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It’s official! Kindles are out, physical books are in.

I knew it! Although I occasionally use my Kindle, I’ve always had a soft spot for the real thing. The Guardian perfectly sums up why.

Here are some things that you can’t do with a Kindle. You can’t turn down a corner, tuck a flap in a chapter, crack a spine (brutal, but sometimes pleasurable) or flick the pages to see how far you have come and how far you have to go. You can’t remember something potent and find it again with reference to where it appeared on a right- or left-hand page. You often can’t remember much at all. You can’t tell whether the end is really the end, or whether the end equals 93% followed by 7% of index and/or questions for book clubs. You can’t pass it on to a friend or post it through your neighbour’s door.

How eBooks lost their shine ‘Kindles now look clunky and unhip’

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Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017 goes to…

Great choice for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017!  Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad was one of my favourite new books last year. An American slave story written with imagination and originality. Read the full review here.

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What are you reading over Easter?

Books are piling up next to my suitcase as the Easter holiday approaches. My ever ambitious holiday reading plans rarely match reality but, hey, as long as I have space in my suitcase…

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Why I love reading

Hisham Matar’s (author of The Return and In The Country of Men) article in The New York Times perfectly encapsulates why I love reading. I think he’s spot on when he says: ‘the most magical moments in reading occur not when I encounter something unknown but when I happen upon myself, when I read a sentence that perfectly describes something I have known or felt all along […] And the more foreign the setting, the more poignant the event seems. For a strange thing occurs then: A distance widens and then it is crossed.’ A great article.

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Celebrating World Book Day – What exactly is the Great American Novel?

I’ve always been curious about the concept of The Great American Novel. What is it? Who made it up? Which ones are they? There’s something sweeping, weighty, grand about this notion, isn’t there? I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that it helps to be a white, male to make into this category. Looking at Literary Hub’s excellent article confirms my suspicion. Let’s hope that will change in the future.

Of the books on the list, I’ve read The Great Gatsby (one of my favourites, ever), To Kill a Mocking Bird (wonderful), Underworld (that 50 page baseball game did me in), Beloved (great), Freedom (fabulous), Rabbit Run (gave up…) and The Flame Throwers (good, but not sure it belongs here). And this article makes we want to read more of them, Mason & Dixon and Grapes of Wrath have joined my reading list as of now. I’m surprised Philip Roth didn’t make it. But, hey, arguing about which ones belong there or not is half the fun, no? Which ones would you add?

Literary Hub’s The Great American Novel

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‘A book is a gift you can open again and again…’ – Bookstoker’s Christmas present ideas

As much as I love Christmas, I’m not so sure about the shopping part of it. My heart sinks when I look at the number of Christmas presents I need to buy over the next few weeks. I do enjoy buying books for people though, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as finding the perfect book for someone you love. We’ve been trawling the bookshops and the newspapers to find the most interesting or beautiful (or both) books out there, and hopefully help you find the perfect book for someone.  Here’s what we found.

Merry Christmas!

Michele, Meg, Jane and Julie

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Costa Book Awards 2016 – Short-list

Twenty books to choose from, four in each of the five categories: Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Books – there’s is definitely something for everybody on the Costa Book Awards short-list. And it’s a great place to start you Christmas shopping.

In the Novel category we have Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End, Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place, Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, which we loved, and Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata which we weren’t so keen on (full reviews are in the links).

There are also some interesting debut novels to look out for: Susan Beale’s The Good Guy, Kit de Waal’s My Name is Leon, Guinevere Glasfurd’s The Words in My Hand and Francis Suppford’s Golden Hill. 

Winners in each category will be announced 3 January and the overall winner of Costa Book of the Year on the 31 January.

Costa Book Awards 2016 – Short-list