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Mark Zuckerberg’s A Year of Books Reading Challenge

January 2015 Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook posted the message below….

zukerberg‘My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.

I’m excited for my reading challenge. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.’ He has called this A Year of Books.

A year in books

To make it easy to follow Mark Zuckerberg’s selections we will be featuring them all on this blog post – and in time on a special category on the website.

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Book 1 January: The End of Power by Moises Naim

The End of Power From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge isn’t What it Used to be argues that in every field of endeavor – business, religion, politics, and all matters of war and peace – power is no longer what it used to be.

The author deftly delineates the shifting global dynamics in control, authority and expertise between the traditionally dominant megaplayers and the newly ascendant micropowers.

Book 2 January: The Better Angels of Our Nature A History of Violence and Humanity by Steven Pinker

This title was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2012 and argues that, contrary to popular belief, humankind has become progressively less violent, over millenia and decades. Can violence really have declined?

The images of conflict we see daily on our screens from around the world suggest this is an almost obscene claim to be making. Extraordinarily, however, Steven Pinker shows violence within and between societies – both murder and warfare – really has declined from prehistory to today.

Book 3 February: Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh

Sudhir Venkatesh the young sociologist who became famous in Freakonomics (Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?) describes his time living with the gangs on the Southside of Chicago and answers another question: what’s it like to live in hell? In the Robert Taylor Homes projects on Chicago’s South Side, Sudhir befriends J.T., a gang leader for the Black Kings. As he slowly gains J.T.’s trust, one day, in order to convince Sudhir of his own CEO-like qualities, J.T. makes him leader of the gang…Why does J.T. make his henchmen, the ‘shorties’, stay in school? What is the difference between a ‘regular’ hustler and a ‘hype’ – and is Peanut telling him the truth about which she is? And, when the FBI finally starts cracking down on the Black Kings, is it time to get out – or is it too late?

Book 4 February: On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss

In this bold, fascinating book, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear – fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what may be in your children’s air, food, mattresses, medicines, and vaccines. Reflecting on her own experience as a new mother, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is an inoculation against our fear and a moving account of how we are all interconnected – our bodies and our fates.

Book 5 March: Creativity, Inc. Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

As9780593070109-300x400 a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the world’s first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream first as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged an early partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Nine years later and against all odds, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. Since then, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and WALL-E, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner twenty-seven Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Now, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques, honed over years, that have made Pixar so widely admired – and so profitable. Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation Studios – into the story meetings, the postmortems, and the ‘Braintrust’ sessions where art is born. It is, at heart, a book about how to build and sustain a creative culture-but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, ‘an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.’

Book 6 March: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn

9780226458120A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were-and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. And fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation, but that revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of normal science, as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age.  Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.

 

Book 7 April Rational Ritual Culture, Coordination and Common Knowledge Michael Suk-Young Chwe

9780691114712Why do Internet, financial service, and beer commercials dominate Super Bowl advertising? How do political ceremonies establish authority? Why does repetition characterize anthems and ritual speech? Why were circular forms favored for public festivals during the French Revolution? This book answers these questions using a single concept: common knowledge. Game theory shows that in order to coordinate its actions, a group of people must form common knowledge. Each person wants to participate only if others also participate. Members must have knowledge of each other, knowledge of that knowledge, knowledge of the knowledge of that knowledge, and so on. Michael Chwe applies this insight, with striking erudition, to analyze a range of rituals across history and cultures

 

Book 8 April Dealing with China Hank Poulson 

DEALING WITH CHINA takes the reader behind closed doors to witness the creation and evolution and future of China’s state-controlled capitalism. Hank Paulson has dealt with China unlike any other foreigner. As head of Goldman Sachs, Paulson had a pivotal role in opening up China to private enterprise. Then, as Treasury secretary, he created the Strategic Economic Dialogue with what is now the world’s second-largest economy. While negotiating with China on needed economic reforms, he safeguarded the teetering U.S. financial system. Over his career, Paulson has worked with scores of top Chinese leaders, including Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful man in decades. How can the West negotiate with and influence China given its authoritarian rule, its massive environmental concerns, and its huge population’s unrelenting demands for economic growth and security? Written in an anecdote-rich, page-turning style, DEALING WITH CHINA is certain to become the classic and definitive examination of unlocking, building, and engaging an economic superpower.

 

Book 9 May Orwell’s Revenge by Peter Huber

11160563_710041985771899_1625807478025891231_nIn an extraordinary demonstration of the emerging supermedium’s potential to engender new forms of creativity, Huber’s book boldly reimagines 1984 from the computer’s point of view. After first scanning all of Orwell’s writings into his personal computer, Huber used the machine to rewrite the book completely, for the most part using Orwell’s own language. Alternating fiction and non-fiction chapters, Huber advances Orwell’s plot to a surprising new conclusion while seamlessly interpolating his own explanations and arguments. The result is a fascinating utopian work which envisions a world at our fingertips of ever-increasing information, equal opportunity, and freedom of choice.

Book 10 May The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as “brave and bold,” this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a “call to action.”

Called “stunning” by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David Levering Lewis, “invaluable” by the Daily Kos, “explosive” by Kirkus, and “profoundly necessary” by the Miami Herald, this updated and revised paperback edition of The New Jim Crow, now with a foreword by Cornel West, is a must-read for all people of conscience.

Book 11 June Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun

MuqaddimahThe first complete English translation of the introduction to a history of the world by the 14th-century Islamic scholar and statesman Ibn Khaldn. (from wikipedia) The Muqaddimah, also known as the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun (Arabicمقدّمة ابن خلدون, meaning in English: Ibn Khaldun’s Introduction) or Ibn Khaldun’s Prolegomena (Greek: Προλεγόμενα), is a book written by the Tunisian, Arab, North African Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history. Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the philosophy of history or the social sciences of sociology,demography,historiography,cultural history, social darwinism, ecologist, marxism, darwinian and economics. The Muqaddimah also deals with Islamic theologypolitical theory and the natural sciences of biology and chemistry.

Book 12 June Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

9780099590088Nothing less than a history of humankind from when the first species known as “humans” evolved through to the modern day. Dealing with how and why humans became the dominant species, Yuval Noah Harari also seeks to show how our species adapted and changed throughout human history. Taking in everything from religion to science to capitalism – an exhilarating journey through human history.

 

Book 13 July The Player of Games by Iain M Banks

9781857231465Don’t pigeon hole Iain M Banks Culture novels as just Sci-fi novels  – they are just engrossing, political, thought provoking and mind opening. The Player of Games was a 2012 World Book Night selection. The Culture – a human/machine symbiotic society – has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game…a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life – and very possibly his death..

Book 14 July Energy by Vaclav Smil

9781851684526As Einstein pointed out in his famous equation, E=MC2, all matter can be described as energy. It is everywhere; it is everything. In this engaging book, prolific author and academic Vaclav Smil provides an introduction to the far-reaching term and gives the reader a greater understanding of energy’s place in both past and present society. Starting with an explanation of the concept, he goes on to cover such exciting topics as the inner workings of the human body, and the race for more efficient and environmentally friendly fuels.

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Book Festival News Update August 2015

See below for our latest round up of Book festivals for the late Summer and Early Autumn. Click on the links below or scroll down to find out more.

