Simon’s Bookish Bits #27

I can’t actually believe that I haven’t done a ‘Bookish Bits’ post since the start of August. However there are occasionally times when you are writing a post filled with little bookish bits this is just what you need and today is such a post. I have a few different things I want to natter with you about such as the Costa Prize, a lovely publisher loot when I had a meeting about the reading guides I am going to be writing and The Green Carnation event.

I do really like the Costa Book Awards, as I commented on Kirsty of Other Stories blog earlier in the week, I’m never sure why this is though because I don’t think I have read that many of the winners but I have read and really enjoyed many of the books which have been shortlisted, without knowing they have been shortlisted. I don’t read children’s books, on the whole, and I don’t really go for poetry (though I wish I did) and can be funny with non-fiction so in some ways you would think that the prize would maybe not be so much for me but I love the fact it doesn’t seem so snobbish and the lists are always eclectic as you can see from The First Novel and Novel Award short lists…

Costa First Novel Award

  • Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai
  • Coconut Unlimited by Nikesh Shukla
  • The Temple-Goers by Aatish Taseer
  • Not Quite White by Simon Thirsk

Costa Novel Award

  • Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
  • The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale
  • The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
  • Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

I have already read two of the novels of the years and loved Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘The Hand That First Held Mine’ and would recommend everyone on the face of this planet gives it a read. I am slightly surprised that Nigel Farndale’s ‘The Blasphemer’ is on the list as I didn’t love this book, not that I think I am any authority on what should be short listed on this prize. I am wondering f I should return to it as it’s been nestling on my ‘possibly give to charity or my family’ pile. Hmmm! I have been sent some of the other books listed and I think I might pick some of them up in the not too distant future.

I was kindly sent ‘Witness of the Night’ by Kishwar Desai from Beautiful Books which I had heard nothing about but sounds great, ‘Coconut Unlimited’ by Nikesh Shukla which I have heard lots and lots of good things about from Quartet Books, ‘Skippy Dies’ has been languishing on my TBR for ages (oops), I managed to grab Aatish Taseer’s ‘The Temple-Goers’ in the library when I took some books back finally, and I managed to sneak a copy of Louise Doughty’s ‘Whatever You Love’ from Faber & Faber’s HQ when I went in this week, which nicely leads me to the next part of my post…

I mentioned a while ago that I am going to be writing some Reading Guides for a publisher. I can now tell you that the publisher is Faber & Faber and thanks to the comments we are coming up with something very new and different with how these reading guides are going to work. I have lots of brainstorming to do, lots. I stupidly forgot to take a picture of Faber HQ but I did spot this amazing house filled with books which I wanted to move into on the spot.

I did manage to leave with some lovely loot from Faber though in a rather delightful bag. Top priority was ‘Gillespie & I’ by Jane Harris (I adored ‘The Observations’ and am begging Faber to let me write the reading guide for that one next) which isn’t out until May so am soooo chuffed managed to get my mitts on it. I also got all the Ishiguro novels I don’t own which was great (and some double copies which I have passed on) as I want to get to know Ishiguro better as the first book I am going to be writing the reading guide for is ‘Never Let Me Go’ my review of which got me the job unbeknown to me at the time.

Straight after Faber I ran to The Green Carnation Event which was a huge success, so much so I got stuck at the back with the other judges as it was so busy we could barely move and lots of people couldn’t even get in…

It was a great night for those of us who did get in with the readings from the authors and then lots of drinking afterwards in the local pub which I will report back on in due course, I am awaiting some pictures from one of my lovely friends.

So what bookish goings on have you been up to lately? Any great recent reads or new book arrivals? What are your thoughts on how reading guides could be made more modern (for my brainstorming)? Any thoughts on the Costa Book Award Shortlists, have you read any of them at all, any recommendations?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Simon's Bookish Bits

7 responses to “Simon’s Bookish Bits #27

  1. Hope this flurry of activity means that you are feeling better.

    Have that same Faber bag and just love it. Is with me every day. Great news about you working with/for them too. Most exciting.

    Also trying to get to Skippy Dies. But I need to get off the computer to get to all the books I am dying to open. 🙂 Happy reading!

  2. I’ve read and enjoyed The Hand that First Held Mine and Skippy Dies but the Maggie O’Farrell would be my favourite to win. I have The Blasphemer and Coconut Unlimited anxiously awaiting me on the TBR pile for when I emerge from reading Kate Morton’s latest opus The Distant Hours!

  3. I did enjoy Witness the Night, although I think it is a bit heavy on “the issues” the book is trying to draw attention to. (which makes sense, given the intent of the book). I’m looking forward to your thoughts. I have heard a lot of good things about Coconut Unlimited as well..

    I am so glad to hear that the Green Carnation Prize readings were such a success!

    And congratulations on getting the readers guide job at Faber & Faber!

  4. jane

    Faber are wonderful, congratulations! Never Let Me Go is such a great novel – will be interested to see what you think of those others in the picture. The Unconsoled I loved and thought was a masterpiece of imagination with incredible use of language, Nocturnes left me cold, and I’ve not yet read An Artist of the Floating World.
    I have to admit I have no clear idea what a reading guide is but will look forward to finding out! Good luck with it!

  5. Hurray – Bookish Bits is back! 🙂

    Congrats on the fab sounding new job which I am not at all jelaous about (OK, maybe a teensy bit ;)). What a gorgeous bag and loot you came home with too.

    I read about The Green Carnation event on Pollys blog and it sounds like it was a great event. Looking forward to seeing who wins.

  6. Good luck with the reading guides.

    I am soo jealous of your luck getting Jane Harris new novel. I loved The Observations. Look forward to hearing what you tink.

  7. Congratulations on the new (additional) job, Simon! I really must pick up Never Let Me Go :s Looking forward to seeing what you write. Hm, brainstorming… As I said in your previous post, I really like the HarperCollins P.S. sections and the Bloomsbury Reading Guide paragraphs so maybe you could try to combine the two; to be fair, you were doing similar to BRG with your prose partner summations.

    I am hoping to read Skippy Dies soon; I needed some space between me, it and the Booker. I met one of the Costa judges at a trade dinner a few months ago (I told him about The Green Carnation!) who is a friend of a friend and I’m interested in their combined choices. What I found interesting to discover is that they have so many submissions/books to read that they don’t read them all but take a selection each and then they all read the ones each judge put forward before finalising decision, which may explain the diversity.

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