As well as offering a huge range of books and other goods, Southampton’s independent radical bookshop, October Books in Portswood always has a packed schedule of talks and other events, both in the shop and online and July is no different.
The next date for your diary is the plant and seed swap and sale, taking place in the shop on Saturday, July 16, from 11am.
The concrete yard behind the shop, which used to be a bank, has been cleaned up, fenced with pallets (painted and planted), and with hanging baskets and pots planted up with herbs and flowers; it is a great place to chill or chat!
The gardeners have now started a Plant Stall outside the shop at lunchtime [11.00-1.00] on the third Saturday of the month. Plants are for sale or to swap, and proceeds go to supporting the garden with buying compost, hand tools, installing water butts and other improvements.
As well as an opportunity to buy plants, you are welcome to donate plants. Please make sure they are potted up and labelled as not everyone will recognise what they are. Please also only bring plants that are healthy and the sort of thing other people will want to have—not too many trees [most gardens do not have the space] or plants that spread so rapidly they are likely to become ‘garden thugs’. October Books has limited space to store unsold plants, but surplus seedlings and cuttings of your favourites will be most welcome!
On Tuesday, July 19 at 7pm, it’s the July get-together, an online bring your own book event. All are welcome at this book club with a twist. October Books are asking you to BYOB (Bring Your Own Book), to share inspiration found between the pages. Those in attendance each get a chance to talk a little bit about a book they have been reading this month and what they’ve thought about it. There is no required reading, just a desire to talk about what you’ve been reading!
What have you read during the month? Would you recommend it to others? Or was it better left on the shelf? What are you reading this month, and what has it meant to you?
Author Matthew McNaught will be launching his first book, Immanuel, in the shop at 6.30pm on Thursday, July 21.
At what point does faith turn into tyranny? In Immanuel, winner of the inaugural Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, Matthew McNaught explores his upbringing in an evangelical Christian community in Winchester. As he moved away from the faith of his childhood in the early 2000s, a group of his church friends were pursuing it to its more radical fringes. They moved to Nigeria to join a community of international disciples serving TB Joshua, a charismatic millionaire pastor whose purported gifts of healing and prophecy attracted vast crowds to his Lagos ministry, the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). Years later, a number of these friends left SCOAN with accounts of violence, sexual abuse, sleep deprivation and public shaming.
In reconnecting with his old friends, McNaught realized that their journey into this cult-like community was directly connected to the teachings and tendencies of the church of their childhood. Yet speaking to them awakened a yearning for this church that, despite everything, he couldn’t shake off. Blending essay, memoir and reportage, Immanuel is an exceptional debut about community, doubt, and the place of faith in the twenty-first century.
Matthew McNaught has written for the Guardian Long Reads and n+1. He lives in Southampton, where he works in mental health.
A further author event will take place on the shop on Saturday, July 23, when visitors will have a chance to hear from Kabir Kareem-Bello about his acclaimed book, The Street Hawker’s Apprentice.
The book was published as part of Jacaranda’s Twentyin2020 initiative (the first time a UK publisher had published 20 titles by 20 Black British writers in one year) and was longlisted for Diverse Book Awards 2021. The event provides the opportunity to learn more about the author and his Dickensian tale of two young boys from opposite sides of the track who form a bond of brotherhood and friendship as they survive the streets of Lagos.
Kabir Kareem-Bello was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, and moved to the UK with his family in 1992. His self-published book Memoirs of Young African is based on his experiences as a young African migrant in the UK. He has spoken about identity and migration at a number of public events, most notably at the University of Edinburgh and Portsmouth University. The Street Hawker’s Apprentice is his first fiction novel. He is currently writing his second fiction novel and developing a documentary looking at the migration of Africans to the United Kingdom between the 1980s and 2000.
On July 27 at 7pm there will be a Transition Talk: gardening for wildlife #2, practical options. Informed by experience, practice and science, this talk focuses on a range of simple practical interventions that can be implemented in urban and suburban gardens of any size to increase your garden’s value to wildlife. If you own or manage a larger plot, these measures can be easily and economically scaled-up.
Transition Southampton believes in a positive, sustainable, community imagined future. They work with local communities, organisations and local governments to create positive, sustainable, community-based solutions that tackle climate change and energy scarcity. They are part of the international Transition Network, and have a range of active and past projects across food, energy, waste, transport and the built environment.
Register via Eventbrite for instructions to join your event – this helps October Books to manage books and numbers for in-person events and maintain a safe, secure environment at online events.
All events are free entry, some have a suggested donation of £3 to assist with running costs.
October Boks are operating with Covid caution and ask visitors to respect their fellow attendees by maintaining some distance if attending an event in the shop. They ask that that people attending events/gatherings in the shop wear a face covering and stay at home if they do not feel well.
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