Beyond Borders International Festival of Literature and Thought – Scottish Borders 22-23 Aug

Bewdley Book Week – Worcestershire 7 – 13 Sept

The International Agatha Christie Festival –  Torquay, Devon 11-20 Sept

Bloody Scotland – Stirling 11 – 13 Sept

Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival – 17 – 20 Sep

Henley Literature Festival – 28 Sept – 4 Oct

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Beyond Borders International Festival of Literature and Thought Traquair House, August 22-23

First Ministers Past and Present Gather at Traquair House

Beyond-Borders-LogsmBeyond Borders Scotland has launched the programme for its sixth International Festival of Literature and Thought – held at Traquair House on August 22 & 23 – welcoming three First Ministers, past and present, to the platform to share their personal experiences and future hopes for Scotland in the UK and the wider world.

Mark Muller Stuart, Executive-Director of Beyond Borders said; “We believe there is something for everyone in this year’s programme. Whether you are interested in politics, literature, art, music or spellbinding stories from around the world, Traquair House and its beautiful grounds offer the perfect setting for a weekend of vibrant public debate, walks, rides and food tasting. We urge everyone to come and travel beyond borders.”

This year the Scottish political landscape takes centre stage with panels uncovering the lives of some of Scotland’s foremost politicians. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond MP join the Festival on different days to discuss the impact of the Referendum and the General Election as well as what it means to be the First Minister of Scotland, while Lord Jack McConnell reveals what happens when you lose high office in ‘What Jack did Next: Life after Politics’.

Looking further afield, 20 years on from the tragic events in Srebrenica, Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson MSP goes back to her roots in journalism to interview veteran foreign correspondents Janine di Giovanni and Allan Little about reporting from international conflict zones in ‘Srebrenica Remembered’. This panel will be accompanied by all-day screenings of Srebrenica Survivors, a documentary film directed by Bosnian Samir Mehanovic, which tells the stories of those who survived the genocide.

Other international talks feature Magnus Linklater on the rise of Islamic State, veteran UN diplomat Staffan de Mistura on the search for peace in Syria, and Indian politician Shashi Tharoor on the future of India.

The programme also encompasses numerous literary talks from celebrated poet Blake Morrison, novelist Rachel Cusk, Palestinian writer Raja Shehadeh, as well as historical tales from William Dalrymple about “Mughals in Kilts” and Andrew Duff on a Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom. Away from the main stage, Stuart Kelly talks to Murray Pittock in the Traquair Chapel about the Jacobite Uprising, while Mary Kenny takes walkers on a Jacobite romp, and food writer Fiona Bird goes foraging with local writer Fi Houston.

On a more light-hearted note Steve Richards returns for a satirical look at the UK’s political classes with Sir Menzies Campbell, while Yasmin Alibhai-Brown performs her Fringe show ‘Promiscuous England.’ Other theatrical performances include Guy Masterson’s award-winning rendition of Under Milkwood, and Gerald Gifford plays a unique collection of 18th century pieces on the Traquair Rucker’s harpsichord.

Richard Demarco, Director of the Demarco European Arts Foundation, who will speak about his life in the arts in celebration of his 85th birthday, said of the Festival, “This Festival puts Traquair on the international map and gives a new and dynamic beating heart to international arts festivals.”

The full Beyond Borders Scotland Summer Events Programme and Box Office is available online at www.beyondbordersscotland.com Tickets: Weekend Pass £45/Day Pass £24/Individual Events £9/Walks and Cycle Rides £6. For more information, email info@beyondbordersscotland.com or call 0131 557 7775.

 

 

Bewdley Book Week 7-13 September 2015

Poet Laureate Star of Bewdley Book Week

Bewdley logoIn what is a major coup for a literary festival of its size, Bewdley Book Week has secured an appearance by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

The week-long festival of writing is only in its fifth year but the appearance of the internationally recognised wordsmith this September marks a step-change in its growth. In this eye-catching event, Carol Ann Duffy will perform her work in a distinctly informal setting in tandem with traditional music from Worcester-based band Bitterroots. There’s support from Malvern-based poet Michael Woods. The show is on Friday 11th September and tickets (only £12) are on sale now. It’s bound to be a sell-out so the organisers are encouraging everybody to book early to avoid missing out on what promises to be a lively and stimulating evening.

There’s something for everyone in the eclectic Book Week 2015 programme from a philosopher talking about life from the point of view of death (Raymond Tallis – Monday 7th September) to a music biographer talking about shady goings on in the world of pop music (Clinton Heylin – Wednesday 9th September). Somewhere in between, a BBC foreign affairs producer lifts the lid on his turbulent relationship with the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, John Simpson (Oggy Boytchev – Tuesday 8th September.)

Another event that is already proving to be hugely attractive, the Saturday afternoon event ‘Tea and Cake with Katie, Jo and Rachel’, Heart FM’s breakfast show co-presenter Rachel New, herself an aspiring author, will moderate a conversation with bestselling romantic novelists Katie Fforde and Jo Thomas.

There’s lots more besides and the full programme can be found at http://bewdleybookweek.org.uk. Tickets can be purchased on-line from this website. Alternatively, they’re available from Bewdley’s Tourist Information Centre 0845 607 7819.

THE INTERNATIONAL AGATHA CHRISTIE FESTIVAL 11-20 September in Torquay, Devon

Fresh insights into the life, literature and legacy of the world’s best-selling author are promised to visitors of all ages when the expanded 125th anniversary edition of the International Agatha Christie Festival (IACF) takes place in her home town of Torquay in Devon, from September 11-20.

Upwards of 10,000 people are expected to be drawn in by the festival’s nine days of talks, tours, book launches, exhibitions, theatre, films, writing workshops, vintage entertainments and by a celebrity guest list which includes broadcaster Kate Adie; novelists Martin Edwards, Sophie Hannah, Bonnie MacBird and Ali Sparkes; Christie scholar John Curran, theatre expert Julius Green and artist Tom Adams, among many others.

Speaking as the full programme was published online, Dr Anna Farthing, director of the 2015 festival, said: “As well as being the world’s best-selling author, its most translated novelist and the UK’s most successful woman playwright, Dame Agatha Christie was a fascinating character, whose work was shaped by her life and times and whose enduring impact reaches much further than her writings. In programming this 125th anniversary festival, my aim has been to fully reflect this breadth and depth by supplementing favourite and familiar stories with new viewpoints and fresh insights – some of them never made public before – in ways that will appeal as much to younger people and newcomers as they will to lifelong fans.”

More than 100 events will be on the festival menu with each day taking a special theme, starting on Saturday 12 September with a Family Day of children’s author-led workshops, trails, stories and an outdoor show on the lawns where a young Agatha herself performed. The week then continues with focuses on the First World War years; Miss Marple; the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, International Agatha, Agatha & Theatre and Agatha For Everyone.

