Sunday, December 13, 2009
It rained rather heavily on Decmeber 2nd in London. By the look of it, it rained mostly in Brampton Park Road, Wood Green N22 6BG. Our roof is not in very good condition either.
The combination of a busted roof and a massive downpour is not good, and we suddenly found small torrents of water coming through the ceiling. Not good for the CBeebies books unfortunately. Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy quickly put on their waterwings and Noc Toc took shelter in a hollowed out tree trunk. Numberjacks 3 and 4 were at sixes and sevens and Mister Maker hurriedly made an umberella from gloopy glue and some paper plates. But it just wasn't enough and we've now got a box of books that are completely wrecked.
Unfortunately it wasn't just the CBeebies books, and another box of lovely books has been waterdamaged too.
Our landlord's a good guy, and he accepts it's his fault, so we'll be taking the appropriate cash off the rent, but it's not eactly what you want to happen in December, or at any time of year for that matter.
Now that the Big Green Bookshop Top 50 has been announced and is proudly on display in the shop, we're putting together new and exciting plans for next year. There's a couple of great ideas which we'll be announcing in january, and we're also (as always) looking to put on some great events.
If any of you out there can help with getting authors to come to the shop, or have any ideas that you reckon might work at the Bookshop called Big Green, please get in touch.
That's it for now. I'll take some choice photos of things in general soon to please your eyes.
Friday, December 04, 2009
The new Arctic Monkeys album is released after months of excitement. The music press has been banging on about how brilliant it is and how it would be ridiculous not to get it now that it's finally released.
People queue for hours to get hold of a copy because they want to be the first person to listen to it.
The shop opens and there it is!! The new Arctic Monkeys album...
But hang on a minute, it's not in a usual CD case... no, it's in this slightly thicker plastic case and the box is a bit bigger too. And hang on a minute, it's double the price of a normal CD.
You pick up your copy and you take it up to the person working in the shop.
'Excuse me, but i'm a bit confused', you say, 'I want to buy this, but it's really expensive. Where are the normal CDs?'
'This is all there is' says the person in the shop.
'Is the quality of the album any better?' you ask.
'Not at all. The recording is exactly the same as you'd expect on a normal CD, but the record company decided that they'd put it in a slightly bigger protective box, and sell it to you for twice the amount.'
'but that's crazy' you say. 'why would I want to pay double for something that is pretty much exactly like a normal CD, but it's packaging is sturdier. I don't care about the packaging, I just want to listen to the album'
'Well' says the person in the shop 'the record company will be bringing out a normal packaged CD in about 9-12 months time. All the big record companies are going to start doing this from now on'
'but this is really unfair' you say. 'it just means that normal people who love music can't afford to buy stuff when it gets released. No one will put up with it. It's just a great big con.'
'well' says the person in the record shop 'it seems to work for books'
Saturday, November 28, 2009
First of all a recap on numbers 50-11
11 One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
12 Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
13 Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
14 Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
15 Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
16 Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
17 1984 by George Orwell
18 Road by Cormac McCarthy
19 Middlemarch by George Eliot
20 Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
21 Persuasion by Jane Austen
22 Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
23 Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
24 Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
25 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
26 Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
27 Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
28 Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
29 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
30 Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
31 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
32 Book Thief by Markus Zusak
33 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
34 Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
35 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
36 Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
37 Color Purple by Alice Walker
38 Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
39 Bone People by Keri Hulme
40 Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon
41 Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
42 Life of Pi by Yan Martel
43 Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
44 We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
45 Shipping News by Annie L Proulx
46 Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck
47 Tess of the D'Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
48 Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
49 Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
50 Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Now here's the Top 10
10 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
9 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
8 God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
7 Secret History by Donna Tartt
6 Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
5 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
3 Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
2 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
1 Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien
There are 29 men and 21 women in the list, and every book on the list is a work of fiction. There have been a number of similar polls in the last ten years in the UK, most notably The BBCs Big Read and Waterstone’s Books of the Century. Lord of the Rings topped both of these surveys too, so it’s clearly a book that the public love.
Where's Harry Potter? Well it was a bit of a surprise to us too. Even if you add all the votes together for each of the HP books, they don't manage to squeeze into the top 50.
Obviously 2 years is a long time in the world of books. Stephenie Meyer is the latest sensation and unsurprisingly made the top 10. It was a similar scenario ten years ago, when Waterstones did their Books of the Century poll. Trainspotting had just hit the cinemas and the book was the must have title at the time. I think it made it into the Top 10 in that poll, and (although it's a good book) I suspect it wouldn't score quite so highly now. It didn't bother our chart anyway.
We really enjoyed putting this together and hope you find it as thought provoking as we do.
Now, what are we going to do next....
Friday, November 27, 2009
20. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
19. Middlemarch by George Eliot
18. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
17. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
16. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
15. Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
14. Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
13. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
12. Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
11. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Still, we have no non-fiction in the list, thanks to Joe at the Bristol Prize for picking up on that.
So all that's left to do is tell you the Top 10 books, as voted for by friends, customers, colleagues and anyone else who knows us.
You'll have to wait until tomorrow...
Thursday, November 26, 2009
30. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
28. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
27. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
26. Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
25. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
24. Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
23. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
22. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
21. Persuasion by Jane Austen
Join us at about this time tomorrow for the next stage, which will no doubt involve the numbers 20-11, hope to see you here.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
40. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
39. The Bone People by Keri HulmeNot many people know of this book and the few i do know, haven't really enjoyed it, but for some reason, i loved it. It just spoke to me. I wish more people would like this book, as much as i do. It did after all, win the Booker prize. (Toni Sessa)
38. Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
37. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
36. Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
35. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
34. Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
32. Book Thief by Markus Zusak
31. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
So there we are. Tomorrow, numbers 30-21.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
50. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waughany book about a dying breed of aristocrats that can melt the heart of a Socialist Worker is worth a punt (Kate Bayley)
49. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
48. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
47. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardythe first time I realised 'classic' didn't have to mean 'boring'. Tessa Ware
46. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
45. Shipping News by Annie L ProulxProux is a great writer and draws an unforgettable picture with a sense of love in the bleak hopelessness of life.(Caroline Johnson-Marshall
44. We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
43. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
42. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
41. Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Tomorrow (earlier than this) I shall announce numbers 40-31, and later on tonight i'll put a bit more detail behind the votes....
