Books Are My Bag ran from 9-11th October and is a nationwide campaign to celebrate bookshops and the importance of buying books on the high street. I celebrated by buying books from two bookshops: Waterstones Gower Street and Waterstones Covent Garden (last year I visited Foyles). I really do love indies – and I do support them – but I wanted to visit two bookshops that were easy for me to get to, and I knew would have the books I wanted, as it’s a busy, busy month in publishing.
I like that Gower Street and Covent Garden are both quite large bookshops. I always enjoy this quote from The Great Gatsby because I believe it to be true: “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” I do enjoy tiny bookshops – their charm, passionate booksellers and curated stock – but I actually never feel that comfortable in them. I prefer large stores that I can get lost in and browse without feeling watched.
I originally wanted to visit a Big Bookshop Party on Saturday, but unfortunately two friends (non-readers!) rescheduled our pancake-eating date and I couldn’t bring myself to travel after such a busy week, but I did manage to buy some really wonderful books on Thursday and Friday that I cannot wait to get stuck into. Here’s what I bought for Books Are My Bag:
Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death by Chris Riddell
Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
I bought Chris Riddell’s stunning Goth Girl last year, and although I haven’t read it yet, I though I’d treat myself to the sequel: Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death. It sounds like it may feature a bake-off so I couldn’t really ask for more. (And it still has a mini book in the back!). I attended a seminar on children’s classics earlier this year and Kate Saunders was on the panel. She spoke a little about her book Five Children on the Western Front because it’s a sequel to E. Nesbit’s classic Five Children and It. As I adore wartime children’s novels, I cannot wait to get started. I’m happy that the sequel to The 5th Wave – The Infinite Sea – has finally been published, and as it’s one of my favourite YA science fiction novels, I hope the sequel is just as good. And lastly, I bought the science fiction-horror thriller that everyone’s been talking about, The Girl with All the Gifts.
And here’s the books the lovely people over at Books Are My Bag sent me part of the Reading Survival Kit (I didn’t notice that all the authors’ names began with ‘J’ until now!):
The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
I was super excited to read The Bookshop Book! Jen Campbell’s official Books Are My Bag book looks at “three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents” and it sounds absolutely wonderful. Five Quarters of the Orange (recipe books, memories of war and a mysterious lady) and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (an exploration of religion and sexuality) are two books I’d heard of but didn’t know too much about. All the Truth That’s in Me – about a young girl whose tongue has been cut out and so she cannot speak about the horror she has seen – is a YA novel that I actually already have a copy of, so I passed it onto a friend to enjoy.
I love chatting about books and bookshops online and I love chatting about books and bookshops offline. You just can’t stop me. Books Are My Bag kindly sent me a Reading Survival Kit full of bookish goodies, so I’m equipped and ready to tell you all about the campaign.
Books Are My Bag launched in September 2013 and is a nationwide campaign to celebrate bookshops and the importance of buying books on the high street, from both chains and indies. This year’s celebration begins on Thursday 9th October (Super Thursday, one of the busiest days of the year in the publishing calendar) followed by Big Bookshop Parties on Saturday 11th October, where they’ve aimed to get an author into every bookshop (ask your favourite/local bookshops what they’ll be doing!). Don’t know where the nearest bookshop is? Use this map! I’ll be heading to one of my favourite bookshops on Thursday to buy some books to celebrate Books Are My Bag and then hopefully back on Saturday to tell you all about their Big Bookshop Party! I loved participating in Books Are My Bag last year (you can read my blogpost all about it here) and so I’m looking forward to reading/hearing about what everyone gets up to this year.
I had asked for my Reading Survival Kit to be sent to my workplace, but it didn’t really occur to me that I’d be sitting there working away only to be given a HUGE BOX FULL OF ORANGEY GOODNESS. After I’d recovered from the orange explosion, I realised it was easy peasy to transport home! Here’s what I was sent…
I don’t usually participate in blog tours, you may have noticed, but how could I turn down the opportunity to participate in the tour for Rainbow Rowell’s latest novel?! That’s right. I COULDN’T. Landline was published on 3rd July and you can read my review here. Rainbow is in London right now and has hosted two fantastic sold out events at Waterstones Piccadilly. I’m the last stop on the tour, so here’s my experience of her event on Monday!
