Thursday, 16 February 2017


I want to take a look at the pros and cons of joining a bookclub, as well as how to find them, why you should find them, and shouldn't... I have previously dissuaded people from joining bookclubs and I want to talk about why. You have to find the bookclub that's right for you.

Bookclubs can help you up your reading rate because you know you're going to have to finish it before the next book comes up. For people that work to deadlines best, joining a bookclub can give you that feeling. 

The books suggested could result in a book that you don't enjoy. It can feel like you are wasting your time in this case. 

Read books you might never choose! Who knows what books are on your horizon that you would never pick up normally. Bookclubs are a great way to discover new styles and authors without even trying. 

It takes time. While the idea of discussing books in a library or in a pub after work sounds lovely, realistically the meetings take up time in your week when you could be, Oh I don't know, reading your next book.

Make new friends and meet people.

Overall, I do think the Pro's have it. It is lovely to be part of a community that reads and Bookclubs are a great way of finding that community. However, in this online world, many bookclubs take the form of online discussions of assigned books each month.

The issue with that for me is that who ever is setting the books will probably have an agenda. If it's coming from a book shop or a TV show, the choice of books is completely determined by the publicity departments of publishing houses. You as a reader get very little say as to what you all read next. In contrast, by joining in with reading books in the Richard and Judy book club, Oprah's or something with Waterstones, you are probably going to be reading the most recent titles, the ones that everyone is talking about.

For many people the attraction is getting out of the house, but as libraries and physical meetings are in decline there's so much more available online. There is something I do not love about the online style of people sharing their ideas by writing what they thought, no one can type fast enough to keep up with an interactive chat!

We have a book club at work where a different person decides the book each month and we meet at lunch time for a drink and a chat about the book. It's brilliant, people bring their own thoughts and questions and we really get to tear things apart, things that others didn't notice etc.

My advice would be to definitely find a bookclub that meets in person and find out what the decision making process for the next book is. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

January 2017 Reviews

Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Louis De Bernieres
Vintage 1/6/1991 Paperback
Work book exchange

The second book I've read from De Bernieres, and the style is definitely unique to him, a slew of characters that can make things hard to follow. Nevertheless, this style in the end makes the reader feel like they know the whole town and that is a clever way of pulling us all in.
It is a brilliant read and very easy to get through, with just enough serious events to make it exciting overall and a huge amount of miniature drama to carry the story through.
There is something disappointing in the ending and as time moves on from the bulk time period of the story. It has that same trouble with if someone is relating a true story, the ending always peters out in a trickle.
Still, the realism of the characters' romantic relationships are my favourite of all, There are obstacles, there are mistakes and there are physical and emotional injuries to survive. Those realistic elements are what I look for in books, and it was pulled off well here.
The book is the favourite of at least three people at work and a copy is slowly making its way around the office at the moment as essential reading for the team.

William Shakespeare
Heinmann 20/11/2000 Paperback
Sister's library

There are so many reasons I enjoyed reading this. Part of that joy was because this was a book from my sister's a level days so included some gem marginalia. But as well as the colourful notes with her classmates, who doesn't love a quick Shakespeare?
How did I not know the story of Othello? I really know know why, but I enjoyed finding out from the original without knowing anything of the story beforehand. The characters, as usual for Bill, are all brilliant, even meek little Emila, who I thought wouldn't feature much at all after her white bread introduction to the story. Iago's trickery and double sided language throughout is hilarious, worrying and thought provoking in equal measure.
I would recommend reading Shakespeare if you don't already, it's not as impenetrable as you might think, particularly with edited editions that have page by page glossaries to help out. Plus it's the kind of thing that is part of culture's collective unconscious and it is never going to go out of style.

Playing With The Grownups
Sophie Dhal
Bloomsbury 5/5/2008 Paperback
Christmas Haul

Roald Dhal's granddaughter did well here, she has a readable style and the voice of her character matures with the story, which I thought was very well done. The story it's self was only a little unsatisfactory by the end (of the timeline), but I think by using snapshots of the future throughout the book, that it was the best possible way to handle that passage of time.
It's a sad chaotic story of the children of a creative and adventurous mother, with the safety of money behind it all. It's self destructive characters are relate able and pitiable.
Definitely one to pass around the office as a utterly respectable read, but nothing for the classics shelf. There's definite amazing writing, but I think the subject didn't really allow space to expand the style.

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Power of Words to Affect Change

With the election of President Trump, there is no doubt that the impact is being seen around the world. Every news source in the UK is covering his every move, including my own homepage of the bookseller.

In a world where reading and books are a source of escape,the impact of Trump's election and his initial actions have ricocheted into the literary sphere.

Authors from the US are refusing to do American tours in solidarity with those restricted by the travel ban. Former Children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman is leading this particular protest, while some publishers are protesting segregation by championing Muslim writers.

Furthermore, the US Sales charts put George Orwell's 1984 in the top spot, reflecting the awareness of America and its wariness to replicate that dystopia. The reading protest in Gezi Park, Istanbul 2013, saw people standing silently and reading books on political equality and commentary. Including Ataturk Kemal's Biography and 1984.

Books have been at the centre of political activism, reflecting history and global events through their pages. Agents are calling for submissions from authors for children, fiction and non-fiction to "increase understanding"  in the US and promote equality and understanding of cultures.

As Lynn Gaspard, MD of Saqi Books said in an interview with the bookseller: "We have to stand up for diversity, for human rights and for freedom of movement for people everywhere. We are in this industry because we believe in the power of words to affect change."