It was about time we asked Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh some questions as our Bookshop of the Month!
Earlier this year they were crowned the 2019 Independent Bookshop of the Year, and rightly so, for they stand out in more ways than one! They champion literature in all its forms with their wonderfully curated range of books, with a special place on their shelves for works of translated fiction, work by women and diverse childrens books AND they have created the most beautifully warm space, open for people to potter about, listen to an author reading, get a new recommendation or just to have a bookish natter with the booksellers!
We caught up with the lovely Julie Danskin, to find out more about her favourite reads, bookselling, and to find out more about what Golden Hare is upto next!
Q: What do you think is special about Golden Hare Books?
A: All independent bookshops are special because they’re so different from one another and say so much about the team behind it and the community it serves. I like to think Golden Hare gives everyone a great experience: a warm welcome, booky chat (if you want to), a small but broad and slightly unusual choice of books to choose from, chilled tunes and a real sense you’ve treated yourself. That’s what I want when I go into a bookshop. We also do a lot of extra things, like run lots of events, a podcast, a subscription box, a membership scheme and as of this year a book festival. Everything revolves around bookselling and customers but I think it’s really important a bookshop is more than its four walls, both for strengthening community ties and business.
Q: If money was no object, what changes would you make to your bookshop?
A:I’d make it wheelchair-accessible, that really plays on my conscience as there are four steps up to the entrance and no way around it. Beyond that I’d maybe stretch the rooms a wee bit so we could have a bigger event space, but not too much. I like that the shop is small. If money is really no object, we’d maybe pick the shop up and put it down somewhere not above a pub, because football cheering coming up through the floorboards is quite a weird vibe during spoken word.
Q: How / why did you get into bookselling?
A: Completely by accident, like most of us I think. When I was doing a Masters in Scottish History at Dundee University I did a (very underpaid) internship at a small academic press there, which on the same floor as the events team. I ran bookstalls and a few launches through that job so had that under my belt. Then a few years (and one abandoned PhD) later I was desperate for a job and had just started at an EE phone shop feeling thoroughly depressed and I got an interview for an indie bookshop/cafe. I worked there for a year or so then Waterstones for another year – bookselling was the stopgap between the next thing, never meant to be a career. Then the manager job at Golden Hare came up, and three years on, I still can’t believe I got it. It’s my dream job and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Q: What’s the funniest thing you ever heard anyone say in the shop?
A: ‘I’ll get it cheaper off Am*zon.’ Hahahahahahahahahahaha.
Q: What’s your favourite And Other Stories book?
A: I absolutely love Swimming Home by Deborah Levy, which I read in my first indie bookshop job when you still did the old covers! Bret Easton Ellis and Other Dogs by Lina Wolff is also brilliant. But I just read Love by Hanne Orstavik on holiday about two weeks ago and I absolutely adored it – I can’t get it out of my head. That has the potential to be my favourite when it’s finished percolating.
Q: What book published in the last year do our readers need to get their hands on?
A: There are so many I’ve loved this year, but it has to be The Wind That Lays Waste by Selva Almada, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews. It’s set over a single day in Argentina, and follows four people: a reverend and his teenage daughter travelling by whose car has broken down and the mechanic and his son. It’s a very quiet novel and you can just feel the heat of the day and the sparseness of the landscape among all these heightened tensions and religious/philosophical posturing. Three of us at Golden Hare have read and loved it. And it’s from Charco Press, our local independent publisher in translation!
Q: What would be your desert island book?
A: Middlemarch. I can’t imagine I would ever read it enough times and get fed up, or without discovering something new.
Q: What exciting things have you got coming up, that our readers should look out for?
A: This month it’s our first ever Golden Hare Books Festival! This has been nearly a year in the planning and we’re so excited. I hope people come! We have an event with your author Yuri Herrera*, who’s beaming in from New Orleans and talking with Laia Jufresa. Can’t wait! We’ll also be doing lots of fun things at Christmas time but I can’t talk about that yet. We won’t be resting on our laurels any time soon.
*There are still tickets available for Yuri Herrera’s event on the 16th October!