Your one-stop shop for the week’s most interesting bookish news and reviews
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was this week celebrated for having reached its 150th anniversary. Yes, that’s right, the now iconic novel was published 150 years ago on 2nd August, 1865. So to celebrate, of course, The Telegraph have questioned whether it’s an “innocent fantasy or dark and druggy” – hmm, I’m not sure if matters either way, so long as it’s an entertaining and enjoyable read! There are celebratory events going on all over the world but alas, I’m not attending any (although if anyone has spare tickets…), and here is a great list of quotes from the book to get you in the mood!
The illustrator most famed for his work with Roald Dahl, has illustrated over a massive 300 books to date and has most recently been working with actor and comedian David Walliams. He has spent time working with The Nightingale Project, a charity that works to put art into hospitals and Blake has produced work for several hospitals in both London and France. Quentin Blake’s work is so distinctive and so integral to many, many people’s childhoods that it’s no wonder he’s reached an almost legendary status. I’m not much of a star-gazer but if anyone could make me star-struck, I think Quentin Blake could do it! Here he is talking about my favourite thing: books!
Crime drama: cosy little mystery with a puzzle to solve – Agatha Christie style; or gritty, violent, and bloody drama – Karen Slaughter style? Despite modern propensity for more guts and gore, it appears that the former crime drama style is making a bit of a comeback. Joseph Knobbs of Waterstones talks to The Guardian about how people are increasingly looking for something lighter and perhaps more fun, if crime dramas can ever be fun. Either way, I’m not a big fan of murder mysteries – I get frustrated if I guess ‘who-dun-it’ because it’s too easy, and I get frustrated if I don’t guess ‘who-dun-it’ because I don’t like to lose!
Virtuous characters in fiction are boring. That’s the statement debated by two writers this week in The New York Times. Thomas Mallon, arguing in favour, talks about the joys of going to hell for company (unless your Sartre, of course), whilst Alice Gregory discusses how being good is at odds with the world in general, thus making it an intriguing character trait. It’s an interesting debate, but I can’t help but find myself inclined towards Mallon’s case. Regardless of what it says about me, I’d far rather read darker books about bad people, than happy books with ‘good’ characters. What do you think?
This week, The Guardian published a list of ten books that have changed the world. For the most part, the list makes sense – non-fiction books that have had a massive influence on the world, but I can’t help but feel they’ve got a few things wrong. Such as the fact that they’ve included the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Not that Shakespeare isn’t hugely influential, of course. It just seems a bit of a cheat to me as it’s more than one book! There should also be a place made for the dictionary/encyclopaedia. Whilst not the first dictionary*, Johnson’s Dictionary, published 15th April 1755, has to be the book that has had the most influence of all books, literature, and people in general since its publication. Do you agree? What are your top ten books that have changed the world?
*If you’re wondering, the first single-language English dictionary was published in 1604 by Robert Cawdrey and was called Table Alphabetical.
Last week, we had the announcement of the Not the Booker Prize Prize long-list, and this week, they’ve released the short-list, as voted for by the public. They are books that, to my shame, I have neither read nor heard of, including Kirstin Innes’ Fishnet and Oliver Langmead’s Dark Star. So no, I can’t comment on who should win but one thing’s for sure – I need to get reading, and quickly!
And for the fun link of the week: Friends who like Books
Book Riot this week published an article about cool girls who like books, and one cool girl in particular: Rachel Green, the iconic Jenifer Aniston character from the sit-com Friends. Here, they gather the evidence that she is a secret read-aholic, and they make a pretty convincing case too!