At the heart of the programme will be a birthday party on September 15 at the festival’s main venue, Torre Abbey, while other highlights and locations will include:

  • an exhibition of previously unpublished photos from the Christie family’s private archives;
  • book talks and launches by, among others, Kate Adie (discussing Agatha & WW1); Sophie Hannah (whose new novel A GAME FOR ALL THE FAMILY was written while she was also working on her recent Poirot best-seller), crime writer Martin Edwards sharing episodes from his factual account, THE GOLDEN AGE OF MURDER and Julius Green, whose latest title CURTAIN UP, explores Agatha Christie’s output as the world’s most successful female playwright;
  • French cookery writer Anne Martinetti, author of a series of recipe books linked to writers/film-makers, preparing food from Christie stories in the kitchen at Agatha’s long-time Devon home: Greenway on the river Dart, near Brixham;
  • John Curran leading an illustrated Q&A with the artist Tom Adams, 90 next year, who between 1963 and 1975 designed around 100 covers for Christie’s paperbacks
  • daily workshops led by leading authors and publishers
  • a series of vintage and social occasions – among them a vintage fair, a tea dance, a cocktail party and a grand ball at Greenway
  • an introduction to poisons by A IS FOR ARSENIC author Dr Kathryn Harkup and a guided tour of the potent plants garden at Torre Abbey
  • A resident company of professional actors giving pop-up performances and readings
  • Events linked to the BBC’s new David Walliams and Jessica Raine series, PARTNERS IN CRIME, based on Agatha Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence stories plus a rare silent film featuring the same characters showing with a live piano accompaniment
  • A gala evening marking the 80th anniversary of the RNIB’s Talking Book for the Blind service and its choice of Christie’s THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD as its first work of fiction.

For full programme details, including venues, ticket prices and bookings, please see: www.agathachristiefestival.com

 

BLOODY SCOTLAND 11-13 September in Stirling

Bloody-Scotland-smAs the literary world celebrates Agatha Christie’s 125th anniversary, this year’s Bloody Scotland festival pays homage to crime writing past, present and future. Martina Cole, Linwood Barclay, Ian Rankin, Arne Dahl, Val McDermid, Lindsey Davis and Ann Cleeves are amongst the major names confirmed to attend the most star-studded edition of the Stirling-based crime writing festival to date.

The festival, which showcases the best of Scottish and international crime writing in the historic and ancient town centre of Stirling, will run from 11 – 13 September this year. The science behind crime writing comes to the fore in a number of events, some of the most famous crime authors in the world are coming to Stirling to talk about their books, and the festival joins in the Agatha Christie celebrations with an extra special event.

In a huge coup for the festival, Martina Cole, one of the biggest names in international crime fiction, whose books have sold over ten million copies in the UK alone, will offer Bloody Scotland audiences an exclusive sneak preview of her soon-to-be-published novel Get Even, in conversation with Guardian columnist Erwin James.
Linwood Barclay, author of thirteen novels including the international best-sellers Trust Your Eyes, A Tap on the Window and No Time for Goodbye, comes over from Canada for a UK exclusive event, to close the festival in style. Lindsey Davis, the phenomenally popular creator of Roman dectective Falco, is guaranteed to fill Stirling’s Albert Halls as she introduces her new novel Deadly Election. Arne Dahl, possibly Sweden’s most famous crime fiction export, returns to Bloody Scotland following the huge success of his series about the Intercrime Unit on BBC4. Ian Rankin teams up with Philip Kerr, author of the Bernie Gunther novels, to discuss what happens when your lead detective becomes even more popular than you are. Ann Cleeves will not only be appearing at the festival, but will be taking a group of readers on a trip to Shetland immediately after the festival proper finishes for a tour of the landscapes that inspired her Jimmy Perez novels and the hugely-acclaimed BBC TV series. Denise Mina teams up with award-winning South African-based novelist Belinda Bauer to discuss the creations of intelligent, character-driven fiction.

The science of crime comes under the microscope this year. The festival celebrates Agatha Christie’s anniversary with an exciting event looking at the grande dame of crime fiction’s obsession with poisons. Dr Kathryn Harkup, author of the book A is for Arsenic, and Christie expert Ragnar Jonasson, who has been Christie’s Icelandic translator since he was seventeen, will discuss the art of chemistry Christie used to kill the vast majority of her ‘victims’. Leading authors Val McDermid and Lin Anderson discuss the science of forensic evidence: Anderson’s Rhona MacLeod novels show her years of research into forensic and scientific detection, while McDermid has recently published a fascinating non-fiction work, Forensics: An Anatomy of Crime.

As ever, Bloody Scotland includes lots of events that don’t quite conform to the standard book festival template. After its huge popularity in 2014, the festival restages its Scotland vs. England all-crime-writers football match, with team captain Ian Rankin and star strikers Chris Brookmyre and Doug Johnstone already confirmed for the Scotland squad.   Whose Crime Is It Anyway? sees comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli and a live audience force authors Caro Ramsay, Kevin Wignall and Chris Brookmyre to improvise the plot of a novel live onstage. The festival will also be taking over Stirling’s famous Curly Coo pub for a night of song and comedy hosted by a number of authors.

Scottish crime writers including William McIlvanney, Doug Johnstone, Craig Robertson and Neil Broadfoot look at what make Glasgow and Edinburgh such distinctive settings for noir fiction, while a special true crime event looks sees Tom Wood, one of the leading officers in Edinburgh’s notorious World’s End Murders case, in conversation with journalist Bob Smyth, who covered the case extensively.

There are also a number of events celebrating crime fiction’s next generation. Bestselling author Alex Gray presents her choice of the best new crime books around (and their authors); highly acclaimed debut novelists Lucy Ribchester (The Hourglass Factory) and Not The Booker Prize-winner Simon Sylvester (The Visitors) make first-time appearances with their alternative takes on the genre, and the Pitch Perfect event offers new writers the chance to pitch their novels and get advice from a panel of publishing experts. The festival also teams up with other established crime writing organisations, including Nordic Noir, Brighton’s Dark & Stormy Festival and the authors’ collective Killer Women.

Finally, the festival will also include the fourth annual Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year Award – a gala dinner in the company of major crime writers. Last year’s winner, Peter May, will be opening the festival in conversation with Val McDermid.

Tickets are on sale from www.bloodyscotland.com or at the Box Office in the Tolbooth, Stirling, from Tuesday – Saturday (10-6am) on 01786 27 4000. Free standby tickets are available to the unemployed or those on a low income, on the day of the event if there is good availability. Proof of eligibility is required: visit www.bloodyscotland.com/standby.
 

BUDLEIGH SALTERTON LITERARY FESTIVAL 17-20 September

budlitfest_logo_colourThis year’s festival reveals a diverse selection of critically acclaimed, award-winning authors who are set to descend on the East Devon seaside town for the festival’s 7th consecutive year.

Appearing on Thursday afternoon will be celebrated children’s author and artist, Judith Kerr, creator of iconic books such as The Tiger Who Came to Tea, When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit and the Mog series. Judith will be discussing Creatures: A Celebration of the Life and Work, which celebrates her impressive 45 year career.

Also making an appearance on Thursday afternoon will be British actress, comedian and writer Helen Lederer who will discuss her debut novel Losing It, and her colourful career. Returning to the festival line-up is double Man Booker Prize winner and long-standing Honorary Festival President, Dame Hilary Mantel DBE, who will give an account of the literature that has shaped her life and writing, in an event entitled My Life in Books, the first of two appearances over the four days.

