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Local bookshop goes from strength to strength

Sheila Armstrong

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HIgh PeakbookshopWhitehoughbookLyndsay NodenSue Taylor

Lyndsay Noden and Sue Taylor

IT  seems more than fitting that the plot of a novel should have provided the inspiration for two  literature lovers from Whitehough, to set up their own bookshop. 

The book which sent the lives of Lyndsay Noden and Sue Taylor off in a new direction, was 'The Education of Harriet Hatfield." by May Sarton. Sue explained: "It's about a woman who is widowed after 30 years and who decides to open a bookshop in a blue-collar neighbourhood of Boston.  She was subjected to pressure from local people but stuck it out and the shop eventually became the hub of the area. " She added: "I had just given up my job as a painter and decorator and was not enjoying retirement so it was like an epiphany and I thought why don't we do that?!"

Stephen Booth

Once the seed had been planted things moved very quickly and within the space of just two months, the couple had found premises in Chapel which they decorated and stocked with books and 'Reading Matters' was born. The official opening took place on December 1st 2012 with award-winning crime writer Stephen Booth, who is famous for his fictitious Derbyshire detectives DC. Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, as guest of honour. Lyndsay said: "Stephen is very committed to supporting independent book shops and as he writes about this area I decided to invite him along."

The shop has just celebrated its third birthday and like the bookshop in Sarton's novel, it has become a hub of the community. Sue said "A lot of people pop in just to browse around and have a chat and now we have got to know our customers we know what sort of books they like."  Creative writing, reading and a history group have meetings in the shop and  Lyndsay and Sue have set up book stalls at many local venues, including Chapel Playhouse, Kettleshulme School and Chinley Nursery. They have also hosted numerous book signings at the shop featuring local authors such as Mike Smith and Graham Hoyland but also with national names such as children's writer, Berlie Doherty.

However,  one writer who repeatedly returns to the shop is Stephen Booth, who will be making his sixth appearance on Saturday June 25 to promote his latest title in the best selling Cooper and Fry series, 'Secrets of Death.

Stephen said: "I was the first author to visit 'Reading Matters' in 2012. Lyndsay and Sue invited me as my books are set around the Peak District. I think it is fair to say that the first few days and weeks were a steep learning curve for both of them but it's amazing how quickly they created a welcoming and well-stocked bookshop." He added: "Their knowledge and love of books shines through. Their children's section is a marvel in itself. I don't know how they manage to do so much in the space they have available. Chapel is lucky to have such a thriving  independent bookshop of its own."

Stephen has fans around the world who have been known to time their holidays around his book promotions. Sue said: "We even have a customer in Finland who has read all of Stephen's books and we have to let him know when Stephen is coming so we can send him a signed copy."

And in a hint of what to expect in his new novel Stephen said: "In this one, the Peak District's tourist spots are attracting a different kind of visitor - suicidal individuals who have chosen some of its most beautiful locations as a good place to die." He warned: "Readers of 'Secrets of Death' might look differently at some of their favourite locations after this."

Tickets for the event which starts at 7.30pm on June 25th, cost £5 including refreshments and are available now. Phone 'Reading Matters on 01298 938166 or email