to think that we are helping people to discover their next read. People and books are my two favourite things so working to bring them together, what could be better!
For the week itself we’ve got a few events planned, one of which is the visit of author Max Adams, an historical biographer, who’s written his fist novel called The Ambulist. Can’t wait to hear about his first fictional novel! The book group will be IBW based and we’re having more of the June recommended reads highlighted on FB and Twitter.
What’s the story behind Cogito itself?
Claire: Well, we opened in a shop just around the corner on 12 May 2001 and a year and a half later we moved across to where we are now and we’ve never looked back! We’ve a framed certificate marking the moment that Cogito came into the world. Like a birth certificate!
The name Cogito is from the latin from Decartes who said ‘Cogito ergo sum’ - ‘I think therefore I am’. Really sums up the essence of what Cogito is all about.
Kate what’s your bookish background?
I’m studying a PHD in Children’s literature of the 20th century and linking that to British identity and nostalgia. I’m not sure what I want to do eventually but I do love working in Cogito as you’re on the front line - meeting readers, passionate people, and discovering something new every day.
Best thing about working in Cogito?
Claire: As well as all the great books, definitely the people who come in to ask for a book, to ask for a recommendation or even just to chat and have a look around. The ambience in the store really does make it a lovely place to work.
Funniest thing a customer has said to you?
Kate: I could be here all day! There was one man who asked me about a book which had been written about a man who lectures? He didn’t know the author’s name, the subject title or anything but if by some miracle, Clare did know! It was The Path: A New Way to Think About Everything by Professor Michael Puett. The look on his face when she told him! See the magic of booksellers really does exist!
What book is on the top of your TBR pile?
Claire: Quite a few! I particularly love natural history books and this is a section that’s really getting popular both in the shop and in publishing in general. The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebanks is a particular favourite.
As for fiction, I really want to read Anthony Doer’s All the Light we Cannot See - it’s been requested many times in the shop and I just can’t wait to find time to read it and immerse myself in it!
A book recommendation please?
Kate : The Robin Steven’s murder mysteries for children are just brilliant! - Murder Most Unladylike is very funny. My favourite book of all times however is Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I’ve read it over and over again.
Where would you like to go on a booktrail and why?
Claire: Oh it has to be Paris of The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain for me. After reading The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook it brought back everything I love about that city. The sights sounds and aromas from the cafes. Yes, a booktrail to Paris would be lovely. In the meantime, I enjoy looking at the photo galleries and the maps you have on the booktrail!
Kate - For me - Us by David Nichols. I would love to go on this booktrail in particular as they travel around Europe. I just love the idea of booktrails and I going to be using your maps to visit them for real!
And finally.. What does Cogito do best?
Claire: Ooh a lot of things I hope! We’re so passionate about books that I hope we create a welcoming haven for book lovers. I particularly love the children’s section as we’ve created a section of the shop where children can sit and discover the book that might stay with them for life! Story time takes place here too and we dim the lights for ‘Spook night’ and make it like a story den. We had a good ‘Where’s Wally” event recently too.
Kate: I have to admit that I love story time and I always try to find time to file and work beside the till when it’s on so I can hear it! The pleasure of working here is to work with people who love books, readers who are passionate about finding their next book. I even get a lot of recommendations myself from customers so this two way exchange is what I really love.