Friday, October 30, 2009

Guest Blogger. Kit Berry

Today's guest blogger is Kit Berry, author of the Stonewylde series of books. She'll be here at the shop talking about them and lots more besides next Friday, so do come along.
I’m looking forward to my visit to the Big Green Bookshop next Friday, Nov 6th. During the next week, if anyone spots Simon in his new Stonewylde T-shirt please let me know – he swears blind he’ll wear it all week! He asked me to blog here and as it’s Hallowe’en, this is about the origins of the festival. To counteract the Trick or Treat candy-bucket stuff that irritates me so much.
My books are set in a contemporary community in Dorset, where the people live their lives very close to nature, honouring the earth and following the “Old Ways”. I did a lot of research whilst writing the Stonewylde Series and the whole pagan thing is fascinating, whether you subscribe to it or not. It’s part of our folklore and heritage, and is in fact enjoying a huge revival as the Green Renaissance gathers momentum and people try to live more simple lives.
Hallowe'en is the Christianised version of a very ancient festival celebrated by the Celts, and possibly earlier than that too. The original name is Samhain (pronounced Sowain). It's the last day of the old year in the Celtic calendar - the Wheel of the Year. Nov 1st is the new year, so Samhain is the old New Year's Eve.

Many cultures have a time of remembering and honouring their ancestors and those more recently departed, and Samhain is the Festival of the Dead. Celts believed when you died your soul entered the Otherworld which was separated from our world by a veil. Some magical people such as shamen and wise women could communicate with souls in the Otherworld, and the crow was the messenger of the dead. At Samhain, this veil between our world and the Otherworld becomes very thin. At midnight when the old year becomes the new year, as the Wheel of the Year turns, it may be possible to glimpse or speak with the dead. Hence the current preoccupation at Hallowe’en with ghosts and skeletons.

The pumpkin or swede Jack o’Lantern is an old custom; vegetables were carved into frightening faces to scare away any unwanted attention from departed souls who might come a-stalking. Folk would leave out food and drink on their doorsteps for the dead, or lay a place for them at the table. The scene in Macbeth with Banquo's ghost is said to be a reference to this custom, and the words “ghost” and “guest” apparently come from the same root. When Christianity took over, those in power simply adopted the pagan festivals and put a Christian slant on them (like at Christmas and Easter). So they made November 1st All Hallows Day (hallows meaning the saints or souls) and the night before, All Hallows' Eve. Or Hallowe'en. It’s easy to see where our current customs originate from. And although Trick or Treating and the whole obsession with Hallowe’en may seem to come from the USA, in fact it’s only coming back. It originated from here and was exported over there with the Pilgrim Fathers and the ensuing migration of Brits.

When I visit the Big Green Bookshop next week I’ll be talking a bit about the Wheel of the Year and the eight festivals: the four fire festivals (the two Solstices and two Equinoxes) and the four cross-quarter festivals - Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lammas. These cross quarter festivals were linked to the farming calendar - ploughing, planting and harvesting. Samhain heralded the first day of winter for the Celts, Nov 1st, and was the day when many of the animals (especially pigs) were slaughtered and then salted or dried for meat during the winter, as there wasn’t enough food to keep all the animals alive during the winter. So Samhain was a time of slaughter and blood.

Have a great Hallowe’en and remember at midnight to peer through the veil - you may get a glimpse of your ancestors! I hope to meet many of you next Friday in the shop.

Thanks Kit. If you want to know more about Kit, Stonewylde, and lots more you can't go far wrong visiting her website

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jayne Joso's Favourite Books of All Time (in no particular order)

Todays, guest blogger, telling us all about her favourite 5 books of all time (in no particular order) is the brilliant Jayne Joso, author of the the rather superb novel Soothing Music For Stray Cats. A modern day tale based firmly in London, it follows narrator Mark as he comes to terms with his life following the death of an old school friend. It's sad, funny and ultimately life affirming. Hurrah for Jayne.

