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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
BookJumper

Books about books/libraries/stories/etc.?

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What it says on the tin, really. As a student of literature, writer and bibliophile I am fascinated by words as well as the physical medium they are inscribed upon, the locations dedicated to safeguarding them, the people who work/gravitate around those places, etc. I am looking to dedicate a shelf of my OCD bookcase to the theme but, after a few days of Amazon cross-referencing, I am a bit stuck. I'll post my list so far; if you can think of anything I might have missed (either fiction, memoir or interesting-looking non-fiction) please do post here.

 

Books I already have:

 

Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

Bartleby & Co. by Enrique Vila-Matas

Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs

The Ingenious Edgar Jones by Elizabeth Garner

Salamander by Thomas Wharton

Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott

The Tempestuous Voyage of Hopewell Shakespeare by Sophie Masson

 

Books on my wishlist:

 

Fiction

 

The Last Resort Library by Irving Finkel

Thomas the Rhymer: A Romance by Ellen Kushner

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton

The Philosopher's Apprentice by James Morrow

When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession by Irvin D. Yalom

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

A mystery of Errors by Simon Hawke

The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare by Lilian Jackson Brown

Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders by Gyles Brandreth

Memoirs of a Master Forger by William Heaney

Bambert's Book of Missing Stories by Reinhardt Jung

Dictionary of the Khazars by Pavic

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

The Logogryph: A Bibliography of Imaginary Books by Thomas Wharton

The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges

The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay

 

Non-Fiction

 

The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel

Library: an Unquiet History by Matthew Battles

At Large and Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist by Anne Fadiman

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski

A Passion for Books by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan

Will by Cristopher Rush

Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson

Oscar's Books: a Journey Through the Library of Oscar Wilde by Thomas Wright

Dr. Johnson's Dictionary: The Extraordinary Story of the Book that Defined the World by Henry Hitchings

Shakespeare and Company by Silvia Beach

 

... anything I might have missed?

Edited by BookJumper

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Oooh, great theme and list! :) May I add The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton (fiction about a true nomadic library project and the (non)necessity of books) ?

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (very good book)

 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (I haven't read this but have it on my TBR pile)

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Ooh, there's also a book published in 1919 called The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. It's supposed to be really good.

 

Here's a description from Wikipedia:

 

The Haunted Bookshop is not a novel of the supernatural. Rather, the name refers to the ghosts of the past that haunt all libraries and bookstores: "the ghosts of all great literature." Throughout the novel Morley, through the character of Roger Mifflin, makes reference to the knowledge and wisdom that one can gain from literature.

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Guest radjack
Ooh, there's also a book published in 1919 called The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. It's supposed to be really good.

 

Here's a description from Wikipedia:

 

The Haunted Bookshop is not a novel of the supernatural. Rather, the name refers to the ghosts of the past that haunt all libraries and bookstores: "the ghosts of all great literature." Throughout the novel Morley, through the character of Roger Mifflin, makes reference to the knowledge and wisdom that one can gain from literature.

 

That sounds good;)

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Added to the wishlist; this is exactly the type of thing I'm looking for so thank you :D.

 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I've tried this once before and couldn't get into it, however my mum swears by it and she has never been wrong in recommending a book to me before so I suppose I'll try again - going home next week so I could nab her copy and then buy my own upon my return if I am better impressed this time round.

 

Oooh, great theme and list! May I add The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton (fiction about a true nomadic library project and the (non) necessity of books)?

Thank you :) and of course, you may add whatsoever books about books you may wish. This sounds intriguing, however I might postpone getting it as the central question (are we as Westeners seeking to impose our imperialistic dominance over other countries by pretending to enlighten them about literature?) is one I'm currently overdosing on in uni...

 

Non-fiction: The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee
What were your own thoughts about this? I must admit I encountered it during my cross-referencing travels yet for whatever reason (and I know it's not the mixed reviews as I'm not that easily swayed; mixed reviews didn't dissuade me from buying "Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs") it didn't leap out at me making "buy me buy me" noises. Please, tell me why I'm wrong.

