Ben Keenan: What do I recommend? Just make it a book . . .

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December is a magical time to be a bookseller in Bury St Edmunds. My colleagues and I spend all year reading, reviewing and promoting thousands of different books but in December, everything changes and the joy of being able to recommend a book increases tenfold.

I’ve been a bookseller for many years and have accumulated hundreds of titles I could recommend until the cows come home but this is no ordinary time of the year and because of that, my recommendations can change as quickly as the weather.

Books and Christmas go hand in hand and I’m certain that nine households out of 10 will be giving the gift of a book this year with some families I know giving nothing else but a bookshelf’s worth of new and classic releases to every family member.

Nothing pleases me more than when somebody with the time to browse stops me and asks if I could recommend something but I get just as much pleasure when I’m presented with a no-substitutions shopping list because it’s always helpful to know exactly what somebody wants.

When it comes to reading, the people of Bury are wonderfully eclectic and it makes my job one of the most rewarding you could wish for. Being able to guide people through the vast range in our store has been one of the most satisfying chapters in my own life and I look forward to it every day. So if you are stuck for an idea of what to buy a loved one, remember, a book is excellent value for money, an instant escape route from reality and, most importantly, a cherished memory, because no matter how old you are, everyone remembers a good book and that’s the most magical thing of all.