What we’ve read this January……

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie is a twenty-five-year-old Black woman living in south London, straddling Jamaican and British culture whilst slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white, middle-class peers, and to beg to write about Black Lives Matter. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie finds herself seeking comfort in all the wrong places. As she veers from one bad decision to another, she finds herself wondering who she wants to be – the question that every woman today must face. A disarmingly honest, boldly political and truly inclusive tale that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and acceptance and found something very different instead. A real insight into the casual racism that Black people suffer every single day.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

A masterly evocation of connected lives, changing fortunes and human frailties in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfilment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; Dr Lydgate, whose pioneering medical methods, combined with an imprudent marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamond, threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. I found this particularly fascinating in terms of the development of medicine.

Waterland by Graham Swift

in 1943, lock-keeper Henry Crick finds the drowned body of a sixteen-year-old boy. Nearly forty years later, his son Tom, a history teacher, is driven by a marital crisis and the provocation of one of his students to forsake the formal teaching of history to start telling stories. Waterland is a classic of modern fiction: a vision of England seen through its mysterious, amphibious Fen country; a tale of two families, startling in its twists and turns and universal in its reach. Compulsively readable, it mixes human and natural history and explores the tragic forces that take us both forwards and back. Set where we grew up, we loved the ‘landscape as character’ more than anything in this fantastic book.

What is Life? by Paul Nurse

A rare foray into non-fiction for us, and we learnt a lot! Nobel prize-winner Paul Nurse has spent his career revealing how living cells work. In this book, he takes up the challenge of defining life in a way that every reader can understand. It’s a shared journey of discovery, and step by step he illuminates five great ideas that underpin biology. He traces the roots of his own curiosity and knowledge to reveal how science works, both now and in the past. Using his personal experiences, in and out of the lab, he shares with us the challenges, the lucky breaks, and the thrilling eureka moments of discovery. To survive the challenges that face the human race today – from climate change, to pandemics, loss of biodiversity and food security – it is vital that we all understand what life is.

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2020 and AS SEEN ON BBC’S BETWEEN THE COVERS. Meet the Ramdin-Chetan family: forged through loneliness, broken by secrets, saved by love. Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, form an unconventional household. All three keep each other safe from an increasingly dangerous world, until a glass of rum, a heart to heart, and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart. Brave and brilliant, steeped in affection, Love After Love offers hope to anyone who has loved and lost and has yet to find their way back. A captivating insight into life and relationships in modern day Trinidad.

You can order any of these books by emailing or phoning us – or you can order them to be posted to you here: https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/books-on-our-blog

Read all about it!

You can read all about us during lockdown in these great article in the Yorkshire Post:

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/heritage-and-retro/heritage/meet-owner-independent-bookshop-yorkshire-dales-has-bucked-trend-and-become-heart-community-3115050?fbclid=IwAR1zoHg1K2NiUDhxyLsy8joptm7BS0Fq3UWuKIHcr1W74MGJUnrBLGPyTWk

Events in a troubled climate

When Limestone Books opened, we had high hopes of running and supporting bookish events throughout the year. As we all know, Covid has made this impossible for the time being, but always ones to look on the bright side, we thought we’d take a look back at what we did manage to achieve in our first year.

Just before the shop opened, Margaret Atwood’s follow up to the Handmaid’s Tale, ‘The Testaments’ was published. A huge live event in London was beamed across the country and Settle was lucky to have a screening at Victoria Hall. Limestone Books was in attendance, selling copies of the book, and it gave us our first chance to chat to potential customers. We also attended ‘Fleabag’ live at Victoria Hall, and sold limited editions of the play.

Our first true shop event was opening day. Local authors Diane Allen, Julia Chapman and Leah Fleming all came to officially open the shop and sign books. There was a real buzz in the air and their enthusiasm for having a bookshop in the town was infectious.

Next up was local legend John Killick, who launched his book, ‘Onlyness’. In this book John explores the predicament of being an only child, and he gave lively readings, and led a very interesting discussion.

David Johnson gave a lunchtime talk about his book, ‘Time Please!’, which is all about the lost pubs and alehouses of the Yorkshire Dales. The event was well attended by members of the local CAMRA group who all went on to congregate in The Talbot – a very fitting end to the event!

Susan Parry, an analytical chemist and researcher at Imperial College came in to talk about her scientific work and how it informs her crime novels.

Jane Fenwick spoke to customers about her murderous Gothic romance, ‘Never the Twain’, on Christmas lights switch on day, and Sue Vickerman came in during the afternoon to introduce customers to her poetry collection ‘Adventus’.

