Foyles offers Go Set A Watchman 'First Chance'

Foyles doesn't mess about when it comes to book events. And the company is staying true to form with a midnight event celebrating the arrival of Go Set A Watchman.

Harper Lee's new novel, the follow up to the classic To Kill A Mockingbird, is released on July 14th. And Deep South music, drink and joy will be on hand at Foyles' Central London Charing Cross store.

From 11pm on the 13th until 1am on the 14th, Foyles is opening up the ground floor of the store to Mockingbird fans, live music from Fumi Okiji's Old Time Jazz Band, and early purchasing of Lee's much-anticipated title!

Oh, and attendees will be entered into a draw for a £100 Foyles giftcard and a free copy of Lee's new book. Even better, the event's completely free! You'll need to reserve a place, but you can do that here.

Do you know, we're half-tempted ourselves..

Harry Potter Book Night to return in 2016

If you're a fan of Harry Potter, or perhaps your friends, children, niblings or other relatives are then this is one for you. Bloomsbury Book's 'Harry Potter Book Night' is set to return next year on February 4th, bringing wordy wizardry many are fond of.

This year saw 10,500 parties and events held in the night's honour, with schools, libraries, town and community halls and bookshops all playing their part.

What is Harry Potter Book Night? A celebration of JK Rowling's Harry Potter world. A chance to meet, read, discuss and enjoy.

But more than that, it's a chance to introduce the books to new readers and - we'd hope - inspire them to read widely and willingly. After all, as great as the Harry Potter books may be, there are plenty of great authors out there for all.

Still, if JK Rowling's series is the start of a staggering book-thirst that's not exactly a bad thing.

Anyway, if you want to hear more about events going on near you - or you may want to hold one of your own - head here. Happy...potter-ing.

IBW 2015 Book Awards and more

Today marks the start of Independent Bookshop Week (IBW), and the IBW 2015 Book Award winners will feature in promotional and display materials. Three winners make up the list, and were selected by a panel of authors, sellers and journalists from shortlists of ten (Adult) and twelve (both Children's categories). The titles are:

- Adult category - The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

- Children's category - An Island of our Own by Sally Nicholls:

Siblings Jonathan, Holly and Davy have been struggling to survive since the death of their mother, and are determined to avoid being taken into care. When the family's wealthy but eccentric Great-Aunt Irene has a stroke, they go to visit her. Unable to speak or write, she gives Holly some photographs that might lead them to an inheritance that could solve all their problems. But they're not the only ones after the treasure...

- Children's Picture Book category - A Walk In Paris by Salvatore Rubbino:

Vive la France! Join a girl and her grandfather on a walking tour through Paris. Follow them as they climb to the top of Notre Dame — formidable! — sample tasty treats at bistros and pâtisseries — délicieux! — and take in a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower — magnifique! Young Francophiles and armchair travelers will be charmed by Salvatore Rubbino’s lively, sophisticated llustrations and fascinating trivia about this beloved city.

Which is great; nothing like some well-deserved awards to help promotion of the week long celebration of independent sellers. But really, it's nothing unless we take time out to visit those without the chain flag flying, chat, browse and enjoy.

Honestly, independent bookshops can be a home from home for passionate bibliophiles, and IBW seeks to prove just that. We'll certainly be taking a trip to our local shop, and sharing our experiences.

Should you wish to do the same and need to find your local indie, here's a tool to do just that.

Should you want to find out who was shortlisted for the awards, that can be found here.

And, finally, should you want to have your mind blown by a writer or work you've never experienced before...get out to your local indie and ask for a recommendation.

Good hunting!

Letters of Note book auction live

Letters of Note is welcoming bids for copies of Letters of Note and To The Letter, signed by performers from the most recent Letters Live event. Letters of Note has lifted itself from the ether of the Internet in recent times, turning the site founded by Shaun Usher into a self-titled book as well as a fledgling series of live events.

The most recent of these fine events took place on April 23rd, to coincide with the Reading Agency's annual World Book Night. It saw a host of readers including Stephen Fry, Lisa Dwan, Russell Brand, Louise Brealey and Andrew Motion all reading selected...well, letters of note.

Now, in a positive push to raise some funds for the Reading Agency, two books signed by the night's performers have been put up for auction. The details of the listings, still very much live, read:

One copy each of Letters Of Note and To The Letter were signed by: Stephen Fry • Caitlin Moran • Russell Brand • James Rhodes • Lisa Dwan • Matt Berry • Louise Brealey • Andrew Motion • Morgana Robinson • Andrew O’Hagan • David Nicholls at a World Book Night event in association with The Reading Agency, at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Wednesday 23 April. 

There's not a lot else we can add to that. The Letters of Note book auction will be live for the next four and a bit days, with the current top bid standing at £260.

