The picture alongside may appear one of familial serenity, but if a sound clip were available, you’d have the opportunity to hear me boring my long-suffering family to death about my dream of opening my own bookshop. My gang of three held my hands in such an unflinching way that I had no choice but to bring the project to fruition. Having enjoyed twelve breakfast meetings with my (then) five year-old twin daughters to process their suggestions (instructions?) as to how we should run Saturday morning storytime in the still to be built Book Lounge, I couldn’t possibly ever turn around and tell them that it was a nice idea, but I was now running scared. Most embarrassing moment: a couple of weeks after the Book Lounge opened it’s doors on 1 December 2007, being caught by my wife singing “I’m Having The Time of My Life” in the shower. Second most embarrassing moment: weekly repeats of the first most embarrassing moment. And that’s down to the support of my family, the joy of working with my insanely committed colleagues (some of whom expose themselves on this page, others of whom have intelligently refrained from a public association with this crazy project) and the fantastic response we’ve enjoyed from the readers, writers and publishers who enrich our lives every day.
If you believe Valley of the Dolls is a must read, continue on. Vivacious Children’s Bookseller with an obsession for sewing felt birds onto dresses and making tasty chicken pies, searching for her Knight in Shining Armour. Not so much interested in his white horse, more in his bookshelf. Must own books by Margaret Atwood (poetry), Douglas Coupland, Meg Rossoff, Jackie Kay (short stories or audio), Miranda July, Richard Yates, Marcus Sedgewick and that one by Stephen Chbosky to allow her bookshelves to merge with his successfully. Promises to leave him only for Shaun Tan or Pablo Neruda. Candidates can apply in illustrated verse or show devotion by sending a photograph of them destroying Barbara Cartland or Dan Brown (the books, not the person).
Known variously as Johan, Johan, and sometimes – but not always – as Johan, Johan spent far longer at university than he should have before finally coming to rest on the featherbed mattress of the book trade. His chief loves being music (of the indiepop and frequently frighteningly twee variety) and books (especially a perhaps unhealthy attachment to the works of Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut) he has turned his dilettantish hand to a number of hobbies in days gone by, including DJ’ing for fun, and writing regularly for the website friendsoftheheroes.co.uk. Alas, his main interests now include badgering people with his love of literature, drinking far too much coffee, financially supporting the Marlboro brand through these troubled times, and a surprising devotion to team sports. He is also somewhat pink by inclination in both wardrobe and politics, and thinks the Diggers were the bee’s knees. If he could be anything he wanted, it would be a Belle & Sebastian song. And that’s already rather more than you probably wanted to know.
Megan started her career in the booktrade very early when, due to nepotism and intrigue, she became stapler-in-chief at Penguin during her school holidays. After many more years as a reluctant student (during which she ignored Economics in favour of F Scott Fitzgerald), she was free to pursue a career in bookselling, working her way through many of the bookshops in her native London, as well as enjoying a very jolly stint as a publicist. Her devotion to both Evelyn Waugh and Winnie the Pooh is total, and she is wistfully waiting for Lawrence Norfolk and Charles Palliser to produce beautiful new novels. She has a strange attachment to all things Russian (except the politics) and to Footballer’s Wives (the show, not the people!). Can often be found smindering around Kirstenbosch with her daughter, Molly.
A scelerate being discovered behind a dumpster in Calcutta; as a toddler he led an army of field mice in a bloody revolt against soaring dairy prices. He was Bruce Springsteen for a few years but died aged 27, only to be reborn three days later – with a hangover. He keeps a roussette for a pet and is the inventor of the moon. He also holds degrees in Publishing, English and Creative Writing, spends his days at the Book Lounge and his nights looking for intelligent life and aspires to one day retire to a quiet life of hippophagy.