On the Friday, acclaimed biographers Ruth Scurr and Rachel Holmes will discuss their weighty biographies of 17th century English gentleman John Aubrey and radical feminist, campaigner and biographer Eleanor Marx.

Legendary artist and textile designer Kaffe Fassett will share his love of colour and bold patterns, whilst former cricketer turned cricket commentator David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd will talk about his forthcoming memoir and thoughts on the game. Debut authors Paula Hawkins and Renee Knight will also wax lyrical about their exceptional and bestselling, debut thrillers, The Girl on The Train and Disclaimer.

Following the success of her debut novel Tigers in Red Weather, former New York Times journalist and Sunday Times bestselling author, Liza Klaussman will be discussing her latest book Villa America. Set on the French Riviera in the 1920s, the novel focuses on Gerald and Sara Murphy; the couple that inspired Tender is the Night, and the distinguished guests that visited them, including Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso.

Friday evening closes with an exciting event that celebrates the BBC’s television adaptations of Winston Graham’s much loved Poldark. His son Andrew Graham will discuss the process of bringing the characters, stories and rugged Cornish Coast to life with the series scriptwriter Debbie Horsfield (Making Out, Cutting It, Sex, Chips and Rock’n’Roll). There’s also a strong possibility that members of the cast or crew will join this event.

Also on Saturday is acclaimed British dramatist David Hare who will be making a special appearance at the Festival to talk about his exceptional life writing for theatre, film and television. A BAFTA winner, he will be discussing his forthcoming memoir, The Blue Touch Paper, with Observer writer Rachel Cooke.

British-Chinese writer and Radio presenter Xinran will be talking about her thoughts on China and her eye-opening new book Buy Me The Sky: the Remarkable Truth of China’s One-Child Generation. Eminent philosopher John Gray will be discussing free will and pondering the timeless question: Do human beings want more choice in their lives…. Or do they really dream of being free from the burden of choice altogether?

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland and explore what makes Lewis Carroll’s magical tale of Alice so unique and distinctive, whilst Bookclub favourite Patrick Gale will talk about the mysterious family history that inspired his wonderful new novel, A Place Called Winter.

Dame Margaret Drabble will discuss her fantastic latest novel, The Pure Gold Baby and her thoughts on storytelling and great literature, whilst Man Booker Prize winner Ben Okri will wax lyrical about creativity, transformation and his first new novel in seven years, The Age of Magic. Bringing the festival to a close on Sunday afternoon will be much loved author Sarah Waters who will read and talk about her acclaimed latest novel, The Paying Guests.

The Festival will also feature three local authors. Christine Lee will discuss her relationship with her sister Jennifer Worth (author of Call the Midwife) and her debut novel The Midwife’s Sister. Budleigh author and artist Jed Falby will talk about his debut graphic novel, Le Train de Michel, with renowned comic expert and author Paul Gravett. And Peter Nasmyth will share his passion for the Literature and Landscape of East Devon with an illustrated talk.

For information and to purchase tickets visit www.budlitfest.org.uk . Tickets can be booked in person or by phone from The Tourist Information Centre: 01395 445 275.

HENLEY LITERARY FESTIVAL 28 September – 4 October

Actors, adventurers, comedians, cooks, politicians And sports stars join bestsellers  at Henley Literary Festival

Henley Literary festival_1This autumn’s Henley Literary Festival is the biggest yet with 170 talks, Q&As, performances and workshops with speakers including Brian Blessed, Jane Hawking, Lynda La Plante, Sue Perkins and the Archbishop of York.

Henley Literary Festival, in association with Baillie Gifford, takes place at venues across the picturesque riverside town from September 28 to October 4, including one of the UK’s oldest theatres, a boat on the Thames and the historic Fawley Court, which is opening its doors to the public for the first time in 175 years for a special event with Downtown Abbey writer Jessica Fellowes. Jane Hawking will discuss her memoir, which formed the basis for Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything. Adventurers Ranulph Fiennes and Ben Fogle will be returning to Henley after sell-out events in the past, while the world of religion will be represented by Cormac Murphy O’Connor, former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.

Fiction events range from international bestsellers Louis de Bernieres, Lynda La Plante, SJ Watson, Deborah Moggach and Sex & The City creator Candace Bushnell to newer talents including Emma Hooper, Sunny Singh, and Vaseem Khan. Festival favourites Rachel Johnson, Melvyn Bragg, Gill Hornby and Princess Michael of Kent will also be discussing their latest novels.

History will loom large as ever, including Max Hastings on World War Two, Peter Snow on Waterloo and Bonnie Greer on Rosa Parks. Food-writers Ella Woodward, Prue Leith, Shivi Ramoutar and Celebrity Masterchef winner Lisa Faulkner will all be appearing at the festival, as will music stars Tracey Thorn, Bob Harris and Dean Friedman.

From stage and screen there is Brian Blessed, Virginia McKenna, Sue Perkins and Pam St Clement, while sport will be represented by former England cricket coach David Lloyd and Australian Rugby World Cup winner Michael Lynagh. Politicians past and present include Vince Cable, Caroline Lucas, Charles Clarke and William Waldegrave. Other speakers over the week include columnists Polly Vernon, Bryony Gordon, Yasmin Alibhai‐Brown and Will Hutton, campaigner Caroline Criado‐Perez and raconteur Gyles Brandreth, who hosts the Festival’s first literary lunch at Henley’s Hotel du Vin.

For tickets and further information visit: www.henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk.

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Lovereading Mid July email update

Welcome to our mid-July email update full of hand-picked Summer Reading selections, exclusive Pre-Publication Opening Extracts, amazing free to enter prize draws and all that’s new and exciting in the book world. Read on and enjoy…

Must reads for August!

What’s better than getting your mitts on a new novel as soon as it hits the shelves. Reading some of it before it does. That’s what! See what’s new NEXT month. We love:

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan. Inspired by the author seeing an elephant lumbering down a busy Indian street, it is an enjoyable, exotic, India-set mystery for fans of Alexander McCall Smith and Rachel Joyce.

Rembrandt’s Mirror by Kim Devereux is simply stunning and our Reader Reviewers loved it too: ‘An evocative and reflective tale which is aesthetically delicious … a sheer delight.’ And The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies, author of the brilliant The Separation, is an exotically intense, vibrant and memorable tale, set in 1925 Ceylon.

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eBooks of the Month

Find something you like. Download. Go. It’s really as simple as that. Two of our favourites this month are:

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan. Charming, character-led and time-shifting. An alluring, moving and sharply real read.

And The Madagaskar Plan by Guy Saville is second in this exciting series of alternative histories that began with The Afrika Reich. Perfect for any fan of Robert Harris or Len Deighton.

Liked that? You’ll LOVE this!

Simple, but brilliant. This category matches authors you like with others that you’ll love without an algorithm in sight. Spreading the love is what we’re all about!

If you like Carole Matthews you’ll love Some Kind of Wonderful by Sarah Morgan If you like Robert Harris you’ll love The 3rd Woman by Jonathan Freedland If you like Victoria Hislop you’ll love No Place for a Lady by Gill Paul

Reading Group selections

Members of reading groups take note, we can help you choose some amazing titles for your group to read and discuss. Just visit our special category, where we put our monthly favourites, then download a few free Opening Extracts to pick your favourite. Our top choice this month is The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman. It is rich storytelling and set in and around a group of female boxers and their patrons in late 18th century Bristol with each character being given a voice and view in separate chapters.

