Gays The Word Bookshop


I recently visited Gays The Word, the oldest LGBT bookshop in the UK, for a book event co-chaired by Bethany Rutter, Lily Lindon and Laura Kay, all three writers were so charming that I had no choice but to pick up a copy of each of their books (as well as a few others.) I went to the event largely because I am a big Bethany Rutter fan, granted I haven’t actually read any of her books but I love her on Instagram where she always seems to be on some kind of jolly up. Overall it was a great event, I enjoyed learning about each authors writing process and the inspiration behind their writing.

The fact I am only now in May writing about an event I attended in February not only speaks to my general disorganisation but also the fluctuations in my mood that sometimes make it impossible to do anything productive.

The Split

by Laura Kay

Some books from my Gays the Word haul. 28 Questions by Indyana Schneider, The Split by Laura Kay and Mongrel by Hanako Footman

Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless… but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily’s cat. After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again. In an inspired effort to hold each other up, the pair decide to sign up for the local half marathon in a bid to impress their exes with their commitment and athleticism. 

I am not always a massive fan of romcom type books (weird I know because most of my favourite films are romcoms) but it feels as though the authors are just churning them out at an alarming rate, like at the event Bethany, Lily and Laura described their novels by the tropes they contained, ‘if you love enemies to lovers you’ll love this!’ and ‘The Split’ was essentially the reading equivalent of watching a made for tv Christmas movie. I don’t mind watching the odd budget film set in a small town where the protagonist learns to love Christmas and falls in love along the way BUT reading is something that requires all of my focus unlike watching movies where I can cook, crotchet, write my blog etc in tandem and frankly this felt a bit like a waste of time. It’s really hard to be honest about a book after you’ve met the author and they’re a complete sweetheart and this book was recommended to by more than one of the lovely ladies I met at the event, I don’t want to yuck someone else’s yum! At the event they opened the floor up to questions, and I asked why the covers are so… for lack of a better word… twee? They basically said it’s so you know what you’re getting. Which sort of relates to why these kind of books, are great reads for anxious minds, yes they’re formulaic and predictable but you know what you’re getting

Also at no point while reading did I get the urge to underline anything which perhaps tells me that a book like this is best enjoyed in an audio format, something to listen to at the gym. I might try that for Lily and Bethany’s books and let you know how I get on.


by Hanako Footman

I got my copy of Mongrel from Gays The Word bookshop – the oldest LGBT bookshop in the UK.

Mei loses her Japanese mother at age six. Growing up in suburban Surrey, she yearns to fit in, suppressing not only her heritage but her growing desire for her best friend Fran. Yuki leaves the Japanese countryside to pursue her dream of becoming a concert violinist in London. Far from home and in an unfamiliar city, she finds herself caught up in the charms of her older teacher. Haruka attempts to navigate Tokyo’s nightlife and all of its many vices, working as a hostess in the city’s sex district. She grieves a mother who hid so many secrets from her, until finally one of those secrets comes to light. Shifting between three intertwining narratives, Mongrel reveals a tangled web of desire, isolation, belonging and ultimately, hope.

This beautiful debut novel captivated me from the very start, poetically written the last third of my copy is drenched in my tears. I felt this overwhelming sense of injustice as I read, how men can destroy women so easily and so inconsequently. Every man in this book is terrifying and yet recognisable. I was also reminded a little bit of one of my favourite books The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, both books made me question if we inherit our mothers pain but also how we know our mothers so intimately and yet there are still parts of them that are unknowable. I loved how in the book there were so musical references as many of the characters are musicians. I work in a conservatoire so find myself listening to a lot of classical music, my office being right next to a practice room. I loved this idea of how mothers, daughters and sisters are different but the same, variations on a theme. It was also interesting to me that the two main characters, who are described as minors rather than majors play the violin, one of the most melancholic instruments particularly when played in the minor and I felt this deep sense of sadness that penetrated through the prose.

28 Questions

by Indyana Schneider

When first-year music student Amalia stumbles into her Oxford college bar, she has no idea that everything is about to change. Seated across from her is Alex, a velvety-voiced fellow Australian with eyes the colour of her native sky. They strike up a friendship that is immediate – its intensity both thrilling and terrifying. As the days and weeks go by, they spend more and more time together: philosophising, hypothesising, questioning everything. There is nothing they cannot talk about, except the one thing that matters most. Dare they risk a romantic entanglement if it threatens this most perfect of friendships?

This was another musical book (I promise I didn’t do it on purpose) It was deliciously self indulgent, I loved it and I hated it equally because it was pretentious but I think it was also quite self aware about that.

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