Monday, November 23, 2009
The BBC did something similar to this in 2003 and looking at their list, it's interesting to see what's not being voted for now. You'll be amazed at some of the books that aren't in our Top 50. We're also very pleasantly surprised about some of the brilliant titles that have found their way into our list. Titles that are unlikely to have made it into a national poll.
Throughout the week we'll be counting down from 50-1, revealing 50-41 tomorrow, 40-31 on Wednesday, 30-21 on Thursday, 20-11 on Friday. We'll then announce the top 10 on Saturday, when all the Top 50 will be on display in the Big Green Bookshop.
We'll also announce the winnner of the competition on Saturday. That lucky person will win their choice of 20 of the Big Green Bookshop Top 50. What a prize!
Without giving too much away I'll tease you all with a few titles that got votes but didn't quite make it into TBGB's Top 50.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons!
Watchmen by Alan Moore!!
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson!!!
Viz Book of Crap Jokes!
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov!!
Right, that's enough. You'll haver to wait until tomorrow...
Saturday, November 21, 2009
And he kindly agreed.
Of course, I don’t really have five favourite books. Like most people I have quite a few books I quite like, and this vague list changes fairly often. Generally speaking, as soon as I say a book is my favourite, I stop reading it.
The Book of Sand, by Jorge Luis Borges.
Borges was a 20th Century Argentine writer most famous for his short stories. Influenced by everyone from Eastern philosophers to GK Chesterton and Edgar Allen Poe, his stories are a curious mixture of the gothic and the intellectual. A lot of his stories explore secret worlds, or secret identities, and that always intrigued me. More importantly, he’s Argentine, and my father is from Argentina, so I’ve always felt a strange form of kinship with Borges. When he’s writing about Buenos Aires, it feels like my own secret playground. No world he writes about seems as magical and exotic as the streets of Corrientes or Callao. His most famous book is probably Labyrinths, which is a very good introduction to his work, but I’ve plumped for The Book of Sand, which is just as good and contains The Other, a fantastic little story about a young and elderly Borges encountering each other on a bench in Cambridge.
Long Goodbye – by Raymond Chandler
Both my parents read Chandler – in fact I think that Raymond Chandler is the only novelist my father has ever read – so I grew up with the books lying around. When I hit my mid-teens I started reading them all, and The Long Goodbye struck me as the best of his Phillip Marlowe writing. Like lots of Chandler, it’s an exercise in style over content, in that the plot is always the same (the woman is always the villain. I think Chandler had a few issues) but the writing itself is breathtaking. The story revolves around Marlowe’s friendship with a charming drunk named Terry Lennox, whose apparent death sets off a chain of disastrous events. The prose; slack, laconic, staccato, whatever other cliché you wish to apply, is stunning. The dialogue is raw and heavy with portent. It is infinitely quotable. It is very good. Ignore all the film adaptations. They are mostly crap.
For Esme, with Love and Squalor – by JD Salinger
JD Salinger is, of course, best known for The Catcher in the Rye, which I read once as a teenager and disliked. Many of you may well have had similar experiences. Don’t let this put you off as Salinger’s short stories, mostly centered around the Glass family, are beautiful. If you like the films of Wes Anderson or the music of Belle and Sebastian, you will quickly fall in love with Salinger. Written in the early 1950’s, For Esme, with Love and Squalor (known in the US as Nine Stories) concerns itself with the lives of various members of the Glass family. There is something incredibly modern and yet sickly sentimental about this flawed, intelligent, morose, witty, wisecracking family. The central character is most often Seymour Glass, a sweet, sensitive young man who is unable to cope with normal life after witnessing the horrors of World War II. The eponymous short story For Esme… deals with an army officer (known only as Sergeant X) and his relationship with a young English girl named Esmé, whom he befriends in England and whose presence somehow enables him to survive the rigours of war. It’s a story I often return to.
The Dark is Rising – by Susan Cooper
There are few books that have as much power as the books you read when you’re young. And like lots of kids, I grew up reading fantasy novels: Ursula le Guin, CS Lewis, Alan Garner… anything to do with magic, monsters or King Arthur. I remember one week I was ill and my mother bought me Over Sea, Under Stone, the first in a five-book fantasy series. I enjoyed it, without thinking it was particularly great. Nevertheless, I bought the second book, The Dark is Rising. I loved it. I read it over and over. I obsessed over it. On his eleventh birthday, the young protagonist, Will Stanton, discovers he is an Old One, an agent of The Light, destined to fight against the powers of The Dark. I remember my own disappointment when I awoke on my eleventh birthday and discovered I had no amazing new magical powers. Still, I’ve come to terms with that.
I still have my copy of The Dark is Rising (complete with strange typo where one of the character’s names changes from Mary to Margaret). It has been read 40 or 50 times and is falling apart. Books are one of the few items where neglect is a sign of affection.
A Year in the Life of TheManWhoFellAsleep – by Greg Stekelman
I wasn’t going to include this, but Simon said I should, and who am I to ignore Simon? This is my first novel – based on writing originally on my website. I’m terrible at summarizing my own work, so let’s call it a surreal, dark diary covering a year in the life of a fantastical character in north London. It is a celebration of both the cripplingly banal and the magically improbable. It has talking polar bears, Justin Timberlake, jokes, poems and interstellar porn. It’s available exclusively through The Big Green Bookshop. You should buy it.
there's still time to vote, so don't be shy. You could win 20 books.
Friday, November 20, 2009
When should a bookshop order it's Xmas Cards? The answer is yesterday.
When should a bookshop order it's Christmas books? the answer is last week and then maybe a few more this week and then another check next week.
When should a bookshop do its Christmas window? um, next week.
When should bookshops check they have enough bags and till roll to last through xmas? Look, stop asking all these questions OK.
although lots of shops start their christmasses in September, we prefer to wait until the floods start and Children in Need is on the TV. This is a start of the traditional Big Green Bookshop Christmas, and we hope you understand.
The reason we do all our book ordering and stuff in November is because we are poor, and in the booktrade you have to pay for the stuff you buy at the end of the following month from when you bought it. So if we'd bought all our books in September, we'd have had to pay for them in October (not really the time when I do my Christmas shopping). So by buying everything in November, we can then screw are eyes shut really tight and cross our fingers in the hope that we sell lots of books over christmas, so that we can afford to pay for it all.
