Books | Oxfam Books Headingley

Ever wondered what it takes to run a charity bookshop in a student town? Or ever thought about the hidden gems that can be found among the piles of books in the storeroom? Last week LSi ventured down to the Oxfam bookshop in Headingley, determined to find out what it has to offer students and to hear the spicy storeroom gossip. Seven years ago, manager and book fanatic Viktor joined the shop, which boasts 60 volunteers and 10,000 books. It takes sacrifice to run a bookshop but it’s the rewarding aspects of the job and Viktor’s love for books that drives him, even though “every year our targets increase.”

Oxfam Books Headingley dispels the image of the drab and dusty charity bookshop by organising an assortment of literary events including poetry evenings and writing competitions. These events show customers there’s more to a second hand bookshop than battered paperbacks and encyclopaedias that have seen better days. In fact the shop has seen many first editions and signed copieturn up in the storeroom among other things. It’s items like these that have the most interesting stories; Viktor mentioned one of the most expensive things they’d ever sold was a signed, first edition of sheet music by H. Fraser-Simson which sold for £3,500 at auction.

There are of course many books that can’t be sold, one example is a book called How to Kill. Viktor explained it was “pretty much about how to assassinate people” and therefore “against Oxfam’s ethics.” So there are lots things to consider when sat sorting in the storeroom. It may seem like a boring job but people leave the strangest things in books. Once, Viktor says, someone mistakenly left some pornographic photographs amongst the pages! Juicy gossip aside, Oxfam Books Headingley is definitely worth a visit as the shop has a lot to offer, especially to students.

One key benefit on every student’s mind is that they can save loads of money. Viktor also pointed out that students can “save money and spend more on beer.” It’s the perfect destination for wider reading material; with specified subject sections, you can find books beneficial to your studies, not to mention that many essential course texts can also be purchased. “Student volunteers tell us what’s on the reading list, so we look out for those particular books.” Aside from that, there is a vast and eclectic range of books, from current fiction to music to cook books.

Viktor’s parting recommendation was to read The Little Prince by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry simply because “it’s all about us and how we are humans”. Viktor’s hopes for the future are that more people will find out about the Oxfam bookshop, use it and enjoy all that it has to offer.

Oxfam Headingley is hosting a short story writing competition on Monday November 4. The next poetry evening is 7pm on Wednesday November 6.

Amy Brandhorst and Lucy Michaeloudis

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