Sunday, 20 December 2009

Alice's adventures in Algebra

This is an interesting article from the New Scientist on the importance of maths, and partucular algebra, in Alice in Wonderland:

"The madness of Wonderland, I believe, reflects Dodgson's views on the dangers of this new symbolic algebra. Alice has moved from a rational world to a land where even numbers behave erratically. In the hallway, she tried to remember her multiplication tables, but they had slipped out of the base-10 number system we are used to. In the caterpillar scene, Dodgson's qualms are reflected in the way Alice's height fluctuates between 9 feet and 3 inches. Alice, bound by conventional arithmetic where a quantity such as size should be constant, finds this troubling: "Being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing," she complains. "It isn't," replies the Caterpillar, who lives in this absurd world."

For more of this sort of stuff read on here.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Noughty Books

Here's a relatively random set of books of the noughties from the Telegraph.

It's based on books that 'defined the noughties', rather than ones that were best selling, or any good, but there are some interesting ones on the list, including (by my reckoning) ten that we've read, and a few others (inc The Line of Beauty) that we considered.

Plus - The Onion AV Club has a shorter list, but much more in tune with our tastes.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Favourite book shops - Daunt Books

There was a really good profile of Daunt Books in the Evening Standard on Friday.

Specifically why they are booking while Borders collapsed. Extract:

"Daunt Books, the five-store chain with branches in Marylebone, Hampstead and Holland Park, has seen sales rise 7% this year, with double-digit increases over the past two months.Founder James Daunt admits the recent surge is due to poor comparables, but says that business is “booming”.

“We're doing well because we have good staff who concentrate on selling good books,” he says. “The products available now are fantastic — although there isn't a single book that's doing massive business, 30 or 40 histories and biographies are selling really well.” Daunt reckons his competitive advantage is his “bricks and mortar”. His stores host author talks and events “almost every night” — next month Michael Palin and Will Self are amongst the billing. “We make our stores really nice places to come into,” he says."

Full article here

Friday, 27 November 2009

Bad Sex Awards

Hilarious, if pretty much NSFW set of extracts from nominees in this year's Literary Review Bad Sex Awards, featuring work from Nick Cave, John Banville, and Philip Roth among others.

I think most sex scenes, taken out of context like this, would seem pretty hilarious; I actually like the Nick Cave one and it's made me more likely to buy the book.

Rent an Author

This is a neat idea from the US - the charity 826Boston, which is dedicated to helping students aged 8-18 (no, I can't work how they got to '826Boston' either).

Raise $1,000 and your book group can have a well known author at your book group.

Any London authors want to try something similar? We can't guarantee to raise $1,000, but we can feed you lots of cheese...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Next meeting - Netherland by Joseph O'Neill - Wednesday 25th November

The next meeting will take place this Wednesday, 25th, at Dan's flat in Clapham.

We'll be discussing Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, a book about New York post 9/11.

Here are some links:

The Guardian's review at the time of publication:
"At times it's hard not to wonder whether O'Neill, who's the author of an admired memoir as well as being a long-term member of the Staten Island Cricket Club, might not have done better to write a memoir-essay on New York cricket. And when Hans starts spending time with the eccentric denizens of the Chelsea, some readers might worry about what Joan Didion once called New York's "insistent sentimentalisation of experience". Yet O'Neill's take on the notion of the American dream is both unsentimental and cleverly attuned to that notion's grip on the local imagination. Perhaps stories of striving immigrants and America's ambiguous promise speak to New York reviewers on frequencies inaudible to outsiders. O'Neill has said that he wrote the book as "an American novel ... My first novel as an American novelist", and in this respect, he seems to have succeeded."

This from The Times:
"Hans's gradual understanding that the American dream has a dark underside for striving outsiders such as Chuck is particularly well rendered; for example, when Hans emerges onto the New York streets after a nightmarish tangle with the city's bureaucracy while trying to get a driver's licence. “I was seized for the first time by a nauseating sense of America, my gleaming adopted country, under the secret actuation of unjust, indifferent powers. The rinsed taxis, hissing over fresh slush, shone like grapefruits; but if you looked down into the space between the road and the undercarriage, where icy matter stuck to pipes and water streamed down the mud flaps, you saw a foul mechanical dark.”
Chuck's tragedy is that he never really sees this darkness, never understands that America might value his energy while having no time for his dreams. Or, as a would-be investor in his grand venture explains, “there's a limit to what Americans understand. The limit is cricket”. "