The other reason for slight tardiness is that we've been a bit busy lately, what with trying to organise loads of events, having 20 school classes coming in to do buy books for a fine fine thing called the Reading Challenge (a Council funded scheme in which kids are 'challenged' to read six books), as well as all the other bookshop stuff that we do, like sell books.
We're also coming towards the end of our 5 Favourite Books of all time (in no particular order) survey that we've been running. The final day for you to vote is this Sunday, and we've had loads and loads of your entries. But we'd love more, so feel free to send in your top 5. You could win 20 books!
Two events next week
Utter! poetry and Andrew Blackman, author of award winning On the Holloway Road.
Two events the following week.
Wine Adventurer Francis Gimblett and the launch of a new (and the only) history of Tottenham.
Then it'll be christmas i'd imagine, and we can all relax.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Anyway, this is a preamble for showing you this wonderful present that she knitted Freya.
Look, it's a Mermaid.
Oh, hang on a minute..what's going on Freya?
She's no mermaid, she's a human being...with pants (also removable, but we'll spare her blushes)
Either way, Freya loves her.
Candice got the idea (and pattern I presume) from a book called 'Knitted Babes', and added her own little bit of magic to it.
Isn't it brilliant.
Freya's 16 months now and baby number 2 will be arriving sometime towards the end of February. Being a dad is the best job in the world, even better than having your own bookshop (which is hard to beat). Sleep is over rated anyway.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
We couldn't believe that she hadn't given us her top five favourite books of all time (in no particular order), so after a little persuasion, here we are.
Just to remind you, these are Jacqueline Wilson's fave books of all time (in no particular order)
Adult top five
1 The Collected short stories of Katherine Mansfield
2 Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre
3 Charles Dickens Great Expectations
4 Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar
5 Anne Tyler The Accidental Tourist
Childrens' top five
1 Noel Streatfield Ballet Shoes
2 Louisa M Alcott Little Women
3 Susan Coolidge What Katy Did
4 Francess Hodgeson Burnett A Little Princess
5 E Nesbitt The Railway Children
Now, if you're reading this and you're thinking 'eh?', you should probably
a. Decide what your 5 favourite books of all time (in no particular order) are.
b. email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with those 5 books
c. wait unti December 1st, whe you could win 20 books.
hey, what's the worst that could happen.
There's other things, but i've worked for about 75 hours this week and i'm a little tired, so please forgive my lack of blog.
Monday, November 02, 2009
And so ladies and gentlemen allow me to introduce you to our latest and most exciting plan to take over the world of bookselling (We're comin' to get you Amazon. It might take a couple of months, but I know you're looking over your shoulder).
We've teamed up with the wonderful Gallic Books in a pioneering and groundbreaking way, that I don't think has ever been done before. No, really.
Independent Bookshops have always struggled to find ways to work effectively with publishers, and despite the publishers efforts (offering extra money off books for example), nothing has really stuck.
So we want to change that, and so do Gallic Books. They are a brilliant company who publish english language editions of the finest modern french literature. We sell lots of their books already, like The Suicide Shop and The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and we thought it would be a good idea to look at ways of making the most of this in order to let our customers know just how good they are.
So we had a chat with Jane and Ali for Gallic, and we've kind of adopted each other, so to speak. We love their books already (and so do a lot of our customers) , and so we've agreed to give them a higher profile in the shop. We'll review at least one of their books on the blog and on the website each month and we're giving them a special page on our website .
In return, all sales that go through Gallic Books website will be fulfilled by us. We're also the venue of choice for any author event or launch the Gallic hold, and we're also in a position to now offer free postage and packing on all Gallic Books ordered online or over the phone to the shop.
There's other bits and bobs too, but esentially that's it.
What we're both hoping to achieve is that more people get the chance to enjoy the wonderful books that Gallic are publishing. They really are a superb publisher and we're sure that if you haven't tried one of their titles yet, you'll be very pleasantly suprised when you do.
Not only that, but to celebrate this new partnership, we're running a competition. Everyone who buys any of Gallic Books titles from the bookshop or online between now and the new year will be entered into a draw for a chance to win two return tickets on Eurostar to Paris.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
There are a few things to talk about, so as it's late, i'll be brief.
1. Sam Enthoven is a brilliant writer of kids books involving chaos, demons, kung fu and extreme destruction. His two previous books The Black Tattoo and Tim Defender of the Earth are big news in the world of The Big Green Bookshop, and Sam is a superstar of epic proportions. He's also one of a group of eight authors who have actually been trapped by monsters, and are being held by them in a cave somewhere fairly unpleasant I expect.
These authors have had to write on the trapped by monsters website to avoid being eaten or even worse belched on by these hideous beasts. Sam, who has obviously been misbehaving recently has beeen forced by the monsters to write an exclusive short story on the website. It's called Jethro's Ace of Hearts and it's being serialised over the next 13 days. ( Update. Sam has managed to get a message to me via a well trained earwig to let me know that the 13 part story is being posted on a twice weekly schedule, and not every day. This'll add to the suspense....) The story's been illustrated by the equally naughty David Melling.
Sam's an amazing storyteller and I would urge you to keep popping back to the website to enjoy the true hooror that is undoubtably going to unfold over the next 12 days. As Sam would no doubt say 'Bwah-ha. Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Bwah-HAAA-HAAAAA-HAAAAAAA-HAAAcough-choke-burst-gurgle-thunk'
2. A bit more horror here. Last night I read The Kill Crew by Joseph D'Lacey. This is a novella that's been published by Stonegarden, and has taken an age to finally become available in the UK...naughty Stonegarden.
Joseph's previous books Meat and Garbage Man are frickin' brilliant. They both show what an incredible storyteller he is in very different ways. I have to say I preferred Meat to Garbage Man, but the latter had moments of such incredible imagery and power and I was moved by both books.
I've been so looking forward to Kill Crew, and I really wasn't disappointed. It's the story centred around Sherri, one of a dwindling group of around 200 survivors of an unknown plague that's turned the rest of the population into a zombie like state. These 'surviviors' are holed up in protected block of houses, and each night a patrol of seven of them(The Kill Crew) head out to try and reduce the number of zombies that are out there in the best way possible. By blowing their heads off. It soon becomes clear that these zombies aren't going away and Sherri has to make a choice about how she's going to survive.
