October 2011 Newsletter

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October's News from Bookbag Towers

Happy autumn, fellow bookworms! How goes it? Did you cope well in during the mini Indian summer at the start of the month? It came as such a shock to Jill that she almost got the vapours. Short-sleeved t-shirts? In October? October?! Thankfully, her sanity was saved by some jolly good young adult fiction making its way onto bookshelves near you.

Well, after all the fuss about the dumbing down of the Booker in 2011, can you believe they decided to give to the man who's made a career of writing about the chattering classes? You really can't help but laugh, can you?! Anyway, we're happy. We loved The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and if you haven't read it yet, you should put it on your list.

According to The Guardian, Amazon's Jeff Bezos is the person with most influence over our reading habits in 2011. All thanks to the Kindle, apparently. We at Bookbag love our Kindles but are we really saying we're going to stop reading stuff if it doesn't come in e-ink? Really? Bookbag doesn't know whether to cheer or weep. But the good news is that we've made it onto the list! Yes, at number 100. If you don't believe us, take a look*.

Also coming from The Guardian this month is the whittling down of the children's fiction prize longlist. The shortlisted quartest comprises Return to Ribblestrop, Twilight Robbery, My Name is Mina and Moon Pie. Each would make a worthy winner, but we have a sneaky suspicion Moon Pie will take it. What do you think?

  • This could possibly be a slightly misleading link. Oops!

Golden Hour

This month we are going back to a passionate book that won the Booker prize in 1994 - How Late It Was, How Late by James Kelman. Sammy is a Scottish working class ex-con who has just gone blind and his week has only just begun. This is a raw, in your face, book about people, different perspectives and life in general. It asks questions, and then it asks some more, but it won't answer them for you. Check it out.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Louise loved The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar. A middle-class American family have struggled hard to live the American dream. Their two young sons go missing with their surly Mexican maid and the situation soon turns into a nightmarish media circus. A powerful tale involving two diverse societies and cultures. Written in stylish and elegant prose, it's both absorbing and profound.

In non-fiction, and with an eye to Christmas stockings, Zoe offers you The Story Of English In 100 Words by David Crystal. Crystal is a god when it comes to language, and here he gives us 100 carefully selected words that tell us an awful lot about the English we speak today. It's a fun and fascinating book that would make a great gift too. You'd have to be a fopdoodle not to give it a look.

For teens, Jill fell in love with Naked by Kevin Brooks, an engrossing and intense look at London during the punk explosion in the 1970s. We say our obsession with image is something new, but is it? Central character Lili tells a different story. As soon as Jill had read the last page she turned back to the beginning and read it from start to finish all over again. Not many books make her do that.

For slightly younger readers, Linda recommends The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton. Lettie spends her lonely life cleaning and cooking for her drunken father and demanding boarding house clients. But one day two unusual people appear: an old alchemist with a curious invention he calls snow, and a boy with a tree growing out of his shoulder. Within hours Lettie has fled her home and embarked on an adventure wilder than she could ever have imagined. This story is truly original, rich in imagination and charm, and it will captivate readers well above its apparent target group. It's curious, really: how can a book about snow leave such a lasting impression of warmth behind?


Helen Moss, author of the Adventure Island series popped into Bookbag Towers and she was obviously determined to make us very hungry! Helen says the relationship between writing and food is a close one. Read Lashings of Ginger Ale to see just how close!

Linda loved Muddle Earth Too - who could resist a story in which the protagonist is pulled into Muddle Earth by means of a flat-pack wardrobe?! - and the chance to Bookbag Talks To Paul Stewart And Chris Riddell chat to creators Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell was just too good to miss.

Sue spent happy hours at the Ilkley Literature Festival 2011, where she attended a workshop for book reviewers, saw Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall forget his props, and was thoroughly entertained by Chris Mullin. And if that weren't enough, Marcus Sedgwick told us all about his special places.


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 last year?

All at Bookbag Towers

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