Posts tagged books

Completism

Can you recommend a good book by an author whose surname begins with Q, U, X or Y? It’s a strange question, I know. The thing is, I’ve been documenting all the books I’ve reviewed on this site since it started ten years ago, and I’ve organised them alphabetically, and… Yeah, OK, I admit it. I’m a frustrated librarian. In another lifetime, I would have loved to spend my days quietly shuffling books around from shelf to shelf in a library or bookshop. My choices have taken me down a… Read More

Why I still love bookshops

I’ve written about bookshops a lot on this blog over this years. There’s a good reason for this. For me, good bookshops have always been inseparable from the joy of reading. When I was in my early twenties and working in a job I absolutely hated, I used to escape to the nearest bookshop and browse the shelves for a different world to inhabit for a time. When I moved to New York, I was astonished to discover huge, sprawling bookshops where they not only allowed you to stay all… Read More

What we did before Google

Whatever did we do before the internet? How did we manage before Google? I’m hearing these questions more often these days, usually after someone’s discovered some snippet of astonishing information in just a few seconds. The questions are rhetorical  of course, but it occurs to me that one day people might really want to know. I’m conscious of being a member of the last generation to remember life before the internet, so I want to explain what it was like. How did we manage without Google at our fingertips? The short answer:… Read More

Book fairs are dangerous

Do you ever get carried away in bookshops or at bookfairs, and buy far more than you’d planned? Is it consumerism, or bibliophilia? I like to think that, because books are objects of learning, my book-buying binges are a positive thing. But am I deceiving myself? Am I really no different from those people breaking down the doors of Primark in the Boxing Day sales? Anyway, you can see what I bought at Saturday’s book fair, part of the Bim Literary Festival at Queens Park in Bridgetown, Barbados. Some were… Read More

Austin Clarke at Bim Literary Festival

After my unintended gatecrashing of a class with Derek Walcott earlier in the day, this was an event I was actually allowed to attend. It was an interview with two major Caribbean writers, Austin Clarke and Earl Lovelace, followed by readings from their latest work. First up was Austin Clarke, a Barbadian novelist and short-story writer who has lived for most of his life in Canada. He named George Lamming’s Pleasures of Exile as his favourite Barbadian book, and the short story collection There are no Elders as his favourite of… Read More

New short story

Just found out that I’ve had a short story accepted for the forthcoming Stations collection to be published by Arachne Press. It’s a collection of stories set around a particular train line in London, with one story for each station. I have a grim kind of fascination with London – almost all of my short stories have been set there, as well as my first novel On the Holloway Road. In the next one, A Virtual Love, I venture about 50 miles up the motorway to Milton Keynes, but there are… Read More

Books vs. nuclear submarines

I paid a visit to the excellent Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green recently. The owners put out an appeal to everyone to buy an extra book from the shop to help them survive and pay off their bank loan. So I went along, and bought a couple of books, A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes and Caribou Island by David Vann. It was the first time I’d been there in ages, because I always used to go to Prospero’s Books in Crouch End… Read More

My non-review of the best books of 2010

So all the newspapers have been publishing their end-of-year roundups. Some even started back in November. Here’s why I won’t be doing my own little roundup of the best books of 2010. Basically, it’s because I haven’t read very many of them. Don’t get me wrong, I do read quite a lot. But the thing I’ve realised on looking back is that not many of the books were published in 2010. That was surprising for me, because I do read mostly contemporary fiction. The only really ‘old’ books on my… Read More