The Mr B's Podcast

We invite you to turn your laptop/tablet/phone on, plug in your earphones, and spend half an hour in the company of books and the Mr B’s Team. Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights is an independent bookshop in Bath, named one of the top ten independent bookshops in the world by the Guardian in 2015.
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Welcome to the Mr B's Podcast: the audio-home of Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath. Read more about our different episodes, and the bookshop where they are all made here

Apr 18, 2018

In March Nic sat down with two eager learners to chat about their experience of education and what going to school is good for.  First up is the author Tara Westover, whose memoir, about growing up as the youngest child to Mormon survivalist parents in Idaho, is out in the UK this year. We also welcome our youngest guest yet to the podcast:  Nic and Juliette’s 8-year-old daughter Leah. 

Hosted by Jessica Johannesson and Nic Bottomley. Music: ‘Faith in Weather’ by The Bookshop Band.

Now take a look at our School Days reading list

Feb 12, 2018

The sight of a magic tree, or thorns and thistles, on a book cover will immediately catch the attention of a few the Mr B's team members. We kick off February's podcast by chatting to the poet, writer and vlogger Jen Campbell about her most recent short story collection 'The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night'. Booksellers Emma Smith and Amy Coles recommend their favourite reads where old stories are given a modern touch.

A note of warning for this one - the sound quality in the first half of the podcast is not up to our usual standards, but we really wanted to share this episode with you and hope you'll bare with us. It gets much better in the second half! Next month we'll be back to our audio-technical glory of yore.

Hosted by Jessica Johannesson.  Music: 'Sirens Island' by The Bookshop Band.


Now take a look at our Fairy Tales in Disguise reading list

Jan 10, 2018

Welcome to our first podcast of 2018. One of the last events we hosted in 2017 was an evening with the neuroscientist Adrian Owen, whose research over the past decades has been dedicated to patients diagnosed as Permanent Vegetative State. His hugely moving and informative memoir Into the Grey Zone  invites us to ask the most crucial questions about what it means to be conscious, but it also inspired us to think about how other authors have tackled ideas about - consciousness, from the realm of artificial intelligence to a small child's eerie reality.

Hosted by Jessica Johannesson. 

Music: 'Declaration' by The Bookshop Band.

Now take a look at our 'What it's Like to Be' reading list

Oct 26, 2017

Are you the kind of person who will spontaneously start chatting to the passenger next to you on the train? Or are you more comfortable reading about personality clashes and matches made in heaven in the safety of a book page? Jess, Nic and Lottie dig up some of their more extraordinary and thought-provoking 'odd encounter' reads. We also talk to the prize-winning author Julian Sayarer about his experiences hitchhiking through the US, and about the fantastic book that came out of it.

Find our Odd Encounters reading list here.

Sep 25, 2017

September 28th is National Poetry Day 2017. Listen to Jess and Lucinda dive into poetry which explores this year’s theme, Freedom, from the freedom of a lunch hour in Japan, to that of using two languages within one poem. We also hear from poets Marchant Barron, Beth Calverley and Rachel McCrum, whose work offer widely different takes on what it means to seek freedom. If you’ve been meaning to get back to reading poetry, this is the episode for you.

With contributions from Marchant Barron, Beth Calverley and Rachel McCrum

Hosted by Jessica Johannesson, with music by The Bookshop Band


Poems and collections mentioned in this episode: 

‘A Prison Evening’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz from Being Alive ed. Neil Astley 

'Wild Geese' by Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems 

'Tanglefoot' and 'Hear This', both by Marchant Barron

'A Lesson in Drawing' by Nazir Kabani 

'The Tiger who came to Tea' by Beth Calverley

Ode to Bob by Helen Mort, from No Map Could Show Them 

‘The Marunouchi Building’ by Nakahara Chúya from The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse transl. by Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite

The Tijuana Book of the Dead by Luis Alberto Urrea 

Vaginaland by Jen Campbell

'Last of the Late Great Gorilla-Suit Actors' by Patricia Lockwood from Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals

'My Underwear was Made of Iron' by Rachel McCrum, from The First Blast to Awaken Women Degenerate

Jul 17, 2017

The novel Dodgers was one of our favourite novels of 2016, a surprising and elegantly-tuned coming of age story disguised as a crime novel. Jess talks to its author Bill Beverly about the road trip at the centre of the story, and we recommend other superb reads which will take you off the beaten track, and unto the unending road.

