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‘Skoob’ is Books backwards – and there is nothing backward about this new bookshop that has opened at Montecasino. Enter through the main door and you are met by colourful displays of the latest publications. Go in through a side entrance and you will find yourself in the Skoobs Cafe, “Proudly brewers of Starbucks Coffee.” Take the stairs or the lift to the gallery and there are more books together with a small bar, a baby grand piano and further tables and chairs. Look out of one of the three upstairs doors and you will discover verandahs tastefully decorated with bookshelves and even more tables and chairs. There is a children’s section colourfully furnished with small hide-outs in which young people can investigate their books, and a browsing section for adults furnished with comfortable chairs. TV screens are dotted around for those who find book gathering a tiresome business, and there is even a games room with a Play Station. The whole atmosphere is one that invites you to relax, browse, have something to eat and drink, and then leave refreshed and with a few items to stir the imagination.

Although it is not as packed with books as are some other stores they have a good and up-to-date selection in a wide range of categories. For those looking for inspiration in the kitchen there is a mouth-watering range of publications, with colourful pictures, likely to give you visions of grandeur. The gardening section, particularly with Keith Kirsten’s books, will make you want to get your hands gloriously dirty in re-doing your outside areas – or at the very least get someone else to do it to your directions. There are new paperback publications of some of the great classics, and I found one that I had been looking for, at a very reasonable price. Fiction and non-fiction, biographies and histories, war and romance, crime and management, computers and art are all well represented. There are also some good gift ideas, including elegant notebooks, diaries and telephone registers, as well as calendars. Some include reproductions of paintings in the Tate whilst others have Advent themes with small flaps to open every day. There was also one of Rupert the Bear – now that took me back a year or few!

I took my purchases into the cafe area and looked at them over a cappuccino and a small quiche – and was in no hurry to leave. It is a very attractive place, interestingly different and pleasantly cool. The staff is well informed and helpful and, when you make a purchase, you are also entitled to 90 minutes free Wi-Fi.

With the school holidays upon us it would make a very pleasant outing to take family or friends to the Montecasino Bird Gardens, followed by a drink and a snack and a visit to Skoobs – to look for a gift for yourself or for others. And, of course, when you go in the evening to dinner and a show, take time to drop in and browse. It is very well placed near the main entrance to the Casino. I think you will enjoy it.

Open the covers of a book – and a new world enters you!

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