There's enough zombie shoot em up action to keep the schlock horror fans happy, but it's the emotional side of the story that is (once again) the most powerful aspect in Joseph's writing. This could have been all '28 days later', but you fininshed the story with a real feeling for the main characters in the book and also you questioned what you would do in the situation that these tragic character found themselves in.
This book isn't available in many places, but seeing as we're now offering FREE POSTAGE AND PACKING on our website, this might be the best way to go.
3. Three is a secret, but all will be revealed in a day or two (hopefully one). But it's all quite exiting.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I’m looking forward to my visit to the Big Green Bookshop next Friday, Nov 6th. During the next week, if anyone spots Simon in his new Stonewylde T-shirt please let me know – he swears blind he’ll wear it all week! He asked me to blog here and as it’s Hallowe’en, this is about the origins of the festival. To counteract the Trick or Treat candy-bucket stuff that irritates me so much.
My books are set in a contemporary community in Dorset, where the people live their lives very close to nature, honouring the earth and following the “Old Ways”. I did a lot of research whilst writing the Stonewylde Series and the whole pagan thing is fascinating, whether you subscribe to it or not. It’s part of our folklore and heritage, and is in fact enjoying a huge revival as the Green Renaissance gathers momentum and people try to live more simple lives.
Hallowe'en is the Christianised version of a very ancient festival celebrated by the Celts, and possibly earlier than that too. The original name is Samhain (pronounced Sowain). It's the last day of the old year in the Celtic calendar - the Wheel of the Year. Nov 1st is the new year, so Samhain is the old New Year's Eve.
Many cultures have a time of remembering and honouring their ancestors and those more recently departed, and Samhain is the Festival of the Dead. Celts believed when you died your soul entered the Otherworld which was separated from our world by a veil. Some magical people such as shamen and wise women could communicate with souls in the Otherworld, and the crow was the messenger of the dead. At Samhain, this veil between our world and the Otherworld becomes very thin. At midnight when the old year becomes the new year, as the Wheel of the Year turns, it may be possible to glimpse or speak with the dead. Hence the current preoccupation at Hallowe’en with ghosts and skeletons.
The pumpkin or swede Jack o’Lantern is an old custom; vegetables were carved into frightening faces to scare away any unwanted attention from departed souls who might come a-stalking. Folk would leave out food and drink on their doorsteps for the dead, or lay a place for them at the table. The scene in Macbeth with Banquo's ghost is said to be a reference to this custom, and the words “ghost” and “guest” apparently come from the same root. When Christianity took over, those in power simply adopted the pagan festivals and put a Christian slant on them (like at Christmas and Easter). So they made November 1st All Hallows Day (hallows meaning the saints or souls) and the night before, All Hallows' Eve. Or Hallowe'en. It’s easy to see where our current customs originate from. And although Trick or Treating and the whole obsession with Hallowe’en may seem to come from the USA, in fact it’s only coming back. It originated from here and was exported over there with the Pilgrim Fathers and the ensuing migration of Brits.
When I visit the Big Green Bookshop next week I’ll be talking a bit about the Wheel of the Year and the eight festivals: the four fire festivals (the two Solstices and two Equinoxes) and the four cross-quarter festivals - Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lammas. These cross quarter festivals were linked to the farming calendar - ploughing, planting and harvesting. Samhain heralded the first day of winter for the Celts, Nov 1st, and was the day when many of the animals (especially pigs) were slaughtered and then salted or dried for meat during the winter, as there wasn’t enough food to keep all the animals alive during the winter. So Samhain was a time of slaughter and blood.
Have a great Hallowe’en and remember at midnight to peer through the veil - you may get a glimpse of your ancestors! I hope to meet many of you next Friday in the shop.
Thanks Kit. If you want to know more about Kit, Stonewylde, and lots more you can't go far wrong visiting her website www.stonewylde.com.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Greetings you fine Big Green Bookshop folk, Simon, Tim, Mark, readers, all!
Well, having damn near faced homelessness just recently, I have to say a whole ton of books have found themselves moved from my bookshelves to charity shops and perhaps this is no bad thing, someone will get to pick up a great read or two for cheap, and I, less encumbered by ‘stuff’, am therefore more able to move. Ironic to be left without a roof over my head while trying to finish the next novel which is all about architecture and trying to find a place to call ‘home’… all grist to the mill, I guess.
Anyway, enough of that, I am ‘homed’ again, humbled again, and can now indulge in a line or two here about my top five favourite books! Five I didn’t give away…
Gradiva by Wilhelm Jensen - for its capacity to fill my heart. Description: Norbert Hanold is transported to Pompeii on the day Vesuvius erupts and attempts to warn Gradiva of her fate… and is he dreaming ?
The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis - for its consummate prose and a story that damn near broke my heart. Set in 16th Century France it is based on a collection of ‘Famous Cases of Circumstantial Evidence’.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville - for the sea, the sea, the sea! And one of my all-time favourite characters, Queequeg.
Ocean Sea by Alessandro Baricco - for its humour, and Baricco’s heart-warming lightness of touch…
Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe - for the most evocative prose. When I slept in-between reading this I dreamt that I was covered in sand, and when I woke I felt I had to dust sand from my eyelids (must stop sleeping on beaches…).
If you’re looking for great reads to give at Christmas, along with checking out other folk’s top fives and Big Green Advice, I recommend ‘Gradiva’ and ‘Ocean Sea’ – for their life-affirming qualities… I guess that’s the kind of read folk might want to hunker down with over the colder months.
Thanks Jayne, and hey readers, if you haven't emailed us your top 5 books by now, it would make me smile just a little bit more if you did. And that's a good thing, yeah?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
...Not just for us to feel all clever and special, but because we're going to be doing exclusive free book offers and big shiny discounts etc just for these groups, and seeing as your reading this on the internet, you can take advantage of it (we've already given away a Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy Special Edition CD last week).
Our Facebook Group is called A Decent Bookshop in Wood Green(revisited), and our Twitter name is Biggreenbooks (i can't work out how to link directly to this).
There are other quite exciting things going on in the world of TBGBs in the near future so do keep an eye out.