Greetings you fine Big Green Bookshop folk, Simon, Tim, Mark, readers, all!
Well, having damn near faced homelessness just recently, I have to say a whole ton of books have found themselves moved from my bookshelves to charity shops and perhaps this is no bad thing, someone will get to pick up a great read or two for cheap, and I, less encumbered by ‘stuff’, am therefore more able to move. Ironic to be left without a roof over my head while trying to finish the next novel which is all about architecture and trying to find a place to call ‘home’… all grist to the mill, I guess.
Anyway, enough of that, I am ‘homed’ again, humbled again, and can now indulge in a line or two here about my top five favourite books! Five I didn’t give away…

Gradiva by Wilhelm Jensen - for its capacity to fill my heart. Description: Norbert Hanold is transported to Pompeii on the day Vesuvius erupts and attempts to warn Gradiva of her fate… and is he dreaming ?
The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis - for its consummate prose and a story that damn near broke my heart. Set in 16th Century France it is based on a collection of ‘Famous Cases of Circumstantial Evidence’.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville - for the sea, the sea, the sea! And one of my all-time favourite characters, Queequeg.
Ocean Sea by Alessandro Baricco - for its humour, and Baricco’s heart-warming lightness of touch…
Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe - for the most evocative prose. When I slept in-between reading this I dreamt that I was covered in sand, and when I woke I felt I had to dust sand from my eyelids (must stop sleeping on beaches…).

If you’re looking for great reads to give at Christmas, along with checking out other folk’s top fives and Big Green Advice, I recommend ‘Gradiva’ and ‘Ocean Sea’ – for their life-affirming qualities… I guess that’s the kind of read folk might want to hunker down with over the colder months.
Warm wishes
Jayne Joso

Thanks Jayne, and hey readers, if you haven't emailed us your top 5 books by now, it would make me smile just a little bit more if you did. And that's a good thing, yeah?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Twitter and Facebook

Hello. We're a fun small bookshop in cosmopolitan Wood Green. We try and do stuff that keeps people interested. So over the next week or two we're going to try and get as many people to join our Twitter and Facebook groups as possible...
...Not just for us to feel all clever and special, but because we're going to be doing exclusive free book offers and big shiny discounts etc just for these groups, and seeing as your reading this on the internet, you can take advantage of it (we've already given away a Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy Special Edition CD last week).

Our Facebook Group is called A Decent Bookshop in Wood Green(revisited), and our Twitter name is Biggreenbooks (i can't work out how to link directly to this).

There are other quite exciting things going on in the world of TBGBs in the near future so do keep an eye out.

We have a guest blog tomorrow by the wonderful Jayne Joso, author of the superb Soothing Music for Stray Cats. She'll be letting you all know about her favourite books of all time, which I have to say, are very interesting indeed. If you haven't sent us your own favourite 5 by now, frankly you should be ashamed of yourself. It's high time you pulled your finger out...

Also tomorrow eveining we're going to be joined by the cream of Birkbeck College's creative writing team, as we hear some wonderful short stories from the Mechanics Institute review 6. It's great to know that 2 of the stories from this wonderful annual review are written by customers of our shop. And even better, they're both going to be reading. It promises to be a fabulous evening, so if you can, please come along.
Also also tomorrow, David Vann, author of the extraordinary Legend of A Suicide will be coming to the shop to sign copies of his book. The guy's come over for a bit of whistlestop tour of the UK, and earlier this year i was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of his book. I was engrossed and overwhelmed at times by his book. It's very difficult to review, but it's something i'll be trying to do on this here blog very very soon. My old friend (and what a fine fellow he is too) Stuart Evers put it pretty well here though Suffice to say, it's worth reading.

