Much Ado Books – Design Threads Book Recommendations

Day to Day

Much Ado Books is an award-winning independent bookshop offering both new and old books from a compound in Alfriston, East Sussex…

We are all looking for a little brightness in our day, and so, to thread the needle and stitch us all together in creative unity, we have created #DesignThreads.

This will be a series of posts about creativity when self-isolating, sharing tips to keep us all busy and imaginative while we spend more time at home. Each post will also come with a book recommendation carefully chosen by our dear friends at Much-a-do Books, who like many independent stores, will value all our support over the next few months.

Much Ado Books is an award-winning independent bookshop offering both new and old books from a compound in Alfriston, East Sussex.

There, you can find a warm welcome and books spread through two floors of a former builders’ yard – with more books in a Shepherds Hut (near the shop’s henhouse) and a stylish cabin devoted to Arts and Letters.

Owners Cate Olson and Nash Robbins bring a distinctive style to their shop design, their unique displays and especially to their hand-picked range of books.

“We love visiting Firmdale Hotels whenever we’re in London” says Cate. “Kit Kemp’s flair is completely inspirational for us. She makes wonderful art and design part of life, and we want to share some of that spirit with our customers.”

The pair run a social enterprise named Prospero’s Project. “We believe in the power of books to entertain, to comfort, to teach and to inspire,” says Cate. “We want to share that power with as many people as we can.”

Last year the couple gave more than 3,000 books to local foodbanks, and also supported a community library and schools.

“We are so excited to work with Firmdale to offer wonderful books,” says Cate. “And we’ll be able to devote a portion of the profits to the social enterprise, helping more people share in the pleasures of books!”

27th March – Three Apples Fell from the Sky by Narine Abgaryan

Here is an unexpected pleasure from Russian author Narine Abgaryan.

Three Apples Fell from the Sky is set in an isolated Armenian village, and learning about the culture and fascinating history are just two of the pleasures this novel offers. The emotional depths of the characters is gradually revealed, even as a plan hatches to bring unlikely people together.

From Armenian manners and meals to universal emotions, supple translation by Lisa C. Hayden ensures Three Apples Fell from the Sky is true to its cultural heart while offering charm and humour for English readers.


19th March – Design Threads: Collage

We love the art of collage, and if like us you keep your old copies of World of Interiors, save theatre tickets and scraps from your travels – now is a perfect time to tap into collaging and scrapbooking.

Book Recommendation: The Collage Ideas Books – Alannah Moore

We love collages, and making them requires no practical skills or experience – anyone can do it, with anything you happen to have to hand. That makes it perfect for people who might not quite know where and how to start.

We’ve picked Alannah Moore’s The Collage Ideas Book for this week because it is a brilliant introduction, a guide for anyone unsure of their path, and a wonderful inspiration with page after page of wonderful designs.

Simple themes and concepts build to sophisticated projects, but every page offers support for anyone who doesn’t quite know where to start. It is a great kitchen-table craft, and one parents can enjoy with children.

To get people started, we will be offering a free pack of ephemera with each copy. The packet will include scraps and pieces we’ve collected over the years, so you can include them in your own designs. You might find illustrations, book pages, maps, photographs, advertisements, leaflets, scraps of wallpaper – a unique mix of bits and pieces to inspire!

CLICK HERE to purchase The Collage Ideas Book on Much Ado Book’s website.

3rd April – Brilliant Maps: An Atlas for Curious Minds by Ian Wright

These days, armchair travelling is about the only option. This book will whisk readers around the world with brilliant graphic maps that offer fascinating insights into the world.

From serious subject like military spending to whimsical analyses of speeding limits, every page offers thought-provoking facts and distractions.

16th April – Anne Kelly, Textile Folk Art

It is filled with amazing art by amazing makers. But more than that, it is a guide and inspiration and instruction book with clear directions for putting together textiles to make creative, expressive artwork. Textures, colours and patterns came together in collages, embroidery, quilts and more. There are lots of illustrations to satisfy readers who just want to look – but it will be hard for anyone to resist setting up a sewing machine or unearthing their sewing needles!


3rd April – Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth

There are an amazing number of wonderful books being published these days. But we’d like to introduce you to one you may not have heard of, from a small publisher: Barn 8, a novel by Deb Olin Unferth.

It gave us the fizzy feeling you get when a book utterly engrosses you, when every page brings fresh pleasures. We found ourselves laughing – and then wincing, sometimes in the space of just one sentence.

