October 2009 Newsletter

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October's News from Bookbag Towers

Before we begin, if there's anything you'd like to tell us, or anything you think we've left out, please drop us a line and let us know.

Hi again from Bookbag Towers. The banner headline this month: one of us had suspected swine flu. Nobody will actually give you a diagnosis though, so you lay sweating and shivering on the sofa and take your Tamiflu, but you've no idea at all whether or not you'll have to go through it all again when you actually do get it. Bah. The other banner headline, of course, is that the Booker judges met with our approval this year by giving Wolf Hall the big prize. If you haven't read it yet, you really are remiss. It's an absolutely wonderful book and will stay with you for a long, long time.

We have some great features for you again this month, including interviews with David Barrie and Ian Stewart, both interesting people with lots to say. We've also started thinking about being as helpful as we can to you in the run up to Christmas, and have posted some ideas for gifts for both girlfriends and boyfriends. We'd hate for you to get the cold shoulder on the big day!

In September, our most read new review was Soup For All Occasions by New Covent Garden Food Co, which is a rather timely result as the autumn evenings draw in and our thoughts turn more and more to all things comforting, especially food.

What we've been reading...

In fiction, we absolutely loved Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger - a delicious and deadly twenty-first-century ghost story about love, loss and identity. This is a dark and bittersweet tale that raises questions but is told in a deceptively light and thoroughly enthralling way. Also up in lights this month is A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor. It's a superb look at the middle classes between the two world wars and to say that it put us in mind of Jane Austen is not ever-egging the pudding. It's highly recommended. If you're looking for something a little bleaker, look no further than Legend of a Suicide by David Vann. Set in small town Alaska and the wildnerness, it looks at the long shadow cast by suicide. It's not easy reading but it is utterly compelling.

In non-fiction, the hit of the month for us was Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures by Ian Stewart, a wonderful collection of maths puzzles, games, stories and concepts. It's perfectly written, being both accessible yet not dumbed down. Anyone with at least a passing interest in maths will love it. A more than honourable mention goes to Ancient Gonzo Wisdom by Anita Thompson. As this collection of interviews show, the good Doctor Hunter S Thompson was just as much of a firebrand, stirrer and critic extraordinaire in front of a microphone as he was in print.

In children's books, the little ones mustn't miss Jim, Who Ran Away From His Nurse and Was Eaten By A Lion by Hilaire Belloc and Mini Grey. Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales For Children' are rightly lauded as classics. Mini Grey (also rightly lauded) has illustrated one of these fine tales, so that a new generation of children can discover just what happens when you run away from your nurse and a lion eats you. Pay attention kids. Hit of the month for middle readers was The Death Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean. Pepper had his future foretold at his birth, when his Aunt Mireille had a vision from Saint Constance that he would be dead by his fourteenth birthday. It's funny and quirky and charming and wonderful! Older children should look out for Pastworld by Ian Beck, a wonderfully original take on the Victoriana theme so popular in children's books at the moment. In the future, London has been restored to its Victorian state and turned into a theme park. This complex but accessible thriller takes place within it.


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

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