Thanks to all the people who've agreed to be our proof readers. I'll be in touch very soon. It's not too late to join though.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Free Books (Proofs)

One of the fun aspects of working in a bookshop is that you get to choose what books you sell. In my early days at Waterstones we were each given responsibility for different areas of the shop and it was our job, as booksellers, to decide which titles were stocked on the shelves. Obviously, this kind of responsibility wasn't given lightly and you had to prove you understood the idea of budgeting and marketing before you could fully take over an area of the shop. You were also responsible for returning books that didn't sell, displaying the books within whatever framework Waterstone's was working on at the time, and essentially ensuring that your area of the shop was as profitable as it could be. However, the satisfaction that I got from finding a book with potential, ordering a pile for the table, or 3 or 4 copies to face out on the bookshelves and watching it sell was immense, and it's one of the reasons why I enjoy doing what I do so much.
Things have changed at Waterstone's, and as the company got bigger, more and more responsibility has moved to Head Office. The booksellers are no longer responsible for most of the buying decisions in the shop, or for that matter what books are returned. It's a world of Checklists, Planagrams and Stickering. I'm not saying this is worse, simply that it's different and not my idea of fun. In some ways, it was inevitable that this would happen. As companies get bigger it becomes harder to control all the different areas of the business. So the obvious solution would seem to be to take all the control away and do everything yourself. Another alternative might be to trust the people you employed to do the job that you employed them to do in the first place, but what do I know. They're clearly making more money than we are, so well done chaps.
Anyway, the point of this post was something that I wrote earlier on about choosing books and satisfaction in watching it sell. The thing is, publishers have different methods in persuading us bookshops to sell their books and one of these methods is to send us 'Proofs'.
A Proof is in most cases a paperbacked copy of a new soon to be published book sent out to bookshops or reviewers as sweeteners. For bookshops, proofs are meant to help the recipient decide whether they like it enough to stock it. Most of the time the contents are exactly the same as the published copy, though they occasionally contain few extra typos (a bit like this blog).
We love getting proofs and they work very well (if any publishers are reading this and want to add us on their list of people to send proofs to, please feel free).
Examples of books that we've chosen and sold loads of because of reading a proof include, Meat by Joseph D'Lacey, Suicide Room by Jean Teule, Company of Liars by Karen Maitland and The Isle of Dogs by Daniel Davies. One that we're going to be selling lots of which has just been published is Legend of A Suicide by David Vann of which more later this week.
However we get lots of them. Far too many for us to read ourselves. So what do we do with them?
Last year, we tried book crossing, and we left about 150 books in various places around Wood Green, including buses, restaurants, coffee shops, telephone boxes and one or two in WH Smith with 'here's a free book from the Big Green Bookshop' stuck on the front cover. We don't know how successful it was, because we had nobody come in and tell us they'd found a copy of any of the books...
This year, we're going to try something else, which is hopefully going to be more beneficial all round. And here it is.
We'd like to give our blog readers and customers the proofs ... hang on, it's not as simple as that, so here's the plan.
You get in touch and say, I'd like to be part of your Big Green proof reading team. We'll then invite you to choose a proof to read.
This is where your part of the deal comes in. You will then read the book and tell us what you think of it, in the form of a review. It could be good or bad, but we'd like a review.
We can the use these reviews on our blog/website/shop to give our customers something to help them decide whether to buy the book or not.
Here's the small print.
We can't afford to post the books to you, as there are hundreds, so if you live too far away to pick them up by hand, we'll send you a list of proofs we've got and once you've chosen one, we'll charge you £2.00 per book to post. This will cover the cost of post and packing and nothing more.
We'll do this free book thing about 3 or 4 times a year.
If you don't send a review, we'll have to take you off the list. It's only fair.
When you send the reviews we'll credit you with the review, but you agree that we can use it.
We will stamp the books so you can't sell them on ebay, although clearly you wouldn't do that because it's very very naughty.

I hope that all sounds fun. Our customers already dictate a lot of what we stock in the shop, as they're the people who buy the books, so it's really an extension of that.
So please let us know if you're interested.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I've Not Been Well

I've been a bit sicky 'bleeuurghh' and also a bit sicky 'scuse me I must just nip to the loo'. It's not been any fun and despite the fact I had to take a couple of days off, the work still had to be done.
This is one of the hard bits about being a little Indie Bookshop. If someone is sick, it means that pretty much half the workforce is out of action.

