I’m Mark Meynell. I have a lot of hats, but that’s good because they keep me busy. I’ve been a vicar (and technically still am but no longer attached to a particular church); I’ve taught in a theological college in Africa; I’ve written some books and lots and lots of articles (you can see for yourself on my blog); I listen to a LOT of music (of all sorts) and occasionally write about it. I try to see a LOT of art and great drama. And occasionally write about that too. Oh, and I love books. A LOT.

But my main job is working for Langham Partnership, which entails travelling and supporting indigenous church leaders in Europe and the Caribbean. Except when it doesn’t – like during lockdown.

So because lockdown has completely done my head in, especially during lockdown 2.0, I’ve desperately needed things to stop my brain exploding. So what more obvious solution to the predicament could there be than… starting an online bookshop? So here we are.

Why Inklings & Yarnspinners?

So when I say, I love books, I mean several things. At the very least:

  • I love reading books. That’s obvious. But I love their physicality: the way they sit in the hand, ideally well-balanced; the texture of the paper (especially if it is old); the smell (especially if it’s not simply of musty shelves but more evocative, like an old biscuit tin perhaps); the sound (a very old book, that still has a very strong binding and thick papers, makes a glorious creaking noise as it is opened up). I even love notations and comments that previous owners have made. You don’t get any of that on a kindle.
  • I love people who love books. The possibilities for conversations are endless; especially for new discoveries or insights or perspectives. Just fascinating. What could be better than a single malt, by a roaring fire in winter, discussing a great writer?
  • I love putting the right books into the right people’s hands. Obviously, I don’t always know what constitutes the right book, but it’s always a joy when someone chimes with a book that’s been recommended to them. Result. So this just takes it up a level.

The Inklings? Well, they were a bunch of people who can reliably be thought of as fulfilling all 3 of these. They met in an Oxford pub, or in the college rooms of one of the gang, usually C. S. Lewis’s in Magdalen. So it is in their honour that this is named. But I wanted to make sure this went wider than the classics or the great poets or the theologian/apologists; so it needed another word to ensure some great modern writers got a look in. Some of my favourites are here, therefore: Graham Greene, Anthony Powell, John le Carré, P. D. James, Margaret Atwood, Daphne du Maurier, etc etc. And they all spin a great, and beautiful, yarn.

A house on three floors

So, come on in and browse this virtual house of books.

Notice I said 2nd-hand, and not, as the cousins across the Atlantic tend to say, ‘used’ books. I think that’s a horrible thing to say about books. It is reductionistic, to say the least, and doesn’t exactly grant a book the veneer of respectability or goodness. I suppose it’s not as bad as calling books ‘resources’, but that’s a whole other thing. No. 2nd-hand is the way ahead. And isn’t that rather a lovely thought – being passed on from one (antiviral gelled) hand to another, like an heirloom or jewel. It’s a treasure, it’s a mark of respect. 

As this develops, I will have pages for particular authors and themes. But at the moment, you’ll just have to dig around… And just occasionally you might find the odd wry comment in a book’s description…

The age of the antiquarian book is, more or less, in the eye of the beholding antiquator. So as a rule of thumb, I’ve described antiquarian books as being printed before 1850, give or take. And there are some real goodies here, if you look hard enough.

A handful are certainly pricey. But there’s a reason for that… usually.

These had to go somewhere – and because I’ve got a bunch of my own books just sitting in boxes achieving very little indeed, it seemed a cunning plan to sell these here as well. And just occasionally, I may do that for other chums as well. Watch this space.

But remember – that’s not the main point of I&Y – hence tucked away in the attic under cobwebs and low beams. Mind your head.