AbeBooks' Reading Copy » UK http://www.abebooks.com/blog AbeBooks book blog Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:26:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 E.L. James (books) found abandoned in hotel room http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/08/29/e-l-james-books-found-abandoned-in-hotel-room/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/08/29/e-l-james-books-found-abandoned-in-hotel-room/#comments Thu, 29 Aug 2013 17:49:35 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19551 The UK hotel chain Travelodge has revealed a list of the 20 books most often left behind in their hotel rooms from the past year.  In total the chain recovered 22,648 books to populate the list which was dominated by erotica novels.  The most oft discarded book last year was E.L. James trilogy capping Fifty Shades Freed, which was left behind an astonishing 1,209 times.

James other two novels Fifty Shades of Grey, and Fifty Shades Darker also appeared on the list at number 6 and number 10 respectively.  As reported in The Guardian “top three reasons for abandoning books in Travelodge rooms are ‘finished reading it and left it for others’, followed by ‘genuinely lost or forgot it’, and ‘got bored’”

The Top 20

Fifty Shades Freed by EL James1. Fifty Shades Freed by EL James
2. Bared To You by Sylvia Day
3. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
5. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
6. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
7. Reflected in You by Sylvia Day
8. My Time by Bradley Wiggins
9. Entwined with You by Sylvia Day
10. Fifty Shades Darker by EL James
11. Cheryl: My Story by Cheryl Cole
12. The Marriage Trap by Jennifer Probst
13. Camp David by David Walliams
14. Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
15. Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson
16. The Marriage Mistake by Jennifer Probst
17. The Racketeer by John Grisham
18. The Carrier by Sophie Hannah
19. Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French
20. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

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2013 Man Booker Longlist Announced http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/23/2013-man-booker-longlist-announced/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/23/2013-man-booker-longlist-announced/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 16:37:06 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19440 The longlist for the 2013 Man Booker Prize was announced today. Leading the way are Jhumpa Lahiri, Colum McCann and Colm Tóibín, although there is plenty of literary talent on the list. here are the contenders:

TransAtlantic by Colum McCannTash Aw – Five Star Billionaire
Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries
Jim Crace – Harvest
Eve Harris – The Marrying of Chani Kaufman
Richard House – The Kill
Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland
Alison MacLeod – Unexploded
Colum McCann – TransAtlantic
Charlotte Mendelson – Almost English
Ruth Ozeki – A Tale for the Time Being
Donal Ryan – The Spinning Heart
Colm Tóibín – The Testament of Mary


The authors longlisted hail from Britain, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Ireland. Of the 13, two of the writers have been shortlisted before – Jim Crace in 1997 for Quarantine and while Colm Tóibín twice for The Blackwater Lightship in 1999 and in 2004 with The Master.

Crace is the oldest contender on the longlist at 67 and Eleanor Catton is the youngest aged 27. The shortlist of six will be announced on Tuesday, September 10th and the winner on October 15th.

So far, odds on favorite among the bookies is Eleanor Catton at 6/1, but for my money, I think Jhumpa Lahiri might be a better wager at 10/1.

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Call The Midwife Was a Book First http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/17/call-the-midwife-was-a-book-first/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/17/call-the-midwife-was-a-book-first/#comments Fri, 17 May 2013 21:43:16 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19170 call-the-midwife-worth

My husband and I are expecting our first baby. It’s an exciting, wonderful, strange and occasionally terrifying time, as anyone who has been through it will remember. Both medically and emotionally, it’s an absolutely fascinating process that is affecting parts of my body and both of our hearts that neither of us ever expected.

To alterately comfort and alarm myself, I’ve become totally immersed in the PBS Series Call The Midwife. Originally a BBC drama (and apparently, the highest-rated in BBC history), the show is utterly engrossing and fantastic.

If you’ve never seen it, the series is set in tjhe 1950s, in the poor East End of London. It centers on a convent known as Nonnatus House, which is home to nuns, nurses and midwives. The main character and protagonist is young Nurse Jenny Lee, who arrives at Nonnatus at the beginning of the series, and is initially quite squeamish and a bit prissy. But that soon changes. The series follows Nurse Lee and her fellow young nurses, as well as the sisters of Nonnatus led by chief nun Sister Julienne, as they host midwifery clinics, attend births, tend to the sick working class people of the area, and generally do the best they can with limited resources, often in squalid or surprising conditions.

The births depicted are incredibly realistic and well done, the characters and settings are fully realized and believable, and the show works extraordinarily well on the whole. My only complaint is that the first two seasons were only six and eight episodes respectively, and I went through them very quickly. Which is why I am so excited to learn that it was a book first! Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth was originally published in 2002, after Worth retired. I was even more excited to learn that the book is a memoir, and based on her own, real-life experiences working in the same scenarios and conditions described. And the happy news and things to look forward to continue – it’s a trilogy! Books two and three are called Shadows of the Workhouse and Farewell to the East End.