We generally run the shop so that one of us is in the shop each day and the other one is out and about, either delivering books, visiting customers/potential customers or generally working away from the shop. If one of us is ill it makes things really difficult. We schedule stuff to happen and we hate it when we can't fulfill our promises.

Which is why it's a real blessing that we now have Mark. He works with us 2 days a week (usually Wednesday and Thursday), which means that we can schedule more stuff on the days that he's there, but at the drop of a hat (or something a lot less pleasant than a hat) he came and covered the shop while I covered...anyway, you get the idea. Some larger shops might find it inconvenient that a member of staff can't make it, but for a little shop like us it could mean us not being able to open the doors in the morning.

I don't quite know if there's a point to this post, but true to the title of the blog, I thought it might be worth sharing. We are, as The Rakes and Nietzsche both said 'Human, All Too Human', although they were probably thinking about willies and stuff, and i'm talking about puking.

I like The Rakes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Celebrity Top 5 books (in no particular order) - Kevin Davies

Kevin Davies is coming to the shop this evening, to join our 'Happy Birthday Hitchhikers Guide' party. It's 30 years this week since Douglas Adams' masterpiece first hit the bookshelves and
we think this is something to celebrate.
Kevin was an animator on the original TV series, and enjoyed a long and fruitful association with Douglas Adams and The HHGG. Kevin's impressive CV also includes working on shows such as Doctor Who, Blake's 7 and he was also effects animator on Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He also, apparently, won awards for his fjords.
It all kicks off at about 7pm, and pan galactic gargleblasters will be available.

These are my five favourite comic fantasy/SF novels...

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide's unfortunate hero Arthur Dent returns to Earth, finds love and learns to fly, in this 4th book of the series. I was lucky enough to film behind the scenes in 2005 when Dirk Maggs adapted this one for Radio 4, with Jane Horrocks playing Fenchurch. Marvin the Paranoid Android's re-appearance is an unforgettable scene in a book which still divides the fans.

The Technicolor Time Machine by Harry Harrison - combines my favourite subjects: filmmaking and time travel. A small Hollywood studio in financial trouble needs a hit feature film in 2 weeks flat, or they will close down. With the aid of a time machine they send a crew back in time to make a Viking epic - with real vikings! Gloriously silly. Would make a super feature film itself.

Who's Afraid of Beowolf? by Tom Holt. - More time-travelling vikings, but this bunch awaken after 1,000 years under a burial mound in Scotland. A young female American archeologist from St.Andrews' University is their only friend in this high-tech world and she drives them in a minibus down to London where they wage war on their arch enemy; a dark magician who now runs a multinational corporation from his HQ tower in the City.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut - Classic anti-war novel with a broken non-chronological storyline, which combines the harsh reality of the bombing of Dresden with the heroes' fantasy life alongside the starlet of his dreams on a distant planet.

Time After Time by Karl Alexander - Don't be put off by the nutty sounding premise... H.G. Wells uses a time machine like the one in his famous story to pursue a fugitive Jack the Ripper to San Fransisco in 1979, where they duel for the life of an independent career woman Amy, with whom Herbert has fallen deeply in love. A standout moment was this famous Victorian gentleman, who propounded the notion of free love, being rather taken aback when modern Amy starts hitting on him. This was also a super little film in 1979 directed by Nicolas Meyer, who later wrote and/or directed the best of the early Star Trek movies.

We will also be selling signed limited edition copies of 'And Another Thing', the sixth book in the Hitchikers Trilogy, which has been written by the charmingly talented and amusing Eoin Colfer. Oh yes indeed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

This is the World's Coolest Book

There are some uber cool things out there.

  • The Unitedbamboo Cat Calendar

    • However, seriously now, these things pale into insignificance when compared to this magical limited edition book.

      There are only 300 of these available and they're sealed, numbered and signed by the legendary Ted Polhemus. We have 3 of them (that's 1% of the market), and we're rather pleased about it.

