The Hay festival in Cartagena, Colombia took place a few weeks ago (25-28 January) and I’m sick with envy. I’ve long been wanting to go, maybe next year will be the year? The Hay Festival, Britain’s most famous literary festival once described by Bill Clinton as the Woodstock of the Mind, is a lot more than a week in Hay-on-Wye in Wales at the end of May, although that’s where it all started.
As many of you know, Facebook has changed their algorithms to feed you more posts from friends and less from advertising and businesses. That’s probably good news for most of you, but as Bookstoker is technically a ‘business’ in Facebook’s mind this means that you’ll see less of our posts. Not because we post less frequently, but simply because the posts are not fed into your account. If you ‘Like’ our posts Facebook will recognise this and feed you more of them. You can still follow us on Facebook, of course, but a more reliable way is Instagram and Twitter (best if you’re interested in our the articles we link to) or our newsletter (sign up in box below).
Hope to see you soon!
The winner of the Costa Prize Book of the Year 2017 was announced yesterday. The poet Helen Dunmore received the prize posthumously for her poetry collection Inside the Wave, a collection of poems written during Dunmore’s battle with cancer. She died in June of last year, 64 years old. The poems, which are guaranteed to leave a lump in your throat, are ‘concerned with the borderline between life and death’. And if that doesn’t do it, listening her daughter talk about her poems on BBC Radio 4 this week certainly will, unless you have a heart of stone.
‘To be alive is to be inside the wave, always travelling until it breaks and is gone’
Ever heard about the App Blinkist? I hadn’t until a friend excitedly told me about it the other day. Blinkist is an App which condenses books into 15-20 minute reads, basically Cliff Notes for adults, only it’s exclusively non-fiction (thank God!). I gave it a try and I’ve now ‘read’ Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, a book I’ve been curious about for a while. Except I don’t feel I’ve really read it, I only know the definition of ‘the beauty myth’ and have learnt that we women should try to be friends not competitors….it took me 19 minutes.
Lost track of the many literary prizes and literary dates? Just missed the announcement of the Booker or Pulitzer prize winners? Join the club! Even we struggle to keep up. Here’s a bit of help with all the important literary dates for your calendar. We’ve focused mainly on dates for the UK except some internationally significant book prizes. For those events where dates for 2018 have not yet been published, we have used the 2017 dates. Please let us know in the comment field below if we missed any (which we surely have)!
James Wood’s annual list of literary discoveries from the past year is always an interesting read. This year he has chosen four books that he feels deserve more attention (particularly in America, from where he’s writing). I was drawn to his review of Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go, Went, Gone, a book I’ve been circling in the bookshops without actually picking up. Perhaps because I found Erpenbeck’s previous novel The End of Days so excruciatingly sad? There’s nothing wrong with the quality of her writing, though, and Wood’s prediction (‘When she wins the Nobel Prize in a few years’) will probably come true. I think I will give it a go anyway. See what else Wood is suggesting here.
David Bowie’s son Duncan has just launched a book club in honour of his late father. Bowie’s list of top 100 books was first published at the time of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition in London a few years ago and, now, Duncan is making a book club out of the list. First up, Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor. Read it by 1 February and join the discussion on Duncan’s Twitter account @ManMadeMoon. Predictably, the list spans a wide range of authors, genres and countries. Many well known titles here (Sarah Water’s Fingersmith, Money by Martin Amis, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (of course!), Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, but also a whole lot of books I’ve never heard about before. Inspiring!
Finding beautiful books to give as presents used to be tricky. Not any longer. The arrival of e-books seemed to have propelled publishers into spending more thought and money on striking book covers. So walking into a well-stocked bookstore these days is no longer only a treat for your mind but a feast for your eyes as well. The bookshops are brimming with temptations: colourful, intelligent, artistic even tactile book covers. Combine that with some clever content and you’re in gift heaven. If there ever was a place you could kill off that Christmas shopping list with one stab, it’s in a bookshop.
What better way to spend a dark October evening than reading a spine-chilling ghost story? Or even reading one aloud to your family? Many of them are short so you don’t need to scare yourself for days on end. We have selected our favourites and, if you want to freak out your children too, we have some for them as well…
A truly original and brave choice by the Man Booker Prize judges this year. Lincoln in the Bardo is a challenging but beautiful and utterly original novel that deserves to be read. Read our full review here.