THE global pandemic has left so many of us stuck at home with nothing to do – so there’s never been a better time to pick up a book.

But the onset of lockdown saw many retailers selling books shut up shop, meaning it’s hard to find something new once you’ve got to the end of your bookshelf.

Thankfully, one local, independent bookstore has remained on hand to provide advice and reading material during the coronavirus crisis.

The Hexham Courant has launched a campaign celebrating businesses going above and beyond in the community, identifying their special efforts by crowing them Trader of the Week.

This week, Claire Grint of Cogito Books in Hexham was nominated for the prize by John and Fiona Hewitt, also of Hexham.

John said: “Of course, the lockdown in March meant the physical Cogito shop had to close its doors, but since then Claire has remained at the end of a telephone, helping customers with her usual cheerfulness and charm.

“She has supplied and ordered books, offered recommendations, then either delivered books personally and free of charge locally, or sent them by post to readers further afield as gifts.

“She has also been happy to deliver a supply of greeting cards from Cogito’s stock to those unable to get out to shop for them.

“To many people, books are an essential source of solace, inspiration, and escapism, especially in these troubling times.

“Claire is continuing to offer a vital and hugely appreciated service.”

Cogito was established by Claire’s father, Alan, and her step-mother Julia in May 2001.

Claire believes the shop hasn’t been closed since then.

She said: “This has been the first time in 19 years that our shop has not been open to customers.

“We felt it was important to show there was a community around us to lessen the isolation.

“Since day one I’ve been here in the shop, we thought it was important to have a friendly voice on the phone.

“We’ve been offering recommendations, ordering books and carrying out deliveries.

“We haven’t furloughed anybody, and the rest of the team are working from home maintaining a connection with customers, sharing recommendations and keeping communication channels open.

“It’s a time when books are really important. I think books offer a way of enhancing people’s lives in the best of times.

“It’s been quite strange, but it’s really brought home the fundamentals of our business and the role as a book shop is as simple as getting books into people’s hands.”

Cogito has long championed budding local authors, and has always been a firm supporter of Hexham Book Festival. In normal times, the business also runs three book groups and offers personal reading consultations.