Jan-Philipp Sendker’s Eastern Delights

Former Asia correspondent to Stern magazine and now world-renowned novelist, Jan-Philipp Sendker is able to transport his readers into the exotic and mysterious world of the Far East with a biting sense of realism that makes the journey both mystical and very, very human. We received some astonishing feedback from our Reader Reviewers for his first novel, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. His latest, Whispering Shadows explores the dark forces at the shoulder of China’s huge economic boom and has been universally admired too: ‘one of the best I’ve read in recent years’, ‘a masterful fusion of emotional turmoil and exciting thriller’. Find out more about these books today.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats – A beautifully written, inspiring love story and fairy tale. A Well-Tempered Heart – An intriguing and beguiling read, told with great eloquence. Whispering Shadows – A murder mystery with true heart and soul, and a sincerely beautiful read.
     

Books That Stand the Test of Time – Evergreens

“Timeless” and “classic” are words that are bandied about more than “unique” and “brilliant” these days. But, we have put together a brand new collection of titles that we believe are the Evergreens of literature. So that’s what we called it. ‘Evergreens’ are books that endure, stay fresh and continue to capture the hearts and minds of people the world over. Books like the career defining To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee … before you read the just published sequel Go Set a Watchman. Have a good old thumb through the lot, here. We plan to refresh the list so come back for more on a regular basis.

And if that weren’t enough …

If you are still stuck for your next read then we heartily recommend you have a browse through our Books of the Month or Debuts of the Month categories where we have an eclectic mix that made it to the top of our recommendation list.

If thrillers are your thing try Only We Know by Karen Perry or You by Caroline Kepnes. And if you like to mix music and stories don’t miss the emotional and moving The Song Collector by Natasha Solomons.

Finally non-fiction WW2 fans will love the gripping The Secret Life of Fighter Command by Sinclair McKay.

STOP PRESS … Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award

On 16 July at the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate a new queen of crime was crowned. Sarah Hilary’s DI Rome isn’t new to us (or our Crime aficionados) but if you haven’t read this corker of a crime series then we most definitely recommend you start with her award-winning debut Someone Else’s Skin which has just won this year’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. This stars sparky DI Marnie Rome and her sidekick, quieter DS Noah Jake, a splendid duo. Set largely in a refuge for battered women their case is dreadful and the faint-hearted should stay away … but once you start reading we think that you will find that rather hard.

P.S. Did you know Alexander McCall Smith is also a top-notch children’s author? Fans of his No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels can now treat their 9+ children to the adventures of a younger Precious Ramotswe as well as many other exciting stories he has penned. Full details on our sister site Lovereading4kids.

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Lovereading – Most popular books 12 – 19 July 2015

Lovereading Top 10

1
The Song Collector The Song Collector
Natasha Solomons
July 2015 Book of the Month.
‘The Song Collector’ subtly tiptoes under your skin, the first few sentences call to you, draw you in, envelop you… and then it doesn’t let you go until the very last page. Fox recollects meeting …
Download free opening extract
2
Only We Know Only We Know
Karen Perry
July 2015 Book of the Month.
A compelling and thought-provoking read, ‘Only We Know’ binds a childhood secret into a tight knot of anguish and heartache. The story is told in two different time frames, 1982 and 2013, steps are retraced …
Download free opening extract
3
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises
Fredrik Backman
June 2015 Book of the Month.
Totally and utterly and completely gorgeous in every way, the thought of having to put this book down for even a second is inconceivable. The first few pages make you smile, make you laugh and …
Download free opening extract
4
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra
Vaseem Khan
Prepare to be completely and utterly charmed in this whimsical and touching tale that enfolds you in the mystery of India. Inspector Chopra (retired), is likable, dependable and steadfast; in his case, once a policeman, always a policeman rings very …
Download free opening extract
5
Rembrandt's Mirror Rembrandt’s Mirror
Kim Devereux
This is such a stimulating, penetrating and truly beautiful novel, Kim Devereux obviously has a deeply emotional connection to Rembrandt’s work and she opens up and breathes life into his extraordinary world. While detailing the three main lovers or loves …
Download free opening extract
6
The Missing Husband The Missing Husband
Amanda Brooke
Would Jo’s husband David really walk out on her – leaving no message – no trace of his whereabouts. She’s pregnant and although their relationship had rocked when she told him, they loved each other – so how could he …
Download free opening extract
7
Some Kind of Wonderful Some Kind of Wonderful
Sarah Morgan
A delightfully alluring romance, where you know the couple should be together but do they! This is the second in the ‘Puffin Island’ trilogy, this time Brittany and Zachary are the twosome in the spotlight, they had an ill fated …
Download free opening extract
8
Gorsky Gorsky
Vesna Goldsworthy
Maxim Jakubowski July 2015 Highly Recommended.
A rich oligarch’s path crosses the path of a disillusioned bookseller through whose voice his story, and that of the beautiful woman married to another whom he loves, is told all the way to its …
Download free opening extract
9
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy Or the Letter That Was Never Sent to Harold Fry The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy Or the Letter That Was Never Sent to Harold Fry
Rachel Joyce
While Harold Fry was walking up through England with his media circus (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Henry Fry), Queenie preparing to die, was hanging on for him.  This is what she did while she waited in her Catholic hospice.  Unable …
Download free opening extract
10
Loving Amy A Mother's Story Loving Amy A Mother’s Story
Janis Winehouse
A new and intimate appraisal of Amy Winehouse from her mother, Janis. Watching her precocious and often difficult daughter grow-up, Janis saw her develop into a musician with a world-wide following, beset with addiction problems Janis then lost her daughter …
Download free opening extract
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The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2-11 October 2015

LOVEREADING4KIDS are delighted to announce we are sponsoring the highlight event of the children’s Book It! programme

Where My Wellies Take Me with Michael Morpurgo at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on Sunday 11 October

Bestselling author of War Horse, The Butterfly Lion and Kensuke’s Kingdom. Michael joins actor Natalie Walter and the award-winning acapella group Voices at the Door for an unforgettable afternoon of pastoral poetry and music, celebrating nature and the joy of language.

 

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2-11 October 2015

cheltenham_lit_logo_350For culture lovers, there’s really only one place to be this autumn, and that’s The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival. Running from Friday till Sunday, October 2-11 in a bespoke tented village in the heart of a lively spa town on the edge of the Cotswolds, the Festival boasts one of the most remarkable line-ups of culture-shaping giants that you’re likely to see.

In its spectacular programme of more than 500 events, the Festival will also touch upon subjects as diverse as history, politics, sport, food and fashion. The Festival’s events are carefully designed to bring together highly sought-after speakers to create stimulating, surprising, and entertaining events that ignite once-in-a-lifetime conversations.

This year’s Guest Directors bring with them a wide breadth of experience and expertise from around the world. They are Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Jane Smiley; socially motivated spoken word artist George the Poet; multi-award winning Australian novelist (author of The Slap) Christos Tsiolkas; and German author and founder of The European magazine Alexander Görlach.

