July 2016 Newsletter

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July's News from Bookbag Towers

Hello! We hope you are well. We hope you are not traumatised by Brexit. We hope you are not in despair at the apparent collapse of our political system. Of course you may be one or both. If so, you have our sympathies and our best efforts at distracting you from the various non-reading related stresses currently engulfing the country. Books are constant!

The BBC has done a big ol' survey and produced a list of the ten books every child should read. We like to see people's opinions and this is a question we often ask our author interviewees. In this case, the Book Trust has criticised the BBC list as too reliant on classics and books that are inaccessible to some. What do you think? We're inclined to agree that a list including the Bible, much as the Bible has much to offer, is perhaps not entirely in touch with what will awaken a lifelong love of reading in our children. And these lists should change with the times, shouldn't they? They shouldn't comprise only the books parents and teachers remember as inspirational. We'd like to see a list produced by the children themselves, if only to compare.

Apparently, the novel's little sibling, is back. Novellas are good for film adapations as they require less cutting and this is a good thing in our connected, multimedia world. And some people, Bookbag's Jill included, prefer a short, sharp, read. But many others like to be absorbed into what they read for a much longer time. Is there room in the market for more novellas? Jill hopes so because doorstep novels have to be really good before she wants to read them.

Booksellers are telling us that sales of nature writing are up by almost a half, as we look for succour among the stressful aspects of modern life. We take comfort in wildlife and landscapes, don't we? And this is a good thing.

Anyway. That's enough from us. Summer is upon us and you will be thinking of your holidays and what you can read while you are away. Hopefully, you'll find a few candidates in our July picks for books of the month. Happy reading!

Golden Hour

Our blast from the past this month is inspired by a recent ITV television adaptation. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell is the classic - and true! - story of a boy, his family and their menagerie of creatures, living on the beautiful isle of Corfu in the 1930s. It hasn't been out of print since it was first published in 1956 and for good reason. The characters are larger than life, the settings idyllic and the stories are laugh-out-loud funny. It's a heart-warming book for all ages and one every generation should read.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Ani is raving about Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. Brett-Marie has never met a kitchen she doesn't want to clean. Her husband Kent is an entrepreneur, you know, with excellent taste and expensive clothes. Yet here she is, in Borg, a rundown small town, in search of her first job for 40 years. Life takes some odd turns sometimes. Fredrik Backman specialises in wonderful, quirky, unforgettable people and Britt-Marie is the most memorable of them all. Ani wants to give this book more than five stars!

Zoe recommends Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant. Paul is lots of things. A writer. A famous name (or at least he was a few years ago). A bit of a snob. A cheapskate. A ladies' man. And a liar. Oh boy, is he a liar. There's a mystery to this story, a disappearance, maybe a death. But it's not about a police drama or an Interpol investigation. It's about human nature, relationships and, well, lies. And those things are all so much more interesting. This is a fabulous read.

In non-fiction, Chris loved Nemesis – The Hunt For Brazil's Most Wanted Criminal by Misha Glenny. Goodfellas goes to Rio! Follow the sometimes thrilling, often terrifying ascent of one of one of Rio's biggest drug traffickers in this fast-paced and informative investigation. Often reading like a thriller, it's also a quick, easy digestible primer on Brazilian history, the cocaine industry, the country's complex political structure and mind blowing corruption.

For the younger ones who prefer fact to fiction, Sue was very taken by Build Your Own Website: Create with Code by CoderDojo. The Nanonauts want a website for their band, and who better to build it for them than the CoderDojo network of free computing clubs for young people? In this handbook, created in conjunction with the CoderDojo Foundation, children of seven plus will learn how to build a website using HTML, CSS and Javascript. Sue says it's a brilliant introduction to the skills required to build your own website and highly recommended by someone who has done it.

For teens, Jill recommends The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon. Subhi is ten years old. He has lived his whole life in a detention centre for refugees in Australia. He is Rohingya and his mother and sister fled persecution in their native Burma. Subhi believes that his father is sending him secret messages contained in tokens that wash up from the Great Sea of his imagination. This is a deeply moving book about the plight of refugees but also about the importance of friendship and the vital benefits of storytelling.

For tweens and middle grade readers, Anne thinks you should look at Strange Star by Emma Carroll . It is June 1816 at a villa on the shores of Lake Geneva and a group of friends are gathered together to tell ghost stories. There is one rule for the evening and that is that their stories must be a tale to freeze the blood. Inspired by the story of Frankenstein, it is wonderfully evocative of both time and place and an eerie and enthralling read. Simply perfect for those who love stories with a Gothic feel, this is historical fiction at its best for young readers.


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 .

What were we reading a year ago?

All at Bookbag Towers

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