A 5 star review on Amazon:
"If you, like me, don't care for, or even understand the game of cricket, don't fear that you'll be embroiled in endless descriptions of the thwack of leather on willow, this novel is not about cricket in that way. Cricket is a mechanism to explore the city of New York with its ability to create the diaspora of almost everywhere else. What captivates is the voice of Hans describing his life, his love for his wife, Rachel and his child, and the gift of friendship with Chuck, who has endless stories to tell, as well as fantasies to dream about.
Wry, gentle, sensuous and sensitive, Hans battles to understand himself, his wife and the city of New York and we learn much about the history of the city and its inhabitants in this stunningly intimate and moving narrative. This is an absorbing and captivating read, one of the most memorably pleasurable books I've come across this year."

& a 1 star review:
"The basic idea of this book is appealing. Cricket in New York has a quirky ring to it. Quite why the additional quirk of a Dutchman playing it has been introduced, is hard to say. It smacks of O'Neill simply trying to squeeze all the things he knows about, into one novel. It doesn't work. There is not a love of the game flowing through the words - it is too carefully aimed at Americans who have never heard of the game. Hence, the cricket-as-metaphor idea falls flat on its face. It is perfectly possible to write about cricket and the characters who love it. But not if you're trying to explain the rules to the reader. After 250 pages, you don't care what the ending is. There is no `big reveal', no satisfying outcome. Hans just stops gently whining. Nothing has hung together; nothing has resonated or given you pause for thought. This is an Emperor's New Clothes novel, which has somehow been marketed into a success, by implying that if you do not love it, you're intellectually unworthy of it."

& one final one stressing the connection / similarity with The Great Gatsby:
"Many tout this as the top book of 2008—and it's easy to see why. Netherland is a stunning read, a 21st-century send-up of The Great Gatsby—the Gatsby figure, in this case, a charming, enigmatic immigrant from Trinidad, Chuck Ramkissoon. The Nick Caraway narrator for the book is Hans van den Broek, a Dutch banker living in Manhattan, whose wife, in the aftermath of 9/11, leaves him for their home in Britain. Lost and abandoned, Hans turns to the game of cricket to fill time and alleviate his loneliness. It's how he first meets Chuck Ramkisson. O'Neill gives us a kaleidoscope view of New York—a world of immigrants and Wall Street bankers, of shifting identities and aspirations, of solitary desolation and odd relationships. Chuck, a gregarious, charasmatic, and tireless entrepreneur, draws Hans in through the force of his personality—and it's mainly through Chuck that we see the variety that is New York."

Email me (or ) if you need the address. See you on Wednesday!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Writers don't get paid as much as you'd think

This is a fascinating article written by author Lynn Viehl, whose book Twilight Fall (no, not part of the Twilight series) was a New York Times top 20 best seller.

"My advance for Twilight Fall was $50,000.00, a third of which I did not get paid until the book physically hit the shelf — this is now a common practice by publishers, to withhold a portion of the advance until date of publication. Of that $50K, my agent received $7,500.00 as her 15% (which she earns, believe me) the goverment received roughly $15,000.00, and $1594.27 went to cover my expenses (office supplies, blog giveaways, shipping, promotion, etc.) After expenses and everyone else was paid, I netted about $26K of my $50K advance for this book, which is believe it or not very good — most authors are lucky if they can make 10% profit on any book. This should also shut up everyone who says all bestselling authors make millions — most of us don’t."

Buy lots of books, and don't feel guilty about buying expensive books - the authors work hard for the money!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Missing the point

I love the feature in Amazon that lets you look at reviews for a book specifically by how many stars people have given it.

For example I read Me Cheeta, the fake autobiography of the chimp in the Tarzan films, by James Lever, on a recent flight, and was laughing like a drain for a lot of it.

It's really just a very bitchy, funny, showbiz memoir, which probably makes a lot of stories up, and steals others from books like The Moon's a Balloon. It's great fun, especially if you like films from the 30s and 40s.

Some reviewers on Amazon have rather hilariously missed the point though, like this one:

"My book group read this book as we had been impressed by the reviews, but we all, without exception, thought it was awful: badly written, tedious, with no redeeming features other than the photographs. We tried, and failed, to find it amusing. We tried, and failed, to understand what the reviewers saw in it, and it's a mystery to me how it has made it onto the "long list" for the Booker prize!"

