Behind the bookshop doors where magic is made in bringing literature to life in Holmfirth

Magic is made in bookshops’ quiet corners, as pages turn in crinkled whispers with a spellbinding promise of the gripping adventures within.

Louise and James Ashmore set to celebrate national Bookshop Day, at their independent shop, Read Bookshop in Holmfirth. Picture Tony Johnson

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

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

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‘In all beginnings dwells a magic force’, the bookshop’s motto cites, quoting poet Hermann Hesse’s famed phrase. This echoes in Read’s survival, and in the love of literature it hopes to inspire.

Louise Ashmore in the children's section, set to celebrate national Bookshop Day, at their independent shop, Read Bookshop in Holmfirth. Picture Tony Johnson

“Every day is bookshop day here,” said Mr Ashmore. “We will make it special, there will be bunting and balloons. But really it’s what we have year round.

“Our faith in our community has been repaid massively. We’ve just got such wonderful customers.”

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The Ashmores, both former teachers, launched Read in February 2019. It’s not a large bookshop, but there are adult stacks and quiet corners for reading, where their own three young children can often be found. Then came the pandemic, and a shuttered shop. Holmfirth rallied round.

Louise and James Ashmore at their independent shop, Read Bookshop in Holmfirth, ahead of Bookshop Day. Picture Tony Johnson

“We became a delivery service,” said Mrs Ashmore. “Travelling around Holmfirth, bringing books to people’s doors. It’s been a strange time.

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

The past 18 months has been incredibly difficult for many businesses and independents. Bookshop Day, from the Booksellers’ Association (BA), champions shopping local to keep the nation’s high streets thriving, and this year is particularly poignant with events across Yorkshire and nationwide.'

Holmfirth 'tour'

At Read, as every Saturday, there will likely be a steady stream of visitors. Holmfirth has three shops selling books, and families often ‘take a tour’.

“It’s wonderful to see,” said Mr Ashmore. “There’s a certain amount of pride in a town that has a bookshop. It says a lot about a place, if it has one.

“People trust us, to choose their books. They all come at weekends, or after school, looking for their next read.

“Then they come back, and tell us they loved it. It’s a massive community of readers and book reviewers. Book buyers are very vocal, they will tell you what’s good and what’s not.”

Bookshop Day events

To celebrate Bookshop Day author Phil Earl has been visiting settings across Yorkshire to sign books, while Graeme Macrae Burnet will start a mystery tour at The Book Case in Hebden Bridge today.

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

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

A community bookshop in Rotherham, Typeset Space, is hosting a quintain competition, with vouchers for the best five-lined poems from visitors.

The campaign nationally is also supported by authors such as Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, who have supplied signed books.

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