Literary Ink

20 June, 2014

I’m not what you’d call squeamish in the stereotypical sense of the word but when I think about to pain and permanence of tattoos I do a whole body shiver. And, as it happens, tattoos have been cropping up quite a bit this week. Firstly, I’m currently reading Salt and Storm, and have just finished […]

“We’re all going on a literary holiday…”

13 June, 2014

Are you eagerly anticipating a summer holiday soon? If you’re like me, your idea of heaven is doing a lot of not very much on a beach somewhere with a very good supply of reading material and cocktails. But, while they sound far more active than my usual getaway, I admit to being tempted by […]

In defence of fairy tales – FRIDAY GIVEAWAY

6 June, 2014

Yesterday there was a bit of a furore over comments Richard Dawkins allegedly made at the Cheltenham Science Festival about the ‘pernicious’ effect of fairy tales on children. Dawkins now says he was misquoted and that fairy tales are probably, on balance (10/10 for the eloquent, equivocating science-speak), ‘beneficial’, see Bookseller article. Just as well, […]

‘It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird…’

28 May, 2014

I studied To Kill a Mockingbird many years ago for GCSE English. I recall that I applied what was my standard then of close studying, of labouring maybe the themes of the novel with long passages picked out in the relevant luminous highlighter pen. Quotable sections were flagged up with a torrent of post-it notes […]

The Power of Fandom (and a free eBook!)

26 May, 2014

In someways an article I read recently about the emerging power of fandom states the obvious. When you consider that the fans are those not only consuming content, buying and reading the books or tuning into the shows, but also engaging with the content in a way that brings in further fans, it seems obvious […]

Storytelling and great apes

12 May, 2014

After watching an episode of Monkey Planet recently in which a Bonobos built a fire and toasted marshmallows (the fire was started with a match, granted, but that’s about my level of Bear Grylls skill), you might wonder like what exactly does separate us from our ape cousins. After some thought, I’d argue that storytelling […]

Spring cleaning at Foyles

2 May, 2014

Spring traditionally prompts us to fling wide the windows and scour the dust and previous season from our homes’ nooks and crannies. Foyles, however, is going one better this year with a brand new, shiny, cathedral-like store at 107 Charing Cross Road. Those last two adjectives are speculative I admit, but I’m confident that those […]

Letters Live – WBN 2014

25 April, 2014

On Wednesday night I was lucky enough to go to Letters Live, one of the many World Book Night events held up and down the UK. The event, inspired by Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note and Simon Garfield’s To the Letter, celebrated the power of correspondence and fitted perfectly The Reading Agency‘s desire to promote […]

Google Doodles

22 April, 2014

You know you’ve made it when you’ve been Google Doodled. On Bank Holiday Monday, Google tipped their hat in the direction of Charlotte Brontë by dedicating that day’s (her birthday) Google Doodle to the author. For a website with the clout of Google, these potentially frivolous celebrations have acquired a certain level of depth. A […]

Sunday Papers Live

16 April, 2014

I don’t often read the weekend papers, though when I do, proper time is devoted to it and easily assembled food must be on tap. In my mind it’s a treat similar to wallowing in a bath for a hour or more. Which is why the approach of Sunday Papers Live appeals to me on […]

“Please look after this book…”

14 April, 2014

If you’re stuck for present ideas for the altruistic bibliophile in your life, then I’ve stumbled upon the perfect suggestion: adopting a book in need of conservation and expertise at the British Library. For £25 you can help with the British Library”s ongoing conservation work and, most importantly, keeping a vast array of titles on […]

Down the rabbit/cake hole

11 April, 2014

‘Pop-up’ has become a buzz word lately, though it still makes me think of jack-in-the-boxes making me jump rather than trendy temporary boutiques and events. But the term’s connotations seem appropriate to two upcoming nights of Alice and Wonderland-themed fun later this month. Fancy following the White Rabbit to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party? Note, […]

Chocolate Connections

4 April, 2014

While reading Stylist magazine last week I struck (Terry’s Chocolate) gold: Saturday past saw the launch of this year’s Chocolate Festivals. Kicking off first in Brighton, the rest of the UK will get their chance of a Wonka-like experience as it moves on to Bristol, London and Oxford through April. I think it’s no coincidence […]

An Austentatious Night Out

1 April, 2014

Anyone who reads our blog posts or tweets for any length of time will come to realise that I’m a bit of a Jane Austen fan. But, I hasten to add, I’d like to think I’m not the scary, militant type that would take it as a personal insult if you happened to say you […]

The Godfather of Fonts

27 March, 2014

‘The Godfather of Fonts’. It’s a snappy title, don’t you think, though I wonder whether Mike Parker, who died in February this year, liked the moniker. You probably encounter Parker’s work fifty times a day: he was the man who adapted and promulgated the font that became known as Helvetica. The typeface with its unfussy […]

Get a bouquet from that book

25 March, 2014

It’s often said that our sense of smell is the most powerful and evocative sense, able to transport us back in time and to different locations in the whiff of a scent. So, excepting what I’ve found among the output of some children’s publishers, has the book trade been missing out on a trick not […]

The characters are invading

21 March, 2014

Which fictional characters in your opinion have lived on far beyond the turn of the last page of a book, or the scroll of the credits on the small or silver screen? BBC Radio 4 is investigating the power of character and letting a number take over with a day’s programming and free events next […]

Literary grudge match

17 March, 2014

Literary fans can be as ardent (read: cut-throat) as any football supporter. Which is why I was slightly gutted to belatedly hear about a starry event that pitted Jane Austen versus Charlotte Brontë. Intelligence Squared, a live and online forum for debate and discussion, hosted an evening last month, the first in their ‘literary combat’ […]

Book Benches for the discerning reader

14 March, 2014

It’s been a long week and as we approach the weekend, I bet you’re all looking forward to putting your feet up with a good book. Even better then if you could park yourself in the spring sunshine (here’s hoping for a repeat of last Sunday) on a bench designed like an open book. The […]

Making books ‘pop’ for kids

12 March, 2014

I can’t be the only person to have been shocked to read the latest news about a reading cultural divide and the link between deprivation and not reading, can I? Obviously, considering where I’ve ended up, I was a child who lived and breathed books, inhaling everything I could get my hands on, from Blyton […]

International Women’s Day

10 March, 2014

Saturday was International Women’s Day which, if you didn’t know, is an official holiday in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia and is traditionally a time when mothers, wives, girlfriends etc are honoured with flowers and gifts. Something akin to Mother’s Day. But it should go without saying that IWC is a heck of a […]