Well Thumbed Books: ten years of books, food, community … and fun

‘We had no idea what we were doing. We had no books, no bookshelves. No cash reserves to speak of. And none of us really wanted to work.’

That was Heather O’Connor, remembering a planning meeting in May 2010. Someone had ‘some damn-fool idea’ of a second-hand bookshop in Cobargo, and five women – Heather, Virginia White, Louise Brown, Annie Lee and Chris Haynes – had gathered to discuss it over lunch.

‘Seriously, we weren’t even through the hors d’oeuvres and there seemed to be no hope… Four months later we opened.’

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Something that wasn’t in the book (or, a shameless plug for my Goodreads page)

I’ve never been in jail, and I wasn’t educated in a 20th-century British boarding school. So I’m not used to being referred to by my surname and it’s a bit jarring reading the reviews of Long Road to Dry River on Goodreads. ‘Severn is a master wordsmith’ (thanks ‘Lib Kilian’), ‘Severn’s writing encapsulates what is special and unique about memoir’ (thanks, ‘Tash’). ‘Severn’s story is a mish-mash of disastrous life decisions, pseudo-medical theory and pop-psychology’ (OK, I made that one up).

But it makes me ponder ‘Severn’ and how I came by it, because it hasn’t always been my name. It’s not a married name either, in the way that many women, even today, take their husband’s surname.

It also makes me realise that I didn’t cover this in the book.

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