October 2010 Newsletter

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October's News from Bookbag Towers

Right. This month we are avoiding all talk of politics and spending cuts. Now the Chilean miners have been rescued - did you cry? We did - what we need is a good book to take our minds off all the cuts doom and gloom, which has been going on since forever and a day. Just do it already!

Have you heard of the British Library's web archive? It's a thing we've been meaning to tell you about for a long time and failed miserably in getting around to. Basically, it's a collection sites of cultural, historical and political importance to the UK and you can have a look at it here. Part of the plan is to keep a record of how the web has evolved over the years by taking 6-monthly snapshots of a selection of cultural websites. And guess what? Bookbag is included in the blog section - are we a blog? - and snapshots of our site have been archived for posterity since 2008. It tickles us pink to think that we've been included. Take a look - the whole website is just fascinating!

We also wanted to draw your attention to a particular competition we're running this month. Actor Ralph Fiennes brings to life some of Kipling's best known poetry and prose in a wonderful audio CD, recorded in the study at Bateman's, Kipling's Jacobean house in East Sussex where he wrote many of his books and where he lived for the last thirty years of his life. It presents the many-sidedness of Kipling's talent, in prose and verse, and shows him to be probably the most versatile English writer of his time. The reading of My Boy Jack, about his son John, killed at the age of one month over eighteen, and recorded in the room where it was written, is almost unbearably poignant. And you can win a copy here.

Features

There have been two important prizes given since our last newsletter, and our Features section has the lowdown on both. We were very happy that Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize but were less sure about the biggie - the Booker went to The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. Do you think the judges got it right?

We've also got some interesting new interviews. If you're into that whole paranormal romance thing, you're going to love Angel by L A Weatherly. It's a breathtaking helter-skelter of a story, and we persuaded Lee to tell us all about it. The New Scientist's annual books of answers to tantalising questions have always entertained and educated us here at Bookbag, so the opportunity to interview Mick O'Hare about this year's offering Why Can't Elephants Jump? was too good to miss. For a long time Lorraine Jenkin has been one of Bookbag's favourite authors and we simply couldn't resist the opportunity to ask her a few questions.

Golden Hour

We're harking back to 1985 and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood in Golden Hour this month, and not just because Vintage Classics have kindly reissued it. It's a dystopian parable with lots to say about womanhood, that is rightly deserving the tag modern classic. We have long admired Atwood here at Bookbag Towers and we think this is a remarkable book, illustrative of her entire canon.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new...

In fiction, Robin has chosen Surface Detail by Iain M Banks as our book of the month. It's a fantastic sci fi adventure in the Culture series. No prior knowledge of the previous books is needed, but be prepared to be confused at first as this battle for the future of Hell rages between the virtual and real worlds while a young girl seeks revenge on her former owner. Banks raises some interesting questions about identity, death and the whole point of Hell.

In non-fiction, John's gone for You Never Give Me Your Money: The Battle for the Soul of the Beatles by Peter Doggett. It's an exhaustive, thorough look at the Beatles as individuals and businessmen from the late 1960s to the present day, a saga all too often marked by litigation. Doggett has done wonders in telling the whole convoluted story so readably.

For teenagers, we're recommending Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. A crossover book straddling both older teens and adults, it's a chilling ghost story set in the stark, desolate environment of the Arctic. Subtle and evocative, it's an absorbing and intelligent read. Not many people can write historical fiction without anachronism but with a contemporary feel and Michelle Paver is one of them.

For the little ones, Ruth has chosen The Dolls' House Fairy by Jane Ray, a sweet fairy story with beautiful, detailed illustrations. Rosy conjours up a fairy in her time of need to help her deal with her worries and fears for her dad, who's in hospital.

Reviewers

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!

Competitions

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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