10 Things…with Tim West


All Good Bookshop’s Tim West takes on our questionnaire.


What is a typical day for you?

My typical day starts with opening the shop & checking emails. Then it all depends on what’s coming in and who comes in. If there’s a delivery then I have to unpack it and let customers know their books are in. I take customer orders and place stock orders. Some days I’ll tell stories and sing songs to small people. Days frequently extend long into the evenings as we run events. Just the other day I double-booked a book group and musicians’ session (we call it Campfire) and had to put the musicians outside in the yard. Fortunately, there is also a converted London bus selling drinks and cake in the yard – so everyone was happy.

What are you looking for/not looking for in submissions?

As I’m a bookseller, I don’t think this applies to me. Although people do try to force their self-published books on me.

What are you most excited about in the next 12 months?

We are looking to open a permanent premises in the next few months. A proper bookshop, with an event/community space. So that’s pretty exciting. In the meantime, it’s great being part of something like Blue House Yard.

What was your favourite subject at school and why? 

I didn’t really have a favourite subject at school. There were times when I was really good at a subject, and then I liked that subject, and when I wasn’t so good, I didn’t like it as much. I just didn’t get school at all and we parted by mutual consent before they could expel me.

What surprises you about your job that you didn’t expect?

Every day I get asked new questions, quite often not about books. This week I was filmed asking questions for a new BBC quiz show, so that was different. I never know where a conversation is going to lead, and that’s fun.

Favourite books 

Kings of the Wyld. A cracking fantasy. A bit like spinal tap meets Tolkien.

Weirdstone of Brisingamen. Best kids fantasy ever, with a truly claustrophobic chase scene.

Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass. Still evokes great memories of childhood.

Waylander. Another cracking fantasy. I was reading this when my first son was born, and that seemed to work. So I made sure I was reading this when my second son was born.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. A surprise book for me. I wasn’t expecting to like this book, but I really did. I think that element of surprise is what’s put the book on this list.

Favourite film

Raiders of the Lost Ark. Still a great boys-own adventure

Best sandwich

Cold Sausage, Cucumber, Mayonnaise and Black Pepper. Sorted.

Coffee or tea

Tea. Builders, strong, milk no sugar.

Which author, living or dead, would you like to write your biography

Robert Rankin. My life has been fairly strange so far, and I think Rankin would do it justice. How arrogant does that sound?



After a few years as a builder, telecoms engineer, and Viking, Tim West (@teach_tim) found his true calling as a bookseller. He has sold books for nearly 30 years and managed bookshops for Hammicks, Ottakars and Waterstones before co-founding the Big Green Bookshop in 2008 until its closure early in 2019. Horrified at the prospect of a Wood Green without its local community bookshop, a few locals and Tim have since formed the All Good Bookshop (@allgoodbookshop), a cooperative bookshop, and he is now selling books out of a little blue shed in Blue House Yard (@bluehouseyard), part of Wood Green’s groovy artistic and cultural (yes, really!) quarter.



18 September 2019