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5 Books That Changed My Life

Each month, writers, readers, book lovers and bloggers tell us about the books
that had an impact on their lives - and explain why.

MAY 2024


Bert of Bert's Books

Bert lives in Swindon (not far from the shop, but it could be closer) - with all the books that couldn’t fit in the shop. When he’s not reading or causing riots in the streets with his friends, he’s usually playing with lego somewhere.


Book One: Matilda by Roald Dahl


This one perhaps is more representative of ALL the books that were in my local library growing up. We’d go every week on the way to my gran’s, and every week, I’d pull out a load of books that I wanted to read that week. Matilda must have been in that pile every other month. Matilda - and all the other books I’d take out every month - they were the books that set me on my path.


Book Two:  The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegge


We're now at a point in my life where I wasn’t reading much. I’d sort of fallen out of it while at school - BUT I was working at WHSmith, in their Swindon shop. The Time Traveler’s Wife was recommended to me by a customer along with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón I bought all three and loved all three. It got me back into reading as an adult - and reading a kind of book I’d never really read before. 

Book Three:  Tin Man by Sarah Winman


I was sent a proof copy of this when I was working in WHSmith head office. I’d had a bad day and this book turned up - and I knew about it, I’d heard Sarah talk about it before, so I was excited to read a copy.  I got it home and I read it in one sitting. It healed me in a way I didn’t know a book could. It was like a balm for the soul. And I met Sarah again when the book came out and I am just in awe of her. She’s an amazing writer, a wonderful speaker and just a joy to be around. She inspires me all the time.


Book Four: A Little Life Down by Hanya Yanagichara


Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to find A Little Life is next on my list. This was Hanya Yanagihara’s second novel, the first of hers I read and it broke me. It completely broke my heart, moved these four characters in and then rebuilt my heart around them. More so than Tin Man, I just didn’t know a book could do this. This book, these characters, they’re a part of me. I mourn them, I feel like they’re real people.

Book Five:  Where the Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens


My fifth choice is maybe an unexpected one. In March 2020, Bert’s Books turned one year old, it was online only at this point, and the UK was just about to enter its first COVID lockdown. The website was doing ok, it wasn’t making much money, but there were signs it might grow. Then lockdown. Then Clare Mackintosh wanted to support an indie bookseller with her book club. We were one of only a few with a functioning website at this point, so she chose us. And we found so many new customers, sold so many copies of that book in that month. Sales tripled overnight. That was definitely a turning point for the business. Maybe if that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t even be here now. Maybe it could have been any other book at any other time, but it wasn’t, it was that one. It’s the moment I realised Bert’s Books not only could be a success, but that it would be.


Enormous thanks to Bert for his wonderful choices. You can visit Bert's Books HERE.

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