Or perhaps it's me that missed the point. Anyway, the story about David Niven, Johnny Weissmuller, two dwarfs, a lion, a Rolls Royce, and Cheeta is worth the price of the book alone - and that's only about 2 pages of it.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Next Meeting - The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene

Meet tonight at the Priory Arms, at 7.30 for 8pm.

The Priory Arms is in Stockwell - Map here

There's not much information around on the novel, but here are a couple of reviews from Amazon:

Five stars

Three stars

Plus a review on a blog

Perhaps it's best known for the film adaptation by Fritz Lang - wikipedia entry here

Friday, 16 October 2009

Video trailer for the Freakonomics sequel

Called Superfreakonomics, naturally...

Oh - and there's a quiz here

Friday, 2 October 2009

Ten good second hand book shops

List from today's Guardian

This is the only London one - Any Amount of Books in Charing Cross Road

Are we ready for 'Vooks'?

Taron sent this link to an article in the New York Times.


On Thursday Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King, is working with a multimedia partner to release four “vooks,” which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read — and viewed — online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch.
And in early September Anthony E. Zuiker, creator of the television series “CSI,” released “Level 26: Dark Origins,” a novel — published on paper, as an e-book and in an audio version — in which readers are invited to log on to a Web site to watch brief videos that flesh out the plot.
Some publishers say this kind of multimedia hybrid is necessary to lure modern readers who crave something different. But reading experts question whether fiddling with the parameters of books ultimately degrades the act of reading.
“There is no question that these new media are going to be superb at engaging and interesting the reader,” said Maryanne Wolf, a professor of child development at Tufts University and author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.” But, she added, “Can you any longer read Henry James or George Eliot? Do you have the patience?”

Read on here

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Next meeting - Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey

Tomorrow we'll be meeting to discuss Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey, at the Eagle Bar & Diner in Rathbone Place. Map here.

Be there at 7.30pm for 8pm.

Here are some links to explore before the meeting:

The official page on James Frey's site

Including this extract, which (I think) is clearly Frey's response to the 'Oprah' furore

Irvine Welsh loves it

The LA Times hates it

As does The Onion

Read other reviews at James Frey's blog, Big Jim Industries

Plus here's Perez Hilton's site - he's one of the most easily identifiable real people in the book

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Read the first 25 pages of Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Frost Giants

This is his new book for kids.

Read inside the widget:

Or see it here

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Lee Child's recommendations at Waterstones

More recommendations from Authors at Waterstones - look out for the well piled tables in your local branch.

Lee Child has a pretty good list - quite a few thrillers as you'd expect, but also some non fiction like The Road To Wigan Pier (which is great).

See the full list here

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Get a free proof copy of the new John Irving novel

John 'Cider House Rules' / 'World According to Garp' Irving has a new book out soon.

Bloomsbury have 10 proof copies to give away - just send an email to by the 30th September, and ten winners will be selected at random. Please include your name and address so they can send you a copy if you win.

Full Ts & Cs here

About the book:

"In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable's girlfriend for a bear. Both the twelve-year-old and his father become fugitives, forced to run from Coos County - to Boston, to southern Vermont, to Toronto - pursued by the implacable constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them."

According to this useful chart in Wikipedia (so it must be true), it's his 4th book to feature bears.

Sounds good!

Update - 18th November - Good things do happen - I was sent one of the proof copies of the book!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Read the first Chapter of William Boyd's Ordinary Thunderstorms for free

The new William Boyd novel Ordinary Thunderstorms is out this week; read the first chapter on his site (Even though they've hidden it very well. & not given it a logical URL. Who's doing his website?)

It sounds great - a chase thriller set in modern day London.

Amazon link here

(William Boyd's Any Human Heart was voted our favourite book earlier this year)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

2009 Booker Shortlist

Nothing that's really grabbing me this year, unfortunately.

The list:
AS Byatt - The Children's Book
JM Coetzee - Summertime
Adam Foulds - The Quickening Maze
Hilary Mantel - Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer - The Glass Room
Sarah Waters - The Little Stranger

The Guardian has a good summary of each.

