Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, my darlings!

I can't say that I'm a huge fan of Halloween, for the same reason that darkness gives me the heebie-jeebies. A day devoted to scary stuff is not quite up my alley. But after living in the US - and now being engaged to an American - it's become more difficult for me to avoid.

Thankfully, there is one way I don't mind celebrating and that's with a good book. I scare so easy that I've never made it in to the Stephen King variety, but hand me a good gothic novel and I'm ready to go. One of my all-time favourites is Bram Stoker's fantastic Dracula.

It's interesting to think that, historically, humans have always had a penchant for freaking themselves out. Go back to the 1800s and you find some of the greatest spooky literature in existence. Have you dipped into any of Charles Dickens' ghost stories? If not, you must! Despite the muppets' fantastic marketing ability, A Christmas Carol is not, in fact, the only ghostly tale that Dickens authored. The Victorians had a crazy love for all things freaky. When I worked in Knebworth House, one of my favourite stories was about gothic novelist Edward Bulwer Lytton, who would host seances for his friends with the resident medium.

So what books, historical or otherwise, are on your list this Halloween?

Wishing you all a fantastically spooky (or, if that's not your thing, a super quiet) day!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Weekly Reader

Happy Thursday, all. This week has seen me immersed in #97 of the TIME 100 Novels - the 700 page epic A Dance to the Music of Time: Spring by Anthony Powell. The beauty of this reading challenge is the great exposure it provides to books that wouldn't otherwise be on my radar. As someone who LOVES the old classics, the TIME list is also a brilliant guide to more contemporary novels. Fortunately, now that I'm coming to the end of #97, I've managed to pull myself away for long enough to write this post!


'Amazon Accused of Big Brother Tactics Over Customer Reviews' by David Barnett (The Guardian)

Amazon has stepped up its monitoring of customer reviews in an effort to stamp out personal interest.  The website is now watching for interactions of reviewers with authors on social media sites and using this as a reason to remove reviews on the basis of 'eligibility'. This is a problematic development for fans of books - if you want to contact the author, subsequent reviews of their books on Amazon may be banned on account of your 'personal relationship'. A petition has been launched against Amazon's latest monitoring tactic.

'Netflix-Like Book Services Would Be Happy if You Read Less' by Davey Alba (Wired)

This article is a great dissection of the e-book subscription services, growing in popularity. The various platforms offering this sort of service are continuously evolving as lessons regarding reading habits are learned. Read this article to learn a little more about upcoming changes.

'Top Writing Tips for New Children's Authors from Top Editors' (The Guardian)

Are you a budding children's author? This article offers advice from 6 top children's books editors. A worthy read for anyone with an interest in the writing process and those techniques specific to writing books for children.


Writing Change: Words in Time of Conflict and Transition - 25 July 2015 (British Library)

As a student of human rights, I'm obviously interested in any place where my interests coincide. This discussion about the role of literature in conflict promises to be an interesting evening to consider the place of novels in times of great upheaval.

The Goods

Literary Emporium (Etsy)

I am utterly obsessed with this shop. It has a fantastic array of literary-themed delights - notebooks, jewellery, and postcards, to name a few. If you're looking for a gift for a fellow bibliophile (or want to treat yourself), this should be your first stop!

Shop for these here!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Weekly Reader

Welcome to your one-stop shop for literary updates! Here I review the week's top articles, preview upcoming events, and give a shout out to the best in literary paraphernalia. Enjoy!


'Hearing Words, Writing Sounds: Examining the Authors Brain' by Richard Lea (The Guardian)

Ever wonder what happens in the brain when writing or reading fiction? This article by Richard Lea brings together findings from research and summarises the distinction between written and spoken approaches to "writerly models." Especially interesting are the anecdotes about authors who like to read their work out-loud and those who openly avoid this approach. 

'Rare Books: Foiling the Thiefs' by A.C. (The Economist)

Did you know that there is a dark side to the rare book trade? Neither did I. This revealing article in The Economist is a fascinating insight into the thefts that have come to pose a real threat to our literary heritage. According to the article, rising prices for rare manuscripts combined with lax security have created a criminal trend. Something to think about when you next consider spending your spare millions on starting a rare book collection.

'16 LGBT Books That Will Actually Change Your Life' by Farah Penn and Candice Darden (Buzzfeed)



Edinburgh International Book Festival - 15 to 31 August 2015 (website)

I am beyond excited for this year's Edinburgh Book Fest. I already have my tickets booked and must now just wait patiently for August. Tickets went on sale last week but there are still plenty available. So make plans for a long-weekend in this beautiful city and enjoy some top literary events!

Midnight Watchman: An Evening Celebration and First Chance to Buy Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman - 13th July 2015 (Foyles)

Despite the initial controversy surrounding the release of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird sequel, everyone in the literary world is stoked for Go Set a Watchman. I haven't been to a midnight release since Harry Potter but this may be a worthy late night adventure!

The Goods

Bookity (Etsy)

One of my greatest ever gifts was a Pride and Prejudice bracelet and hairpins. Obviously courtesy of my wonderful (and patient) fiancé. Looking around for similar creations I stumbled upon Bookity and a huge variety of literary-themed jewellery. Whatever your obsession - be it Sherlock Holmes, Jane Austen, or Jay Gatsby - you will find something to your taste. There are even cuff links for the guys! So get shopping!

 Available on Etsy