I should be asking what you’re reading at the moment. I should be enquiring how you feel about the latest bestseller. I should ask you to name your top ten summer reads. I should be posting pictures of a stack of books in my TBR pile.

I could even show a little video of me teasing you as I prepare to cut open a cardboard box with a pair of scissors to reveal – WAIT FOR IT – the paperback editions of my latest novel.

But not today. If you don’t mind, I want to talk about BAGS (and there is a bookish slant to this, I promise).

Carrying books

So here comes the writing/books related line – authors: what do you carry your books in when attending literary events? And bloggers: how do you carry your books when you’re going anywhere?

First off, I always keep about half a dozen of the books that Sue and I have written together in a black canvas bag in the boot of my car. You never know when you might get chatting (pre-lockdown, of course) to someone at the hairdressers, supermarket or local park who turns out to be a keen reader.

When Sue and I attend a literature festival, book signing or author talk, the bulk of our books travel in the cardboard boxes in which they arrived from the distributor (see note above about wielding scissors).

Red tote

A splendid red tote 


The rest – about three copies of each novel in the Friends trilogy – tour in a rather splendid red tote – or a yellow leather, Moroccan satchel, which I bought on holiday for just that purpose.

Just before lockdown, Sue and I were guests at a literature festival where we’d been invited to take part in a ‘Speed Reading’ event. This is where authors sit at individual tables while readers visit each one in turn to spend about ten minutes chatting about books before a bell sounds and they move on to the next author.

I was able to see at close quarters how the other writers carried their books. And, frankly, I was horrified. Do you know, some of them used plastic bags? PLASTIC BAGS!

Bourne 1

Susan and Sue at a Speed Reading where they checked other writers’ bags

Others were more civilized and used small wheelie suitcases (which I’ve also done in the past) or canvas shoppers (not sturdy enough, to be honest).

I’ve always had a fetish for bags. Some people go wild for shoes, but my wildness is for bags.

My sister-in-law admired a tan shoulder bag I had once and I went into some detail about where she could get one just like it. ‘Oh no,’ she said. ‘I’ve already got a bag – I don’t need another.’

I love her dearly, but what’s all this about not NEEDING another bag?

Bags I need

I need a dark-coloured bag for smart suit days; a tan version for summer sandal days; the previously mentioned red tote for high days and holidays; a blue version for jeans-days; a white one for holidays; a black, leather rucksack for foreign trips … and that’s before I get on to evening bags (red satin), cross body (mustard) and clutch (black with tassels). I need large bags, small bags and medium sized bags depending on the occasion.

Should I go on?

Moroccan bag

Moroccan leather book carrier

To me, leather arm candy is not just for carrying books and stuff, it’s what completes not just an outfit, but the person.

What are royalties for?

Show me someone carrying a Mulberry Bayswater and I’m their friend for life – well, we have so much in common. Yes, I did use royalties from the Friends trilogy to buy my very first (and only) designer bag. But who could blame me?

And that’s why, while you’re squeezing your feet into new shoes, I’ll be over there with my nose pressed up against the handbag shop window.

You can never have enough bags.