On second thoughts the Adam Foulds sounds intriguing:

"Poet-novelist Adam Foulds is shortlisted for The Quickening Maze, a historical reconstruction of the meeting of the poets John Clare and Alfred Tennyson at a lunatic asylum in Epping Forest. "

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

More Waterstones author recommendations

Both good selections; lots ot explore:

Sebastian Faulks - includes Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, George MacDonald Fraser (his WWII memoir, which I'd never heard of, and looks great), Anne Tyler and Emile Zola

Kate Atkinson - includes Tim Winton, Angela Carter, Lewis Carroll, Ford Maddox Ford, and Henry James.


Next Meeting - The Turn of The Screw by Henry James

This Wednesday, 26th, at 7.30pm for 8pm at The Bread and Roses, Clapham Manor Street, SW4

Map here.

Hopefully the weather will hold out and we'll be able to sit in the garden.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Short stories on twitter

I love this challenge, issued as part of the West Port Book Festival - write a short story in under 140 characters.

Some lovely examples here (can take a while to load)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Tory MPs' summer reading lists

An interesting list published by The Times, showing which bookd David Cameron has recommended Conservative MPs read over the summer break. It's a pretty solid political list, but also with lots about the conflict in Iraq. I can't find lists for the other parties; not sure if they produce or publish them.

Here's the first twelve:

Terror and Consent: The War for the Twenty-First Century, Philip Bobbitt
Tony’s Ten Years: Memories of the Blair Administration, Adam Boulton

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini
Muqtada al-Sadr and the Fall of Iraq, Patrick Cockburn

Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean 1521-1580, Roger Crowley

Boris v Ken: How Boris Johnson Won London, Giles Edwards and Jonathan Isaby

Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan will Shape our Next Decade, Bill Emmott

Munich: The 1938 Appeasement Crisis, David Faber
A Million Bullets: The Real Diary of the British Army in Afghanistan, James Fergusson
A Political Suicide: The Conservatives’ Voyage into the Wilderness, Norman Fowler

A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts the Middle East, Laurence Freedman

Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World, Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart

List continues here.

Influence: The Psycology of Persuasion looks quite interesting, despite the self-help style cover.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Hills Are Stuffed With Swedish Girls

We've been sent info on this book by a very kind publisher. Sounds intriguing, and they've made a great site for it, with free pages to download. I'll read it and report back...

Note to publishers - we're always open to hearing about books, and other forms of inspiration!

Friday, 31 July 2009

Trailer for Fantastic Mr Fox

Here's the first trailer for the stopmotion film of Fantastic Mr Fox that I was talking about on Wednesday:

Looks like they've Americanised it a lot, which seems a shame because I've always seen it as one of the more 'British' Roald Dahl books, along with Danny The Champion of The World, unlike say Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, and James & the Giant Peach which were clearly based around America and American culture.

We shall see...

Monday, 27 July 2009

Borders Oxford Street closing down

Must close in early August. In the meantime all stock (barring vouchers etc) on sale at 50% off!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Loops Journal

Loops Journal is a new twice-yearly literary music journal, published as a joint venture between Faber & Faber and Domino Records.

Imagine a cross between Observer Music Monthly and Granta magazine and you're in the right sort of area. The first issue is on sale now (£12) in places like Foyles, and comes with a download code that lets you download a free album.

Their site gives you a flavour of what's on offer, but not that much. Here's James Yorkston reading an extract from his piece:

James Yorkston reading his article from Loops Issue 01 from FaberBooks on Vimeo.

Also - see other Faber videos here

We've never done any music books, but it might be good to try one at some point... Any nominations? Kill Your Friends?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Next Book - Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter

Kelly writes:

Our next book club meeting is next Wednesday, 28 July. We’ll meet at the Wine Wharf at Vinopolis at 7.30 for an 8.00 start. Do please let me know if you’re coming within the next day our thereabouts so I can book a table.

The book is Angela Carter’s Burning your Boats. Here’s a link to the NY Times book review

And one to an online chapter from Margaret Atwood’s Writing with Intent about the stories

and some user reviews from

If you don’t get through all the stories don’t worry! We’ll still love you, and we can talk about the ones that people have read.

Post-it Note Stories

A very cool collection of stories illustrated by Post-it Notes, like this one The Four Minute Drug

"I knew this guy when I lived in Chicago named Dave. He was the underachieving little brother of a successful fashion designer. He was pretty paranoid and loved conspiracy theories. One night when we were out at a bar, he pointed to a poster of the moon landing and grunted. “Can you believe they’re still trying to sell us on that one?” he said."

