The Book Barge: Part II

Over a year ago, I wrote a post in support of a touring book barge. I wished I’d been in England at the time so I could go aboard, tell the owner how much I admired her tenacity and dedication to books as objects deserving of retail space. Curious to see how the Barge was doing, I popped onto their website this morning and was at first sad and then encouraged to see what was happening. It seems they’ve struggled to stay afloat, like any bookstore. It seems Sarah, the owner, had to spend several months living off her books, literally, trading books for food and other life essentials. But she refused to give up. She’s now living off books in another way, penning a narrative about her adventure and the books from her life that inspired her to become a traveling bookseller in one of the possibly worse times in history for independent booksellers. After paying homage to a particular book, she then sells it on the barge. It’s really quite insightful and funny. For example, chapter four (which I started reading first of all, not realizing I’d missed three chapters, though it didn’t matter one bit), is titled “Fifty Shades of Grey” and is dedicated to the worst of the horrible lot of visitors she’s had to endure, who threatened to destroy her optimism for independent bookstores more than any other hardship, it seems. She fittingly describes them as “menaces to society.” It’s a chapter dedicated to these people, with some hilarious true-story examples. If she actually carries this book on her Barge (which I imagines she must), she’s carrying it solely for these idiots.

Anywho, she’s writing this book and asking supporters to make donations if they enjoy the writing and agree with the cause. I would have donated right away before reading the first word of her book, simply because I’m doomed always to support the underdog (don’t hire me as your investment banker). But I didn’t notice that little yellow “donate” button at first and was instead drawn into Sarah’s prose, which, frankly, is wonderful. It’s captivating the way truly great books are, and honest. ¬†Actually, it’s heart-wrenching how honest and unreservedly vulnerable Sarah has made herself for this impossible project.

Basically, I’m supporting Sarah because I’m doomed always to support lost causes. I’m supporting her too, because I want to read more of what this girl will write in the future. I’d love for you to consider doing the same.

(And if you’re in London, you should stop in for a visit at The Book Barge, and then tell me about it and make me seriously green with envy.)

(Photos from,, and Alex in Leeds)

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