We have a guest blog tomorrow by the wonderful Jayne Joso, author of the superb Soothing Music for Stray Cats. She'll be letting you all know about her favourite books of all time, which I have to say, are very interesting indeed. If you haven't sent us your own favourite 5 by now, frankly you should be ashamed of yourself. It's high time you pulled your finger out...
Also tomorrow eveining we're going to be joined by the cream of Birkbeck College's creative writing team, as we hear some wonderful short stories from the Mechanics Institute review 6. It's great to know that 2 of the stories from this wonderful annual review are written by customers of our shop. And even better, they're both going to be reading. It promises to be a fabulous evening, so if you can, please come along.
Also also tomorrow, David Vann, author of the extraordinary Legend of A Suicide will be coming to the shop to sign copies of his book. The guy's come over for a bit of whistlestop tour of the UK, and earlier this year i was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of his book. I was engrossed and overwhelmed at times by his book. It's very difficult to review, but it's something i'll be trying to do on this here blog very very soon. My old friend (and what a fine fellow he is too) Stuart Evers put it pretty well here though Suffice to say, it's worth reading.
Thanks to all the people who've agreed to be our proof readers. I'll be in touch very soon. It's not too late to join though.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Things have changed at Waterstone's, and as the company got bigger, more and more responsibility has moved to Head Office. The booksellers are no longer responsible for most of the buying decisions in the shop, or for that matter what books are returned. It's a world of Checklists, Planagrams and Stickering. I'm not saying this is worse, simply that it's different and not my idea of fun. In some ways, it was inevitable that this would happen. As companies get bigger it becomes harder to control all the different areas of the business. So the obvious solution would seem to be to take all the control away and do everything yourself. Another alternative might be to trust the people you employed to do the job that you employed them to do in the first place, but what do I know. They're clearly making more money than we are, so well done chaps.
Anyway, the point of this post was something that I wrote earlier on about choosing books and satisfaction in watching it sell. The thing is, publishers have different methods in persuading us bookshops to sell their books and one of these methods is to send us 'Proofs'.
A Proof is in most cases a paperbacked copy of a new soon to be published book sent out to bookshops or reviewers as sweeteners. For bookshops, proofs are meant to help the recipient decide whether they like it enough to stock it. Most of the time the contents are exactly the same as the published copy, though they occasionally contain few extra typos (a bit like this blog).
We love getting proofs and they work very well (if any publishers are reading this and want to add us on their list of people to send proofs to, please feel free).
Examples of books that we've chosen and sold loads of because of reading a proof include, Meat by Joseph D'Lacey, Suicide Room by Jean Teule, Company of Liars by Karen Maitland and The Isle of Dogs by Daniel Davies. One that we're going to be selling lots of which has just been published is Legend of A Suicide by David Vann of which more later this week.
However we get lots of them. Far too many for us to read ourselves. So what do we do with them?
Last year, we tried book crossing, and we left about 150 books in various places around Wood Green, including buses, restaurants, coffee shops, telephone boxes and one or two in WH Smith with 'here's a free book from the Big Green Bookshop' stuck on the front cover. We don't know how successful it was, because we had nobody come in and tell us they'd found a copy of any of the books...
This year, we're going to try something else, which is hopefully going to be more beneficial all round. And here it is.
We'd like to give our blog readers and customers the proofs ... hang on, it's not as simple as that, so here's the plan.
You get in touch and say, I'd like to be part of your Big Green proof reading team. We'll then invite you to choose a proof to read.
This is where your part of the deal comes in. You will then read the book and tell us what you think of it, in the form of a review. It could be good or bad, but we'd like a review.
We can the use these reviews on our blog/website/shop to give our customers something to help them decide whether to buy the book or not.
Here's the small print.
We can't afford to post the books to you, as there are hundreds, so if you live too far away to pick them up by hand, we'll send you a list of proofs we've got and once you've chosen one, we'll charge you £2.00 per book to post. This will cover the cost of post and packing and nothing more.
We'll do this free book thing about 3 or 4 times a year.
If you don't send a review, we'll have to take you off the list. It's only fair.
When you send the reviews we'll credit you with the review, but you agree that we can use it.
We will stamp the books so you can't sell them on ebay, although clearly you wouldn't do that because it's very very naughty.
I hope that all sounds fun. Our customers already dictate a lot of what we stock in the shop, as they're the people who buy the books, so it's really an extension of that.
So please let us know if you're interested.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This is one of the hard bits about being a little Indie Bookshop. If someone is sick, it means that pretty much half the workforce is out of action.
We generally run the shop so that one of us is in the shop each day and the other one is out and about, either delivering books, visiting customers/potential customers or generally working away from the shop. If one of us is ill it makes things really difficult. We schedule stuff to happen and we hate it when we can't fulfill our promises.
Which is why it's a real blessing that we now have Mark. He works with us 2 days a week (usually Wednesday and Thursday), which means that we can schedule more stuff on the days that he's there, but at the drop of a hat (or something a lot less pleasant than a hat) he came and covered the shop while I covered...anyway, you get the idea. Some larger shops might find it inconvenient that a member of staff can't make it, but for a little shop like us it could mean us not being able to open the doors in the morning.
I don't quite know if there's a point to this post, but true to the title of the blog, I thought it might be worth sharing. We are, as The Rakes and Nietzsche both said 'Human, All Too Human', although they were probably thinking about willies and stuff, and i'm talking about puking.
I like The Rakes.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
we think this is something to celebrate.
Kevin was an animator on the original TV series, and enjoyed a long and fruitful association with Douglas Adams and The HHGG. Kevin's impressive CV also includes working on shows such as Doctor Who, Blake's 7 and he was also effects animator on Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He also, apparently, won awards for his fjords.
It all kicks off at about 7pm, and pan galactic gargleblasters will be available.
These are my five favourite comic fantasy/SF novels...
So Long And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide's unfortunate hero Arthur Dent returns to Earth, finds love and learns to fly, in this 4th book of the series. I was lucky enough to film behind the scenes in 2005 when Dirk Maggs adapted this one for Radio 4, with Jane Horrocks playing Fenchurch. Marvin the Paranoid Android's re-appearance is an unforgettable scene in a book which still divides the fans.