Read on...

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Book trailers are becoming more common it seems (even if they're pretty low budget).

This one is for the sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, from Quirk Books. Could be worth discussing!

Oh - and here's a pdf of the first 3 chapters of P&P&Z. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Fifty Two Stories

Really nice idea - a new story by a different author is uploaded to this site every week for a year. We seem to be about half way through...

For example, The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Tomas by James Palumbo

There's a very bizarre campaign for this book by James 'Ministry of Sound' Palumbo, currently showing all over the tube and - um - YouTube.

Do we fancy going trashy one month and giving it a go?

Here's a review by Stephen Fry:

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Persepolis 2.0

Have a look at this new online version of Persepolis, re-edited from the original to reflect the events of the post-election uprising. You can read the whole thing online here

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Oxfam's Ox Tales

Watch out for Oxfam's new collections of short stories, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, collectively known as Ox Tales, to officially go on sale this week (although I've seen them on sale already, and bought the 'Water' one).

Each book has about ten short stories around the central theme. Included are some of the authors we've read, including Mark Haddon, William Boyd, Zoe Heller, Jonathan Coe, Giles Foden, DBC Pierre and Lionel Shriver.

They cost a fiver - 50p goes to Oxfam.

Friday, 19 June 2009

The Day The Saucers Came

A really intriguing way of presenting short stories online - The Day The Saucers Came, by Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by Jouni Kaponen. It's not long - give it a go!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

BBC GCSE Bitesize revision guide for To Kill A Mockingbird

We did this one in 2007 - could we still have a stab at this question:

As Scout walks back to her house after leading Boo Radley home at the end of the novel, she thinks:

"Jem and I would get grown but there wasn't much else left for us to learn, except possibly algebra."

What do Scout and Jem learn during the novel?

Check out the other resources over at the BBC GCSE Bitesize education guide for the book.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Entertainment Weekly's best 100 books 1983-2008

More inspiration - some real gems here:

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)

See the full list on their site

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Time Travelers Wife Trailer

New trailer - film out in August. Starring Eric Bana & Rachel McAdams. This was our favourite light read. It will inevitably get compared to Benjamin Button, which also an adaptation, of course.

I've worked out that 24 of the books we've read to date have been filmed, including TV productions, - All Quiet on the Western Front, American Psycho, Atonement, Beloved, Brighton Rock, Children of Men, Doctor Zhivago, Great Gatsby, Lolita, Metamorphosis, Notes on a Scandal, On the Road, Persepolis, Scoop, Stuart - A Life Backwards, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Motorcycle Diaries, The Name of the Rose, The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Tin Drum, To Kill a Mockingbird, & Wuthering Heights.

More about Time Traveler here

How books are published

This very entertaining video from Macmillan USA looks at the journey from typewriter to bookstore.

So now we know!

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Book Seer

BookSeer is a new site designed to help you choose what to read next. Just put in the name of any book, and it will make recommendations.

The last book we read as a group was White Tiger. BookSeer recommends a number of books (picking from amazon and LibraryThing), including The Secret Sculpture by Sebastian Barry, and The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie.

Fine, but it will really only turn up things that are very similar to the first book; I don't think any of these will come up with very different (but equally enjoyable) books.

(The recommendations for Any Human Heart are... just a whole list of other books by William Boyd!)

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Smell of Books

Bizarre - A company is now offering an aerosol spray called Smell of Books to allow e-book readers to still experience the booky smell.

"Now you can finally enjoy reading e-books without giving up the smell you love so much. With Smell of Books™ you can have the best of both worlds, the convenience of an e-book and the smell of your favorite paper book."

Meanwhile, you can also buy a perfume called In the Library: "English Novel taken from a Signed First Edition of one of my very favorite novels, Russian & Moroccan leather bindings, worn cloth and a hint of wood polish"

No thanks. But the perfume sounds a bit more appealing than the aerosol!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Our favourites

To celebrate 5 years of the book group we held a dinner in January, and voted on our favourites from all of the books we'd read up to that point.

Best Fiction - Any Human Heart, by William Boyd
Best Non Fiction - Freakonomics, by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
Best Short Story Collection - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Best Light Read - The Time Travelers Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
Favourite Character - Logan Mountstuart from Any Human Heart
Least Favourite Character - Patrick Bateman from American Psycho
Book You Couldn't Finish - Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte (controversial!)
Best Debate or Arguement - A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggars

We're making this an annual event from now on!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Kate Mosse's recommendations at Waterstones

I wrote earlier about Nick Hornby's set of books that inspired him - here is Kate Mosse's list, currently to be found in every branch of Waterstones.