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The Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2013 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/16/the-wodehouse-prize-for-comic-fiction-2013/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/16/the-wodehouse-prize-for-comic-fiction-2013/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 19:21:33 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19155 Zoo Time by Howard JacobsonI am going to go out and say it, there are far too many book prizes given out every year.  This isn’t to say that I don’t think authors deserve to be recognized for their fantastic work, it’s just that it can get a bit tedious when every day it seems that another seven prizes that I have never heard of are awarded (and I’m in the business of knowing what these prizes are).

This is why I really appreciate the Wodehouse Prize, it’s hard to forget. Instead of awarding the author some small pittance in cash, the winner of the prize (which is given for the best work of comic fiction) receives a prize so absolutely useless and comical that it could only be a Wodehouse prize:   An Everyman Library, a bottle of Bollinger Champagne, and an enormous Gloucester old spot pig named after the winning novel.

Gloucester Old Spot Boar

Gloucester Old Spot Boar

The winner of this year’s prize was Howard Jacobson for his novel Zoo Time.  It was the second time that Jacobson has won this award, which leaves you to wonder what he’s doing with all these pigs, and if they gave him a breeding pair would the Wodehouse committee be putting themselves out of business?

Jacobson commented that he was honored to have won this award, and is proud of his comic writing “Other prizes often view [comedy] as sort of embarrassing writerly malfunction – which is treacherous, in my view, when you consider the comic origins of the novel and the strong comedic traditions of English writing in particular. So to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic writing once was bliss for me. To win it twice is very heaven.”  He went on to say that it is a bit of a shame the pig has to be named Zoo Time, “But it could have been worse. It could have been Bring Up the Bodies.”

Runners up for the award were Joseph Connolly for England’s Lane, Helen DeWitt for Lightning Rods, Michael Frayn for Skios and Deborah Moggach for Heartbreak Hotel.

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The Saturday Books http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/02/22/the-saturday-books/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/02/22/the-saturday-books/#comments Sat, 23 Feb 2013 00:00:45 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=18423 The Saturday Book was an annual miscellany that featured art, literature and comment on British life during World War II and the decades that followed until 1975. The series was initially edited by Leonard Russell with John Hadfield taking over the reins in 1952.

Each edition of The Saturday Book provides a wonderful glimpse into the culture that shaped a nation with contributions from some very talented individuals. Readers were treated to short stories, poetry and art from the likes of Evelyn Waugh, P.G. Wodehouse, Graham Greene, Siegfried Sassoon, John Masefield, Cecil Beaton, Edward Ardizzone and Robert Gibbings. The books were designed for casual reading and contained both serious and frivolous content with real English flare.

Copies of The Saturday Book are fairly easy to find but the early volumes are scarcer partly due to the more rapid deterioration of the thinner wartime paper used between 1942 and 1945. Reading copies can be picked up less than $20.

A Selection of Saturday Books

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Mystery Edinburgh Book Sculptor strikes again http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/12/13/mystery-edinburgh-book-sculptor-strikes-again/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/12/13/mystery-edinburgh-book-sculptor-strikes-again/#comments Thu, 13 Dec 2012 18:38:39 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=17971 About a year ago a mystery book sculptor began randomly placing pieces of book art around the city, and it appears that the sculptor is back at it again this time to help celebrate “Book Week Scotland.”  Surprise gifts have been left at the Glasgow School of Art, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, the Scottish Seabird Center in North Berwick, J M Barrie’s birthplace in Kirriemuir and this piece inspired by Compton Mackenzie’s Whisky Galore which was found in a pub on the remote island of Eriskay.

 You can see the rest of the sculptures in Fine Books Magazine’s post

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Look out BBC TV: Here Comes Rowling’s Casual Vacancy http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/12/04/look-out-bbc-tv-here-comes-rowling-casual-vacancy/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/12/04/look-out-bbc-tv-here-comes-rowling-casual-vacancy/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 22:09:50 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=17908 The boy wizard might be grown and gone now, but Harry Potter’s creator is showing no sign of fading into obscurity any time soon. As reported yesterday by the BBC, J.K. Rowling’s latest novel (this one written for adults) The Casual Vacancy is set to become a BBC television drama.

The novel tells the story of Pagford, a quintessential English small town with a cobbled market square and historic abbey. But life is anything but peaceful behind the hanging baskets and manicured lawns. An empty seat appears on the town council when Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly and the subsequent election sparks conflict and turmoil amongst the townspeople. Sounds like it could make for riveting English television.

No word yet on number or length of the episodes, but the series is expected to air on BBC One in 2014.

