The Magus by John Fowles has an almost mythical place in my literary memory. I read the 670 page long novel in my mid-twenties over two intense days, skipping meals and hardly sleeping. Such was the power of this mysterious, hypnotising book about a young English teacher on a remote Greek island who comes under the spell of a wealthy recluse. I’ve since been hesitant about re-reading it, fearing that my older, more cynical self will find faults with it and spoil the magic. Now there is fantastic news for all The Magus fans, of which there seems to be many. None other than Sam Mendes will direct a TV-series based on the book. I, for one, can’t wait! If you haven’t read it yet, hurry up!
I first came across On the Road by Jack Kerouac at the tender age of sixteen. Revisiting it recently, it felt like a somewhat different novel, my teen reading self dazzled by impressions and emotion, the older me searching for nuance and (sadly?) with a good deal more cynicism.
It occurred to us that it would be a very interesting experiment to tackle key influential novels as a team: adult reader and keen teen. What difference would there be in your final analyses? If your teen finds you jaded and you think them naive, what fiery debate may ensue!
Here’s a handful of challenging Bookstoker favourites to get you started and throughout 2020, we’ll add more titles for your family’s stimulation and delectation.
Do you need to impress someone with a thoughtful gift that looks like you’ve spent ages choosing? There’s still time for a last minute dash to the bookshop to pick out a gorgeously bound book by an underestimated female author. Persephone Books is located in London’s Bloomsbury, and publishes titles mainly by women writers from the 20th century, many of whom are less known or entirely forgotten. Visit their incredibly stylish, cosy bookshop and talk to the staff who are very happy to recommend an excellent read.
I can’t think of a better year to turn to plastic-free, (relatively) low carbon footprint Christmas gifts like books. They generate hours and hours of pleasure, can be enjoyed over and over again, can be given away and are recyclable. We have thought long and hard about which books we think will make good gifts and here is our selection for Christmas 2019. Spread the love!
Lucy Ellmann is the most recent winner of the Goldsmith’s Prize, which rewards ‘fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form’. One of this year’s judges, New Statesman culture editor Anna Leszkiewicz, was in conversation with Ellmann at the 2019 Winter Cambridge Literary Festival.