Tag Archives: News

Airhead by Emily Maitlis

Airhead Emily MaitlisEmily Maitlis has been a journalist and broadcaster for over twenty years and is currently the lead presenter of the BBC’s Newsnight programme. Her first book ‘Airhead’ is a collection of her most significant and memorable TV interviews, with an explanation of the planning and thinking behind each one, as well as the build-up and aftermath off camera. Sometimes the interviews are carefully planned and structured in order to tease out the most telling response from the person being grilled. More often than not, though, the most effective and surprising ones are brought about by happy accident such as her encounter with Anthony Scaramucci. Coupled with the constant sense of unpredictability associated with live television (which is more cock-up than conspiracy, according to Maitlis), the subtitle “the imperfect art of making news” is certainly fitting. Continue reading

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My Most Anticipated Books of 2018

Happy new year! Without further ado, here is a selection of 20 upcoming titles I will be looking out for in 2018 (publication dates where known apply to the UK):

Feel Free Zadie SmithAmong non-fiction titles, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari will be out in August as the historian turns his attention to issues in the present day following the success of Sapiens and Homo Deus. I have a particular interest in non-fiction concerning healthcare and medicine and two books I will be looking out for are Shapeshifters: On Medicine and Human Change by Gavin Francis and Brainstorm: Detective Stories from the World of Neurology by Suzanne O’Sullivan. Elsewhere, Feel Free by Zadie Smith is a collection of the celebrated author’s essays on a variety of subjects due in February. Continue reading

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The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award Shortlist 2017

Young Writer Award Shortlist 2017The PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award shortlist for 2017 has been announced today. This year, the official judges have selected five books rather than four and they are:

Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman by Minoo Dinshaw (biography)
The End of the Day by Claire North (novel)
The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachico (short stories)
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (novel)
The Lauras by Sara Taylor (novel) Continue reading

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The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2016

Man Booker Prize 2016 Longlist

The longlist for the Man Booker Prize 2016 was announced today. The thirteen books are:

The Sellout by Paul Beatty (Oneworld)
The Schooldays of Jesus by J. M. Coetzee (Harvill Secker)
Serious Sweet by A. L. Kennedy (Jonathan Cape)
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (Hamish Hamilton)
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Contraband)
The North Water by Ian McGuire (Scribner UK)
Hystopia by David Means (Faber & Faber)
The Many by Wyl Menmuir (Salt)
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (Jonathan Cape)
Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves (Scribner UK)
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (Viking)
All That Man Is by David Szalay (Jonathan Cape)
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (Granta Books)

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Dial M for Murdoch by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman and The Establishment by Owen Jones

Dial M for Murdoch Tom Watson Martin Hickman‘Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain’ by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman explores the background of the phone hacking scandal which engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News International. It was revealed in 2011 that messages on a mobile phone belonging to murdered teenager Milly Dowler had been hacked by journalists working for the News of the World, a former tabloid newspaper. The organisation initially used a “rogue reporter” defence but further evidence exposed how the practice had been carried out extensively for several years under the watch of several senior editors. This subsequently led to a complex investigation and public inquiry which implicated politicians and the police as much as the press. Continue reading

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My Books of the Year 2015

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.

Career of Evil goody bagThe Year Of The Runaways Sunjeev SahotaA Little Life Hanya Yanagihara

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

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The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2015 Longlist

Samuel Johnson Prize longlist

The longlist for this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction was announced today. The twelve books are:

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life by Jonathan Bate
Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance by Robert Gildea
Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane
The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World by Oliver Morton
Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia by Peter Pomerantsev
They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper by Bruce Robinson
The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World by Laurence Scott
Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman
The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq by Emma Sky
Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Tim Snyder
This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War by Samanth Subramanian

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Should Libraries Stop Buying Books?

It was reported last week that some libraries in Birmingham have “stopped buying books and newspapers” and are requesting donations from the public. Yet just two years earlier, the city had been celebrating the opening of the very shiny state-of-the-art Library of Birmingham which was built at a cost of £188 million. It is the largest civic library in Europe and also features a gallery, theatre, recording studio and extensive archives. However, it is the smaller libraries in the city where the requests have appeared, as the Library of Birmingham itself does not accept donations. Continue reading

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Book Blogs, Hatchet Jobs and One-Star Book Reviews

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.

Found on pinterest.com via Tumblr: Creative Writers, Writers Stuff, Snoopy Writing, Brown Snoopy And Gang, Writers Life, Peanut Snoopy, Charli Brown Snoopy And, Peanut Gang, Books Review

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The Man Booker Prize 2015 Longlist

Man Booker Prize Longlist 2015

The longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize was announced today. The thirteen titles are:

  • Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (US)
  • The Green Road by Anne Enright (Ireland)
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Jamaica)
  • The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami (US)
  • Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (UK)
  • The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)
  • The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan (UK)
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson (US)
  • Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy (India)
  • The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota (UK)
  • The Chimes by Anna Smaill (New Zealand)
  • A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (US)
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (US)

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Is the new Man Booker International Prize good news for translated fiction?