The book centres on a plot to steal a million chickens. But it isn’t just a heist book. It is about damaged, dysfunctional, charming characters whose lives are given depth and meaning by a commitment to something far larger than themselves – and what sacrifices that commitment demands.

Love? Yes. Redemption? Perhaps. And fascinating factoids about chickens. Do you know how many faces a chicken can recognize?

We loved this book so much that we’ve printed limited-edition bookmarks for it. And we’re offering a special deal – the book costs £8, instead of the RRP of £9.99.

24th April – Adrian Tinniswood, The House Party

This week, our friends at Much Ado Books recommend Adrian Tinniswood’s The House Party.

The country house weekend is a wonderful part of Britain’s social history, with so much to love! You’ll find a heady mix of social climbers and parvenues and royalty and nobility, together with snobbery, obscure etiquette, croquet, cocktails, debauches and late-night liaisons. It offers an extraordinary glimpse of between-the-war life and society.

In this short, charming volume Adrian Tinniswood offers amusing anecdotes as well as fascinating characters thrown together in some of the country’s most striking settings.

What’s not to like in this gossipy, glittery account of both good and bad behaviour?

1st May – Sara Baume, Handiwork

We were recently engrossed by this short book that explores some big themes, like life, creativity, death – and birds.

You’d expect a dense tome packed with long words, but Sara Baume’s handwork is short, unpretentious and charming.

The book has some kind of magic, subtly connecting themes and ideas while maintaining an extraordinary kind of forward momentum – it is a page-turner that demands to be read, but also asks to be set aside once in a while so you can try to absorb passages and thoughts.

Part craft theory, part celebration of birdlife, part consideration of a father’s influence, part appreciation of a partner’s presence, part philosophical rumination . . . it sounds horribly worthy, doesn’t it?

But it isn’t. It is a short, quirky, elegant, enjoyable, page-turner.

We found it hypnotic, and weeks later we are still discussing the ways it resonates. But you don’t have to take our word for it; Sebastian Barry, who knows a thing or two about books, says “Every devotee of literature and art should read this rare, bright-lit, hard-won book.”

We like it so much we have printed a bookmark, a mark of appreciation for a book that we will revisit and continue to savour. We’ll include one of the bookmarks with each copy we sell, while supplies last.

8th May – Jini Reddy, Wanderland

Jini Reddy’s Wanderland – A Search for Magic in the Landscape is a tour of Britain seen through the eyes of an outsider.

Jini, a London journalist, undertakes a search for magic in the landscape of the countryside. From a ‘cult’ map offering a route to a hidden well (that stays hidden) to a search for a mystical land temple, she embraces byways and nooks and oddball ideas – without losing her sense of humour, scepticism or appreciation for the natural world.

Celebrating the joys of roaming, this is a wonderful book that offers a fresh look at mystics, goddess worshippers, and nature trails – a book about Britain, and about finding your place in the world.

We are fortunate to have a few signed copies, while supplies last . . .

15th May – Ann Patchett, The Dutch House

Ann Patchett dissects family relationships and obsessions in this compelling novel that the Sunday Times called “A wonderful hypnotic masterpiece.”

Siblings abandoned by their mother find their world upturned when their father brings home his new wife. Their lives play out with a backdrop of jealousy, intrigue and an obsession with their childhood house and the art they lived with.

We loved Patchett’s powerful, subtle prose. The family drama, where the past is always present, was gripping. And the multiple conundrums that slowly unravel make this a memorable, intense tale.

22 May – Walter & Florence, Susan Hill

Susan Hill may be best known for her chilling tale The Woman in Black, but her career encompasses more than 50 books. They range from thrillers and detective fiction (including the popular Simon Serrailler series) to subtle portraits of wartime friendship (Strange Meeting). Her inventiveness, close observation and taunt pacing have secured her a place in the highest ranks of popular authors.

This new collection of short stories will enhance her reputation. Love is lost – and found; ghosts offer a kind of comfort; childish vandalism has unexpected consequences. Susan’s strengths include an unerring sense of tonality that reverberates through her characters’ lives. This is a delicious and entertaining compilation, and we are pleased to be offering copies Susan has signed!

29 May – Living Paper

Eye-popping creations take centre stage in this visually enchanting presentation of paper arts of all kinds.

Living Paper offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how makers assembled some of the most amazing paper art you’ll see, ranging from advertising and short films to intimate artworks to massive installations in public spaces.

Get ready to get out your scalpel, your ruler, some glue, some tape and some paper; the wonderful creations in this are utterly inspiring! (Now, where can I find a laser cutter so I can recreate that parrot . . .).