Published on July 11, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour


Do you take Bookings?

A branch of Oxfam has received an average one copy a week of The Da Vinci Code ever since its staff can remember. In fact, they have so many, its manager has made a tower of them with a note attached that they’d rather have vinyl donated – because it sells well and makes money for the charity.

It might be no surprise that, with 80 million books sold making it the second-most popular book of modern times, The Da Vinci Code turns up in large numbers. Oddly, however, crime writer Ian Rankin is reckoned to be the third-most donated author while also being the best-selling charity shop writer.

So we decided to take a look – not at charity shops, but at pub shelves where a commendable “bring one, borrow one” scheme exists. Can you work out from the photos and descriptions where our bookworm has been?

1 – Here we have a shelf with probably the oddest selection of books we’ve seen. It’s cerebral and perhaps a bit left-wing with a literary thrust and a penchant for food and travel (Anthony Bourdain) and anarchic comedy (Alexei Sayle). Is this a haven for those of a more eccentric nature?

2 – A clue: This isn’t a traditional pub but functions as one. There are a lot of “charity shop” style donations (Michael Chrichton, PD James) and also several aimed at children (Milly Molly Mandy) and political investigations in the guise of Fast Food Nation.

A complete mix which its custom probably is.

3 – Aha, there’s Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code – alongside an indulgence of Thomas Hardy plus Balzac and Bronte which suggests a literary bent. At the other end of the spectrum are titles you’d normally find in the remaindered section of bookshops. A wide customer base, we’d say. with a touch of brainbox.

4 – This pub isn’t a particularly sporty venue, regardless of the biographies and autobiographies (note only one of 11 isn’t football related). A psychologist might point to a tidy mind – with a touch of obsessive-compulsive if we’re being cruel, as the shelf on the opposite side is more “charity shop” in its collection of unloved titles.

5 – This could be another obsessive-compulsive, but also a real foodie pub. We think the latter, simply because there are books here that only a huge food enthusiast would hoard and display. Interesting to note that some look hardly touched, while others – Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller – are well thumbed.


1 The Tannery, Hexham. 2 Tyne Bank Brewery, Newcastle. 3 The New Bridge, Newcastle. 4 Left Luggage Room, Monkseaton Station. 5 The Feathers Inn, Hedley-on-the-Hill, Northumberland.

About the Author

Alastair Gilmour

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