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Is Enid Blyton Too Old-Fashioned to Be Relevant? http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/06/20/is-enid-blyton-too-old-fashioned-to-be-relevant/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/06/20/is-enid-blyton-too-old-fashioned-to-be-relevant/#comments Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:30:49 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=16601 Is Enid Blyton simply an anachronism? Does the fact that she has sold hundreds of millions of books count for anything when critics say her adventure stories are old-fashioned and no longer relevant to today’s young readers? My colleague Richard says yes, and I agree.

I grew up with her books, in Canada, in the 1980s (and some 90s), and absolutely loved them. If the notion of boarding schools was foreign to me, if I didn’t know what a kipper was, it just made the books all the more exicting, exotic and adventurous to me. I refuse to believe for a moment that today’s children are unwilling or unable to explore and enjoy worlds outside their own through books. Isn’t that one of the chief joys reading? And while I understand that Blyton wrote during a different era, and some of her choices of inclusions – depictions of golliwogs, for instance – may ring sour today, I also think children are brilliant creatures capable of understanding context and historical differences, if we take the time to explain it to them.

In my opinion, those detractors who are decrying Enid Blyton’s books as no longer relevant are all the voices of adults, not kids.

Relive the glory days of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven, and decide for yourself.

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Skagboys: Irvine Welsh’s Prequel to Trainspotting http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/06/19/skagboys-irvine-welshs-prequel-to-trainspotting/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/06/19/skagboys-irvine-welshs-prequel-to-trainspotting/#comments Tue, 19 Jun 2012 17:07:29 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=16593 I guess I’d better start boning up on my Scottish dialect – fitba means football, right? – gritty novelist Irvine Welsh has a new book out.

Skagboys is the prequel to his 1993 darkly hilarious (yet horribly depressing) novel Trainspotting, made into a hugely successful 1996 film starring Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle and Kelly MacDonald. Skagboys shows the reader the earlier times of Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and the rest.

Marked by Irvine Welsh’s scabrous humor and raw Scottish vernacular, Skagboys transports us to 1980s Edinburgh, where the Trainspotting crew is just getting started. Mark Renton has it all: the first in his family to attend university, he has a pretty girlfriend and a great social life. But when economic uncertainties and family problems intervene, Rent succumbs to the defeatism—not to mention the drug use—that has taken hold in Edinburgh’s tougher quarters. His friends are responding according to personality. Laid off, Spud Murphy is paralyzed in the face of long-term unemployment. Sick Boy, supreme manipulator of the opposite sex, is scamming and hustling for money and drugs. And meanwhile, psycho Franco Begbie is scaring the hell out of everyone. Darkly humorous, Skagboys gives a gritty and gripping portrait of a time, not unlike ours, when money was scarce, unemployment was high, and drugs seemed the answer.

Sadly, preliminary investigation indicates that Skagboys is not a Choose-your-own-adventure book, as I had hoped; the reader will not be given the option to get those boys into a hot shower and some good jobs, and save them from the fictional future we know is coming for them.

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The books behind The Supersizers http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/04/10/the-books-behind-the-supersizers/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2012/04/10/the-books-behind-the-supersizers/#comments Tue, 10 Apr 2012 23:00:25 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=14328

One of my favourite, televised guilty pleasures is the BBC’s The Supersizers Go…, which was rebroadcast on The Food Network in Canada.

The show combines my love of cooking, history, and humour into several episodes of gastronomical adventure and hilarity.

In the spirit of Morgan Spurlock’s ‘Supersize Me’, the two hosts immerse themselves in the spirit of a particular era for one week, and then analyze the effect on their health.

Hosts Giles Coren and Sue Perkins dress and try to act the part as they eat their way through different eras from Elizabethan to 1970s England.

Sue and Giles dressed for a 1970s party

Many fascinating and rare reference books and manuals are used for the research behind these episodes.

One of my favourite episodes features the diet and lifestyle of ‘homefront’ England during World War II with food prepared by Chef Allegra McEvedy.

The stark differences between the average person’s rations and Winston Churchill’s feasts are highlighted.  Staples such as National Loaf, Special Margarine, Woolton Pie, Skilly, and Ersatz Coffee are also discussed.

Pamphlets and books on the importance of eating well and exercise to maintain health were made readily available to the general public.  One of the main references was Eating For Victory.

Another entertaining episode featured 1970s England.  Alcohol appears to be a key factor in almost every era featured, none more so than in the 1970s.  In his Action Cook Book, novelist Len Deighton gives instruction for liquor dispensation and consumption at a standard cocktail party.  The host was meant to ensure that enough hard liquor was available so that each person might have half a bottle for the first two hours and three quarters of a bottle for each subsequent two-hour period.

Of course, a trip back to the 1970s would not have been complete without many references to TV chef Fanny Cradock and her culinary influence during that time.

Each time I watch an episode, I can’t help but find myself drawn in to the romance of each period, the charm of the hosts, and the interesting differences and surprising similarities between these culinary eras and modern times.

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