We are passionate about supporting local authors, encouraging aspiring writers and generating debate about all things books. We welcome everyone, no matter how you identify or how others perceive you.

Most of our events are free to make them as inclusive as possible. But we’re experiencing an increasing number of no-shows which is difficult for us as a bookshop and disappointing for the author. Please only sign up if you intend coming and do let us know if you can’t make it for whatever reason. Thank you.

And if you have any ideas for events you’d like to see, or if you’re a local author keen to speak at a future event, please do get in touch.

10.30am every Saturday

Children’s storytelling

Every Saturday we run a free storytelling session for children up to around the age of eight every Saturday at 10.30am for an hour on our children’s floor. Our storytellers will read from some of the latest children’s books together with old favourites.

Just drop in from 10.15am onwards. There’s no need to book. You can either stay with your child, pop upstairs for a break in the Bookroom Cafe, have a browse around the bookshop or shop locally in Kemptown.

Please share with anyone who might be interested. We’re keen to get as many children into reading as we can.

10.30am every Friday

Children’s craft session

Every Friday morning we run a children’s craft session in our cafe. Paint, make and create using a range of materials. Our drop-in sessions are aimed at pre-schoolers during term-time and children up the age of eight in school holidays.

We ask for a contribution of £3 (payable on the day) which includes all materials and a free babyccino.Just drop in from 10.15am onwards. There’s no need to book.

Last Wednesday of the month

Adult book group

Our adult book group meets on the last Wednesday of every month from 7.30-9pm in The Bookroom Cafe, upstairs at the bookshop. It’s a chance for local people to get together and discuss new and classic fiction. The book club has four membership options:

• A basic subscription to be part of the group with no obligation to buy the book from us: £5
• A subscription which includes the book group monthly membership and the book: £13
• A premium subscription which includes the book group monthly membership, the book and a drink in the Bookroom Café: £15
• A subsidised place where you can buy the book yourself: free

The book group is currently closed to new members but email cathy@kemptownbookshop.co.uk to be added to the waiting list.

First Wednesday of the month

Twenty-somethings book group

The Twenty-somethings book club meets on the first Wednesday of every month from 7-9pm in The Bookroom Café, upstairs at the bookshop.

It’s a chance for like-minded people to get together, talk about everything from contemporary to queer fiction and to read outside of our typical reading lists and genres. We agree together the books we’ll discuss so there’s also the opportunity to share your favourite books with others.

The book club has four membership options:

o A basic subscription of £5 per month to be part of the book group with no obligation to buy the book from us
o A subscription fee of £13 which includes the book group monthly membership and the book itself
o A premium subscription fee of £15 which includes the book group monthly membership, the book itself and a hot or cold drink in the Bookroom Café at the start of the session
o A free subsidised place where you can buy or borrow the book yourself (please explain briefly why)

The book group is currently closed to new members but email remony@kemptownbookshop.co.uk to be added to the waiting list.

We welcome everyone no matter how you identify or how others perceive you.

First Wednesday of the month

Monthly 5am Writing Club

Where better to write than a bookshop with a cafe? When better than at 5am? Join other local writers from 5am on the first Wednesday of every month to work on your work in progress.

Coffee, tea and pastries available to kickstart your writing morning.
We’ll open the shop at 5am and you’re welcome to join us then, or at anytime after that – and leave whenever you need to. The shop opens to the general public at 9am but if you’re in full flow, you’re free to stay as long as you like.

Tickets are limited to 12 as we only have so many chairs and table space. They cost £5 and include a hot or cold drink. You can buy other drinks to keep you going during the morning. The local bakery usually delivers our pastries at about 7am.

There is no 5am Club in December – see you in January!

Book your ticket on our Eventbrite page.

Creative writing courses

The Creative Writing Programme holds their daytime and evening courses at the bookshop as well as offering a blended and an online option. Bookings will open next April for courses in creative writing, life writing, poetry and advanced writing starting in October 2024. To find out more and sign up, contact The Creative Writing Programme directly.

Other shorter courses are also based at the shop. Look our for leaflets in the shop or check the news page of the website.

Second Saturday of the month

Gentle songs to a Spanish guitar

Join us on the second Saturday of the month at 11am in the Bookroom Cafe for live music with Brighton singer Tony Graham. Tony will sing covers of songs by everyone from Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and the Beatles to Joan Armatrading, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen as well as a few of his own songs.

It’s the perfect background music to your latest book or catch-up with friends.

Tony will next be performing on Saturday 11th November and on Thursday 7th December at our late night shopping event.

Thursday 7th December 2023

Kemptown Village Late Night Shopping

On Thursday 7th December, many of the shops in Kemptown Village will stay open late. At  Kemptown Bookshop, we’ll be offering mulled wine and mince pies accompanied by music from Tony Graham. Pop in to say hello, get your Christmas shopping done, support your local independent businesses and have a chat with your fellow villagers.

We’ll be open until 8pm.  

6.30pm on Friday 8th December 2023

Christmas Zentangle workshop

Join us for our Christmas Zentangle workshop (adults only) with Certified Zentangle Instructor, Paula Kelly, of Eclectic P’Arts, for a relaxing and mindful art session, where you will have the freedom and support to unwind and get creative using the Zentangle Method of guided drawing.