So, if you fancy snagging the two titles - or just ensuring that the Reading Agency gets a fair sum of money (and you some excellent books in return) - head here.

Happy bidding!

Busting boundaries: English Pen's World Bookshelf


Being that W&M is relatively new in the world of books, we thought we'd get out from behind our desk and be active. So, because we like shifting our horizons (and because we were thankfully allowed to attend), we were at the launch at English PEN's 'World Bookshelf'. held at Foyle's on Charing Cross Road.

For the uninitiated, English Pen is the founding member of the Free Word Centre, and the founding centre of the international association of writers. If that means little, it is a charity set up to support the rights of readers and writers both in the UK and internationally. To give a small hint of its beliefs, it's actively fighting for a reversal of the UK's prison book ban.

Needless to say then that English PEN's belief in literary freedom is plastered all over its bookshelf.

Happy to be in like-minded (if far superior) company, we arrived in Foyle's 'gallery' area and took a seat surrounded by book lovers and industry professionals. We then moved seat; not wanting our mind to be the only thing able to stretch. Frankly, we weren't disappointed, as what was to follow was enlightening, enjoyable and highly interesting.

Harriet Gilbert of BBC Radio 4's 'A Good Read' and the World Service's 'The World Book Club' led things. Joined by novelists Nikita Lalwani, Elif Shafak and the translator Frank Wynne, the evening was relaxed, welcoming and genuinely revealing.

Each of the guests talked openly about their experience of writing in (and having text ported to) different languages. With the guests reading excerpts from personally chosen titles, we were treated to books in translation which inspired, intrigued or challenged them. All the while Gilbert listened avid as the rest of us, yet guiding the evening with insight and purpose as needed.

For those, like us, who read very little translated material, it was dazzling to be made aware of the artistry that goes in to making a book region-suitable. Titles, phrases, indeed whole passages of text have to be considered for suitability.

Elif Shafak recounted that one of her books Iskender, was translated to English (Honour) and Italian (House of Four winds) with changed titles. In English, Iskender (Alexander) may be taken as a history of Alexander the Great. In Italian, Honour (Honore) might be taken as a mafia-themed title.

Such considerations were alien to us. And we likely weren't alone: With English-writing authors works dominating British bookshelves, much of the magic of translation - and of the rhythm, themes and stories skilfully carried from other languages - are missed by many of us.

And so 'The World Bookshelf'.

Not content with letting readers miss out on international literature, English PEN has opened and committed to an "online gateway" showcasing the works of international writers - all made accessible through translation.

A portal full of author, book and translator info, complete with a blog and the possibility of future events. Meanwhile, a PEN Atlas section allows exploration and discovery of literature and by the continent.

We'd be stunned if we weren't so impressed by the portal. More importantly though, we're now struck by a daring feeling: the feeling that we may hold truly dear a book not native in English, but powerfully adopted.

What that book might be we're not yet sure. But we know who might help.


A podcast of the evening should shortly be available; we'll be sure to link to it here when it is!

Orchard Books team with National Literacy Trust for school challenge

Orchard Books has joined forces with the National Literacy Trust to deliver 30,000 books to children in the UK through a reading challenge.

The admirable challenge will see around 5,000 children receiving Orchard's highly popular Rainbow Magic or Beast Quest series, and achieve points for progress in reading through their given series.

In a clever 'gamification' approach to reading, points are awarded to children who carry out ten minute challenges - at home and at school - in an effort to complete their books and clock up 11.5 hours  of reading.

To help encourage progress, teachers are to be supplied with wall reading maps, reading logs and challenge certificates - all of which, we're sure are highly useful tools.

To reward those achieving series completion, a chance to win prizes and a visit from a series character is on offer, along with - one of our favourite things - book vouchers.

Susie Musgrove of the NLT believes: "the challenges provide teachers with a platform for encouraging children to read for pleasure – something we know is hugely important for future achievement.”

We loved reading at school, and we couldn't agree more.

London hosts UK's first edible book launch


We're all familiar with book launches, but add the word 'edible' and it might seem a tasteless way to undo the author's hard work. Never fear though, it's all part of debut novelist Sarah Holt's plan for the booklaunch of Love and Eskimo Snow, a novel published by Valley Press next month. The launch of the title - which is available now - no doubt took some planning, and is helped in large part by Edible Stories.

The company is charged with delivering a six-course meal to intrigue and excite the senses, as attendees consider the central question of Holt's title: the varied experience of love. A fascinating evening surely awaits, and those interested enough can quite possibly attend.

The book launch will be in the Shoreditch area of East London on the 25th May, and tickets are available for £57:50. If supporting a debut novelist needs any sweetening, such a unique experience - alongside the promises of a key insight into the plot - might be just the thing.