Saturday, 28 June 2014

'You know, sir, there are bones in my body that are yet to have names...'

Really pleased to say that my poem girl uncertain won the Sentinel Poetry Competition. :)

Here's an audio of me reading the poem.
(If you are viewing this blog post in an email, click here to listen.)

Saturday, 21 June 2014

26 Of The Greatest Book Dedications You Will Ever Read

Complete shocked - and happy! - to see that The Bookshop Book made it onto Buzzfeed's list of '26 of the Greatest Book Dedications You'll Ever Read.' It's in pretty good company! You can see them all over here.

Friday, 20 June 2014

A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray

I've been excited about the release of A Song for Issy Bradley for a long time. To be honest, I've been looking forward to reading more from Carys after devouring her short story collection Sweet Home a couple of years ago. She's is a fantastic writer - and a bloody lovely person - and I'm so chuffed that her novel is being recognised in the press and on the radio for the fabulous book it is. It was published yesterday.

I read A Song For Issy Bradley on a train, which may have been a mistake because I cried quite a bit. However, this book is not just a little bit heart-breaking, it's also beautifully written, and sweet, and funny. It's the story of the Bradley family and how they cope when their youngest, Issy, dies of meningitis. She was only four:

It is the story of Ian Bradley—husband, father, math teacher, and Mormon bishop—and his unshakeable belief that everything will turn out all right if he can only endure to the end, like the pioneers did. It is the story of his wife, Claire, her lonely wait for a sign from God, and her desperate need for life to pause while she comes to terms with tragedy.

And it is the story of their children: sixteen-year-old Zippy, experiencing the throes of first love; cynical fourteen-year-old Al, who would rather play soccer than read the Book of Mormon; and seven-year-old Jacob, whose faith is bigger than a mustard seed—probably bigger than a toffee candy, he thinks—and which he’s planning to use to mend his broken family with a miracle.

This may sound like it's a book about religion, but it's not, and it may sound like it's a book about death, and it isn't really that either. Carys has written a beautiful novel about family, love, loss, hope, growing-up... it's all manner of things and it's a wonderful, wonderful read. I urge to go out and find a copy; it's one of the best books I've read this year. Just one word of advice: don't read it on a train. Read it tucked up somewhere cosy, and let it carry you away. 

You can find Carys on Twitter, Facebook and over at her blog, too.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Half-Remembered Things

I'm running a free online poetry workshop with The Poetry School, called 'Half-remembered Things.' We'll be exploring memories, dialect and twisted tales. All the details are over at this link here. Places are limited, so if you'd like to sign up then please do so asap. :) xx

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Project: Call Me Ishmael

The project is simple: "Leave a voicemail about a book you've loved and a story you've lived." Call Me Ishmael is a beautiful project, collecting all types of stories, and stories about stories... it's wonderful. You can find it over here:

This entry in particular really got to me.
(If you're viewing this in an email, click here to see the video)

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Big Comfy Bookshop

Michael McEntee, owner of The Big Comfy Bookshop, is bucking trends tremendously by moving from being an online only bookshop to a REAL, AWESOME bricks and mortar bookshop. Hurray! He needs a bit of help, though. If you fancy giving him a hand, you can follow this link or give it a share. I'm sure he'd love you for it. xx

Friday, 13 June 2014

wise children

A young girl in our bookshop this afternoon said:

"Books are my favourite. They're like friends whispering stories."

Very wise words indeed. Children say the best things in bookshops.
Hope you all have a lovely weekend!. x

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

'On the bus home I think of all the constellations...'

A new poem of mine has been published in The Rialto (Issue 80), alongside poetry by Fleur Adcock, Pescale Petit and many other fine people. Details are over here.

If you'd like to find out more about my poetry then head over here and scroll down to the links. Details of my poetry collection The Hungry Ghost Festival are here, too. :) xx

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Foreign editions of 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops'

Just to let you guys know that 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' has now been released in Russian, and it's also been published over in Taiwan in Chinese.

(Other foreign editions of 'Weird Things...' include the North American edition, and editions in Swedish, German, Finnish and Dutch. There's also a Greek translation forthcoming, too. :))

Monday, 9 June 2014

The new flagship Foyles

Having finished copy-edits, yesterday I went to check out the new flagship Foyles on Charing Cross Road. Wild rumours have been flying around the industry for over a year about this new 'future bookshop.' When they closed down their old main branch ten years ago, booksellers cut the shelves up into tiny pieces and these were tied up with ribbon, labelled 'souvenirs!,' and dotted around the tills: Take a piece of Foyles home with you! I have a rather large soft spot for Foyles, and there are a lot of amusing stories about their history in The Bookshop Book - including a tale about a bookseller who, way back when, used to bring her pet parrot to work (before being asked not to after it attacked one of the customers).

The new branch is pretty beautiful (and no pet parrots in sight). It's full of light, with an atrium that allows you to see all the floors. I think I spent an hour in there, wandering around the fiction and children's section. There's still work going on, and more sections will be opened by authors over the coming weeks. It's all very promising, though. Authors will be running literary tours of London from the bookshop, and there's a large event space and gallery on the upper floors, too. There are a few photos over here.

Did I leave empty handed? Pfft. Don't be silly. I stumbled across a copy of Alice Hoffman's Museum of Extraordinary Things.

It's about old American circuses, fake mermaids and freak shows - all things I'm a little bit obsessed with. As I started reading it on the tube home, I discovered that the main character has syndactyly/ectrodactyly, just like me. Clearly this book has my name written all over it. See, not to be cheesy - I speak only the truth: bookshops unite customers with lost pieces of themselves. So thanks, Foyles, you shiny thing. I look forward to spending many more hours browsing your shelves.