A Literary Geek’s Guide to Nottingham

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Nottingham. A university town just shy of 300,000 inhabitants was flashily labelled a UNESCO City of Literature in 2015. With only nineteen cities around the world such as Edinburgh and Dunedin that could claim the same, there is nothing quite like knowing you’re probably tracing the steps of your favourite writers through the autumn leaves (or at least that’s what they told me at that one heritage trail walk I attended). With so much to discover and time never our friend, here are picks of what we feel best captured the rebel city and what it has to offer, especially if you have a knack for the written word.

 

Fan Club

Almost always at Rough Trade 5 Broad St, NG1 3AJ

 

fanclub nottingham

Image source: Fan Club Facebook page

 

Think of how feminism as of late is practised and perceived. Usually subscribing to rather critical and (let’s be real) sometimes borderline SJW rhetoric, Fan Club instead chooses to redefine female empowerment as a celebration in its own fun loving, pastel-ridden accord. It is reflected in their monthly get-togethers at Rough Trade Records painting Broad Street with Reclaim the Dancefloor nights (a spin-off of the nationwide Reclaim the Night protests , glitter parties and always plenty of Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Salt-N-Pepa, Sleater-Kinney and Missy Elliot tunes to jive to. With the right dose of light-hearted hedonism which continues in their self-published zines, Fan Club’s aim is clear cut – “Women doing awesome things is what we love and we want to share that with everyone.” They’ve put out plenty of creative material under themes like Body Positivity and Galentine’s Day that remind us at the end of the day that feminism can and should be liberating and fun after all! You can check out more about their cause and zines here and keep a look out for their next events too on their Facebook page here.

Check out Fan Club’s zine issue #9 on ‘Body Positivity’ here.

A comic by Fan Club in conjunction with International Women's Day

A comic by Fan Club to celebrate International Women’s Day

Image source: Fan Club Facebook page

 

 

Five Leaves Publishing & Bookshop

14a Long Row, NG1 2DH

 

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Image source: Five Leaves Bookshop

 

Nestled in Nottingham’s city centre alleyways right behind the blue-lit words ‘PRIMARK’ (one of the nation’s biggest clothing retail outlet that is every student’s go to place to cop cheap clothes), the Five Leaves bookstore can be missed. Opening their 14a Long Row branch in 2013, they rightfully claim “our roots are radical and literary” having been an independent publishing house since 1996, with around 200 titles on their backlist. Although specializing in fiction, poetry, social history and Jewish secular culture by primarily East Midlands writers, Five Leaves never limits itself. In collaboration with Exiled Writers Ink, they are the first publishers in the nation of creative fiction by modern refugees writing in Yiddish and Arabic alongside English. Not to mention Five Leaves is heavily invested in the local community, working with groups like the Quakers, Nottingham Irish Studies Group, Nottingham Women’s History and trade unions. It comes as no surprise that the bookstore reminds us of an 18th century enlightenment salon brimming with people not only at weekly events but also right after the results of Brexit and the American Presidential election were announced. Verso Publishers described the phenomenon stating “Five Leaves found themselves providing an open therapy group for the forlorn (as they were themselves). They printed up some badges – Don’t Blame Me, I Voted Labour/Green/I’m an Anarchist, as well as a set carrying the Joe Hill slogan, Don’t Mourn, Organise…”

 

A literary session in progress at Five Leaves

A literary session in progress at Five Leaves

Image source: Five Leaves Bookshop

 

With extensive titles that you can check out and purchase here, Five Leaves continues to redefine independent thought, writing and publishing as all-inclusive and community-based, doing what they believe is an important step towards change for a better world. To set you on your path, we recommend the 3 pounds Have You Read These Seven Nottingham Writers?

 

 

Jermy & Westerman

203 Mansfield Rd, NG1 3FS

 

Jermy and westerman1

Image source: Jermy and Westerman

 

You just gotta love second hand bookshops – the arid air with stacks upon stacks of books that spill all over the floor and staircases, their pages slightly brown inside plain coloured hardcovers in faded gold lettering. It is almost a treasure hunt knowing there is surely gold to be found as you browse. Let’s not forget the fact that the books are horribly reasonably priced. Long established by father-and-son duo Geoff and Richard Blore since 1987, it is the last of its kind in Nottingham. They even operate with an antique cash register! You don’t just come here to get any standard copy of George Orwell’s 1984 because your search might just lead you to find the 1949 first print version of it or one that is accompanied with messages to loved ones written in the first few pages. They sell all sorts of titles from fiction, poetry, history, travel writing, to even maps. A trip every week wouldn’t be the same with individual titles – never in bulk – constantly moving in and out of the store. Jermy and Westerman is literally a maze that celebrates the past. Check them out here and for Facebook updates here.

 

Jermy and westerman

Image source: Jermy and Westerman

 

Featured image source: Yell

 

By Yvonne Tan

 

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