Heather Dawe, former winner of the 3 Peaks Cyclocross, gave us a talk about her love of running, cycling and climbing in wild and mountainous places. She also gave readings from her books, ‘A Cycling Year’, ‘High Inspiration’ and ‘Waymaking’.

Marion Dunn released a memoir of her journey into the boxing in her fifties. She had a launch event at Victoria Hall with videos, readings and demonstrations and Limestone Books were in attendance to sell copies of the book.

So, all in all, quite an array of events, considering.

We really hope to have events back up and running as soon as we can in 2021. Watch this space!

We are 1 year old – happy birthday to us!!!!

Can you believe we opened our doors a year ago? Neither can we! And what a first year it’s been. We’ve had some amazing highs.

Our very first day, with local authors Diane Allen, Julia Chapman and Leah Fleming, will always be special to us. It was incredible to have their support, and their enthusiasm was infectious. All of the customers we saw on that day were fantastic too, and they seemed to be almost as excited as we were!

The Christmas lights switch on was another special day. We helped hundreds of shoppers find books for friends and family, and the atmosphere in the shop was so festive and fun. We were aided and abetted by local author Jane Fenwick who came in to talk about her Gothic novel ‘Never the Twain’, and local poet Sue Vickerman who introduced customers to her poetry collection ‘Adventus’.

We started our shop book club in January and it’s been going from strength to strength. We’ve read a huge variety of books from the worlds of fact and fiction, and we’re already planning our reading list for 2021.

We also managed to hold a few events – more about these later – before Covid put a stop to them. It was something we’d been keen to do right from the outset, and we hope to be able to reintroduce these as soon as we’re able.

Sadly, like all businesses, we have suffered the huge blow of Covid lockdown. We were devastated when we had to close our doors and things were definitely tough. But thanks to so many supportive customers who continued to order books from us via email and telephone, we managed to keep our head just above the waterline. We were relieved to be able to re-open in the middle of June.

We’re still very happy in our little shop even though things have changed. We love seeing customers, giving book recommendations (whether they’re asked for or not!), but one of our favourite things to do is collude with mischievous friends and partners to source special surprise presents. Whether it be for a birthday or anniversary, we’ve been happy to help.

But Limestone Books wouldn’t exist without the people of Settle and the surrounding area. We feel extremely lucky to have our shop here, and even more so that customers have taken us to their hearts. We hope to be serving you for many years to come. Here’s to the highs of year two.

Spotlight on Poetry

Poet laureate Simon Armitage said in August, “This is a time when poetry seems to be really having its moment, because of the comfort, consolation and form of expression that people have found in poetry over these months.” And we can’t agree more. When many of us are struggling to concentrate on long forms of writing, a poem can be just the spark we need to capture and soothe our hearts and minds.

With National Poetry Day just around the corner, we’ve decided to throw the spotlight on our poetry shelves, to give you an insight into what’s on our shelves right now.

Settle is very lucky to have a thriving poetry community. Settle Sessions Poetry, in normal times, organises readings, workshops and competitions – see http://www.settlesessionspoetry.co.uk/ During lockdown many supporters of the group came together to produce an inspiring collection of poetry, now available in our shop for just £5.

Produced by local poets during lockdown.

Naked Eye Publishing, based in Settle, also produce high quality poetical work – much of it by local authors. See – http://nakedeyepublishing.co.uk/ We currently have work by Sue Vickerman and Jean Stevens in stock, including Jean’s latest publication ‘Nothing But Words’.

Mike Harding – who many of you may know for his folk music, also writes poetry, and on our shelves we have two of his collections, ‘Cosmos Mariner’ and ‘Fishing for Ghosts’.

We also have work by some of poetry’s biggest titans: Simon Armitage, Lemn Sissay, Pam Ayres, Seamus Heaney, Andrew Motion, to name but a few. Why not pop in to see what gems you can find?

And if you’re looking for something to inspire the younger members of your family, we can offer these two gorgeous collections:

Peak Performance: Ingleborough’s Sporting Legacy by Victoria Benn

With more than two centuries of epic feats, tenacious challenges and trail blazing pioneers uncovered for the first time, Peak Performance is the definitive guide to the great sporting legacy of Ingleborough and the Yorkshire Dales’ Three Peaks.

Sponsored by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, this beautiful hardback book by Victoria Benn unveils the complete sporting history of one of the country’s most iconic mountains. More than 200 years of athleticism, perseverance and tenacity are brought to life through personal stories, previously unpublished photographs and several new artworks and illustrations by acclaimed Yorkshire artists, Victoria Alderson and James Innerdale.

