Customers, Book Lovers, Authors – we want to hear about the books you love!

It is an aim of this blog to give a voice to everyone who has a stake in books and the written word, be you a bookseller, customer, author or just a lover of books

To this end I would like to create a couple of new pages on the blog similar to our increasingly popular Read it, Loved it page where our booksellers share their favourite books. In order to do this I need your help;

For customers / general book lovers we will create a page called ‘Bought it, Loved it’ – all you have to do is email or comment me with the books that you have loved and a two sentence blurb as to why. Your books can be old or new, serious or fun, easily available or long out of print

For authors we will create a page called ‘Loved it, Wish I’d Written it’ – suspect you know the drill by now! Two sentences on the book(s) that have inspired you…or made you jealous

If there is enough call for it I would also do a page for Librarians called Lent it, Loved it 🙂

Hope you like the idea enough to get cracking on sending me your recommendations! Either leave a reply below or email euan.hirst(at)blackwell.co.uk

Euan

11 comments

  1. I’m a reader (and a writer, though not author yet) and I adored Green Girl, by Kate Zambreno. It’s a brash, despairing tale of an American girl in London struggling to find her sense of self. One of the reasons I love it is the use of quotes from feminist theorists to religious texts to Shakespeare to open each chapter as a way of foreshadowing the events to come.

  2. Euan,

    Great idea for publishers to comment. We’re publishing a cracking title in May called PIG IRON by Benjamin Myers, a cracking story from a cracking writer. Will wait for the published it, loved page before the two sentence description

  3. It would be impossible to decide between the wonderful books we publish at eight cuts – suffice to say both Verruca Music (the lyrical, unpunctuated, Beckettian tale of a man combatting depression by picking his feet) and The Zoom Zoom (an utterly unique confection of emotions painted in brushstrokes of blood) are stunning.

    As a writer, these are the books that have changed my life

    37°2 le Matin (Philippe Djiann)
    I was a student in 1989 so of course my wall sported the iconic poster for the pinnacle of cinéma du look, Betty Blue. It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered the brutal, claustrophobic masterpiece of a novel behind the oh so cool languorous, luscious slippery surface of a film with its laid back sax soundtrack and massive metaphor-laden skies. Where the film takes place under a furiously burning sun, the novel secretes itself in the panic room of a nameless novelist as his carefree life in the middle of Nowheresville is turned on its head by the sudden appearance of Betty, a woman who exists totally beyond the bounds of regular society. Betty is dangerous, alluring, and damaged, the centre of an exhilarating whirlwind from which we know at once no one will emerge unscathed.

    Just Kids (Patti Smith)
    Patti Smith arrived in New York as Pop Art was slowly eating itself and The Beat was crumbling like the brickwork of the Chelsea Hotel where she hung out under the spell of the ageing William Burroughs. Just Kids is her stunning memoir of the years she shared there with the late, great photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The focus and dedication to their art during years when they seemingly went nowhere are a beautifully described account of a period between The Factory and Punk when New York itself seemed to be pupating. But what lifts this above most biographies is the at times unreadable honesty. Smith devotes herself to Mapplethorpe, adding her own energies to his to nurture his talent, but she is, at the same time, aware that she is drawing from a finite pool of resources, and it’s in the fractures this tension creates that the power of this book resides.

    Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami)
    The most “straightforward” of the cult novelist’s books, Norwegian Wood is a novel about separation and nostalgia, about awkwardness and regret, about what almost was. A man in his thirties listens to the eponymous song as his plane comes in to land, and finds himself transported to memories of his troubled early adult years, of loves and friendships were cut short by suicide and circumstance. As we relive them with him we have the sense that maybe they are being picked apart and relived, that maybe this time around they will end somewhere else. I don’t know another piece of poetry or prose that so perfectly captures a single emotion as Norwegian Wood captures the moment a recollecting eye mists over before a tear falls.

    Blood and Pudding (Katelan Foisy)
    Very writer has “that book”. The one that changed the way they look at the world. The one that set the agenda for everything that came after. This is mine.
    Holly takes off on a teenage roadtrip in her parents’ car with her best friend, who tapes every word of the idealistic, exuberant, rose-tinted dreaming conversations. The transcripts of those tapes are interspersed with Katelan’s recollections of her adventures with Holly in the few years between that trip and Holly’s death from a heroin overdose. Frequently laugh out loud hilarious (such as the scene where the pair play space invaders with the joystick in a porn booth), this is a heartbreaking but never mawkish book. At its heart is a very simple message – live. With every moment, every breath, and never stop. Because you have no idea when it will all be over. Always stripped bare, at times the transcripts are almost unreadably raw – there are no dialogue tags, no scene-setting, no interpretation or description, just the words as they happened. But the stories of what comes next hang over them as the inescapable horizon at the end of their road. And yet, this is the most life-affirming book you will ever read, a glorious celebration without doubts or regrets of a life that never looked over its shoulder.

    Ministry of Pain (Dubravka Ugresic)
    The centrepiece of the so-called “literature of the ruins”, the body of work that reflects on the shards of the former Yugoslavia. A woman in exile in Holland lectures to a class who once shared a country with her. At first they are drawn together by a collective consciousness, but it is soon clear that they have little, if anything, in common. Not a language, not an alphabet even. And not the way they filter their recollections of a place that will only ever exist in their fading memories.

  4. Brighton Rock. Combines the ‘glamour’ (that may not be the right word) of 1940s Brighton’s seedy underworld with a genuinely fascinating religious struggle. It has Catholicism, sex and – of course – Brighton rock… what’s not to love?

    Love, the OxBardFest team

  5. Carbonel and Calidor by Barbara Sleigh – an often-forgotten classic English fantasy novel about a girl called Rosemary and a whole world of magic, talking cats and ginger beer -a bit like the famous five but with witches in!

    The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley – an intense account of a childhood summer spent in an upper-crust English country estate; the tension builds as the reader waits for the cracks to form in the teenage protagonist’s innocence and for the brittle veneer of polite adult society to crumble in face of the story’s eventual climax.

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