Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Browsing in Bookbuster

Browsing in Bookbuster

Bookchat: How to browse efficiently (and events Aug 6 onwards)

Seems like a contradiction – browsing and efficiency, but it isn’t. Both are necessary. Browsing equals slow and easy, gentle relaxation. Efficiency equals the speed with which you reach your goal. The more easily you hit your target for the kind of books you like, the more relaxed you will be and the bigger a bag you’ll need for your booty (or the bigger a letterbox you’ll need for your delivery – probably you’ll have to make sure a neighbour is in). Or you might be feeling thrifty so you just buy one and know that you’ve hit the jackpot. Hours of pleasure all lined up. But there are various ways to do it and you need to adapt from one place to another. Angela J. Phillip takes a look at how to organise your search.



Category – be aware – new genres are springing up like mushrooms.

You need to know where the books you like are going to be. This sounds like basic common sense but I’ve often missed book sections that I later found interesting because I hadn’t realised they were there. For example, if you’re interested in Psychology, the Self-Help section can sometimes have books that you might find interesting. Likewise Philosophy and Religion.

The category of Fiction has lately spawned so many genres and sub-genres that we are in danger of missing all kinds of books we might enjoy simply because we are not aware of the multiplicity of labelling. For example, if you like crime novels, you need to be aware that publishers and booksellers are trying to divide them up into ‘spy dramas’, ‘psychological thrillers’, ‘action thrillers’, ‘mysteries’, ‘detective stories’, ‘who-dun-its’ ad almost infinitum.

When browsing, you need to wander around the shop to check how many categories there are that the kinds of book you enjoy might fit. If you are absolutely sure there is only one genre that appeals to you, then let’s hope that the  books have been categorised correctly. (And if they haven’t, it’s understandable. Categorising books is hard and rarely exclusive.)

Authors – a clue might be in the name

Do you look for your favourite authors? I do this before I start looking at ones I don’t know. So you could say that I wasn’t browsing at all, but I am. Mostly it’s because I come across authors I like but have forgotten about or a book I had meant to read some while ago. Delight.

Or you could focus on female authors or male ones. If it’s fiction you’re looking for, you could look for authors who appear to come from places that you might be interested in. Poland? Australia? Nigeria? India? Could be anywhere. You can get to know these places from the inside although you might find that you’ve chosen an author who is totally British despite having an interesting sounding name.

Title – should tell you what the book is about

Titles, like headlines, are hugely influential in whether or not we choose a book. Have a look at the titles of these famous books. Do you think they would have done as well with the original titles?

First Impressions → Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
Something That Happened → Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
Atticus → To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Fiesta → The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
Tomorrow is Another Day → Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
Stranger From Within → Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
Twilight → The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)
All’s Well that Ends Well → War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
They Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen → Valley of the Dolls (Jacqueline Susann)

Book Cover – should attract your attention

Apparently, after author and title, it is the book cover that makes us pick up a book, look at it a little bit longer… buy it. There is a considerable amount of research into where your eye will go first, where it will linger, what colour you might like to see and with what emotion that colour is associated. The beauty of the book cover is (usually, but not always) related directly to the amount of money there has been available to spend on it.

Blurb on the Back

What is the book about? We need to know and the place to find out is on the back cover.

Look inside

Are you drawn into the story? Do you want to read on? Does the style of writing put you off? Is the print too small?

Things to watch out for

– Different categories in different places – not all shops will display the same categories and libraries will be different again.
– Bookshops that specialise in certain kinds of books. History, for instance, or crime.
– Positioning of categories will vary – don’t get lost.
– Any decent bookshop should be able to help you if you’re not sure about something, so ask, ask, ask.

online browsing

online browsing

Online Browsing

This is a new art and is being encouraged by online sellers everywhere. What you need to know is what to put into the search box. Once again, it’s a question of knowing your genre and trial and error after that. Refine it until you find the sorts of things you’re looking for. When you get there, you will usually find all the items listed above – except for the feel of the thing in your hands.

But if you buy it as an e-book the advantages are:
– size of print – it’s adjustable
– portability – you can carry six or sixteen in a small e-reader
– instant gratification – you can download and start reading something in the middle of the night.

Happy browsing – hope you find something unexpected and wonderful.

recommended bookshops – all independents including:
The Bookkeeper Bookshop 1a Kings Rd, St Leonards (Best Bookshops feature)
Bookbuster 39 Queens Rd, Hastings (Best Bookshops feature)
Printed Matter Bookshop 185 Queens Rd, Hastings TN34 1RG (feature coming soon)

Soul Food

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree.