The Technicolor Time Machine by Harry Harrison - combines my favourite subjects: filmmaking and time travel. A small Hollywood studio in financial trouble needs a hit feature film in 2 weeks flat, or they will close down. With the aid of a time machine they send a crew back in time to make a Viking epic - with real vikings! Gloriously silly. Would make a super feature film itself.
Who's Afraid of Beowolf? by Tom Holt. - More time-travelling vikings, but this bunch awaken after 1,000 years under a burial mound in Scotland. A young female American archeologist from St.Andrews' University is their only friend in this high-tech world and she drives them in a minibus down to London where they wage war on their arch enemy; a dark magician who now runs a multinational corporation from his HQ tower in the City.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut - Classic anti-war novel with a broken non-chronological storyline, which combines the harsh reality of the bombing of Dresden with the heroes' fantasy life alongside the starlet of his dreams on a distant planet.
Time After Time by Karl Alexander - Don't be put off by the nutty sounding premise... H.G. Wells uses a time machine like the one in his famous story to pursue a fugitive Jack the Ripper to San Fransisco in 1979, where they duel for the life of an independent career woman Amy, with whom Herbert has fallen deeply in love. A standout moment was this famous Victorian gentleman, who propounded the notion of free love, being rather taken aback when modern Amy starts hitting on him. This was also a super little film in 1979 directed by Nicolas Meyer, who later wrote and/or directed the best of the early Star Trek movies.
We will also be selling signed limited edition copies of 'And Another Thing', the sixth book in the Hitchikers Trilogy, which has been written by the charmingly talented and amusing Eoin Colfer. Oh yes indeed.
Monday, October 12, 2009
There are some uber cool things out there.
However, seriously now, these things pale into insignificance when compared to this magical limited edition book.
There are only 300 of these available and they're sealed, numbered and signed by the legendary Ted Polhemus. We have 3 of them (that's 1% of the market), and we're rather pleased about it.
Unordinary People is a book by acclaimed youth music culture archive, PYMCA. Signed and numbered by the author of Streetstyles, Ted Polhemus, they've selected their most spectacular and best loved images to be available as a limited edition book which went with the Unordinary People exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year. Beautiful black & white and colour imagery featuring an eclectic selection of rare and exclusive cultural photography and excerpts from essays which highlight the history, lifestyles, fashions, hairstyles, music and subcultures of British youth culture, from the 1960s to the present day. Example subcultures and youth movements/fashions which are highlighted include Mods, Rockers, Psychedelics, Hippies, Rude Boys, Punk, Two Tone, Skinhead, New Romantics, Hip Hop, Acid Jazz, Heavy Metal, Rave, New Age Travelers, Goth, Indie Kids and New Rave. Featured photographers include Gavin Watson's skinhead work, Paul Hartnett and Ted Polhemus to name only a few.
For some examples of the amazing photos in the book you can check out the PYMCA website here.
Anyway, changing the subject, we're going to be giving away 50 books over the next few weeks so may I suggest you either start to follow our Twitter feed biggreenbooks, join our facebook group a Decent Bookshop in Wood Green (revisited), or email us with your favourite 5 books of all time. Or not, if you don't want to.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I suggest you buy Leila's book because your life will improve if you do.
Roald Dahl’s short story anthology, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, had a profound affect on me. My brother and I were taught at home by our mum for a while in the 80s, and Dahl’s short stories became a staple for English comprehension lessions (Mum was an English teacher and, looking back, I think our lessons had a slight bias towards her subject). The Henry Sugar story is well-known, but I think we forget how beautiful it is in its conceit. As with so much of Dahl’s stuff, it’s all about magic and greed – adult themes through a harsh and childlike imagination. For my brother and I it was a deliciously naughty peak into the troubles of grown-ups. The Hitchhiker is the other stand-out story here – all about an unforgettable encounter with a ‘fingersmith’, a man described in such gloriously grotesque detail you’ll drive straight past poor souls thumbing lifts for the rest of your life after reading it. All of Dahl’s short stories are magical, of course, but this is the compilation that has stayed with me as a strangely grown-up revelation bestowed on me during a strange grown-up-filled time of my life.
The next book that really captured my imagination was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Until that point I’d been contentedly devouring rollocking horsey adventures almost exclusively, but something pubescent happened in my brain when I turned 12, and suddenly I found myself thinking about time and space all the time. I was a stupid clown at that age, a sort of shy, backward idiot always trying to make a rubbish joke out of everything, and I couldn’t believe how cleverly funny this book was allowing itself to be. It was such an intensely colourful adventure; mind-expanding, the possibilities Adams was allowing himself to explore. I haven’t gone back to it much since because I’m happy with the memory of the book (and most of its sequels), but I did of course watch the recent film. It was… fine.
The third book to really affected me was Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman,(by Richard Feynman) the memoirs of the man who, to my 14-year-old self, set the bar for an interesting life. He was far, far cleverer than me, but that was part of the appeal. He had the same sense of humour and seemed drawn to exactly the same types of challenges, grasping and running with all these incredibly exciting things that jusr thrilled me right through. It was that fantasy of courage that I was buying into with Feynman, of course, and I’m sure if I read it now it’d annoy the hell out of me, but at the time I drank in the late physicist’s tales with wide-eyed credulity. Tales of self-taught safe-cracking and encrypting letters in jigsaws to send to his wife in hospital, of bomb testing and bad conscience, of maths and science and the period he spent simply learning to watch himself fall asleep. The stories were as exotic and unlimited as the wind-swept planes of Lost Alamos but also sanctioned living intelligently and pursuing one’s obsessions right to the end – all very distant ideas to a young teenager with no money, sharing a room with her mother in a small rented flat.
The fourth book on my list is Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape by Christopher Wood. My undergraduate degree was in the history of art and for a long time I found it quite difficult. I discovered Christopher Wood during the second year, I think, and it really helped me turn a corner. Also, by showing me the kind of research that was possible, this was one of the books that gave me the basis for my Masters degree a couple of years later. Possibly I just don’t like paintings very much, but I was immediately captivated by the connections between the art and writing that Wood makes in this treatise on the northern Renaissance master Albrecht Altdorfer. One hears a lot about the bold frescoes of the Italian Renaissance, but there’s a case here that the revolution happening in Flemish art of the time was all about detail and writing. Landscape in the northern Renaissance emerged outwards from the calligraphic detail of miniatures and maps; the subject of the painting became gradually subsumed by its supplimentary imagery and landscape painting as we know it was born – at the expense of subjects charting meaning. Wood brings it all to life so persuasively in this beautifully detailed and illustrated book.