 

Ooh, there's also a book published in 1919 called The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. It's supposed to be really good.
Indeed it sounds good; even better in that it's got a prequel by the magnificent title of "Parnassus on Wheels", about a travelling bookmobile. The impoverished can download/read it online, freely and legally, from the nice people over at Project Gutemberg, who also kindly provide the text for The Haunted Bookshop, and in fact for what I believe is Christopher's complete output. Good place to read a chapter or two and see if one is interested, methinks. Edited by BookJumper

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The Reader by Bernard Schlink:

For 15-year-old Michael Berg, a chance meeting with an older woman leads to far more than he ever imagined. The woman in question is Hanna, and before long they embark on a passionate, clandestine love affair which leaves Michael both euphoric and confused. For Hanna is not all she seems. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved is a criminal. Much about her behaviour during the trial does not make sense. But then suddenly, and terribly, it does - Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret. 'A tender, horrifying novel that shows blazingly well how the Holocaust should be dealt with in fiction. A thriller, a love story and a deeply moving examination of a German conscience' INDEPENDENT SATURDAY MAGAZINE

The reading of books plays a large part in the story. I have this on Mount TBR (I lovd the film).

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The Reader by Bernard Schlink
I'm actually avoiding this due to content, but thanks all the same for the suggestion. Hope you enjoy it.

 

May I suggest Borges in italian? I've read his novels and essays in both languages and I still think for Borges the italian is better.
Indeed you may. I have tried to get into Borges before and failed but I remember thinking at the time that I was willing to ascribe the lack of grippage to the translation (my mum's English edition of "Labyrinths") so I will take your advice - if I can find an Italian edition of "The Book of Imaginary Beings" with the pretty pictures, that is...

 

I couldn't get into it but how about NeverEnding Story? That is a story of a boy who influences the plot as he reads. I got half way through and had to stop as I couldn't like it - my sister loves it!

Nooo, how could you not love this? IMHO it's a gorgeous book! Any specific reason for your dislike, or did it just not grab you?

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If you want to read Pavic's Dictionary of the Khazars you are a brave, brave person.

 

It's actually a brilliant, fantastically clever book. But it was one of the hardest books I've ever tried to read, really difficult to get a handle on. Fascinating, in a way, although you probably need to start with a fair bit of knowledge. But really, really difficult - up there with the UK translation of Labyrinths that I tried.

 

-

 

Anyway, on the general subject of books about books and, in particular, books about authors, there's something I find generally very unsatisfying about them. I feel that there's a great lack of imagination or experience in an author who can only write about books or authors (or the settings they've lived in - bookshops or libraries or universities). It feels like it fails in the job of the author to try and speak to a full audience, it feels instead like they are just talking to themselves and other authors and critics (and I suspect that's why these books are so often well reviewed and prize-winning).

 

That's not to say there aren't great novel about books, and about authors. It's just that there's an awful lot of chaff, and it's an idiom that - to me - means that the writer has to work extra hard to produce something that I don't think is a failure of imagination.

 

Anyway, you may well want to explore Paul Auster, particularly Oracle Night.

 

A personal favourite (but a book which seems to polarise) is Flann O'Brien's At-Swim-Two-Birds, which is one of the funniest books ever written, and is a nested story-within-a-story-within-a-story-within-a-story sort of madness. Post-modern, in a way, but mostly just very funny.

 

I've read lots more, but right now I seem to have forgotten them - which is probably enough for me to tell you I didn't much like them.

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Nooo, how could you not love this? IMHO it's a gorgeous book! Any specific reason for your dislike, or did it just not grab you?

 

I just got bored with it! I began to get fed up with it. To me the story finished when the Princess was named after that I felt it was dragging - Never Ending definitely what it said on the title, and I just got annoyed with the characters.

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I loved this book. Very, very interesting.

From Amazon:

When the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary put out a call during the late 19th century pleading for "men of letters" to provide help with their mammoth undertaking, hundreds of responses came forth. Some helpers, like Dr. W.C. Minor, provided literally thousands of entries to the editors. But Minor, an American expatriate in England and a Civil War veteran, was actually a certified lunatic who turned in his dictionary entries from the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Simon Winchester has produced a mesmerizing coda to the deeply troubled Minor's life, a life that in one sense began with the senseless murder of an innocent British brewery worker that the deluded Minor believed was an assassin sent by one of his numerous "enemies."

