August 2015 Newsletter
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August's News from Bookbag Towers
Hi, hello and how are you? Good, we hope. We have some summer reading recommendations for you as ever this month. If you haven't been on your holidays yet, hopefully there's something there you'd like to take with you. If you have, well, you can still take a look - perhaps for some reading in the garden during the long evenings. Either way, happy summer reading everyone!
The Guardian had a sweet and cool book story for you recently. Apparently, Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman is not the only recently discovered book to be heading up the bestseller lists. Doctor Seuss's What Pet Should I Get? has become the fastest-selling picture book at 200,000 copies in its first week. Aww. We like this. And we wonder how many nostalgic adults number in that 200,000. Not us, but we were sorely tempted!
Author Catherine Nichols has exposed sexism in the publishing industry. She sent her novel out to 50 agents under her own name and got just 2 responses. But when she sent the same pages and the same covering letter out, but with a male name, she received 17 responses. Ouch. That hurts. And so it should. An industry such as publishing, which has many women working in it, should do better, right? Right?!
And will the next couple of months bring us the first ever American Booker Prize winner? The bookies think so. Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life is the current favourite. Will she win? Will you be happy if he does? And who would you like to see crowned?
We're only going back six years this month. But it occurred to us: when was the last time you couldn't put a Booker nominated novel down? The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters is one such. Hundreds Hall, the loneliest house in Warwickshire has been home to the Ayres family for two centuries. Post World War II, both the house and family are in decline – cracks are appearing in walls, relationships, psyches. It is like a spell has been cast over Hundreds but who is responsible – society, the family or the malevolent 'little stranger' of the title? This is a brilliant novel, ideal to lose yourself in on chill autumn evenings by a crackling log fire, and certainly worth visiting if you've missed out on it thus far.
Books of the Month
And on to to the new...
In fiction, Caroline loved The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop . It is a beautifully written book, located both in England and Australia, about adulthood, changing responsibilities, and the universal desire for identity and belonging. This theme is also reflected in the search for union and fulfilment in the marriage of Henry and Charlotte, struggling with the changes imposed on them by parenthood and family life across two continents. The lyrical descriptions of the landscapes and climate are haunting and will linger long after you have finished the book.
Luke recommends The Crossing by Andrew Miller. Miller's first novel since the hugely acclaimed Pure back in 2011, The Crossing is a completely different beast, but a wonderful one. A tightly plotted look at grief, survival and relationships, it is moving, evocative, and fantastically written, with a plot that explores both the furthest depths of the ocean, and that of the human mind. Luke calls it a breathtakingly good read.
In non-fiction, John thoroughly enjoyed Mythology: An Illustrated Journey Into Our Imagined Worlds by Christopher Dell . What does a rainbow mean to you? How would you explain the creation of the world if you had no science as such, or the changing of the seasons? What other kinds of natures – chaotic trickery, evil personae or even the characteristics of goats – people your world? And why is it that the answers man and woman have collectively formed to such questions have been so similar across the oceans and across the centuries? Take on board that this is not a history of beliefs, or a retelling of mythology, and this pictorially erudite look at the history of mankind's musings will overwhelm with details and delights.
For tweens and teens, Jill is recommending One by Sarah Crossan, a wonderfully moving story of conjoined twins, written in blank verse. The story is absorbing and deeply affecting and the style, far from being high-falutin', seeps into your reading in a truly memorable way. Read it, and you'll remember Tippi and Grace for a very long time. Jill certainly will.
For the littler ones, Sam thinks you should look at Kitchen Disco by Clare Foges and Al Murphy . When the humans sleep, the fruit likes to party. The idea that a melon can dance with a grape sounds ludicrous, but in the world of Clare Foges and Al Murphy, this is exactly what can happen and it really is rather glorious. You are all down on the list for this highly entertaining and silly bop around the fruit bowl.
We're always on the look out for people to join our panel of reviewers at Bookbag. We need people who understand that the reader wants to know what the reviewer thinks about the book and not just what's written on the back cover. If you think that you're one of these special people that we're looking for, we want to hear from you. You can find details of how to apply here on the site. Don't be shy!
We have competitions for some great books going this month, and every month, so get entering!
And that's about it for this month. If you're passing Bookbag Towers do pop in and see us – we're at www.thebookbag.co.uk .
All at Bookbag Towers
See what we were reading last year.
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