I’m not very good at long books, so my next choice is another anthology of short stories. I read Stories of Your Life and Others this year, and was impressed. Ted Chiang is a highly-regarded sci-fi writer, relatively new on the scene, and all about quality rather than quantity. This slim tome is a collection of most of his work to date and the stories explore loads of mad ideas about alternative realities. There’s the world where angels exist, but rupture the fabric of spacetime like great natural disasters, amoral hurricanes whisking souls away to heaven or earth-cracking quakes sucking casualties down into hell. There’s the society who wants to build a tower to the roof of the world, with every detail painstakingly visualised for us by Chiang, and there are the aliens who write notes for Earth in strange splayed symbols but disappear without really telling us anything. And that’s the thing I like about Chiang’s work: it has a certain dignity, a holding-back. There’s a genuine fascination with questions but a modest pause where other fiction writers would supply answers. In a way, I wish he’d write more, but equally the ideas in this book will keep me thinking for a while yet.
If I can get 17 people to request Leila come to the shop, she may be persuaded. Add a comment and let's see what happens.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Last year he would often be seen zipping around the Wood Green area with bags strapped to him like this;
How we've moved on...
Look at what we've got ourselves now...
We have a trailer!
Now Tim can carry even more books. Look at him go. So come rain or shine, The Big Green Bookshop will get your books to you. Here, Tim's taking 3 big old boxes of books to Stamford Hill Primary School for a book fair tomorrow. I'm going up in the morning with a suitcase on wheels, but it's great to know that we can now take a much wider selection to schools, and still not do stinky things to the environment.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Once we've got enough followers, we'll do quizzes and competitions to win stuff, and also we'll probably be juvenile from time to time.
We'll also start what I like to call #twitterarycriticism, which will be short reviews of books we like. I should probably copyright this.
We're also getting close to 100,000 hits on this here blog, and as far as I understand it, a blog explodes when this happens, so we'll have to think of something pretty big to mark the event.
Our big survey to find out everyone's 5 favourite books of all time (in no particular order) is going very nicely thankyou, but if you haven't yet, please take a minute or twelve to put your list together and send it to us. Remember, you could win 20 books of your choice*. More information can be found on our website.
This Tuesday sees the result of the Man Booker Prize, and our hardy Booker Book Group are nearing the end of their mission to read all six of the shortlist in 4 weeks.
We'll be meeting in the shop on Tuesday evening to discuss the six books and give our verdict, before watching the result on TV. The BBC is giving about 45 seconds of it's valuable schedule to announce the winner, in the middle of the News. I might start swearing in a minute, but I think it's completely and utterly disgusting that we're constantly encouraged and reminded to watch a bunch of donkey's arses ballroom dancing non stop, for example, but the BBC doesn't dedicate a bit of time for one of the biggest literary prizes there is. Things like Richard and Judy's book club showed that by making the idea of reading more accesible then you could get a load more people interested in books, which I think we all agree, is a 'good thing'.
But obviously if listening to 3 bigotted, opinionated twonks going on about how much they hate caravans, and trying to catapult renaults off a cliff is more important, then I'm pleased I avoid TV as much as I do. There's room for both, I know, but come on.
I'm going to be twittering the Booker Prize night from the shop, if I get the chance, so if you want to know what we reckon, join biggreenbooks. Do you see how i've come full circle there?
Friday, October 02, 2009
Thursday, October 01, 2009
It was however no surprise that it didn't produce an uplift in sales today. What produced an uplift in sales today was a class from a local school coming in with a fiver or so each and each of them buying a book. That was pretty super.
Of all the days this week that I would describe as truly Super, it would have to be Wednesday.
We did stuff on Wednesday.
We had a class in from a local school come in with a fiver or so each to buy books at 10am (a pattern begins to emerge), Tim then went off to another school to tell all the kids about the Big Green Bookshop in some assembly type thing. We then put together an order for another school and delivered it to them. Then I hopped onto a tube and went up to Middlesex University where I introduced myself to a lovely class of students who are doing a course on writing children's fiction. They have a rather marvellous list of books to read throughout the year, and we put together a special order form for them which will give them a cheeky little discount if they order them all in one go.
In the meantime Mark was holding the fort in the shop, which was rather busy actually, and also making it presentable for a book launch in the evening.
Not just any book launch though. We were extremely proud to be the hosts for the launch of the latest bestselling book by the charming, talented and wonderful Sarah Matthias, called Tom Fletcher and the Three Wise Men.
We like Sarah, because she produces some brilliant and engaging books that are accessible to boys and girls aged from 8-14 (and also big kids like me think they're great), and she's also a big fan of the shop. She came along to support us on our opening day, and has also done school visits and the like at the drop of a hat whenever we've asked her.
Her first book The Riddle of the Poisoned Monk is still one of my favourite reads. It was the first book that we chose for our kids reading group, and it was hugely popular. Her Tom Fletcher series (for this is the second of the Tom Fletcher books) is equally popular and I can't wait to get a chance to read the new one. I still have 3 Booker shortlisted books to read in 5 days.
Here are some lovely photosThe throng.
Sarah(l) and Andrea Reece(r), who is the wonderful Publishing Director for Catnip Publishing.
Tim (look at his beard) read an extract from the book. And he did it rather brilliantly actually.
The throng 2
The throng 3.
So all in all it was a super day.
we also organised an event on October 16th with Italian guerilla novelistsWu Ming 1 and 4 or Luther Blissett on October 16th and also a wine tasting and reading by the extremely entertaining wine adventurerFrancis Gimblett.
I wonder what we'll do tomorrow.
Monday, September 28, 2009
For more information go to our website competitions page, which is here.
We thought you might be interested in some of the great and good's choices, and so today we have the wonderful Karen Maitland's picks . Karen is the author of the spellbinding pageturner The Company of Liars, which we love. I reviewed it here by the way.
'Here are my favourite five in no particular order. If you saw my house at home which is stacked floor to ceiling with books that I love and couldn't bring myself to part with, (I've now run out of bookshelf space), you'd know how hard this was. My top 500 would have been easier, so many apologises to anyone who books I adore, but didn't mention.