Long the stage for the world class Three Peaks Race and 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross, Ingleborough and its sister mountains are already familiar territory to Europe’s most intrepid adventurers and elite sportsmen and women. The history of these two iconic events, along with that of the Yorkshire Dales’ original ultra, the Fellsman, are uncovered in greater depth than ever before, with testimonies from the pioneers who created them and the selfless individuals who paved the way for others to excel, along with some of the extraordinary athletes who have made history on the mountain.

Discover what inspired Fred Bagley, organiser and winner of the very first Three Peaks Race, and find out from trail blazer Kevin Watson what prompted him to cycle the peaks when he was just 14 years old. Enjoy first-hand insights and anecdotes from fell running legend Bill Teasdale MBE, record holder of the Ingleborough Mountain Race from 1952 – 65, along with many more from some of today’s champion athletes including Rob Jebb, Andy Peace, Nicky Spinks and Victoria Wilkinson.

Peak Performance also reveals the history and stories of Ingleton Sports and Clapham Sports, both large scale events once hosted in the Ingleborough landscape and which reeled in the some of the north’s premier sports talent, one such star being future national hunt jockey Brian Fletcher, who rode to two Grand National victories on Red Rum, one of the most famous race horses of all time.

The book also includes comprehensive and entertaining insights into a wide range of traditional Yorkshire Dales’ sporting pursuits, including wrestling, whippet racing, hound trails, sheep dog trials, motor cycle racing and the horse racing events of trotting and the gallops.

A further highlight of the book is the first time ever recorded history of the prestigious Ingleborough Mountain Race – including the publication of all winners since the very first race in 1934.

Peak Performance also contains contributions from top UK athletes Rob Jebb, Victoria Wilkinson and Hannah Horsburgh in addition to stories from the leading lights of earlier decades including Norman Beck, John Bell, Reg Harrison, Roger Ingham, Arthur Lampkin, Bob Whitfield and Chris Wilkinson.

Available at Limestone Books right now for £8.50.

John Phillips, Yorkshire’s forgotten genius by Colin Speakman

Not many people, even in Yorkshire where he was once famous, have heard of John Phillips (1800-1874). Yet when people walk across the limestone crags and summits of Craven and speak of the Craven Fault, or higher up Dales, the Yoredale Series, they are using terminology and concepts he invented.

He was the first person to fully understand and describe the great limestone landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, and his story as a scientist, teacher, writer, artist, and energetic walker, is a fascinating one.

Born in Wiltshire, and orphaned when he was only seven years old, John was the nephew of the great William “Strata” Smith (1769-1839), one of the founders of modern geological science who also prepared the first geological maps of England and Wales. After being imprisoned from bankruptcy when his map publishing enterprise failed, William fled to Yorkshire with his nephew, who was now acting as his apprentice.

In 1822 they arrived in Kirkby Lonsdale where young John began to explore and survey the fells around Ingleborough. A chance meeting with a member of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society in 1824 led to William being invited to give a series of lectures in York, assisted by John. So impressed were the Society by John’s intelligence, that he was asked to stay on to catalogue the Society’s collection of fossils. Within a few years he was taken on as their paid Secretary and first Keeper (curator) of their new Yorkshire Museum.


The next few years saw John pioneering work interpreting the cliffs of the Yorkshire Coast, before returning to the Yorkshire Dales to write a classic guide to the limestone of the Dales. He became the first Secretary of the British Association for the Advancements of Science, a brilliant lecturer, and a palaeontologist of world repute, influencing Darwin, among others, with concepts of Deep Time and classifications of early life still used to this day. He left Yorkshire in 1853 to become Professor of Geology at Oxford University, a remarkable achievement for a penniless orphan who had no academic qualifications when he was appointed.

Before leaving York had had time to write and publish one of the best ever guidebooks to Yorkshire – The Rivers, Mountains and Sea Coast of Yorkshire (1853), and what is almost certainly one of the world’s first ever railway guide books, Excursions from the North
Eastern Railway (1854).

Following his tragic death in 1874, in an accident in an Oxford College, his body was brought back to his spiritual home in York to rest in state in the Museum, with the Great Bell of York Minster tolling the funeral procession through the city streets. He was buried in a modest grave in the city cemetery.


