The owner of Edinburgh’s Rare Bird Books on her day at the Stockbridge shop

Rachel Wood

I tend to get up when my husband does and we hang out and have breakfast together before leaving for work. When it’s time to leave, I put my shoes on, then find myself standing in the hallway, finishing the last chapters of the book I was reading the night before.

The store opens now and we catch up as a team, then divide and conquer the most pressing tasks of the day. One of the weirdest things about my job is that we’re always working far into the future. Before noon, I’ve already said the word Christmas out loud at least a dozen times, which feels like bad luck given the relatively pleasant weather we’ve been enjoying for the past few weeks. The rest of the morning is spent in a flurry of book recommendations, visits from regulars (and adorable local dogs), and rounds of tea.

This afternoon was dedicated to selecting the titles that will feature in our book subscription next year. We keep a running list of all the proofs we’ve read and liked because there’s always a curve somewhere – the publication date will change, or there might be a printing delay which means we need to swap one book against another. The ripple effect of this way of working is that I never know what month it is again and I also regularly get the year wrong.

I missed lunch and I’m starving, so I rummage in the scullery for something to eat. Today it’s Nutella, tasted directly from the jar to the spoon.

It’s time to divert my attention to the online side of the business and work on some actions for the store, namely making a batch of Book Smells candles. I pour each one by hand, which turned out to be a much bigger undertaking than I had imagined when I cheerfully told the team that we would just make “a few candles” to sell in store and that would be ” fun and easy”. The fun part was true, at least. I put on my headphones and cracked up – today I’m listening to ABBA’s greatest hits and doing Writer’s Block, which smells like coffee like a nod to all the hard-working writers on their manuscripts for ages. months (or even years!) in a row.

Halfway between the shop and my flat is The Artisan Pasta Maker on Dundas Street, which is all the excuse I need to leave dinner in the hands of the professionals. When I get home I capitalize on all the time I’ve saved from not cooking and start a new book – it’s short enough that if I stay up really late (which I do) I can read it all in one sitting.

When my book is finished, I pass the whole plot to my husband, who politely pretends to be interested, then begs me to go to sleep.


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