Travel by Book – Discover France

According to St. Augustine, ‘the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page’.  Heffers are happy to help you become well-travelled AND well read with our ‘Travel by Book’ recommendations of the best books to read when visiting different countries.  We’re also offering money off selected Lonely Planet guide books starting Wednesday 11th July.

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Three secrets. Two women. One Grail … A spellbinding novel of destiny and betrayal.

When Dr Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons during an archaeological dig in southern France, she unearths a link with a horrific and brutal past. But it’s not just the sight of the shattered bones that makes her uneasy; there’s an overwhelming sense of evil in the tomb that Alice finds hard to shake off, even in the bright French sunshine.  Skilfully blending the lives of two women divided by centuries but united by a common destiny, LABYRINTH is a powerful story steeped in the atmosphere and history of southern France.

Suite Française by Irene Nemirovsky

Set during a year that begins with France’s fall to the Nazis in June 1940 and ending with Germany turning its attention to Russia, this book falls into two parts. It depicts a group of Parisians as they flee the Nazi invasion; and follows the inhabitants of a rural community under occupation who find themselves thrown together in unexpected ways.

The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas

Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg is not like other policemen. When strange blue chalk circles start appearing overnight on the pavements of Paris, the press take up the story with amusement and psychiatrists trot out their theories. Adamsberg is alone in thinking this is not a game and far from amusing.

The Magnificent Meaulnes by Henri Alain-Fournier

When Augustin Meaulnes arrives in Francois’ home, he changes everything. Life in the little town where they both go to school suddenly becomes far more adventurous and exciting. On one of his escapades, Meaulnes gets lost in the countryside finds himself at an extraordinary party where he meets the girl of his dreams.From this point on he is haunted by her memory and devotes his life, with Francois’ willing help, to finding her again


Leave a comment

Filed under Review

Travel by Book – Discover Italy

I was inspired by the ‘Literary Transport’ range of mugs and notebooks from Bloomsbury (available at Heffers!) and started thinking about books that can transport you to the other side of the world. Perfect books to pop in your suitcase or to brighten up a rainy British summer!

ImageRatking by Michael Dibdin

ISBN 9780571271573
Paperback, £7.99

From the depths of a mundane desk job in Rome, Police Commissioner Aurelio Zen is unexpectedly transferred to Perugia to take over an explosive kidnapping case involving one of Italy’s most powerful families…


Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster
ISBN 9780141441450
Paperback, £8.99

On travelling to Italy with her friend Caroline Abbott, the impulsive English widow Lilia Herriton outrages her dead husband’s family by meeting and quickly becoming engaged to a dashing but deeply unsuitable Italian man twelve years her junior…

ImageThe Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri
ISBN 9780143120926

Paperback, £9.50

A chance encounter with a strange young woman leads Inspector Montalbano to Vigata harbour and into a puzzling new mystery. The crew of a mysterious yacht – the Vanna – due to dock in the area have discovered a corpse floating in the water, the dead man’s face badly disfigured. It isn’t long before Montalbano begins to become suspicious of the Vanna’s inhabitants. Who is the yacht’s owner, the glamorous and short-tempered Livia Giovannini?

ImageThe Anonymous Venetian by Donna Leon

ISBN 9781447201632
Paperback, £7.99

Commissario Brunetti’s hopes of a refreshing family holiday in the mountains are once again dashed when a gruesome discovery is made in Marghera – a body so badly beaten the face is unrecognizable. Brunetti searches Venice for someone who can identify the dead man. But he is met with a wall of silence. Then he receives a telephone call from a contact who promises some tantalizing information. And before the night is out Brunetti is confronting yet another appalling and apparently senseless death …

Which books would take you to Italy (or which books would you take to Italy!) Where would you like to be transported to next?

Leave a comment

Filed under Review

The Darker Side of Film

The first episode of Dominic Sandbrooks new documentary series on the 1970’s reminded me of two things. Firstly, that I am knocking on; I waImages 14 in 1970. Secondly, the power cuts in 1972 of between six and nine hours a day deprived me of two more very important things: ‘Saturday Morning Pictures’ would be cancelled and there would be no films on telly in the afternoon.

Current cinema passed me by, Bond films, ‘Zulu’, Battle of Britain’ went unwatched. I wanted black and white. I wanted melodramas played out in shadow filled rooms. In short I wanted Film Noir, B-movies and all they entailed.

To my delight a bunch of books have just been published which explore these and some more dark corners of cinema. To begin with, my earliest cinematic revelation, film noir.
‘Film Noir – The Directors’ Edited by Alain Silver and James Ursini
ISBN 9780879103941 paperback £20.99
This is Film Noir heaven! Essays taken from the Film Noir Reader series collected into one handsome volume examine the work of over 20 Noir directors from the well known. such as Edward Dmytryk, to the less well known, such as Edgar G. Ulmer, director of ‘Detour’, where Noir surely found it’s purest, darkest form. The essays are lively and informative and the hundreds of stills illustrate rather than simply adorn. Perfect for a rainy afternoon!

