There’s nothing nicer than getting lost in a good book – or spending hours in a lovely bookshop. As June marks the 17th Independent Bookshop Week, Victoria Been celebrates Yorkshire’s brilliant independents and their place in our hearts and communities.

We love our indie bookshops – vibrant, inspiring places staffed with passionate experts. A welcome haven on our high streets, they are full of colour and community and if we are especially lucky, coffee and cake too. With many now hosting special events from story time to author events and even literature festivals, indie bookshops have become so much more than just a place to buy books. Find your local at and see what’s happening during Independent Bookshop Week, running June 17-24. We’ve caught up with a few of our favourite bookshops from around the county to discover their story and see what they have planned for 2023 and beyond.

Great British Life: Sandra Carlon at Books on the Lane. (c) Nicky Rogerson Sandra Carlon at Books on the Lane. (c) Nicky Rogerson

Sandra Carlon, Books on the Lane & Walton Herbs, Walton

‘Books on the Lane resides in a semi-rural area close to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Walton Colliery Nature Reserve. Another interesting nature link in the area is the Waterton Park Hotel which was once Walton Hall, home of Charles Waterton, the famous naturalist who built the UK’s first nature reserve there.

The bookshop actually started out life in 2016 as a fund-raising herb shop, set up in the shed at the bottom of my garden as a means of continuing to raise money for the Yorkshire Live Music Project which I founded in 2009 to provide an annual donation to youth-based music groups or projects in Yorkshire each year. Once the herb shop was established, we found that lots of customers were asking questions about how to grow them or cook with them which swiftly developed into us selling gardening books and cookery books – suddenly we found we had a micro bookshop!

The pandemic obviously impacted our growing and selling season, so we put all the herbs and stock online to save the business – a development which was the beginning of the bookshop as it is today. So now we’ve got the herb nursery where we sow and grow 40-50 different types of herbs throughout the year and the bookshop. The bookshop still has a large gardening section which has developed a large nature writing section − a lovely link to our beginnings and the locality. We’ve also expanded to have a sizeable fiction section as well as nature books for children. We run book signings and talks and in 2022 established our book club, the ‘Rhubarb Crumble and Literary Appreciation Society’ – a name inspired by the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but with a local twist since we are in Yorkshire’s famous Rhubarb Triangle.

Now the business is back to running normally, it’s been great to see an increase in young women coming in and browsing the bookshop. I’m a bit suspicious of best seller lists or our customers are just very discerning because they don’t seem to follow the trends at all! The author, Rachel Joyce is very popular as is Hebden Bridge’s Amy Liptrot, the nature writer. The good news is that we are also still able to peel off a percentage of our profits each year to support different youth music groups.’

Great British Life: Linda Furniss, The Stripey Badger, Grassington. (c) Stripey BadgerLinda Furniss, The Stripey Badger, Grassington. (c) Stripey Badger

Linda Furniss, Stripey Badger Bookshop, Coffee Shop & Kitchen, Grassington

‘After moving back to Yorkshire in 2017 I decided I’d like to open my own bookshop. It was at the time independent bookshops were closing, but then my sister Jacquie offered to come in with me as she’d always wanted to open a tea shop, so that gave us the confidence to start looking for premises that could accommodate us both. The property in Grassington just felt right and was the perfect size for us − and since Wind in the Willows was my favourite book and Badger my favourite character, the name Stripey Badger Bookshop also just felt right! The badger has become a great motif throughout the shop and coffee shop with badgers on our mugs, tote bags and annotating all our genres.

After years of bookshops closing, five new bookshops opened nationwide in 2018 and we were one of them. My son James had just left university, so we set up the bookshop together from the off. James won the James Patterson Young Bookseller Special Achievement Award in 2019 which we are really proud of. Bookselling is now recognised as a valuable profession which is just great for young people − we were delighted to have Lyndsey, a young bookseller and illustrator also join our team in 2021.