Extract from ‘Little Gidding in The Four Quartets by T.S.Eliot

You can buy The Four Quartets (Faber Poetry) by T.S.Eliot from your local bookshops or online from Amazon.

New books

John D. Robinson
Singing Arias – order locally or from Analog Press.

Steve Amos and Bronwen Griffiths
Silverhill Press are delighted to announce the publication of two new works of prose, Bronwen Griffiths‘s Listen With Mother, and Steve Amos‘s Two Sides of an Indie Dad. More information and ordering on our website.
You can also buy these from The Bookkeeper Bookshop 1a Kings Rd, St Leonards

Pete Donohue
Poetry is Feathers – order locally or from Analog Press


Hastings Literary Festival 30 August – 1 September 2019

Lucy Cooke

Lucy Cooke

Sun 1 September 10.00 am St Mary in the Castle The Unexpected Truth about Animals a talk given by tv presenter and zoologist, Lucy Cooke. The talk, based on Lucy’s book of the same name, will be lifting the lid on some familiar animals which – it turns out – we don’t really know at all. The show is suitable for children aged 12 and above.

Tickets for The Unexpected Truth About Animals are available through Hastings LitFest website or from St Mary in the Castle.

Sarfraz Manzoor

Sarfraz Manzoor

Sat 31 August 19.00 – 22.00 at Kino Teatr, St Leonards Blinded by the Light a film about a teenager of Pakistani descent growing up in the 80s and finding comfort in Springsteen’s music. It is based on the autobiographical book by Sarfraz Manzoor who will be there to talk about it.

Tickets for Blinded by the Light with Sarfraz Manzoor are available from Kino Teatr or by clicking the link on the Hastings LitFest site.

See the recent Guardian article Bruce Springsteen changed my life and so did my best friend Amolak

For the full programme for the Hastings Literary Festival, please see: Hastings Litfest Programme

Bookbuster 39 Queens Rd, Hastings
Thurs 15 August 6 – 9 pm £2 entry Sheer Poetry – an open mic poetry night

Printed Matter Bookshop 185 Queens Rd, Hastings TN34 1RG
Mon 19 August 6 pm Planning meet for ‘Spirit of Tressell’ fest.

The Bookkeeper Bookshop 1a Kings Rd, St Leonards
from Carol Dennard – ‘….we sneaked a peek at some of the work that is going on in the ExploretheArch House of Marcelle and,with those pictures in mind, we are thrilled once again to be selling tickets for the performances taking place from the 29th July to the 17th August.

The Literary Shed Writing Circle run by A. Vasudevan
Two-hour weekly writing sessions in safe, creative spaces in Hastings and St Leonards
Tues 6 Aug, 10–12 am (free) at Sea Kale, 29 London Rd, Saint Leonards-on-sea TN37 6AJ
On the second Thursday of each month, there is also a writing critique group in which members share work.
For further information, please email:, subject: WRITE-INS.

Writing Courses from CWP with New Writing South
2 year Creative Writing Course
Advanced Writing Course
Autobiography and Life Writing Course
for details on all courses, please see  Creative Writing Programme in collaboration with New Writing South

See review Word of Mouth – marvellous creative writing courses from CWP and New Writing South

Taster Sessions on Sat 7 September at Sussex Coast College (next to the station)
Autobiography and Life Writing Programme (2-year) 10.30 am – 12.45 £10
Creative Writing Course (2-year taught in Hastings in 2019) and The Advanced Writing Workshops 1.30 pm – 3.45 £10
For further information on the two-year programmes and courses go to

Well, folks, that’s it for this week. For an update on my writing, please see A bleak feeling.

Thanks for reading.

Angela J. Phillip

Browsing in Bookbusters – Paul Way-Rider
Genre image – adapted by Paul Way-Rider
Belonging by Umi Sinha 
Text Acts by Francis Booth – permission from Francis Booth
Online Browsing – adapted by Paul Way-Rider
Images of Lucy Cooke and Sarfraz Manzoor supplied by Hastings Litfest


Posted 09:00 Tuesday, Aug 6, 2019 In: Hastings Bookchat

Also in: Hastings Bookchat

More HOT Stuff

    HOT is run by volunteers but has overheads for hosting and web development. Support HOT!


    Advertise your business or your event on HOT for as little as £20 per month
    Find out more…


    If you like HOT and want to keep it sustainable, please Donate via PayPal, it’s easy!


    Do you want to write, proofread, edit listings or help sell advertising? then contact us

  • Subscribe to HOT