In the town of Ruesselsheim, near Mainz, I've discovered the best bookshop in Germany. The Buecherhaus Jansen stands in a down-at-heel pedestrian street at the heart of an industrial town (home to Opel cars, a troubled subsidiary of General Motors), surrounded mostly by doner kebab restaurants and discount stores. Hans-Juergen Jansen has built his store into a cultural center for the surrounding towns. He has a busy program of visiting authors, mostly German, and other performers for children, on whom his bookshop has a particular focus. His wife Monika also does seminars about books and performance, and his daughter puts on shows for kids (she travels the country with her Slovakian partner performing an adaptation of The Gruffalo.) I've done three readings for Herr Jansen and each time they're full, because of his efficient publicity operation and because customers know that he brings them something they can't get elsewhere in their area. On my recent visit (photo) Herr Jansen and his assistant Sonja had put up a window display about my book A Grave in Gaza which featured smashed cinder blocks a la Gaza. But inside the bookshop everything is orderly and filled with the welcoming scent of new books. Ruesselsheim isn't the most glamorous spot in Germany, but I can't wait to visit again.

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