Blackwell’s Book-a-lympics

We’ve been cheering for the likes of Rebecca Adlington (Bronze – Swimming 400m Freestyle), Zara Phillips (Silver – Equestrian: Team Eventing) and Bradley Wiggins (Gold – Cycling: Road) all week, and this set us to thinking – what if there were a similar event for books?

So we’ve scoured our shelves, weighed up the competition and put our stock through its paces to come up with a selection of Book-a-lympics medal winners for the shop…


The Norrington Room Winners:

Bronze: The Rule of Law (Tom Bingham) (GBR) – A slim paperback but hugely important book by the late Lord Bingham, one of the most acute legal minds of our time. It explains clearly what ‘the rule of law’ means in a modern society

Silver: McMafia (Misha Glenny) (GBR) – “Gold to Glenny for providing a compelling tapestry of international criminology and political complicity woven out of great investigative journalism and entertaining stories.” Tom, Blackwell’s Philosophy Dept.

Gold: The Age of Wonder (Richard Holmes) (GBR) – Stupendously good and thorough on the first great age of scientific discovery. 

Judged by: Tom, Ulric and Lydia


The Children’s Winners:

Bronze: Fintan Fedora (Clive Goddard) (GBR) – the world’s worst, funniest, best illustrated explorer – meet author and illustrator Clive Goddard at his event on 4th August

Silver: Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) (GBR) – this was always an easy one, and we’ve got several beautiful editions to choose from.

Gold: The Stick Book (Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield) (GBR) – you’ll never look at a stick in the same way again – find out more at our The Stick Book event on 11th August. 


Judged by: Harry


The General Winners:

Bronze: Death Comes to Pemberley (PD James) (GBR) – a bestseller (136 copies in 2 days) from an excellent writer and friend of the shop.

Silver: New Finnish Grammar (Diego Marani) (ITA) – an old favourite that’s sold over 500 copies, a story of loss, learning and language.

Gold: The Sea the Sea (Iris Murdoch) (GBR) – a haunting tale of the strange obsessions that plague a self-satisfied playwright and director as he writes his memoirs.


Judged by: Becky, Catherine and Ray


The Literature Winners

Bronze: War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy) (RUS) – an infamous yet addictive classic you’ll never forget – plus if you buy our Oxford Classics edition you can get another classic for free.

Silver: Charles Dickens, A Life (Claire Tomalin) (GBR) – a brilliant biographer writing about one of the most famous writers England has ever produced.

Gold: Thank You, Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse) – (GBR/USA) The first Jeeves and Wooster book seemed as good as any to choose, but why not come and browse our Wodehouse 3 for 2 display and bally well choose for yourself!

Judged by: Sophie


The History and Classics Winners

Bronze: The Secret Life of Bletchley Park (Sinclair McKay) (GBR)- this country house in the Buckinghamshire countryside was home to the brilliant mathematical brains of people like Alan Turing, and the scene of immense advances in technology – indeed, the birth of modern computing

Silver: The Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson): Latin Edition (ITA) – Set in forty-six elegiac couplets, the translation draws on the language and style of the classical poets to brilliantly capture the rhythm and mischievous spirit of the original story.

Gold: Medieval Cats (Katherine Meikle Walker) (GBR) – Britain has been a nation of cat-lovers for longer than you might think – find out more in Katherine Walker’s history of the cat in medieval art.

Judged by: Kyle


The Second Hand Winners

(All second hand books are all like gold medals – one off and special. If you’d like to come and take a look at these you’d better move fast – ready… set… Go!)

Bronze: Murder at the Vicarage (Agatha Christie) (GBR)

The perennial home champion. Quintessentially British yet ever popular with fans from all over the world, our extensive and renewable Agatha Christie collection is always a winner.

Silver: Œuvres complètes (Émile Zola) (FRA)

The heavyweight French favourite. An exhaustive 15-volume edition of great naturalist’s works, this is the perfect way to appreciate the full range of this unique artist’s ability.

Gold: Ukiyoe Woodblock Prints (JPN)

A stunning performer and worthy winner. Printed on Torinokogami, this collection of beautiful poster-sized and silk-bound representations of 18th century Japanese life is currently our most eye-catching team member.

Judged by: Lucas


Thank you for joining us at the Blackwell’s Book-a-lympics – if you’d like to pick up a winning title, or just discover a few ‘winners’ of your own, why not pay a visit to 48-51 Broad Street, Oxford?


Look out next week – we’ll be coming back with round two and this time, you’ll be judging!


Also – many thanks to the esteemed judges – Ulric,Tom, Lydia, Harry, Becky, Ray, Catherine, Kyle and Lucas.

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