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Sunday 12 December 2021

We're well aware of how film and tv feed off contemporary and classic literature ('Mothering Sunday' by Graham Swift was recently released at the cinema) but this week the book hit the catwalk.

Kim Jones, creative director of Dior menswear is a collector of rare books and literary memorabilia and he has drawn on Jack Kerouac's Beat novel 'On the Road' for his first show in London since 2003.

Intending to show how the anti-establishment spirit of Kerouac is connecting with young people today, there is likely to be a revival of interest around next year’s centenary of Kerouac’s birth.

However, unusually for our recommendations evening, there were few 'classics' mentioned in the titles this year. All the fiction and non-fiction nominations were recently published, though of course they still proved intriguing and appealing. You can see the list here.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday 5 December 2021

Time is playing tricks on me at the moment. I can't believe that it was just last week that we met the lovely Angela Harding in her studio in Rutland. It was wonderful to see where she works and to hear more about the processes involved in creating designs for book covers, magazine illustrations, cards and gifts.

And the next day it was our monthly book group meeting, when 'Piranesi' divided the room. Always good for a lively discussion!

Tomorrow it's our annual recommendations evening and I'm full of anticipation for the titles which will be championed this year. Whether they are familiar books or something entirely new and surprising, there's something very special about getting a personal recommendation.

Most of the time, of course, we rely on publishers to convince us to read a book. The content of the praise quotes and blurbs on book covers often causes consternation in our book group discussions. So I was interested, and entertained, by an article in the 'Times' last week where the journalist offered a crash course in 'publisher speak'.

If you've wondered what is really meant by the enigmatic descriptions promoting a book or its author, look no further.

The comprehensive glossary reveals that 'atmospheric', for example, means 'nothing happens, no plot'. 'Dazzling prose' means 'too many adverbs'. And if the author is described as a major new talent then this is 'their second book, the first was ignored'. If they're a 'master storyteller', though, you can interpret this as meaning they write 'the same novel every year, too successful to be edited'.

There's much more in this vein and you can find the complete article here.

I'm sure we won't have any of these phrases tomorrow night but if you'd like to come along to check, please reply to this email to let me know. We're closed for any more recommendations, but everyone is welcome to listen to the titles being championed. And if you can't join us, I'll be sure to let you know all the titles mentioned.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday 28 November 2021

I've broken with routine to bring this week's newsletter a little earlier than usual. I didn't want to miss the opportunity to remind you of this afternoon's online event with printmaker and illustrator Angela Harding. There's still time to join in and purchase your signed copy of her wonderful new book 'A Year Unfolding' - a beautiful Christmas gift!

Whenever I invite an author to speak to us online or in Suffolk, it's because I genuinely enjoy and appreciate their work and am confident that we will all share in a fabulous experience by meeting them. Angela is warm, entertaining, 'down-to-earth' and inspirational, and, I would suggest, just what's needed to lift the spirits on a miserable November afternoon! I do hope you'll join me in - virtually - stepping in to her studio and finding out more about her life and work. Click on the link here if you'd like to find out more.

The last online meeting I organised with Browsers Bookshop was a few months ago now when we met debut novelist Kate Sawyer. If you attended that event, or read her stunning book 'The Stranding' you will be as delighted as I am that she has just won the fiction prize in the East Anglian Book Awards, and has been shortlisted for best first novel in the Costa Book Awards. Though well deserved, it's not a surprise that she has been recognised for this extraordinary book. But the attention she's received is due in no small part to the hard work Kate has put in ensuring her book has reached booksellers, bloggers and readers in what are very crowded bookshelves.

Selecting the next book to read can be bewildering with the choice available to us these days. Our annual recommendations evening then is always a popular event as members of the book group share the titles that have meant most to them in the past twelve months. If you'd like to take part and champion a particular book, please email me this week so that I might include you in our programme for the meeting on Monday 6 December at 8pm.

Before then, though, we have our monthly book group meeting. Tomorrow evening at 8pm we will discuss the novel 'Piranesi'. Scroll down for more details but if you would like to attend you must let me know before noon tomorrow, please, as space is restricted due to the current situation. Reply to this email and I'll let you have more information.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday 21 November 2021

It's felt very autumnal this weekend. The temperature has dropped but we've still enjoyed some beautiful sunshine and the colours of the leaves have been stunning. It's a consolation for the shorter days and dark evenings.

With such a marked change in the seasons, it seems particularly fitting that we should meet with the printmaker and illustrator Angela Harding next Sunday, 28 November at 3pm.

Her beautiful new book - which went out of print before its official publication date such was the demand in pre-orders - celebrates the landscape and wildlife through the seasons of the year.

Angela will show us her garden studio at her home in Rutland, as well as her work in progress, and will tell us something of her love of Suffolk, too. She and her husband moor their beautiful wooden sailing boat on the River Deben in Woodbridge and spend the summer weeks in Suffolk each year. Many of her stunning pictures are inspired by the bird life she sees from the boat.

If you'd like to join in what will be a wonderfully inspiring and uplifting way to pass a Sunday afternoon, please reserve your place here.

Then the following day, we'll be holding our monthly book group meeting, on Monday 29 November at 8pm, to discuss the novel 'Piranesi'. Scroll down for more details but if you would like to attend, you must let me know beforehand as space is limited. So please reply to this email.

And the following week it will be our annual recommendations evening, on Monday 6 December at 8pm. If you have a favourite book or a new title you would like to encourage others to read please let me know as soon as possible and I'll put together a programme for the evening.

One last thing, the author illustrator Astra Taylor-Todd will be exhibiting in the Art Space in Woodbridge this week. You may remember I've mentioned her children's title The Blue Tit Travels Africa, and you can find out more about her work in my article here. The detail in her artwork is extraordinary, so go along to the gallery in the Thoroughfare to take a closer look.

I hope you have a good week and thank you for reading.

Sunday 14 November 2021

The Christmas stamps have gone on sale and I'm looking forward to catching up with distant friends and family through the exchange of cards in the post very soon.

There's something particularly special about getting mail through the letterbox, and to have a row of beautiful pictures and designs on the mantelpiece. We all need things to lift our spirits this year more than ever.

We don't need Christmas or birthdays to send happy mail, of course. I read recently of a couple who decided they were fed up with being swamped by bad news so pre-addressed and stamped 500 postcards and left them in busy London streets asking the finder to write some good news on the back and post it to them. They received more than 300! Their initiative is called Hello Stranger and images of the cards are on their Instagram feed. Possibly material for a book at some point?!

I've been enjoying books with a lighter, more positive theme recently so, in addition to the titles I'm recommending below, I would suggest the authors Clare Chambers and Katherine Heiny for fiction which has a wry, upbeat tone while still having an interesting and entertaining storyline, and good writing of course.

And I hope you're still considering joining me in meeting Angela Harding in her studio in a couple of weeks' time. I can assure you of a really uplifting and enjoyable hour of conversation, finding out about how she works and what inspires her beautiful designs as well as taking a peek into her workroom with its printing presses and projects in progress.

It would be a great help if you are able to reserve your place in good time because it assists me with preparations and book ordering! And I'd be thrilled if you could spread the word, too. I know that Angela has a considerable following and this event is geared at not only supporting her by encouraging sales of her new book, but also Browsers Bookshop of course. Events like these help ensure the future of a beautiful independent bookshop on the high street.

Thank you, as always, for reading.