Man Booker International Prize 2016It was announced earlier this week that the Man Booker International Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize will be merging next year to create a new literary prize for translated fiction.

Novels and short story collections translated into English and published in the UK will be eligible for the annual Man Booker International Prize with a longlist of twelve or thirteen novels announced in March, a shortlist in April and the winner in May. Like the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the award will be shared equally between the author and translator. Continue reading

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World Book Night: Top 10 Books for Reluctant Readers

World Book Night 2015Thousands of volunteers and institutions will be getting involved with World Book Night tomorrow and giving away around 250,000 special editions of 20 different books to people in their communities. While World Book Day celebrates reading specifically for children, World Book Night was established in 2011 as an alternative celebration for adults. 35% of the  population in the UK never read for pleasure and World Book Night is about reaching as many people as possible who don’t regularly read, particularly in prisons, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters. As well as improving literacy and employability, reading has profound positive effects including social interaction through participating in book groups, as well as general well-being and happiness.

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Go Set a Watchman: The Inevitable Disappointment of Literary Sequels?

Go Set a WatchmanUntil last week, the prospect of Harper Lee publishing a new book fifty-five years after ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ seemed about as likely as Donna Tartt churning out novels at the same pace as Stephen King or E. L. James winning the Man Booker Prize. But this is exactly what was announced by her publishers at HarperCollins last Tuesday.

Few details have been revealed so far other than that the book is about Scout Finch returning to Alabama as an adult twenty years after the events in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. ‘Go Set A Watchman’ was written before ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ but Lee was persuaded by her publishers to focus on Scout’s childhood instead. The original novel was subsequently lost before it was rediscovered last autumn.

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New Books Coming Soon in 2015

The Buried GiantA God in RuinsA Spool of Blue ThreadThe Girl on the Train

 

 

 

 

 

2014 was a fantastic year for new books by some of my favourite authors including ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage‘ by Haruki Murakami, ‘The Paying Guests‘ by Sarah Waters, ‘Us‘ by David Nicholls and ‘The Book of Strange New Things‘ by Michel Faber. 2015 is also shaping up to be a bumper year for long-awaited new novels from both established authors and debut novelists alike. Here are the ones to watch in 2015:

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The 2014 End of Year Book Survey

2014-end-of-year-book-surveyI 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

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Girl Online by Zoe Sugg: Is Ghostwriting Unethical?

Earlier this week, it was announced that ‘Girl Online’ by Zoe Sugg also known as YouTube vlogger Zoella, was the fastest selling debut novel of all time having shifted 78,109 copies in its first week of sales in the UK. However, in an article published in The Telegraph today, Penguin Random House confirmed to The Sunday Times that “to be factually accurate you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own”.

Zoella's first book: YouTube blogger Zoe Sugg poses with Girl Online Continue reading

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Penguin defends “creepy” new cover of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryAlthough the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is supposed to be metaphorical, the controversy surrounding the new Penguin Modern Classics edition of Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ suggests that many readers care about actual book covers quite a lot. Variously described as postmodern, sexualised, creepy and downright terrifying, the new edition of Dahl’s best-loved book released next month ahead of its 50th anniversary has provoked some very strong reactions from readers and critics this week.

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Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hard Choices‘Hard Choices’ is Hillary Rodham Clinton’s account of the challenges she faced as America’s 67th Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013 during Barack Obama’s first term as President of the United States. Covering major world events including the global financial crisis, the Arab Spring, wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East and the continuing global challenges of climate change and poverty, ‘Hard Choices’ charts Clinton’s first-hand experience of foreign affairs and outlines her approach to diplomacy based on “smart power” using a combination of “hard power” in the form of actions and “soft power” through discussions. Continue reading

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Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

MoranthologyThe ingeniously titled ‘Moranthology’ is a collection of Caitlin Moran’s columns, reviews and interviews originally published in The Times. Following the success of her guide to modern feminism, ‘How To Be a Woman‘, this collection covers a broader range of topics including Boris Johnson, cannabis, tax, Doctor Who, holidays in Aberystwyth, burqas, World of Warcraft, party bags and pandas to name a few. Continue reading

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Books in Prisons

The Ministry of Justice has recently banned prisoners in the UK from receiving books sent by friends and relatives.  According to the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, the new restrictions on parcels received by inmates are part of an “incentives and earned privileges” scheme and aims to prevent drugs and other illegal items being smuggled into prisons.

Shelfie

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