 

The wonderfully popular Book It! family programme also returns this year with an enviable programme that features the world’s most-popular authors for children and young people, including an event which sees current and former Children’s Laureates Chris Riddell and Michael Rosen speaking together.

 

Booker Prize-winning Salman Rushdie will present his much anticipated first novel in eight years: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, which is a tribute to One Thousand and One Nights.

Jonathan Franzen is one of the brightest stars of American letters and he’ll be at Cheltenham discussing his new novel Purity. Paula Hawkins’s psychological thriller The Girl on the Train has been 2015’s surprise bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. She’ll be at the Festival discussing the blockbuster book.

The Booker-winning author Pat Barker will be in conversation with Anthony Beevor, discussing her new novel Noonday, which is set against the backdrop of the Blitz. Louis de Bernieres also visits a wartime setting for his new novel, The Dust That Falls From Dreams.

Pat is one of six past Booker Prize winners speaking at this year’s Festival. The other winners include: John Banville, Julian Barnes, Anne Enright, and Peter Carey.

Peter Carey will be at the Festival to receive The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, which was last year presented to Kazuo Ishiguro in a completely sold out Town Hall event.

The Festival also has its now highly anticipated Man Booker Finalists event, which has become a literary landmark on the Festival scene. Last year, all six finalists read from their books and discussed their work.

Patrick Gale, author of A Perfectly Good Man, will also be appearing, as will The Time Traveller’s Wife author Audrey Niffenegger and Whitbread Prize-winning Jeanette Winterson.

Once again, Cheltenham will be celebrating debut writers and this year’s Festival will see talks from rising stars including Laura Barnett, Claire Fuller, Julia Rochester, Sarah Leipciger, Francesca Haig and Helena Coggan.

The actress and playwright Meera Syal has now added novelist to her CV. She will discuss her new book, The House of Hidden Mothers, a tale of parallel lives in London and rural India.

Festival favourites Rachel Johnson, India Knight, and Laura Thompson will be digging up some historical gossip to explore the scandalous lives of Britain’s most famous society sisters, the Mitfords.

Britain’s most distinguished living satirical novelist David Lodge will talk to great American novelist and Festival Guest Director Jane Smiley about his life and career, while Kate Atkinson will talk about her new book, A God in Ruins, which is a sequel to the Costa Award winning Life after Life.

George the Poet defies stereotypes. Born on a northwest London council estate, George is a rapper with a degree from King’s College, Cambridge. Now he is redefining what poetry means to the twenty-ten generation: hear his brilliant spoken word social commentary live in Cheltenham.

George heads up an incredibly strong poetry strand, which includes talks from Les Murray, Oxford’s new professor of poetry Simon Armitage, Paul Muldoon and Wendy Cope.

This year’s big Times Debate is about Europe: Nick Clegg taking the pro-stance against MEP Daniel Hannan who wants out. Minette Batters of the NFU will also be on the panel, which will be chaired by Justin Webb.

David Cameron’s former policy guru Steve Hilton, author of More Human, will discuss his radical solutions to society’s problems, while surgeon Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal, will talk about the future of medicine, ageing and what is a good death.

Nigel Lawson will join Gus O’Donnell and Alistair Darling to explain How to Write a Budget and James Rubin, former US Assistant Secretary of State will talk about the Cold War.

Yeonmi Park, who in 2007 aged just 13 escaped with her family from North Korea, will talk about life in the totalitarian state, the terrifying escape and her vision for the country’s future.

The last Dambuster, 93-year-old George Johnson, will talk about what really happened during the RAF’s now legendary 1943 Dambuster raids, while Max Hastings will talk about espionage and intelligence, treachery and deception — the topic of his next book The Secret War.

Antony Beevor will detail the Battle of the Bulge, the subject of his latest book, Ardennes 1944, while father and son presenters, Dan and Peter Snow will investigate the Battle of Waterloo.

Provocative historian Niall Ferguson will set out his revisionist case for America’s most controversial statesman, Henry Kissinger.

Other non-fiction names announced include Robert Macfarlane with his recent bestseller Landmarks and Shakespearean scholar James Shapiro talking about 1606; the year of King Lear, Macbeth, and Anthony and Cleopatra. Historians Robert Tombs and Ian Kershaw also join the line-up.

Celebrated choreographer Matthew Bourne will also talk about his incredible life in dance and West End star and online sensation Carrie Hope Fletcher will discuss the perils of celebrity.

Simon Schama returns to Cheltenham to tell the history of Britain through its portraits, while ceramicist Edmund de Waal tells the story of his obsession with porcelain and the inspirations for his life as an artist. Two decades on from Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson returns with The Road to Little Dribbling.

Suppressed by the courts till now, pianist James Rhodes will speak openly to publisher Jamie Byng about his memoir Instrumental, which details his dramatic life. This event will feature musical interludes from James.

One of the greatest stage actors of our time, Antony Sher, will talk about how you prepare for Shakespeare’s greatest roles, while Tracey Thorn and Mark Ellen, The Everything But the Girl singer and the leading music writer, will discuss pop, their favourite singers, The X Factor and more.

Mike Atherton, David Gower, David Lloyd and Richard Tomlinson come face-to-face to discuss who is the greatest ever cricketer.

Cheltenham favourite AP McCoy will also be back in Cheltenham – he’s not chasing the Gold Cup this time though, instead Tony will be talking about his book Winner: A Racing Life.

Over a sumptuous dinner, Oz Clarke will take festivalgoers on a history of wine in 100 bottles, while reigning domestic goddess Nigella Lawson will discuss her latest foodie adventures.  Rick Stein will also talk about his culinary career.

The full Festival line-up will be announced on Saturday, August 8 at cheltenhamfestivals.com. To be the first to hear Festival announcements, sign up at cheltenhamfestivals.com. Booking for Cheltenham Literature Festival opens to Members at 1pm on Wednesday, August 26 and to the general public at 1pm on Wednesday, September 2. To book, you need to create a Wish List in advance here: cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature.

Further information and to book tickets visit: www.cheltenhamfestivals.com or phone on 0844 880 8094

 

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Book review: Dunhuang: A City On The Silk Road By Thomas Bird

This new, comprehensive and up-to-date guide to the ancient city of Dunhuang is a must-read guide for those with a passion for exploration and Chinese adventure.

Dunhuang cover-20150330Set in the heart of the ancient Silk Route, this once-flourishing city in northwest China is a historic and cultural gem, World Heritage Site and home to one of the world’s greatest treasures, the Mogao Buddhist caves. Historically one of the word’s most important meeting and trading posts between East and West, the path through Dunhuang has long been trodden by merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers and nomads carrying silk and other goods across the Asian continent.

Now, new guide Dunhuang: A City On The Silk Road explores the region for the modern traveller and tourist, showcasing the very best of this exotic and little-known region.

Packed full of essential information, expert insights and handy travel tips, the guide (Forty-Six Books) highlights how the region is now a centre of world importance in the study of ancient Eastern culture and world Buddhism. It contains essential information about travelling to and through Dunhuang, in addition to expert tips on when to visit, what to expect from the language and culture, and the city’s key – and secret – attractions.
It also includes colour maps, price points, transport schedules and suggested itineraries and tours. To help fulfil the needs of the modern traveller, it also comes with free use of the Dunhuang travel app.