Winchester also paints a rich portrait of the OED's leading light, Professor James Murray, who spent more than 40 years of his life on a project he would not see completed in his lifetime. Winchester traces the origins of the drive to create a "Big Dictionary" down through Murray and far back into the past; the result is a fascinating compact history of the English language (albeit admittedly more interesting to linguistics enthusiasts than historians or true crime buffs). That Murray and Minor, whose lives took such wildly disparate turns yet were united in their fierce love of language, were able to view one another as peers and foster a warm friendship is just one of the delicately turned subplots of this compelling book.

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This one is on my TBR pile and I will soon get to it as it sounds terrific: Firmin by Sam Savage

From the jacket:

In the basement of a Boston bookstore, Firmin is born in a shredded copy Finnegans Wake, nurtured on a diet of Zane Grey, Lady Chatterley

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What were your own thoughts about this? I must admit I encountered it during my cross-referencing travels yet for whatever reason (and I know it's not the mixed reviews as I'm not that easily swayed; mixed reviews didn't dissuade me from buying "Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs") it didn't leap out at me making "buy me buy me" noises. Please, tell me why I'm wrong.

 

A few reasons ... aesthetically, the copy of the book I have is a beautiful design, with gorgeous thick pages with a deckled edge, as well as being slightly smaller than the average paperback and it fits beautifully into my hand.

 

The book is a cross between a memoir about the authors life as a reader, working in a bookshop and a publisher, as well as a history of the book and the development of the book trade.

 

It's written by someone who loves books and just made me happy to be one of his gang!

 

(My full review is here)

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The book I am reading at the moment Proust and the Squid by Mary Anne Wolf. It's about how we learn to read and the development of written language. I'm only on chapter 3 but it's very interesting so far, it's been talking about how different alphabet's and words/languages in written form developed.

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I couldn't get into it but how about NeverEnding Story? That is a story of a boy who influences the plot as he reads. I got half way through and had to stop as I couldn't like it - my sister loves it!

I ADORE this book! I remember thinking it was especially clever beginning each chapter with the next letter of the alphabet - it even managed to begin one with "X"! :)

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I just found it boring half way through - and I couldn't care for the characters and it was sending me to sleep instead of igniting my imagination and there was hardly any humour in it - I like a book with some humour in it. It was not for me.

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I never even knew Neverending Story WAS a book! I never liked the movie (or movies?) though.

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I never even knew Neverending Story WAS a book! I never liked the movie (or movies?) though.

 

Never knew it was a book either would not have read:readingtwo: the book maybe but I loved the film.:D:)

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I never even knew Neverending Story WAS a book! I never liked the movie (or movies?) though.
Although I love the first film (two and three are complete and utter rubbish), I'm pretty sure I wouldn't love it as much had I read the book first and realised just how much they left out. Now that was a movie to make "Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban" look faithful! It is only based on the first part of the book, that is to say, less than 200 paperback pages; yet, they managed to cut half of it, and distort the other half.

 

One example? Falkor, the adorable Luckdragon

who in the movie sports a giant Golden Retriever head, is in fact meant to have the head of a Lion. How does LION equal GOLDEN RETRIEVER?!

I was not surprised to find out that Michael Ende, the author of "The Neverending Story", sued the movie company to try and prevent them from using the same title because he felt they weren't committed to telling his story at all. Sadly, he lost.

 

Though I will always cherish the movie in the way one does bits of childhood, it pales in comparison to the novel and should not put anyone off trying to read it, as it is exquisite, magical, beautifully written, vividly evoked, ridden with philosophy profound but not dense.

 

Re: "Firmin", I forgot to add it to my TBR as it's currently at home; will make sure to pick it up next week and bring it back to London with me. It sounds brilliant and according to my nan (the pickiest reader on the planet, I assure you) it is truly a read to cherish so I hope I will, too! The only thing that bugs me ever so slightly is that the very first short story I remember writing ("The Library Mouse" by Giulia aged 6 or 7, with cute drawing) has a nigh on identical plot and message.... I feel plagiarised!

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