We certainly didn’t foresee All Creatures Great and Small arriving in Grassington and the boost all things James Herriot would bring to the business! We are GF Endleby Greengrocers in the series and it’s heart-warming to see our shop name in the show’s credits. On filming days, we generally have Mrs Hall in here buying Brussels sprouts and the Coffee Shop becomes the green room and is full of cast and crew. It’s certainly put Grassington on the map, especially for visitors from the USA. The impact of the pandemic has also brought new visitors to the village – the accessibility and importance of staycations, fresh air and exercise has raised people’s awareness of the beauty and vibrancy of the Dales.

We have become well known for our author events. Our cream tea events in the Coffee Shop on Tuesdays for local and new authors are always a sell out and our bigger events for more well-known authors like Julia Chapman, Dan Jones and Ann Cleeves are held in the village’s Octogen Theatre − we’ve even got Dan Jones returning in October. We’re planning an even more diverse programme of events for 2024.

James and I recognise that to be a small independent bookshop in a small village we do need to offer something niche. James’s passion is science and sci-fi and mine’s historical novels and so we have people from all over the UK getting in contact for our expertise and diverse range of titles. Our bestselling book at the moment is Going to Church in Medieval England by Nicola Thorn, a non-fiction title which sells out constantly! That along with Julia Chapman’s Dales Detectives series of course! We look forward to having a lively time celebrating Independent Bookshop Week, with hopefully a local author or illustrator visiting the shop.’

Great British Life: Amanda Truman, Truman Books, Farsley. (c) Truman Books. Amanda Truman, Truman Books, Farsley. (c) Truman Books.

Amanda Truman, Truman Books, Farsley

‘Truman Books basically started in the pandemic of 2020. I grew up surrounded by books as my mum was an English Literature teacher and owning a bookshop had always been a bit of a dream of mine. Then I went off to work in travel and I loved it. I had just got to the point where getting off a flight every week was becoming a bit draining, when suddenly in April 2020 I was made redundant, and I couldn’t even leave my own postcode. Like so many people I stepped back and looked at my life and the bookshop idea popped back up, so I started researching how to start one. At first, I was thinking of setting one up in London where I was living at that time, but everything was too expensive, then my friend from Farsley suggested selling my London house and pursuing my dream in Farsley − and the economics worked!

When I came up to research, I walked down Farsley High Street and just loved that all the shops are independent. There’s also a lot of creatives including the development of Sunny Bank Mills. When I saw the vacant premises, a former haberdasher, they just looked like they were made to be a bookshop. There’d already been a lot of interest in them, but the owner is a book lover and really liked the idea of it being a bookshop. So, we opened in June 2021.

The first three months were quite a big learning curve as publishing is a complicated industry. I hired Steve who’d worked in book selling for years as deputy manager and so picked his brains quite considerably. Once things were running smoothly, we started hosting events – our strapline is ‘Books and Conversation; Coffee and Cake’. That’s really important to me; people having somewhere to talk about books. My events aim to reunite readers with writers and so we’ve had crime authors such as Julia Chapman and Jonathan Hall here. We also invited Kate Pankhurst – a local author and illustrator and creator of the Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World series – to run an illustration workshop for children. We also run 30 minutes of stories and songs twice a week for Under 5s. I wanted the shop to be a welcoming space for people to come and not feel pressured into spending money and Story Time is very much part of that. We’ve also Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Rivers of London series of novels confirmed for June 22.

All our events go down well and create a real buzz in the town, so we decided to organise a literature festival with 2022 inaugurating the first Farsley Literature Festival! We hosted more than 30 events with 50 authors and publishers for more than 2000 people. The local library got involved too, hosting some children’s events along with a microbrewery and a local gallery which held illustration workshops. It was so much work but also so much fun! We didn’t know if there was an appetite for it, but there is, so we are working out what we can do to make Farsley Literature 2023 − starting in October half term − bigger and better.

We carry a bit of everything in the shop. I like to showcase different voices so we have a lot of books by Black and Asian writers and independent publishers. We also have a lot of feminist and LGBTQ+ literature − these are the things I’m passionate about. There’s 5000 books on our shelves and I’ve picked every one of them. I hope that we’re known as a welcoming space for people that are passionate about books and somewhere that makes our community better.’