I rarely attend a book event where an author has to cover so many books in one evening, but she sped through, talking about Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Attachments and Landline. For these events, Rainbow Rowell was in conversation with Bim Adewunmi, pop culture enthusiast and writer/editor, who was absolutely brilliant! Enthusiastic, knowledgeable about all things Rainbow and incredibly funny, Bim made an event with Rainbow Rowell even more enjoyable (we didn’t think it was possible!). I’d also like to say that although I made notes, there is still a chance that I misquoted or misunderstood some things, so if you were there and think I’ve said something drastically incorrect… do say! I’m also pretty sure there’s no spoilers, but here’s a spoiler warning, just in case.
Rainbow & Bim
Eleanor & Park, unsurprisingly, is the book that Rainbow Rowell holds closest to her heart. It’s the one, she says, that’s most like a child you have to keep an eye on, and the one that she’s most protective of, so when it was optioned to be a movie, she was a little afraid. At the event she said she was worried that a few changes could alter the story and that it could very easily go wrong. Shailene Woodley cannot play Eleanor. Park cannot be white. But then she imagined what it would be like if the film we went well, if we got to see a chubby girl and an Asian boy kissing on-screen – it would be great! So she’ll be writing the screenplay (but she hasn’t started yet!). She’s currently trying to figure out how to show the most famous quotes, like ‘Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something’, because they were never actually said aloud. Eleanor & Park is the book she wrote during an awful part of her life and when stuff from her teenage years began rising up. She didn’t plot out the story or plan, but wrote it like ‘falling down a hill’. Because, she says, nothing tastes as good or sounds as good as it does in your teenage years (like how older adults still listen to the music they loved as a teenager!), she didn’t really need to research the 80s because it started coming back to her clearly. Eleanor & Park is also the book she receives the most tweets about (especially people asking about those three words!).
I attended the London Book Fair again this year – my fourth time! I attended first back in 2011 as a publishing intern and did not make the most of it, but since then, I’ve made sure to attend all the wonderful seminars they have on offer. I blogged about New Adult last year and Growing Up Too Soon the year before that. This year, one of my favourite seminars was Why YA?, in which Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2013-2015 Malorie Blackman talked about why she will be focusing on promoting reading to teens and young adults during her laureateship. Also on the panel was Melissa Cox, children’s buyer for Waterstones and one of my favourite people in the book industry, and Jonathan Douglas, Director for National Literacy Trust, who did a brilliant job as chairperson.
I had never heard Malorie Blackman speak before, despite having read her books and as an actual teenager, so I was really looking forward to it and it ended up being a highlight of the fair – I can see why so many people were excited about her being appointed as Children’s Laureate last year. But on with the seminar!
I have no idea how this blogpost is going to work as I’m just typing up the notes I was furiously scribbling down (I wanted to make a note of everything as it was all so wonderful, passionate and genuine – by everyone on the panel), so here we go… I haven’t always specified who said what, so I’m sorry about that!
You may have seen a lot of people tweeting about Books Are My Bag, a wonderful campaign that launched yesterday to encourage people to use bookshops, over the past week. It was actually one of my New Year’s Resolutions to visit more bookshops and I have also been blogging about them for A Tour of London Bookshops. Here was my reasoning, back in January:
I rarely go to bookshops and I find that really sad because it’s one of my favourite things to do. I know books tend to be cheaper online and I know it’s more convenient, but it’s just not as fun. I’m going to attempt to buy the majority of my books in actual bookshops and I’m hoping to combine this with the below resolution [to blog about bookshops]. I’ll also enjoy supporting many different business, rather than just Amazon and The Book Depository, although no doubt I’ll still use them throughout the year, especially as I own a Kindle.
It really is as simple as that. I have nothing against shopping online – I completely understand why people do it, especially overseas – and I read many eBooks, but I also love bookshops. And they won’t exist unless people use them. I’m happy to say that this year, I’ve bought more books from bookshops than online (including eBooks!) and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.