Most visitors to this region will want to explore the Mogao Buddhist caves – a network of nearly 500 temples carved into the rock – so the guide expertly covers these, alongside Buddhist iconography, the history of the main sutras and the 2,000-year-old Han Dynasty Great Wall.

It also contains rare and stunning photos of the caves and the desert landscape by an internationally-celebrated photographer – with the images giving a vivid flavour of the incredible heritage and scenery of the place.

Other nearby attractions – such as the attractive Crescent Lake and the Mingsha Shan, or Echoing-Sand Mountain, named after the sound of the wind whipping off the dunes – are also included.

The lead author of this book, Thomas Bird, is a top travel writer on Asia, and his knowledge and passion for the region shines through in his writing.

Full of expert insights and packed with information about the Silk Road culture and history, this must-read guide will appeal both to armchair wanderlust and serious travellers, alike.

Happily, the publication of the book also coincides with an international conference concerning developing tourism in the region – the 7th UNWTO International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism – to be held in Xi’an, China on 18-20 June.

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Summer. The season in which all the best memories are made. Our Summer Reading section will give you great reads that stay with you well into next year at least! Whatever your mood, we’ve got the tools to help you choose the perfect book for the beach, bus, bar, departure lounge, sun-lounger or favourite window seat. Together with our mobile friendly ‘Awesome Author Recommender‘ you’re guaranteed a treat in a couple of clicks. Now, who’s making the Pimms? Read on for more…

July Noted – Books of the Month

Your vacation is our vocation. Book-wise that is. July’s bookshelf is teeming with perfect summer reads, whatever your taste. We particularly love Only We Know by Karen Perry – Captivating, compelling and extraordinary story about the power of childhood secrets.

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Quenching your First! – Debuts of the Month

First time authors jostle for your admiration this month and it’s a pretty superlative bunch. Click here to discover what could become a new favourite author!

Gone Girl meets Fatal Attraction in Caroline Kepnes’ You, a chilling account of the twisted psychology behind unrelenting passion. Also, if you’re a fan of the novels by Liane Moriarty or JoJo Moyes then You, Me and Other People by Fionnuala Kearney is definitely your tipple.

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Fall back in love with Mia from The Princess Diaries

 … with her new novel for grown ups

Meg Cabot has revisited The Princess Diaries, her massive bestselling teen series of the last 15 years, with a novel specifically written for the old-timers to revel in – you’re in your 20s now!! It features Princess Mia’s very own Royal Wedding. It’s glamour personified and utterly addictive.

A Flight of Fantasy – Maxim’s July selections


There is a sizeable spoonful of the surreal, snaking through this mid-summer selection from Maxim Jakubowski. Science fiction and fantasy abound, for those who like to fly on the wings of wonder and boldly go into brave new (mind-bending) worlds. Book of the Month is:

Radiant State by Peter Higgins – Powerful, magical, angelic, demonic, moving and breathless conclusion to the Wolfhound Century trilogy.

… and also Highly Recommended is:

Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy – Twisting tragedy of tainted love and polar opposites, in a world where money and greed are king.

Parallel Life – Round the World to Where You Started

The 60th Parallel marks the borderline between the South and the North. A cold forbidding and beautiful circle dissecting Finland, Norway, Sweden, Alaska, Canada and, well, Shetland. That’s where Malachy Tallack lives.

That’s where he set out from. He walked the entire 60th parallel until he got back to where he started. Join him, on a beautiful and thought-provoking journey of self-discovery and an exploration of the meaning of ‘home’. This is armchair travel writing at its best.

Get in the Mood for Summer

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Even a goldfish can dream of adventure…

From his enviable view from a balcony on the 27th floor of an apartment block, Ian the Goldfish has frequent – if fleeting – desires for a more exciting life. Until one day, a series of unfortunate events gives him an opportunity to escape… Fishbowl by Bradley Somer is a truly original, philosophically joyful and charming novel with the unlikeliest of heroes that we think will be one of this year’s must read novels. Read an exclusive and extended extract here now… the book is published 6 August 2015.

Two to watch out for later in July

We wanted to share news of two books we have just finished reading that will be published at the end of July. Daughter of the House by Rosie Thomas – A heartfelt, lovely, interesting family story set between 1910 and 1931. Reader Reviewer Barbara Goldie said ‘Smell the greasepaint of the theatre, shiver at the chill of spiritualism, share the secrets of illicit affairs. A great read!’

Also Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller – An intensely powerful thriller that starts, continues and finishes with provocative words and action. Reader Reviewer Gavin Dimmock said ‘What a pulsating, driving rush this book is. It is a superbly crafted novel and thoroughly mesmerising’ Read an Opening Extract of them both today.

Read on for hand-picked selections in the categories you have told us you like to be kept up to date with. Click here to update them.

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Book Review: Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran by Dr Nina Ansary, Ph.D

“Iranian women have different perspectives and attitudes… yet they are united in the desire to be free to follow their own path. Every woman is a unique gemstone… and together they will change the course of history in their homeland.” Nina Ansary

 

jewelsofallah_smFor many in the West, the view of women in Iran is one of heavy censorship and inequality, of lives controlled by Conservative men and radical Ayatollahs.

 

It’s a view that has been formed not from first-hand information, but from (almost exclusively negative) media snapshots, which have consistently depicted Iran rife with hard-line division where women are treated as second-class citizens.

 

Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran, then, is an astonishingly refreshing, timely and, at times, provocative roller coaster ride of a book which will shatter many of the West’s preconceived ideas by exploding the myth that Iranian women are ubiquitously oppressed.

 

Written by Dr Nina Ansary, Jewels of Allah reveals, in fact, that the audacious history of women in Iran is a maze, with unexpected twists and turns, gains and losses, triumphs and defeats’.

 

Determined to set the record straight, Ansary offers an insightful, informed and unique first-hand look at the strong flowering of feminism in Iran, which has existed and blossomed even under times of heavy Conservative control.

 

In particular, Jewels of Allah highlights the many actions that feminists in Iran have taken throughout history to push for women’s rights, despite the risk of harsh reprisals. It also examines their relationship with a capricious state and its multitude of political and ideological leaders.

 

Most of all, this gripping book shatters the long-held Western perceptions of subjugation – of Iranian women being marginalised citizens. And it highlights a systematic rise in Islamic Feminism, a movement that is challenging the traditional model of womanhood across Iran and the wider Muslim world, and also how Western feminists can help support it.

 

Undoubtedly, this book – written by one of the world’s leading authorities on the women’s movement in Iran, and one of its most respected political observers, will appeal to academics, students and the mainstream public interested in global affairs, the Middle East, women’s rights, feminism and Iran.

 

Iran is a story which never seems to truly leave the headlines, and its topicality never wanes. It is country that sparks fascination – and Jewels of Allah is a book that will educate and inform readers, helping them understand it better.

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Thoughts from an Orkney Librarian

by Stewart Bain

At a time when Amazon reviews and star-ratings have become devalued, how do we come across that very special book that will stay with us for a lifetime?  Orkney Library’s Senior Library Assistant Stewart Bain says trust your local librarian.

