The Weekly Reader: 08/01/14

Happy Hump Day!

I hope that you are all having a productive week – for many, the first full week back after the holidays. The second half of January is always a difficult one, as the reality of the post-Yuletide winter sets in. On the bright side, the days are once again getting longer and my prediction is that we are heading for a beautiful spring! That said, The Book Habit will be here to help you through what remains of those dark winter evenings (or to further boost enjoyment of a wonderful summer, for those global readers lucky enough to be experiencing one).

With that, welcome to the first 2014 edition of The Weekly Reader.


‘Rosa Rankin-Gee’s Top 10 Novellas About Love’ – The Guardian

Given recent news, it is perhaps unsurprising that a love theme may pervade a number of my posts over coming weeks. This article is, however, objectively excellent and well worth a read. Celebrating the merits of the novella as “slender, pocket-able, and, at their best, just as powerful as their bigger, bulkier brothers.” I am a big advocate of the novella. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is, in my view, all the evidence required to support the opinion that novellas can deliver complex narratives and lasting impacts. The author Rosa Rankin-Gee has selected her favourite novellas, all of which deal with the subject of love. Her list is extremely close to one that I would write up myself, but also successfully points the way to a number of works that I have yet to explore.

‘Printed Book Sales Fell £98m In 2013’ – BBC

This article furthers a personal moral quandary. After much time spent decrying e-books as a poor substitute for the real thing, I finally gave in and requested an e-Reader as a Christmas present from parents. This is largely a cause of necessity. My most recent trip to the US was witness to a suitcase brimming with books and, with more impending trips, I felt it was time for my bibliophilic ways to undergo an organisational change. I am, however, totally cognisant of the impact that the era of digital reading has had on the printed book – a fact evidenced in this article by the BBC, which states that books sales in 2013 fell in the UK by 6.8% from 2012. That’s equates to a loss of £98m (or almost $161.3m, for the Americans among you). Even before reading these figures, I had made a commitment to restrict my e-Reader usage to travel only. I would, after all, hate to see my ambitions for a grand-scale personal library fall to waste. While I would not for a minute think to lecture those who opt for the e-reading experience, I think it is worth bearing in mind that our reading choices carry consequences. If we choose to spend our money on books from Amazon, we cannot decry the loss of book shops. And if we choose to drain our bibliophile budgets on e-books, we cannot throw up our hands at the potential disappearance of the printed word.

‘What Was Your First Read Of The New Year’ – Book Riot

Following yesterday’s post about setting reading goals for the New Year, this article has particular resonance. Tasha Brandstatter considers the importance of the first book of the New Year as a tone-setter for what’s to come. She notes a correlation between the enjoyment of her first read and the impact of those books that follow. While I’m not sure that I agree with the existence of such an annual pattern, book selection is an important topic. Choose the wrong book and it can hold consequences, particularly for those who do not esteem themselves as ‘natural’ readers. Whether you agree with Brandstatter’s suggestion or not, it’s definitely an interesting question to consider.


‘Georgians Revealed’ From now until 11 March 2014 – British Library

You all know that I have a special love of history. This is a love that I do my best to share every summer as I joyfully drag visitors on a one hour tour of Knebworth House. One of the things I most enjoy about my place of work is the way that literary and social history intersect. Through connections the of the 19th century inhabitant and famous gothic novelist, Edward Bulwer Lytton, the House has played host to the likes of Charles Dickens. Needless to say, I am a big fan of any crossover between historical and literary fields. So the current exhibition at the British Library is right up my street. Featuring a variety of manuscripts from the Library’s collection, ‘Georgian’s Revealed’ offers an exploration of Britain from 1714-1830.

‘Signing: Chris Hadfield An Astonaut’s Guide To Life‘ 15 January 2014 – Foyles, London

Former Commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield, will be in London next Wednesday to sign his new book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life. Space walks, zero gravity, and an excellent David Bowie rendition – that more could you ask for?


Book festishists, welcome back! I hope this holiday period allowed you a little indulgence of your secret desires. If not, now’s the time to start. And I’m here to help. This week, we are honouring the world of dystopian fiction!

‘Dystopian Societies Art Print’ – Creative Daffodil

This print celebrates the dystopian genius of Orwell, Huxley, Golding, and Asimov. The perfect artistic addition to any bibliophilic abode!

‘Oldthink 1984 Bumper Sticker’ – BookFiend

Because your motor is the perfect vehicle for spreading the dystopian message.

‘Dystopian Books Fringe Charm Bracelet’ – Sophie’s Beads

Seriously one of the greatest things I have ever seen. Featuring all of our favourite dystopian works, in one form or another. Amazing.


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