      Unordinary People is a book by acclaimed youth music culture archive, PYMCA. Signed and numbered by the author of Streetstyles, Ted Polhemus, they've selected their most spectacular and best loved images to be available as a limited edition book which went with the Unordinary People exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year. Beautiful black & white and colour imagery featuring an eclectic selection of rare and exclusive cultural photography and excerpts from essays which highlight the history, lifestyles, fashions, hairstyles, music and subcultures of British youth culture, from the 1960s to the present day. Example subcultures and youth movements/fashions which are highlighted include Mods, Rockers, Psychedelics, Hippies, Rude Boys, Punk, Two Tone, Skinhead, New Romantics, Hip Hop, Acid Jazz, Heavy Metal, Rave, New Age Travelers, Goth, Indie Kids and New Rave. Featured photographers include Gavin Watson's skinhead work, Paul Hartnett and Ted Polhemus to name only a few.

      For some examples of the amazing photos in the book you can check out the PYMCA website here.

      Anyway, changing the subject, we're going to be giving away 50 books over the next few weeks so may I suggest you either start to follow our Twitter feed biggreenbooks, join our facebook group a Decent Bookshop in Wood Green (revisited), or email us with your favourite 5 books of all time. Or not, if you don't want to.


      Saturday, October 10, 2009

      Leila Johnston's 5 favourite Books of all Time (in no particular order)

      Continuing our quest to find everyone on earth's favourite five books, it is with immense pleasure that I introduce to you the choices of the wonderfully talented author Leila Johnston. Leila's the author of Enemy of Chaos, a facetious fantasy gamebook for adults described as “Absolutely hilarious” by the Observer and “Wickedly funny” by Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow."

      She has a lovely website and an accompanying iPhone app, How marvellous.

      I suggest you buy Leila's book because your life will improve if you do.

      Roald Dahl’s short story anthology, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, had a profound affect on me. My brother and I were taught at home by our mum for a while in the 80s, and Dahl’s short stories became a staple for English comprehension lessions (Mum was an English teacher and, looking back, I think our lessons had a slight bias towards her subject). The Henry Sugar story is well-known, but I think we forget how beautiful it is in its conceit. As with so much of Dahl’s stuff, it’s all about magic and greed – adult themes through a harsh and childlike imagination. For my brother and I it was a deliciously naughty peak into the troubles of grown-ups. The Hitchhiker is the other stand-out story here – all about an unforgettable encounter with a ‘fingersmith’, a man described in such gloriously grotesque detail you’ll drive straight past poor souls thumbing lifts for the rest of your life after reading it. All of Dahl’s short stories are magical, of course, but this is the compilation that has stayed with me as a strangely grown-up revelation bestowed on me during a strange grown-up-filled time of my life.

      The next book that really captured my imagination was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Until that point I’d been contentedly devouring rollocking horsey adventures almost exclusively, but something pubescent happened in my brain when I turned 12, and suddenly I found myself thinking about time and space all the time. I was a stupid clown at that age, a sort of shy, backward idiot always trying to make a rubbish joke out of everything, and I couldn’t believe how cleverly funny this book was allowing itself to be. It was such an intensely colourful adventure; mind-expanding, the possibilities Adams was allowing himself to explore. I haven’t gone back to it much since because I’m happy with the memory of the book (and most of its sequels), but I did of course watch the recent film. It was… fine.

      The third book to really affected me was Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman,(by Richard Feynman) the memoirs of the man who, to my 14-year-old self, set the bar for an interesting life. He was far, far cleverer than me, but that was part of the appeal. He had the same sense of humour and seemed drawn to exactly the same types of challenges, grasping and running with all these incredibly exciting things that jusr thrilled me right through. It was that fantasy of courage that I was buying into with Feynman, of course, and I’m sure if I read it now it’d annoy the hell out of me, but at the time I drank in the late physicist’s tales with wide-eyed credulity. Tales of self-taught safe-cracking and encrypting letters in jigsaws to send to his wife in hospital, of bomb testing and bad conscience, of maths and science and the period he spent simply learning to watch himself fall asleep. The stories were as exotic and unlimited as the wind-swept planes of Lost Alamos but also sanctioned living intelligently and pursuing one’s obsessions right to the end – all very distant ideas to a young teenager with no money, sharing a room with her mother in a small rented flat.