 

Profile picIt is impossible to remember every detail about all the books you have read. Some you vaguely recall; it was to do with a dinner lady winning thousands on the bingo and moving abroad; or, it was quite a big book and had a picture of a hefty man standing next to a Ford Anglia on the cover.

 

Others books are so forgettable they will leave your memory permanently the very second you read the last word. Then there are the books in which the people and places resonate with you to such an extent that they will stay with you forever.  This is the sort of book everyone wants to read, so how do you find it?

 

You may read books because they have been recommended to you. If a friend tells you they have just finished an amazing novel and you must read it, you will probably give it a go. You assume your friend is telling the truth and it isn’t some devious plan to see you waste several hours of your life as you plod through chapter after chapter of poorly written nonsense.

 

If you are not fortunate enough to have a friend to make reading recommendations, you may seek inspiration online. The internet is awash with book reviews, but can you trust them? In the old days it was easy, you just watched Late Review and three people who were clearly brainier than you would say clever things about the new Umberto Eco novel. However, in the digital age everyone can share their opinion on a book with the entire world.

 

Independent review sites can be a good starting point when you are looking for your next read. LoveReading is a site by book lovers for book lovers. It features recommendations and tools to help you find the book that is right for you. All the titles featured on LoveReading have been read and enjoyed by the people who run the site. However, if you want to see a balance of good and bad comments, you may decide to wade through the online book reviews on commercial sites. Be warned though, these could leave you more confused than enlightened.

 

For every positive review that ranks a new novel alongside the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird, you will find a negative one from a person who wouldn’t even tear the book up to line the bottom of the birdcage. The book Brenda from Paisley thinks is a page-turner, VexedTrevor94 thinks is a stomach-turner.  This can be terribly confusing, but to make matters worse these reviews may not even be real.

 

CCBv56raRecently the whole sock puppet scandal revealed the practice of authors using fake online profiles to not only give glowing praise to their own work, but also to dismiss the work of other writers. So if Brenda from Paisley and VexedTrevor94 are merely characters in The Case of the Fabricated 5-star Review by A.N. Author, who do you go to for advice on what to read next?

 

The answer, as it so often should be, to all sorts of questions, is the library.  Library staff have years of experience in helping readers to find the right books for them. There is no ulterior motive; they aren’t on commission; it makes no difference to a librarian if you borrow the complete works of Proust or the 19th volume of autobiography by Katie Price. People who work in libraries are there to assist you in choosing books; the only sock puppetry you will get in a library is to be found at 745.59224 #DeweyBanter.

 

In 2015 you don’t even have to visit the building for a library to help with your choice of reading material. Back in the day the only way to seek help from a librarian outside library opening hours was to ambush them in the beige slacks aisle of M&S or at the hairdresser as they had their bun riveted in place. Now libraries are online, answering queries through websites, e-mail and social media. You can even download books online with a library membership; it’s all very modern.

 

If you enjoy reading, and use the internet, you will be bombarded with publishers, publicists and authors trying to persuade you that their latest titles need to be top of your reading list. By the way authors, a DM on Twitter saying ‘Hi, thanks for following. You might like my new book The Ombudsman’s Harpsichord’ is likely to get you unfollowed quicker than you can type ‘I’ve got four bairns to feed’.

 

Libraries give you the information about authors and new books without the hard sell. There are no commercial interests, just a shared love of reading. One of the best things about libraries is that not only can they introduce you to new book by an author you haven’t read before, but, if you enjoyed it, they can also give you access to their previous titles. For free!

 

Often libraries can be a real hub of the community; readers meet, swap book titles they have enjoyed, gossip about the girl from the shoe shop who had an affair with the driving instructor, and ask the staff for help finding new authors.  Social media means more people than ever before can become part of these reading communities, regardless of where they live. There are even libraries attracting quite a sizeable global following online…

AnnCleevesStewartBainOrcrime

Orkney Library’s Senior Library Assistant Stewart Bain is chief Tweeter @OrkneyLibrary, which has reached 18,000 followers. He’ll be appearing on the ‘Your Perfect Match’ panel exploring the murky world of online reviews at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate on Friday 17 July.

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Top 10 Books 21 – 28 June 2015

Lovereading Top 10

1
All the Little Pieces All the Little Pieces
Jilliane Hoffman
June 2015 Book of the Month.
All the Little Pieces should come with a warning label: this is not a light easy read, it’s disturbing, sad, unsettling and… addictive. You are launched straight into the terrified thoughts of a young woman …
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2
You, Me and Other People You, Me and Other People
Fionnuala Kearney
A fabulous debut novel, You, Me and Other People is clever, wistful and endearing. Beth and Adam have been married for years, secrets also kept for years are set to rampage though and trample over their lives. In alternate chapters …
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3
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises
Fredrik Backman
June 2015 Book of the Month.
Totally and utterly and completely gorgeous in every way, the thought of having to put this book down for even a second is inconceivable. The first few pages make you smile, make you laugh and …
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4
The Looking Glass House The Looking Glass House
Vanessa Tait
‘The Looking Glass House’ is a bright, bold work of fiction, simply told yet holding a complicated ring of truth. Alice Liddell, the young inspiration for Lewis Caroll is the great-grandmother of the author of this novel. Alice’s keepsakes have …
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5
Find Me Find Me
Laura van den Berg
June 2015 Debut of the Month.
A sensitive debut novel by a young American author, previously praised for her short stories, Find Me belongs to the somewhat topical recent school of hopeful dystopias and reminded me of both Sarah Pinborough’s The …
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6
The Man Who Watched Women The Man Who Watched Women
Michael Hjorth, Hans Rosenfeldt
Scandinavian crime fiction is well know for being dark, gritty and full of complex characters, The Man Who Watched Women sits confidently alongside its associates. The author pairing of Michael Hjorth and Hans Rosenfeldt is well established, together they created …
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7
Royal Wedding The Princess Diaries 11 Royal Wedding The Princess Diaries 11
Meg Cabot
Mia Thermopolis is one of the most delightful fictional creations ever. Transformed in an instant from ordinary New York teen to princess, her adventures, recounted in Meg Cabot’s bestselling Princess Diaries series, charmed readers with their warmth and humour. Now …
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8
Proud My Autobiography Proud My Autobiography
Gareth Thomas
Winner of the Sports Book of the Year at the British Sports Book Awards 2015.
Winner of the Autobiography of the Year at the British Sports Book Awards 2015.
Shortlisted for the Rugby Book of the Year Award at the British Sports …
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9
Guy Martin: My Autobiography Guy Martin: My Autobiography
Guy Martin
Shortlisted for the Autobiography of the Year at the British Sports Book Awards 2015.
Find out what motivates Guy Martin to confront the dangers of road racing, you’ll experience the heart-stopping moments when things go wrong and can contrast this adrenaline …
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10
The Last 10 Seconds The Last 10 Seconds
Simon Kernick
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 6 May 2010.
Simon Kernick is fast becoming one of the top crime writers in Britain today and at Lovereading we have been fans for a long time. Here we have another …
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on Orkney is the setting for this original and intriguing novel, and an atmosphere of otherness pervades the story. Lennon brings together the original inhabitants of the village with Rab, a …
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