500 new fairy tales


Five hundred new fairy tales have been discovered in Germany. It’s a collection that was gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth and it’s been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years!

You can read on of the fairy tales, entitled The Turnip Princess, here in the Guardian.

The Guardian’s Christmas List for Children’s Picgure Books

If you have a thing for picture books, as I do, you’ll want to check out The Guardian’s list of recommended picture books.  It’s rather different than the NYT’s list.  Here are two of the books for the list.


Ok, to be fair, these were the only two books that featured ahem…bodily functions.  But I found it quite interesting that Harvey, The Boy Who Couldn’t Fart and The Pop Up Book of Poo where chosen alongside Mother knows Best! and A River of Stories.  Some of these titles almost seem to come out a different time and place…


And Christmas Eve At The Mellops’ is actually  a reprint from the 1970’s.  What an interesting mix of sensibilities.

Tips for Writers

I love The Guardian.  I’d even go so far as to say that it you want to be a writer,  it’s even more of a ‘must read’ than the New York Times.  Even seasoned writers will relate to tips offered by some of the best in the business…Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James and AL Kennedy.

Here are a few of my favorites

Elmore Leonard…”Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”

Diana Athill…”Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK”

Margaret Atwood…”You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.”

Roddy Doyle…”2Do be kind to yourself…3 Until you get to Page 50. Then calm down, and start worrying about the quality. Do feel anxiety – it’s the job”

Helen Dunmore…”4 Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, throw it away. It’s a nice feeling, and you don’t want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.”

Geoff Dyer…”6 Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire”

Anne Enright…”2 The way to write a book is to actually write a book.”

Richard Ford…”9 Try to think of others’ good luck as encouragement to yourself”

Esther Frued…”2 A story needs rhythm. Read it aloud to yourself. If it doesn’t spin a bit of magic, it’s missing something. 3 Editing is everything.”

Neil Gaiman…”1 Write.”

P D James…”4 Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell”

Al Kennedy…”7 Read. As much as you can. As deeply and widely and nourishingly and ­irritatingly as you can. And the good things will make you remember them, so you won’t need to take notes”

By the way, this isn’t a new article, but it’s well worth going back to have a look at.  In fact, there are tons of articles well worth a second look.  Thanks Jeremy Tankard for the reminder.

Pullman doesn’t mince words

It seems that libraries are having a tough time everywhere, even in England.  According to an article in The Guardian, more than 600 libraries are threatened with closure.

But in England, at least, libraries have a new “no bullshit” champion.  Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials trilogy,  isn’t one to mince words.  At a national conference of library campaigners, he called on the participants to fight against stupidity, referencing Brent council’s suggestion that closing half of its libraries would help it fulfill “exciting plans to improve libraries”.  This has got to be one of the more absurd statements I’ve come across lately.  Pullman obviously thought so too. He suggested that Brent council’s ludicrous suggestion “ought to be quoted in every anthology of political bullshit from here to eternity”.

Right on Mr. Pullman.

Guardian’s Power 100 in books

The Guardian has posted the power 100 list of most influential people in books in the UK.  Some of the names are obvious choices like the founder of Amazon, and JK Rowling, but check out # 100 on the list.  Don’t you love it!  Oh, and Jamie Oliver made the list too.

Book Power 100: full list

Rank Name Job title Category
1 Jeff Bezos Founder and CEO of Amazon Bookselling
2 JK Rowling Author Author
3 Larry Page CEO, Google Digital technology
4 James Daunt/Alexander Mamut MD, Waterstones/Proprietor, Waterstones Bookselling
5 Tim Hely Hutchinson Group Chief Executive, Hachette UK Publisher
6 James Patterson Author Author
7 Kate Swann CEO, WH Smith Bookselling
8 Jamie Oliver Chef, broadcaster and cookery writer Author
9 Gail Rebuck CEO, Random House Publisher
10 Tim Cook CEO, Apple Digital technology
11 Ion Trewin/Emmanuel Roman Literary Director, Man Booker prizes and COO, Man Group Literary awards
12 Rachel Harcourt and Garry Blackman Book buyers, Tesco Bookselling
13 John Makinson/Tom Weldon Chairman and chief executive and UK CEO, Penguin Group Publisher
14 Andrew Wylie Literary Agent Literary agent
15 Victoria Barnsley CEO, HarperCollins UK Publishing
16 Kate Mosse Author, honorary director, Orange prize Literary awards
17 Jacqueline Wilson Author, former children’s laureate Author
18 The ghost of Stieg Larsson Author Author
19 Ian McEwan Author Author
20 Janice Hadlow Controller, BBC2 Broadcasting
21 Carol Ann Duffy Poet laureate Poet
22 Anthony Forbes-Watson MD, Pan Macmillan Publishing
23 Ed Victor Literary Agent Literary agent
24 Martina Cole Author Author
25 Nigel Newton CEO, Bloomsbury Publishing
26 Stephen Page CEO, Faber Publishing
27 Zadie Smith Author Author
28 Terry Pratchett Author Author
29 Larry Finlay MD, Transworld Publishing
30 Tony Phillips Commissioning editor, factual programmes, Radio 4 Broadcasting
31 Nigel Portwood CEO, Oxford University Press Publisher
32 Julia Donaldson Author and children’s laureate Author
33 Stuart Proffitt Publishing director, