Meet our Book Doctors... Portobello Bookshop!

The Portobello Bookshop

In a reading rut? Want to health-check your reading habits? In our Book Doctor feature, we welcome a guest to prescribe just the right read for any mood or occasion.

The Portobello Bookshop in Edinburgh has joined us in Caboodlers' Corner. The shop's booksellers have picked five questions – sent in by Caboodlers just like you – to answer. All five Caboodlers will each receive a £15/€20 National Book Token to spend in their favourite bookshop.

Got a bookish bothering of your own? Send your questions in and if we pick yours for the attention of our future Book Doctors, you’ll get a National Book Token!


Joe Hill

I would love to read a really good ghost story, but I don't want anything really gory. Can you recommend anything? – Trudi, 49

Joe Hill (Stephen King's son) had a superbly atmospheric and genuinely creepy ghost story with his debut, Heart Shaped Box. I enjoy horror but rarely find tales which really scare me, and his depiction of a late night spectral encounter genuinely chilled me. You also can't go wrong with Shirley Jackson's classic The Haunting of Hill House, or a collection of M.R. James, whose short stories are one of the great fonts of British ghost stories and ideal for reading by the fireside on the darker nights. – Joe


How do I get my husband to take the kids out so I can read all day? – Joanne, 42

How to find time and space to read all day is the ultimate life dilemma. I'd recommend trying to get them all along to a great local bookshop, locating the nearest bookseller, and trying to find them all books that help them understand why you need some alone time to read. This way, which granted is a long shot, you won't have to come up with ways to have a little peace and alone time as they’ll all understand. Obviously also plaster A Room of One's Own all around the house for good measure. – Jack

Gabrielle Kent

I read a lot to my 7-year-old daughter. Can you recommend any up-and-coming authors that we could try? We read a wide variety of books, from classics (e.g. Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl) to David Walliams and Sophie Kinsella's Mummy Fairy and Me series, but I’m running out of ideas! – Melanie, 43

Gabrielle Kent's Knights and Bikes and its follow-up The Rebel Bicycle Club are wonderfully funny and exciting. The adventures of best friends Nemelza and Nessa are sure to capture your daughter's (and your) imagination. I'd also recommend Marie Basting's debut, Princess BMX, perfect for ages 7+ and a joyful read that turns fairy tales upside down. These are bike-heavy recommendations – I hope your daughter is ready for the ride! – Alice

Robert Macfarlane

After the passing of my Dad recently, I started to read to escape from the pain and hurt of losing someone close to my heart. It helped lift my spirits in the beginning – a way of escapism – but now after a few months, I am finding it hard to leave the house. Please help to motivate me back into reading and escaping this rut I have got into. – Nicki, 30

Robert Macfarlane's work is a wonderful way to reconnect with the reality of our world, our countryside and our folk heritage. He doesn’t just describe the places he visits, he talks about the local folklore, he references songs, poetry and novels about those areas, illustrating how natural places echo in our shared culture. His poetic writing style will draw you back into experiencing natural beauty and inspire you to get out, walk and explore. - Joe

Becky Chambers

I love Terry Pratchett and could not wait for the next Discworld book every time I’d devoured the latest one. I miss how immersed I got in the stories and wondered if you had a recommendation for another series? – Donna

In terms of a very long fantasy series, I have recently started tackling Robin Hobb's novels, which come in sets of three or four, and are all set in chronological order within the same world, although they don't always have the same protagonists. A lot of fantasy lovers have assured me the quality remains excellent throughout. The first stop is Assassin's Apprentice! If you are willing to consider a (currently) shorter sci-fi series, I am absolutely obsessed with Becky Chamber's Wayfarers series. The world building is outstanding, and the characters are very well developed (and some of them are awesome aliens!) There are currently three books, but more are coming. Each novel can be read individually, although they are loosely linked. The first one is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. – Vanessa


"The Portobello Bookshop is a new, independent bookshop on the seaside in Portobello, Edinburgh. We opened in July 2019 after spending six months renovating a former co-op and fishing tackle shop, transforming it into what we hope will be a much loved bookshop for years to come. We're a general bookshop stocking a diverse range of titles, and have a strong focus on literary fiction and children's titles. If you're visiting Scotland and happen to be passing down the East Coast, please pay us a visit, sit in one of our bookshelves and enjoy a walk along Portobello's lovely beach!"

The Portobello Bookshop won the inaugural National Book Tokens Newcomer of the Year award.

Need urgent book advice? Why not visit your local bookshop where the booksellers will be happy to recommend your next read – find your nearest.

The Portobello Bookshop

Caboodlers' Corner

Caboodlers' Corner

Browse quizzes, reading lists, and recommendations from our guest booksellers.

Caboodlers' Corner
A gift beyond words

A gift beyond words

National Book Tokens are the ideal gift for booklovers and can be spent in bookshops in the UK and Ireland, and online.

A gift beyond words
National book token cookie themed gift card

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Pride and Prejudice* by Jane Austen

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