Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Calling bookshops & festivals: Celia Mitchell, actress & Adrian Mitchell's wife, will do events to talk about 'Just Adrian,' Adrian's poetry and politics, and read his poems. If you'd like to chat about this, please contact Celia at

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

our booklist

Hi folks, just a little post to say that we're currently [and have been on the case for a fair while!] cataloguing the majority of our stock online. It is a very very big job, but currently we have nearly 6000 books on ABE, many with pictures.

You can find that list over here:

To search, make sure that you use the 'search within results' box, not the 'advanced search' at the top left of the page, otherwise you'll search through the whole website.

If there's a book you spy and you'd like to come to the shop and look at it, then give us a call on 0208 341 6111 a couple of days before hand. This is because we've got a shop full, two garages and a house, and we can track the book down and make sure it's in the shop for when you get here.

If you'd like photos of books, or to ask if you can pay directly through paypal, drop me an email at If you pay direct, then we can do postage at cost.

We've got things for everyone - track down your favourite childhood book, buy a Christening/birthday present. If you want to buy someone a book that was published the year they were born, give us a call and we'll hunt one down... we've got old children's books, Biggles, film magazines, poetry, drama, history, music, old maps, pamphlets, theatre programmes, moral tales, annuals... & if you want to really splash out we've got a signed Ted Hughes collection, and we've also got two first edition signed Harry Potter books.

So, off you go, browse, and spread the word!

Jen x

Monday, 2 May 2011

a letter from Adrian Mitchell

As I've mentioned before, we are currently sorting through Adrian Mitchell's archive, where there are boxes and boxes of wonderful letters, notes, poems and plays. His wife, Celia, unearthed this letter today, and we wanted to share parts of it with you all. Today in particular, we feel it's extremely relevant.

This is part of a reply to a schoolgirl who had written to Adrian in the late 90s, telling him that the idea of war frightened her.


February 1998.

Thank you so much for writing and sending me your letter. It was a bit like reading a letter from myself fifty years ago (I'm now a cheerful old grandfather of 65, still campaigning for peace, in fact my wife and I are going to a meeting about Iraq tonight at the House of Commons.) Yes.

You've got a great imagination, which is a burden and a blessing... Some people might say - turn your back on all the suffering in the world, for war and starvation and torture and oppression to go on. I think that's wrong...

...But you must be strong. It's not good thinking about the dark side of the planet obsessively or all the time. Your imagination should also delight in the beauty and warmth of the people and creatures around you, the joy and often absurdity of life.... It is important not just to have feelings about the horrors of today, but also to think and study hard to discover - what can be done to change all this? What can I do to change it?

I don't mean that you alone can abolish all the evil in the world magically. But maybe through your songs, or poems, you could change the lives of thousands of people you've never met. Or maybe you'll be a doctor and add to the healing part of the world's population, rather than the destructive side.

I was a child in World War Two. I was really too young to be afraid then, even when the bombs were falling, for I didn't believe that it would ever happen to me. But many times since I have been afraid, for myself and my family, for my country and for the whole world.

But fear isn't the answer. Courage and hard work is the nearest I can find to one...

...I share your fear sometimes that the whole world seems to be in flames. Well, we better learn to be good firefighters and save all the people we can.

Yours, with love


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Cutting it Up

At Downing Street our boss Celia [Adrian Mitchell's wife] read out Adrian's poem 'Cutting it Up' at a protest against goverment cuts. The applause was so great, she didn't even get to finish the poem. Hurray Celia!

We encourage everyone to go to the march on the 26th March.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Alternative World Book Night

If you've missed the controversy that's been buzzing around the interwebs about World Book Night then check out Vanessa's post at State of Independents, or yesterday's BBC Book Cafe [from 30 mins in] on iplayer.

All up to speed? Fab.

We, at Ripping Yarns Bookshop, would just like to say that we thoroughly support Nicola Morgan's idea for an 'Alternative Book Night.' Here, at Ripping Yarns, we're an antiquarian bookshop, and 90% of our stock is out-of-print books. We specialise in saving books from being lost - reuniting people with their favourite childhood stories. We work our socks off and we don't make a profit: we do it because we love it.

And for those books that have just come out, or are currently in print we redirect our customers to places such as The Big Green Bookshop and Muswell Hill's The Children's Bookshop. You cannot beat recommendations and assistance from booksellers who really love what they are doing. You don't get that from Amazon, and as Vanessa said on Twitter:

You don't want to do that kittens, surely?

I used to work at The Edinburgh Bookshop - a fantastic independent bookshop, and Nicola's Alternative World Book Night allows us to celebrate places like this: indie bookshops, and publishers, making sure that everyone gets involved.

So, the premise? This week go and buy a book that you love [preferably from a bookshop or directly from the publisher]. I also recommend Salt Publishing for this! Then, write in the front of the book 'Given in the spirit of World Book Night, but bought from [insert name of bookshop or publisher].' Then, on Saturday 5th March, go out and give this book to anyone - a stranger you meet on the street, on the bus, on the tube. Give it to a friend, give it to a library. The thought behind World Book Night comes from a good place, but we think it could have been executed in a different way. We shouldn't hide the fact that places such as Amazon, and supermarkets are giving a warped view of what a book should be worth: of all the hard work that's put in by the authors, editors, marketing people, designers, booksellers! And giving one million free books is great, a lovely idea, but it does, I feel, block the trouble that's going on in the industry. Prospero's bookshop - a wonderful indie bookshop in Crouch End - closed last month, and I hear so many local people here saying 'oh, it's such a shame; it was such a lovely bookshop.' Yes, it was - but did you buy your books from there? Did you? Or did you browse? And now The Big Green Bookshop is in trouble too.

So, use the World Book Night idea in a way that not only supports reading and publishers but also benefits your indie booksellers who work super hard to get you the books, school visits, author events that you enjoy. So, what are you waiting for? Off you go!


Friday, 11 February 2011

John Hegley Interview

Hi everyone. Well, John Hegley was over at our bookshop on Sunday [as those who came along to the event know!]. For those who missed him, I interviewed him before the author event. We sat down amongst the antiquarian books - John was particularly taken with a book called 'Hannibal the Hamster', which Celia let him keep. And we had a natter over a cup of tea and some cake. Ohm. You can read the transcription of that interview over on my blog by clicking here.

Look at John, casually perusing our stock.

For those in London who weren't able to come but wanted to, John signed a couple of books for us before he left, so we've got some in the bookshop if you want to pop by :)

Happy weekend!

Jen x

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Tea Party with John Hegley

If you're in London next weekend, please do come along to our shop on Sunday 6th February, where the lovely John Hegley will be reading from his new book 'The Adventures of Monsieur Robinet.' The event is at 3:30pm, free, and will be hosted in the estate agents right next door to our bookshop on Archway Road. Bring friends, bring children. Imagine the Mad Hatter's Tea Party with a bit more poetry thrown in.

See you there!