This is the curious story of our long love affair with books. Whether comfort reads or cult novels, we carry them with us, inhale the smell of their pages, scrawl in their margins, and protect them from book thieves and bathwater. Despite the many enemies of reading – from poverty to prejudice, from the Spanish Inquisition to Orwellian regimes – its power has endured across centuries. This is partly thanks to people like Martin Latham, the longest-serving Waterstones manager (‘It’s not a career, it’s a philosophic path’). In ‘The Bookseller’s Tale’, Martin uncovers the history of our collective book-obsession, and introduces us to the Canterbury bookshop that has been his working home for three decades, complete at various points with two rocking horses, a hammock for staff naps, and an excavated Roman bath-house floor.