The Power and The Glory by Graham Greene.
This was the first adult book I read when I was growing up and it made me realise for the first time that novels, instead of having as their main characters impossibly brave, handsome heroes, could be written about real people that I could relate to, who had stomach ulcers, human vices and faced with danger sensibly wanted to run away and hide. This was the book that made me want to be a writer.
Carnage on the Committee by Ruth Dudley Edwards
A hilarious crime novel for anyone who loves books. Panellists on a literary-prize committee are murdered one by one. Is the killer a disgruntled, author, publisher or reader? I love this book for its ingenious plot, the caricatures of different literary types and the thinly veiled references to certain modern authors, as well as its redoubtable amateur detective Baroness 'Jack' Troutbeck who a brilliant creation. This is the book that makes me laugh out loud.
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
A historical novel set in Paris with ruthless and unique killer who stalks these pages. The character is so horrible yet so captivating I found myself desperate for him to get away with his crimes. Amazing atmosphere and such an original character.
Midnight's Children - by Salman Rushdie
I am a big fan of magical realism and a love the way the author seamlessly blends history with magic and wonder in this novel which reveals so much about the period and the culture. It brings home the great suffering that the people of India and Pakistan endured at the time of partition far more than a straight historical novel ever could.
Nights at the Circus - by Angela Carter
A fantastic book in every sense of the word, set in the 19th century about a raunchy cockney trapeze artist who appears to have wings and be able to fly. Like the bemused reporter sent to investigate her, we don't know if its true or a con and the author skilfully pulls you deeper and deeper into her bizarre fantasy until you believe that anything is possible. Reading this book for me is like being a kid a toy shop, because it invites your imagination to play in an endless world of ideas with anyone saying to you – ‘No that's silly. Stop that at once!’
Now everyone go and buy her books.
Please send us your votes and let the whole world know about the competition.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
His second book Garbage Man, is equally compelling, the first 100 pages having some of the most powerful (if sometimes disturbing) imagery, and it satisfies both fans of zombie mayhem and also psychological chiller.
I did an interview with Joseph last year which you can find on this here blog. here's a link..
Anyway, If you gat a chance, give Joseph D'Lacey a go. He's horrific (in a fantasy sort of way).
And if anyone can suggest a way of getting copies of Kill Crew (his latest US published novella) to stock in the shop, let me know. Suggesting Amazoid or Stonegarden will not be tolerated.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I have no idea where to put them, and Harper collins should be ashamed of themselves for publishing this in September (although they 'claim' that it's published in October, so why send it now).
We have to pay for this at the end of next month, in the knowledge that we won't sell any of them until the end of November at the earliest.
Maybe we shouldn't have ordered them when we did(we actually did this in July, which seems insane), and then simply remembered to do this nearer Christmas, but isn't it about time publishers and booksellers got together and agreed that actually christmas doesn't start in retail until November.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Hunston Mill was the place, near Chichester. It's a 'Converted Mill' and very enjoyable it was too. Quiet is probably the one word i'd use if I could only use one word to describe it.
I'll stick some photos on Facebook later on should you like to see Freya eating blackberries or wonderful sunset scenes.
Here though, I thought we could talk about books. We sell books at the Big Green Bookshop and so it seems to make sense.
Let's talk about the Booker Prize first of all. We've got a Booker Book Club at the shop where we're challenging our customers to read all 6 of the Booker Shortlist between September 8th, the date when the shortlist was announced, and October 6th, the date when the winner is announced. In order for people to afford this we've turned into a library, and for £20 people can borrow each of the 6 shortlisted books in order to read them in time. We'll all be meeting in the shop on October 6th to discuss each of the books and decide who should win, before watching the result on TV (it'll probably be on BBC4), and moaning that the best book wasn't chosen.
Anyway, I thought i'd get an early advantage and read a couple of the longlist that I thought would make it to the shortlist. Colm Toibin's Brooklyn and William Trevor's Love and Summer.
Those of you who know what's on the shortlist will know that neither of these books made it, so I still had 6 more books to try and squeeze in.
However, I can say that, although i'd never have thought about reading these two books usually, i'm really pleased I did.
Toibin's novel is set in the 1950's in a small Irish town and follows Eilis Lacey as she is forced by duty to leave her small town life and her family and friends to move to America (Brooklyn, obviously) where a job at a department store is waiting for her, arranged by the mysterious Father Flood.
Slowly the pain and heartbreak of leaving Ireland is replaced by an acceptance of her new life, and through the routine of her job and shared experiences with her flatmates, she begins to enjoy her life again.
But for how long....
The book drew me in, and although I was initially reluctant to warm to Eilis, by the time she'd reached the land of the free I wanted to know what happened to her. Colm Toibin's style of writing is very simple, and so I was initially surprised that it was a Booker Longlisted book, but I think this is what makes it so readable and accessible. The main issue I had with the book was that he introduced us to some really interesting characters, but then they disappeared and that was the last we heard of them. The woman she shared a room with on the journey to America and the man who sang at the Christmas lunch at the church hall. These are just 2 of the people I'd have wanted to learn more about, but I guess Toibin was trying to say as you go through life, you cross paths with interesting people , never to see them again. But it still annoyed me.
Anyway, it was well worth reading.
Love and Summer by William Trevor was utterly wonderful and it's a travesty that it didn't get onto the Booker shortlist. It is, simply put, the story of a summer love affair between Florian Kilderry, who, one day cycles into the small Irish town of Rathmoye in Ireland, and Ellie, a convent girl who years ago was sent to work for a recently widowed farmer and ended up marrying him. Although Florian plans to leave Ireland a passionate and wreckless affair begins between him and Ellie.
I've never read any William Trevor before but I definitely will be reading more. He has an incredibly evocative way of describing things, from the shift in power between the two protagonists in the story, to the tragedy of Mrs Connulty, who's mother funeral the story begins at. I bloody loved it.
I'm reading Wolf Hall at the moment, and i'll tell you about that some other time and maybe i'll also tell you know what I thought of Summertime by JM Coetzee (maybe i'd best not).
Next week we have a series of guest blogs , and also news of some exciting developments in the world of the Big Green Bookshop, so keep watching.