Kate Mosse's Waterstones list:

1. Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. Girls of Riyadh – Rajaa Alsanea
3. The Blood of Flowers – Anita Amirrezvani
4. The Bible – Karen Armstrong
5. Bodily Harm – Margaret Atwood
6. Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
8. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
9. My Antonia – Willa Cather
10. Wild Swans – Jung Chang

Click here to see the rest of the list.

Nick Hornby's recommendations at Waterstones

I love the current Waterstones author promotion. They've asked some authors (Nick Hornby and Kate Mosse so far) to list 40 books that inspired them, and have arranged them together on a table in their shops.

One of the best bits of being in a book group is getting excellent recommendations of what to read, and these lists are very inspiring.

Here's Nick Hornby's Waterstones list:

1. Field Notes From a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert
Kolbert talks to the scientists who really know what’s going on with our planet, and her conclusions are devastating. A scrupulous, elegant, frightening book.

2. Samaritan by Richard Price
All of Richard Price’s novels are brilliantly plotted and utterly convincing. This is as gripping as his best, with an ethical dimension thrown in for nothing.

3. Brilliant Orange by David Winner
A clever, erudite, imaginative book about… football. Yes, it can be done, but you have to be as original a thinker as David Winner.

4. This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff
Funny, moving and entirely without self-pity, this book taught a whole generation of writers how to approach autobiography.

5. Sweet Soul Music by Peter Guralnick
This was one of the all-time top five favourites of Rob Fleming, narrator of High Fidelity, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me. Definitive.

Click here to see the rest of the list.

Win a trip to Guernsey with Bloomsbury

To promote The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Bloomsbury are offering the chance for a book group to win a trip to Guernsey.

Info here - all you have to do is email with your complete name, age, address, email address and phone number.

Ts & Cs: One entry per person. This competition is open from June 1st 2009 to July 31st 2009. Only entries submitted electronically in this way will be eligible. Bloomsbury accepts no responsibility for lost or late entries of for computer malfunctions. All entrants and friends partaking in the trip must be 18 years or older.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Monthly meetings

The group has been meeting for over five years. Initially we met in Clapham, but now we tend to rotate between members' houses, bars convenient to everyone, or restaurants. We try to keep it fun - for example fish and chips for the time we discussed both Cod and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and curry for White Tiger.

Previous books

We read a mix of fiction and non fiction. This is an alphabetical list of books we have read to date:

1 Out Of 10: From Downing Street Vision To Classroom Reality
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
A Murder is Announced
A Special Relationship
Alice in Wonderland
All Quiet on the Western Front
American Psycho
Any Human Heart
Baghdad Blog
Bel Canto
Brighton Rock
Bright Shiny Morning
Burning Your Boats
Cavallier and Klay
Children of Men
Cloud Atlas
Complete Robot
Devil in the White City
Doctor Zhivago
Down and Out in Paris and London
Dreams From My Father
Elizabeth Costello
Elmer's Game
Estates, An intimate history
Everything Bad is Good for You
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Five Little Pigs
Franny & Zooey
Great Gatsby
Grimm's Fairy Tales
Gulliver's Travels
I Am The Messenger
In the Country of Men
Life of Pi
My Uncle Oswald / Switch Bitch, Roald Dahl
New York Trilogy
Northanger Abbey
Not on the Label
Notes from the Underground
Notes on a Scandal
One Day
On the Road
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Small Island
Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Star of the Sea
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
Stuart - A Life Backwards
Stumbling on Happiness
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Commitments
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night
The Electric Michaelangelo
The Gargoyle
The God of Small Things
The Handmaid’s Tale
The Hare With the Amber Eyes
The House of Sleep
The House of the Spirits
The Hungry Tide
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Inheritance of Loss
The Kite Runner
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
The Master and the Margarita
The Ministry of Fear
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Name of the Rose
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Tin Drum
The Turn of The Screw
The Unconsoled
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
To Kill a Mockingbird
Treasure Island
Vernon God Little
Watership Down
We Need to Talk About Kevin
White Tiger
Will Storr Vs. The Supernatural
Wuthering Heights