If you have had the pleasure of sitting in the Welcome Area within Reception, you will have noticed the wonderful selection of books on sale.  The range of books is kindly organised by CSMV Oblate, Revd Barbara Mapley who writes about the Bookstall below.

“The Bookstall has always been a feature of the Welcome area but after the refurbishment and completion of the new entrance, it became more visible. Susan Sims, the Oblate who organised it until Christmas 2021, decided it was time for a change and Sr. Stella, knowing I was more local and loved books, asked me to take it on. I try to build on the history of stocking books on aspects of prayer, from different perspectives and traditions, and spirituality at a reasonable price. There are three main focuses – books to support Advent and Christmas; Lent and Easter; and books of general topics that are appropriate at all times of year which Christians can find useful, helpful or challenging for daily living out our faith as well as for specific circumstances (e.g. grief, forgiveness, healing etc.)

Selecting which books to stock is quite a challenge as a regular turn over keeps the display looking fresh and interesting. One of my considerations is always to ask myself if I might be tempted to buy and read the books. The main customers are people staying on the Retreat Wing and people attending conferences or meetings. Interesting content is always a priority but also an attractive cover helps to catch people’s attention. Well known authors such as Paula Gooder and Stephen Cottrell are always reliable for being able to write about profound things in a very readable style.

Sometimes books are recommended to me by Sr. Stella or other Oblates and I also read book reviews in various Christian publications. Personal recommendations are always welcome especially if the person has actually read the book in question. Twice a month I do a shift in a local Christian books and Fair-Trade shop and I carefully take note of which books are selling well or not. I try to maintain a fairly wide spectrum of books for I am a firm believer that God draws people’s attention to books that are just right for their need, at the right time, to support, teach, strengthen and direct their path of faith. I always hope that each book will help to deepen our experience of God’s presence and love in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, refreshing and renewing our relationship with Him. Practical books on living out the Christian faith and accessible theology complement each other in the choices on the display.

I am very grateful to Jacqui and Jackie, on Reception, for liaising with me, dealing with the book deliveries, unpacking the parcels and often arranging the display. They pass the invoices to the bursar and also receive the payments for books sold, passing the details to me so I can maintain an up to date stock list. Their help is invaluable.

Maintaining the Bookstall has proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable role and a privilege to serve the Community and visitors to the Convent in this way.”