Hosted by Jessica Johannesson

Music: 'Star of the River' by The Bookshop Band


Books mentioned in this episode:


Dodgers by Bill Beverly

Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson

Native Son by Richard Wright

Home by Toni Morrison

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson

Almost Heaven by Martin Fletcher

Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon

Butterflies in November by Audur Ava Olafsdottir

How's the Pain? by Pascal Garnier

The Shiralee by D’Arcy Niland

Jun 16, 2017

Some of us love being introduced to a plethora of characters in our fiction reads, whereas some can't think of anything better than being swept up by a single voice, and one experience of the world. We talk to Cynan Jones, whose novel Cove follows the joys and sorrows of one desolate man in a kayak, and recommend other favourite tales of isolation and loneliness.

Hosted by Jessica Johannesson

Music by The Bookshop Band


Books mentioned in this episode:

Cove by Cynan Jones

The Dig by Cynan Jones

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume

Hummingbird by Tristan Hughes

Fire Season by Philip Connors

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing


Other Tales of Isolation recommended by the Mr B's team:


A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

Hansen’s Children by Ognjen Spahic

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Caribou Island by David Vann

Deep Country by Neil Ansell



May 19, 2017

We do love our lists at Mr B’s. In this episode, the books we chat about are themselves made up of lists. Nic, Sam and Jess discuss the why’s and why not’s of anthologies of all kinds, and we also hear about a true labour of love, the creation of an anthology of contemporary Venezuelan writing. As always, listen out for Bath's unavoidable background-gulls...

Hosted by Jessica Johannesson

Music by The Bookshop Band


Books mentioned in this episode:

A Convergence of Birds, Ed. by Jonathan Safran Foer (Penguin Books)

Invisible Planets: 13 Visions of the Future, Ed. by Ken Liu (Head of Zeus)

The Moth: all these Wonders (Profile Books)

True Tales of American Life, Ed. by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)

Litmus: Short Stories from Modern Science, Ed. by Ra Page (Comma Press)

The New Granta Book of Travel, Ed. by Liz Jobey (Granta books)

Best American Sports Writing of the Century, Ed. by David Halberstam (Houghton Mifflin)

Lunatics, Lovers and Poets: Twelve Stories after Cervantes and Shakespeare, Ed. by Daniel Hahn, Margarita Valencia (And Other Stories)

Dime-store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell by Charles Simic (New York Review of Books)

In Sunlight or in Shadow: stories inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper, Ed. by Lawrence Block (Pegasus Books)

Crude Words: Contemporary Writing from Venezuela, Ed. by Katie Brown, Montague Kobbe, Tim Girven (Ragpicker Press)


Other anthologies we love:

A kind of compass: stories on distance, Ed. by Belinda McKeon (Tramp Press)

Refugee Tales, Ed. by David Herd & Anna Pincus (Comma Press)

New American Stories, Ed. by Ben Marcus (Granta Books)

Sisters of the Revolution, Ed. by Anna and Jeff Vandermeer (PM Press)

Apr 19, 2017

Ed, Emma and Jess tackle one of the toughest questions in literature since 'what comes after post-modernism' and 'are dog-eared pages ok': what makes a good Western? Prepare to be introduced to some cracking classics in full cowboy-regalia, as well as a range of genre-bending contemporary frontier tales. We also talk to novelist and short-story writer Donald Ray Pollock about his most recent novel The Heavenly Table.

Hosted by Jessica Johannesson

Music by The Bookshop Band

Books discussed in this episode (including those we talked about which didn’t make the final cut due to time constrains) 

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock

The Devil all the Time by Donald Ray Pollock

Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock

The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge

Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews by Ted Geltner

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

St Agnes’ Stand by Thomas Eidson

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Far as the Eye can See by Robert Baush

Dog Run Moonby Callan Wink

True Grit by Charles Portis

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

The Far Empty Todd J. Scott

Mar 15, 2017

This month we talk literary peaks  and mighty vistas in some of our current favourites, starting with an interview with author Dan Richards. Dan is a long-time friend of Mr B’s and author of Climbing Days, a remarkable journey in the foot-steps of the pioneering mountaineer Dorothy Pilley. Our Juliette Bottomley and Lucinda Corby also share some striking examples of novels in which mountains represent the utmost freedom as well as the depths of the underworld.

Hosted by Jessica Johannesson

Music by The Bookshop Band


Books and authors mentioned in this podcast:

Climbing Days by Dan Richards

Down to the Sea in Ships by Horatio Clare

Trieste & The Meaning Of Nowhere by Jan Morris

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler

Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson

Mountains of the Mind by Robert MacFarlane

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