Reading & Writing

Grisly Murder!

Books In Black And White

Bloomsbury Books have had their knuckles rapped over their decision to feature a white girl on a book with a black heroine. Australian author Justine Larbalestier has won a fight with her American publishers to feature a black girl on the cover of her novel, but I have to say that the new cover model […]

Gone But Not Forgotten

With the further reduction of the Independent On Sunday’s arts coverage (now down to a couple of pages mostly consisting of big photos) there’s no room for ‘Forgotten Authors’, my column which finds out what happened to once-popular authors and why they went missing from bookshelves. I’ll happily continue it here if there’s enough interest.

Art imitates Art

Last year the Hollywood movie ‘Disturbia’ popped up, swiping my book of the same title. This year it’s ‘Psychoville’. I’m a huge fan of the League Of Gentlemen, and seem to recall coming home and finding Reece Shearsmith in my lounge for some reason. Was some subconscious memory triggered when they came to name their […]

Books 2: What’s The Funniest Book You’ve Read?

Comic novels get a bad rap; they’re passed over for awards and hard to sell to the public. They’re also very hard to write. When a writer pulls off such a book, though, the results can be joyous. Discounting PG Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh simply because they steal the top spots again and again, who […]

Books 1: What’s The Worst Book You’ve Ever Read?

Looking down the list of books I couldn’t finish, I’m aware that sometimes it’s my fault, not the writer’s. For example, ‘The Rehearsal’ by Eleanor Catton has been hailed as a brilliant insight into the teenaged mind but I fell so often at about the page 20 mark that I began to think I was […]

Pocket Paperbacks 3: The Publisher’s Viewpoint

Simon Taylor, Transworld editor, responds to the formats issue: ‘In the UK, (the large size) is generally referred to as B format. Trade paperbacks tend to be larger still – Royal octavo or Demy formats. But in the US they call it trade paperback; whereas the smaller format is referred to as A format, or […]

The Pocket Book Campaign: Downsizing The Word

Over the years, the paperback has moved in the opposite direction to everything else – it just keeps getting bigger. What used to be referred to as a Trade Paperback is now becoming the Mass Market paperback (and sometimes it seems that these paving slab-sized novels inversely reflect the slender talents of their authors.) But […]

Bring Back The Pocket Paperback!

I’m going to compare books and toasters, but stay with me. The reason why the toaster made so much money was because it was the first kitchen gadget invented to do only one thing – to toast machine-sliced bread. Recently I noticed that French people don’t use toasters much, because everyone has different bread and […]

Thanks Harrogate!

Having spent the weekend in the genteel no-riff-raff-here Yorkshire town of Harrogate, where the sun was shining, the streets were spotless and a surprising number of people were smiley and jolly, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who made it such fun. It was great to hang out with Jasper Forde, Simon Kernick, Laura […]