The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. This workshop will introduce you to the Zentangle method and some festive tangles. There will be time to practise these new tangles and then to create your own hand drawn Christmas card with Zentangle inspired art.

You will be provided with all the tools and materials you need, so you only need to bring yourself! Plus you will receive a Zentangle Kit (RRP £15) for you to take away to create more individual tangle creations.
The workshop will take place upstairs in the Kemptown Bookshop. Freshly-ground White Cloud coffee, a pot of Bird and Blend loose leaf tea, or a hot chocolate, and a piece of our fine cakes, are included in the price for the session.

Book your ticket here

7pm on 18th January 2023

Author Talk and Book Signing with Natalie Bayley

Join Natalie Bayley as she talks about her newest novel Bone Rites, a unique historical fiction LGBTQ thriller.

Kathryn Darkling, imprisoned in Holloway, is facing death by hanging for her vengeance killing. Haunted by a spirit, she still hopes to perform the ancient black magic that will free her soul, or her struggle to punish the mighty will have been in vain. Will the love of her life come to her aid? Or can she find a way to escape her fate?

A dark, literary tale of love, loss and one woman’s obsessive fight for justice and redemption within a ruthless world…

Natalie Bayley is the author of Bone Rites, Lolita’s Daughter, The Secret Life of Grandmothers, The Witch Who Saved Paris and The Lady Lyttle Murder Mystery series.

Book your free ticket on our Eventbrite page.

7pm on 25th January 2023

Author talk: The First British Empire

The First British Empire is an authoritative, vividly written account of the origins, growth and transformation of the British Empire from its European beginnings to the aftermath of the War of American Independence. Taking a regional and chronological approach, it highlights the dual drivers of profit and power, showing that the early Empire was a mechanism not for dominance but for survival. Yet the changing empire is seen not merely in terms of the needs of the metropole but the narrow perspectives of settler societies, and the experiences of the colonised, the resisters, the collaborators and the enslaved. Above all it is ideology-free, aiming to introduce its readers to the pre-1815 empire as a whole, and to show how historians work through evidence, evaluation and debate.

Join us to hear from John, who is an independent scholar who earned his doctorate from the University of London. John is an author of works on the Anglo-Native American frontier, he has entertained lay and specialist audiences in London, Scotland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and at the University of Memphis.

Book your free ticket on our Eventbrite page.

7pm on 1st February 2024

Author Q&A: Ray Shell on his cult novel Iced

Ray Shell is the author of the cult novel Iced, which has been reissued by Canongate on the 30th anniversary of its original publication. Iced paints a visceral portrait of being Black in America and the ways marginalised communities suffer the consequences of shortsighted political policies. It mixes the syncopated language of the streets with poetry from the heart to take the reader deep into the horrifying world of addiction. The novel follows Cornelius Washington, a man brimming with ambition and talent before his life is torn apart by a crack addiction. Taking the form of a diary and written in an arresting stream-of-consciousness style, Iced ponders the gritty realities of Cornelius’s present and past upheavals that have led him here.

Iced has been praised by the likes of Maya Angelou, who called it ‘a powerhouse’, Irvine Welsh, and Lenny Henry who called it ‘a modern American tragedy, sharply told.’

Ray will be in conversation with author and bookshop manager Cathy Hayward.

Book your free ticket on our Eventbrite page.

7pm on 22nd February 2023

Book launch: One Love by Matt Cain

From the author of Becoming Ted and The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle comes an utterly joyful novel about 20 years of love and friendship, culminating at Manchester Pride.

Two men. Twenty years of friendship. One love.

2002-Danny arrives at Manchester University determined not to hide from the world any longer. This is the year his life will begin. He locks eyes with a handsome stranger across the hall at the Fresher’s Fair. It starts with a wink and soon Danny and Guy are best friends.

2022-Now, both single for the first time in years, Danny and Guy return to the confetti-covered streets of the Gay Village for Manchester Pride. After years of shared adventures and lost dreams, Danny finally plans to share the secret he has been keeping for two decades. He has always been in love with Guy.

Could this weekend be the end of a twenty-year friendship . . . or the start of something new and even more beautiful?

Matt will be in conversation with Andrew Flewitt, a Brighton-based writer and voice-over artist and the creator of the award-nominated podcast Queer I Am.

Book your free ticket on our Eventbrite page.

7pm on 29th February 2024

The long history of women’s football with Carrie Dunn

Carrie Dunn talks about the long history of women’s football – including why it was effectively banned in 1921 and called “quite unsuitable for females” – right through to its glorious present, looking to its exciting future and exploring the challenges its players still face, whether that’s pitches, pay or periods.

In Woman Up: Pitches, Pay and Periods – The Progress and Potential of Women’s Football, Carrie shines a light on the evolution of women’s football and the gender gaps that still persist – on issues such as injuries, sportswear, period taboos and diversity. Packed with practical advice and first-hand accounts from leading female players, this is the global story of women’s football.

Book your free ticket on our Eventbrite page.