      The fourth book on my list is Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape by Christopher Wood. My undergraduate degree was in the history of art and for a long time I found it quite difficult. I discovered Christopher Wood during the second year, I think, and it really helped me turn a corner. Also, by showing me the kind of research that was possible, this was one of the books that gave me the basis for my Masters degree a couple of years later. Possibly I just don’t like paintings very much, but I was immediately captivated by the connections between the art and writing that Wood makes in this treatise on the northern Renaissance master Albrecht Altdorfer. One hears a lot about the bold frescoes of the Italian Renaissance, but there’s a case here that the revolution happening in Flemish art of the time was all about detail and writing. Landscape in the northern Renaissance emerged outwards from the calligraphic detail of miniatures and maps; the subject of the painting became gradually subsumed by its supplimentary imagery and landscape painting as we know it was born – at the expense of subjects charting meaning. Wood brings it all to life so persuasively in this beautifully detailed and illustrated book.

      I’m not very good at long books, so my next choice is another anthology of short stories. I read Stories of Your Life and Others this year, and was impressed. Ted Chiang is a highly-regarded sci-fi writer, relatively new on the scene, and all about quality rather than quantity. This slim tome is a collection of most of his work to date and the stories explore loads of mad ideas about alternative realities. There’s the world where angels exist, but rupture the fabric of spacetime like great natural disasters, amoral hurricanes whisking souls away to heaven or earth-cracking quakes sucking casualties down into hell. There’s the society who wants to build a tower to the roof of the world, with every detail painstakingly visualised for us by Chiang, and there are the aliens who write notes for Earth in strange splayed symbols but disappear without really telling us anything. And that’s the thing I like about Chiang’s work: it has a certain dignity, a holding-back. There’s a genuine fascination with questions but a modest pause where other fiction writers would supply answers. In a way, I wish he’d write more, but equally the ideas in this book will keep me thinking for a while yet.

      If I can get 17 people to request Leila come to the shop, she may be persuaded. Add a comment and let's see what happens.

      Wednesday, October 07, 2009

      Big Green Bookshop (improved model)

      The Big Green Bookshop doesn't drive. This sometimes makes deliveries challenging, but Tim is a mighty man and also, as he would freely admit, quite butch. We deliver parcels on bikes. If it's a short trip with a couple of books to take, i'm happy to jump on my faithful bike and shoot off to the place I need to get to. Anything that involves books weighing more than 10 kilos, then Tim's your man, with his electric powered Pedal-If-U-Like contraption.
      Last year he would often be seen zipping around the Wood Green area with bags strapped to him like this;

      How we've moved on...

      Look at what we've got ourselves now...
      We have a trailer!

      Now Tim can carry even more books. Look at him go. So come rain or shine, The Big Green Bookshop will get your books to you. Here, Tim's taking 3 big old boxes of books to Stamford Hill Primary School for a book fair tomorrow. I'm going up in the morning with a suitcase on wheels, but it's great to know that we can now take a much wider selection to schools, and still not do stinky things to the environment.

      Sunday, October 04, 2009

      Twitter and other things too.

      We now have an 'official Big Green Bookshop' twitter account. We are Biggreenbooks. Should you want to follow us, you'll be warmly welcomed into our lovely bookshop's ample bosom.
      Once we've got enough followers, we'll do quizzes and competitions to win stuff, and also we'll probably be juvenile from time to time.
      We'll also start what I like to call #twitterarycriticism, which will be short reviews of books we like. I should probably copyright this.

      We're also getting close to 100,000 hits on this here blog, and as far as I understand it, a blog explodes when this happens, so we'll have to think of something pretty big to mark the event.

      Our big survey to find out everyone's 5 favourite books of all time (in no particular order) is going very nicely thankyou, but if you haven't yet, please take a minute or twelve to put your list together and send it to us. Remember, you could win 20 books of your choice*. More information can be found on our website.