‘Out of the Shadows: Expanding the Canon of Classic Film Noir’ by Gene D. PhilIips ISBN  Hardback £21.99
Judging by the way this flies off the shelf as soon as it comes back into stock I am not alone in falling for it. Phillips nimbly suggests that the film noir canon be widened and include films made decades after the accepted period ended and include such as ‘Chinatown’, ‘Hammett’ and ‘The Talented Mr Ripley.’ In doing so he breaks the accepted film noir boundaries of morally compromised heroes deluded by femmes fatale in deep shadow. His approach is fresh and argument inducing. I can hear the question already. ‘Does it matter? No, not really, but it is fun to argue about with a fellow film geek over a pint and I am perfectly happy with that.
‘Battle of the B’s: 1950s Hollywood and the Rebirth of Low-Budget Cinema’ by Blair Davis ISBN 9780813552538 Paperback £22.50
Published by the respected Rutgers University Press I was looking forward to reading this chapter by chapter in my lunch hour (booksellers perk!) but somebody bought it before I could finish it! OK, that’s good from a commercial point of view, but I haven’t finished it yet!

B-movies were released into the wild in 1948 by a US Supreme Court judgement which forbade studios from owning cinema chains and therefore controlling content. Cinemas, especially drive-ins, still needed B-Movies. And Lo! A genre is born. Bandwagon jumping produced such low budget gems such as ‘Drag-Strip Girl’ , ‘I Was a Teenage Werewolf’ and the ‘Bowery Boys’ series. I look forward to the remaining chapters…

All these titles are available at Heffer’s, Trinity Street, Cambridge.

Contact 01223 463 200 or,uk

Leave a comment

Filed under Review

Jarvis Cocker Reads his Song Lyrics

The sun rose from behind the gasometers at 6.30 am., crept through the gap in your curtains and caressed your bare feet poking from beneath the floral sheets.

(Sheffield:Sex City)

Wednesday 22nd Feb 7.00pm -8.00pm

Venue: Lady Mitchell Hall, West Road, Cambridge

Join us for an evening with Jarvis Cocker who is widely regarded as one of the most original and memorable lyricists and performers of the last three decades.

This event is FREE and does not require a ticket.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events

Enemies of Rome: Balloon Debate

Thursday 8th March at 6.30pm

Celebrate the world of Ancient Rome with us: immerse yourself in all things classical, and enjoy our Classics Balloon Debate on The Enemies of Rome: In case you’ve not come across the concept before, a balloon debate involves a panel of speakers who are all speaking in the guise of a famous figure from History with the aim of justifying why they should not be thrown out of the hot-air balloon which is rapidly falling to Earth and needs to lose some excess weight quickly!

Participants include:

Mary Beard as Boudicca

Paul Cartledge as Cleopatra

Christopher Kelly as St. Augustine

Michael Squire as Spartacus

Natalie Haynes as Hannibal

Tickets are £2 which is redeemable against any purchase on the evening and are available from the payment desk on the ground floor or by phoning 01223 463200 or by emailing

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Oak: New books for a New Year

An array of staff-picked treats on The Oak this week….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Oak

Instructions to the Young Bookseller

Instructions to the Young Bookseller“Equip yourselves for the greatest of all adventures – for this is what bookselling really is.”

Instructions to the Young Bookseller is the transcript of a fascinating, amusing and somewhat poignant address to apprentice booksellers in London, 1933, by Ernest Heffer, Chairman of the World famous Cambridge Bookshop.

Ernest’s TOP TIPS:
1. Learn to dust and learn to do it properly – Dust, like Newton’s apple, is subject to the laws of gravity, and if you just disperse it into the air, remember that it has to come down again, if not upon your particular lot of books, then upon those under the care of your fellow apprentices.
2. The assistant who is habitually three minutes late is a three-minutes-below-par man
3. The all-inspiring charm of  bookshop when there are customers about is that there is always something to listen to. Let me advise you then learn to listen, and gradually you will find that you listen to learn.
4. If you are asked for a book, the title of which you have never heard of, don’t conclude you haven’t got it, and say so; and, above all, don’t try to bluff and talk through your hat: for in all probability your customer knows forty times more about the subject than you do, and although he may not call you a fool to your face, he may think it, and he will say it to someone; and not only you, but your shop, will suffer in reputation.

Instructions to the Young Bookseller (978 0900891960 RRP £5.95) is available to buy from Heffers by calling 01223 463200 or visiting


For those who prefer the Bernard Black method of bookselling I leave you with this scene demonstrating how not to do it;

Bernard: [speaking through a megaphone] Right, the shop is closed, everybody get out! Time to go home, come on!
Old Woman: But it’s only quarter to three!
Bernard: Yes, but it’s my shop.
[now shooing them out with a broom]
Bernard: Come on, go home, bye bye, get out…
Old Woman: That’s hardly fair!
Bernard: It isn’t fair at all. Get out!
Rich Guy: I expect better service!
Bernard: Well, expect away. Goodbye! Come on, all you time-wasting bastards, back on the streets. Thank you! [slams door]


Leave a comment

December 28, 2011 · 2:29 pm