My book John Phillips – Yorkshire’s Traveller Through Time (Gritstone Cooperative 2020) – traces the growth of this genial but gifted personality whose last visit to Yorkshire in 1873 saw him staying in Settle to visit the hugely important excavations made by his students at Victoria Cave. As a scientist, teacher, and writer, and one of the greatest interpreters of the
Yorkshire landscape of all time, he had a profound influence on later generations. Even if we have never heard his name, we still see that landscape through his eyes. His work has led directly to the Yorkshire Dales being understood and recognised as a nationally important landscape – a National Park.

Copies available in Limestone Books for £15.00.

Signed Limited Edition!!!! Sarah Moss – Summerwater

From the acclaimed author of Ghost Wall, Summerwater is a devastating story told over twenty-four hours in the Scottish highlands, and a searing exploration of our capacity for both kinship and cruelty in these divided times. On the longest day of the summer, twelve people sit cooped up with their families in a faded Scottish cabin park. The endless rain leaves them with little to do but watch the other residents.

A woman goes running up the Ben as if fleeing; a retired couple reminisce about neighbours long since moved on; a teenage boy braves the dark waters of the loch in his red kayak. Each person is wrapped in their own cares but increasingly alert to the makeshift community around them. One particular family, a mother and daughter without the right clothes or the right manners, starts to draw the attention of the others.

Tensions rise and all watch on, unaware of the tragedy that lies ahead as night finally falls.

If I could tear myself away from fiction……

I am a fiction addict – there – I’ve said it. I read it voraciously and almost exclusively. I love the look and sound of lots of non-fiction, but I don’t often find the time to squeeze it in before the next novel. If I could find the time – here’s what I would be reading……..

£9.99, paperback. Why do some women still expect men to buy their dinner? What the hell is going on with porn? Comedian Sara Pascoe explores the complex connections between sex, power and money to create a thoughtful and entertaining journey through anatomy and arousal, dating and sex work, animals and technology. In doing so, she makes our most baffling human behaviours less mysterious. ‘An insightful, sensitive study of modern masculinity and sexual economics.’ Observer

£20.00, hardback. Optimism demands action. Optimism is an active choice. Optimism is not naive and it is not impossible. Lily Cole has met with some of the millions of people around the world who are working on solutions to our biggest challenges and are committed to creating a more sustainable and peaceful future for humanity. Exploring issues from fast fashion to fast food and renewable energy to gender equality, and embracing debate, the book features interviews with diverse voices from entrepreneurs Stella McCartney and Elon Musk, to activists Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook and Farhana Yamin, to offer a beacon of possibility in challenging times. Who Cares Wins is a rousing call to action that will leave you feeling hopeful and optimistic that we can make a difference.

£16.99, hardback. For the last three billion years or so, life on Earth was shaped by natural forces. Evolution tended to happen slowly, with species crafted across millennia. Then, a few hundred thousand years ago, along came a bolshie, big-brained, bipedal primate we now call Homo sapiens, and with that, the Earth’s natural history came to an abrupt end. We are now living through the post-natural phase, where humans have become the leading force shaping evolution. This thought-provoking book considers the many ways that we’ve altered the DNA of living things and changed the fate of life on earth. We have carved chihuahuas from wolves and fancy chickens from jungle fowl. Pilcher explores the changing relationship between humans and the natural world, and reveals how, with evidence-based thinking, humans can help life change for the better.

Brand new and on our shelves……

Miss Benson’s Beetle, Rachel Joyce, Hardback, £16.99. It’s 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She’s going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. Enid Pretty is not the companion Margery had in mind. And yet together they will be drawn into an adventure that will exceed every expectation. They’ll risk everything, break all the rules, and at the top of a red mountain, discover their best selves. This is an intoxicating adventure story, but it also explores what it means to be a woman.

A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom, John Boyne, Hardback, £16.99. This is the extraordinary new novel from acclaimed writer John Boyne. Ambitious, far-reaching and mythic, it introduces a group of characters whose lives we will come to know and follow through time and space, until they reach their natural conclusion. It starts with a family, a family which will mutate. For now, it is a father, mother and two sons. One son has his father’s violence in his blood, one lives his mother’s artistry. One leaves. One stays. They’ll be joined by others whose deeds will change their fate. Their stories will intertwine and evolve over the course of two thousand years and they will meet again and again at different times and in different places. From distant Palestine at the dawn of the first millennium to a life amongst the stars in the third. While the world will change around them, their destinies will remain the same. It must play out as foretold.

The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue, Hardback, £16.99. Dublin, 1918. In a country doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, (on the run from the police), and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney. In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over the course of three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. An unforgettable and deeply moving story of love and loss, from the bestselling author of The Wonder and Room.