The most recent book I read is a testament to reading and the brilliance of quirky second-hand shops. I was walking around during my lunch break at work trying to get some fresh air after a hard few hours when I stumbled across an ageing shop front. It looked a little out of place in an otherwise modern, gentrified area full of high street brands and large supermarkets. 

Two books I had been reading recently weren’t going well. One’s writing style was irritating and the other’s subject matter was upsetting. I’d bought these books previously online to good reviews and cheap prices. It was off the back of these two disappointments  that I decided to enter this second-hand book shop. The inside of the store matched the outside. Yet despite this haggard appearance, the inside was a place that buzzed with a warmth and intrigue.

A middle-aged gentleman with greying hair and comfortable attire met me with a gentle smile. He casually greeted me and after a quick summary of the book sections, he left me to my own devices. I carefully stumbled in and around the make shift aisles of the shop, noticing the smells of old books that hit me like a wave around each corner. After deciding against the array of philosophy books, I moved on towards the fantasy section’s ordered chaos. It was by chance I noticed the familiar name ‘Asimov’ amongst the books. I half-liked the blurb and decided it might be worth ago. 

The book I picked was titled The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov. It was a fairly short novel compared to other science fiction novels, but it was exactly what I needed. Having recently been discouraged with my reading materials, I needed a certain kind of book and Asimov provided exactly that. It reminded me of a Sunday afternoon film – this novel was nice to read but not too demanding. I didn’t find it difficult to follow, the main character was interesting but not too complicated and the science fiction aspect was quite far removed from our current reality but not unbelievable. 

Asimov’s novel is based in a future where humans have inhabited 50 planets around the Galaxy. Humans who still inhabit earth live in cramped conditions and are considered second-class citizens of the universe compared to the ‘Spacers’ of the other human planets. Baley, a detective from Earth, is placed on the planet Solaria where a murder has taken place. Everyone believes they know who the murderer is and it is Baley’s job to investigate these claims. Yet, the inhabitants of this peculiar world are often unwilling to cooperate with Baley’s questions. Throw in a few characters with bizarre phobias and robots of immense capabilities and you have you yourself a great sci-fi/detective story.

I would recommend this book to people looking for a fairly easy-going read with an interest in science fiction. Moreover, I would encourage anyone to visit a second-hand book shop or a charity shop. It is in these quirky stores that you find a friendly smile and, with enough luck, a book you might have never read before.

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