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 marketing@bloomsbury.com 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.