I am very pleased to be on the official shadow panel for this year’s Young Writer of the Year Award (sponsored by the Sunday Times, Peters Fraser + Dunlop in association with Warwick University), along with four brilliant book bloggers: Rebecca at Bookish Beck, Annabel at annabookbel, Dane at Social Bookshelves and Eleanor at Elle Thinks.
The £5,000 prize is open to UK and Irish writers aged 35 or under for a work of fiction, poetry or non-fiction of outstanding literary merit. It was relaunched in 2015 following a hiatus since 2009 and past winners include Zadie Smith, Sarah Waters, Naomi Alderman and Francis Spufford. Continue reading
1. I read more books than I used to. This must be something that pretty much every book blogger can identify with. Even though blogging itself takes up a lot of time, it’s pretty hard not to start reading more when following other blogs leads to so many new sources of book recommendations. However, I also know my limits and reading during my commute to work and sticking consistently to one or two blog posts a week feels achievable and has helped me avoid both reading and blogging burnout.
2. I read more new books than I used to. This is partly a consequence of receiving review copies from publishers but following other bloggers with similar reading tastes and literary award longlists means I often seek out copies of newly published books from other sources too.
3. My reading tastes have diversified a lot in terms of genre. As well as newer books, I have been reading more non-fiction and translated fiction and I don’t think I would have made so many new discoveries if I didn’t run a blog.
‘Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer’ (also published under the title ‘The World Between Two Covers’ in the United States) is Ann Morgan’s account of how she read a book from every country in the world after realising that her literary diet mostly consisted of British and American authors. Rather than cobbling together Morgan’s reviews of the 197 books she read in 2012 which are already available for free on her excellent blog A Year of Reading the World, her bibliomemoir examines questions such as what makes a good translation, how to define a sovereign nation and what the future holds for world literature and the publishing industry. Continue reading
In no particular order, here are some of my favourite books from those I’ve read in 2015:
Favourite fiction published in 2015
I loved Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith which is the third book in the Cormoran Strike series and I was lucky enough to attend a special launch event in October in which my team came first in a live escape game. Winning a signed copy was a particular highlight.
The relaunch of the Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year Award introduced me to some fantastic new authors including The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota which is my personal favourite from a very strong shortlist.
I really enjoyed seeing Hanya Yanagihara talk about her second novel A Little Life at Foyles last summer. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, it’s been one of the most talked-about and controversial books of the year and, in my view, one of the most astonishingly original. Continue reading
I like to think that I am relatively in touch with what’s going on in the book blogging world. However, until very recently, I must confess that I didn’t really know anything at all about BookTube, let alone how big it has become over the past few years. It turns out that there is a whole other world out there of book vloggers known as BookTubers who create video blogs about books on YouTube.
Even though I don’t give ratings in my own blog reviews, I always look at the one-star reviews of books I want to read on Amazon or Goodreads and sometimes wonder what compels people to write them. The number or proportion of these one-star reviews and the amount of venom contained within them – justified or otherwise – can often determine whether or not I am likely to buy the book. As with the purchase of any product, it seems natural to seek out what the worst case scenario might be in order to evaluate the risk of potential disappointment.
I do this survey every year so here it is again….
1. Best book you read in 2014? (You can break it down by genre if you want) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt was a great start to the year and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber was another highlight. For non-fiction, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald really stood out for its original blend of memoir, biography and nature writing.
2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t? As with The Rehearsal, the overly complex structure of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton prevented me from enjoying it as much as I had hoped.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2014? It’s a very intense read but The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud was a pleasant surprise as I didn’t really get on with The Last Life at all last year. Continue reading
I review the majority of the books I read. However, mostly due to lack of time, I don’t blog about all of them. Here are my thoughts about nine other books I read in 2014 but didn’t review earlier in the year.
I did this survey last year so here it is again….
1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (You can break it down by genre if you want) This is hard… in terms of fiction, highlights definitely include ‘A Tale for the Time Being‘ by Ruth Ozeki, ‘Life After Life‘ by Kate Atkinson and ‘Red Joan‘ by Jennie Rooney. The best non-fiction book was probably ‘Quiet‘ by Susan Cain. I don’t give books star ratings in my reviews so it is difficult to judge and compare a whole year’s worth of reading.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? I was not so much disappointed but just rather perplexed by ‘The Orphan Master’s Son‘ by Adam Johnson. I was intrigued by the story’s setting in North Korea but it didn’t really grab me as much as I thought it would. Continue reading
This week, I found a very interesting post by Amanda Nelson on an awesome website called Book Riot which lists the sort of things that a stereotypical book snob might say and then a “translation” for what they really mean. It’s a very humorous and tongue-in-cheek piece which isn’t meant to be taken very seriously but it got me thinking about book snobbishness and which statements are the sort of things that I might say…
E-reading isn’t REAL reading. = I need my personal preferences about my hobby to be validated as the only right and moral way do to a thing.
Not guilty. I read printed books and I read eBooks. As I have said elsewhere, e-readers are great for travel but I still read a lot of printed books. Continue reading
I started blogging pretty much on the spur of the moment. At the time, I was a final year undergraduate student and I was reading a lot of books that were not related to my university course and found that I had things to say but nobody to really talk to about them. And so my Little Blog was born on a Monday evening in March 2012 right at the time when I should have been revising for my final exams (fortunately, I did alright in the end but it wasn’t really an ideal time to start it). Continue reading
Last summer, I set myself the slightly insane task of reading two novels a week purely for pleasure, in other words, not related to my degree course. Originally, this ‘project’ was only meant to last for my sixteen week summer break and had been something I had been looking forward to for a long time as I had had only limited access to English language books when I was studying in Paris for a year (the time when I really should have started writing a blog). I expected that I wouldn’t be able to continue the pace during term time. However, nearly ten months later, possibly at the expense of getting a decent result in my degree, I am still managing to read two novels a week, having possibly borrowed more fiction from the university than the non-fiction I am supposed to be reading for my course. Some people ruin their degrees by drinking too many Jagerbombs at toga parties. I, however, may ruin my degree by spending too much of my time reading 653 page novels by Jonathan Franzen instead of journal articles about political analysis. And if my blogging word count starts getting higher than my project word count…well, that’s when I’ll know I have a bit of a problem. Continue reading