      This Tuesday sees the result of the Man Booker Prize, and our hardy Booker Book Group are nearing the end of their mission to read all six of the shortlist in 4 weeks.
      We'll be meeting in the shop on Tuesday evening to discuss the six books and give our verdict, before watching the result on TV. The BBC is giving about 45 seconds of it's valuable schedule to announce the winner, in the middle of the News. I might start swearing in a minute, but I think it's completely and utterly disgusting that we're constantly encouraged and reminded to watch a bunch of donkey's arses ballroom dancing non stop, for example, but the BBC doesn't dedicate a bit of time for one of the biggest literary prizes there is. Things like Richard and Judy's book club showed that by making the idea of reading more accesible then you could get a load more people interested in books, which I think we all agree, is a 'good thing'.
      But obviously if listening to 3 bigotted, opinionated twonks going on about how much they hate caravans, and trying to catapult renaults off a cliff is more important, then I'm pleased I avoid TV as much as I do. There's room for both, I know, but come on.
      Rant over.

      I'm going to be twittering the Booker Prize night from the shop, if I get the chance, so if you want to know what we reckon, join biggreenbooks. Do you see how i've come full circle there?

      Friday, October 02, 2009

      Friday Music

      Starsky and Hutch (i'm Starsky)

      BJ and the Bear (I'm BJ McKay)

      The Fallguy (i'm the The)

      Thursday, October 01, 2009

      Super Thursday

      Today has been dubbed 'Super Thursday' by the book world. This is the day that 800 hardback titles are due to be published, including all the potential Christmas Bestsellers. Peter Kay, Ant and Dec and my mate Jeremy Clarkson all have new books published today which are likely to be given away free with a bar of Yorkie in Asda at some point soon. It's quite encouraging that this seems to be something that some people, other than people in the book trade have actually heard of. Anything that gets people talking about books is good in my eyes (and ears).
      It was however no surprise that it didn't produce an uplift in sales today. What produced an uplift in sales today was a class from a local school coming in with a fiver or so each and each of them buying a book. That was pretty super.
      Of all the days this week that I would describe as truly Super, it would have to be Wednesday.
      We did stuff on Wednesday.
      We had a class in from a local school come in with a fiver or so each to buy books at 10am (a pattern begins to emerge), Tim then went off to another school to tell all the kids about the Big Green Bookshop in some assembly type thing. We then put together an order for another school and delivered it to them. Then I hopped onto a tube and went up to Middlesex University where I introduced myself to a lovely class of students who are doing a course on writing children's fiction. They have a rather marvellous list of books to read throughout the year, and we put together a special order form for them which will give them a cheeky little discount if they order them all in one go.
      In the meantime Mark was holding the fort in the shop, which was rather busy actually, and also making it presentable for a book launch in the evening.
      Not just any book launch though. We were extremely proud to be the hosts for the launch of the latest bestselling book by the charming, talented and wonderful Sarah Matthias, called Tom Fletcher and the Three Wise Men.
      We like Sarah, because she produces some brilliant and engaging books that are accessible to boys and girls aged from 8-14 (and also big kids like me think they're great), and she's also a big fan of the shop. She came along to support us on our opening day, and has also done school visits and the like at the drop of a hat whenever we've asked her.
      Her first book The Riddle of the Poisoned Monk is still one of my favourite reads. It was the first book that we chose for our kids reading group, and it was hugely popular. Her Tom Fletcher series (for this is the second of the Tom Fletcher books) is equally popular and I can't wait to get a chance to read the new one. I still have 3 Booker shortlisted books to read in 5 days.
      Here are some lovely photosThe throng.

      Sarah(l) and Andrea Reece(r), who is the wonderful Publishing Director for Catnip Publishing.

      Tim (look at his beard) read an extract from the book. And he did it rather brilliantly actually.

      The throng 2
      The throng 3.

      So all in all it was a super day.

      we also organised an event on October 16th with Italian guerilla novelistsWu Ming 1 and 4 or Luther Blissett on October 16th and also a wine tasting and reading by the extremely entertaining wine adventurerFrancis Gimblett.

      I wonder what we'll do tomorrow.