Great British Life: Book Corner, Pie Hall, Halifax. (c) Book Corner Book Corner, Pie Hall, Halifax. (c) Book Corner

Grove Bookshop, Ilkley

Like many bookshops, we've had an amazing time over the last year or so, and we've had great sales of fiction, crime and children's books as well as local titles. One of the big trends recently has been for relatively light, upbeat fiction with strong resolutions and happy endings, but we are seeing a resurgence of more serious, thought-provoking novels like Claire Keegan's brief but moving Small Things Like These. Our number one bestseller has been Still Life by Sarah Winman, a warm and considered account of friendship across the decades, something to renew people's faith in humanity.

The Corner Bookshop, The Piece Hall, Halifax

At the Book Corner we love supporting independent publishers and local authors and illustrators. Our bestselling book ever is The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers. We sell lots of fiction-in-translation, music books, and since we're Halifax-based, we sell huge amounts of books about Anne Lister, especially during her birthday week celebrations. We are just as dedicated to children's books stocking beautiful picture books about nature, animals and the planet, plus a wide range of middle-grade fiction including local authors such as Phil Earle and Liz Flanagan and trendy YA titles we can barely keep on the shelves.

The Whitby Bookshop, Whitby

We are a small, family-owned bookshop, established in 1985 housed in a 18th Century building on Church Street on Whitby’s historic East side. As well as the newest titles, we offer beautiful editions of all the favourite classics, including an entire shelf of Bram Stoker’s Dracula which includes around 20 different editions. It’s always popular in Whitby, as Dracula was written here and along with the Abbey, has inspired the town’s popular Goth festivals.

Limestone Books, Settle

At Limestone Books we love all kinds of fiction, and lots of our customers love our selection of nature writing and outdoor adventure books. During Independent Bookshop Week we usually have author book signings, the Dales Detective 'pop-up bookshop' and we like to shine a spotlight on some of the fantastic independent publishers out there. Add to that some special offers and our usual great book recommendations and you have our Independent Bookshop Week in a nutshell!

The Wonky Tree Bookshop, Leyburn

We are a friendly and welcoming shop on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales stocking a broad range of titles for adults and children and a small range of cards and gifts. General fiction and crime writing are always popular, but we also sell an eclectic mix of other genres of books to our wide range of lovely customers. This year, our first Independent Bookshop Week coincides with the inaugural Leyburn Community Arts Festival which is exciting − so we hope to have local author signings, free goody bags for children with any purchase, story-times, competitions and maybe even cake!

The Blue House Bookshop, York

The Blue House Bookshop is steeped in history, with a back wall dating to 1260 as the boundary for St Mary’s Abbey, originally built by William the Conqueror and the shop itself added in Tudor times. We’re a unique children’s bookshop in the city, with black beams and white bookcases setting off the bright colours of the books that bring the shop to life in the 21st century. We have two floors of books to suit each and every age, offer a bespoke service to customers and curate books for local schools. We stock some adult books too.

Great British Life: White Rose Book Cafe, Thirsk. (c) Nicky RogersonWhite Rose Book Cafe, Thirsk. (c) Nicky Rogerson

Read Yorkshire – some of our favourite indie book shops

Book Corner, Saltburn,

Brighouse Books. Brighouse Brighouse Books Bookshop UK

Castlegate Books, Knaresborough,

Chapter One Loftus'

Darling Read. Horbury

Fox Lane Books, Thorp Willoughby,

Guisborough Bookshop Ltd, Guisborough,

Imagined Things, Harrogate,

Kemps General Store & Kemps Books, Malton,

Pickering Book Tree, Pickering,

Read. Holmfirth,

Reading Roots Bookshop, Wetherby,

Rhyme & Reason, Sheffield,

Salts Mill Bookshop, Saltaire,

The Beverley Bookshop,

The Book Case, Hebden Bridge,

The Book Vault, Barnsley,

The Bookish Type Limited. Leeds,

The Bookshop on the Square, Otley,

The Helmsley Bookshop,

The Little Apple Bookshop, York,

The Little Bookshop, Chapel Allerton,

The Little Ripon Bookshop Ltd, Ripon,

Through The Wardrobe Books, Mirfield,

Wave of Nostalgia, Haworth,

White Rose Book Café, Thirsk,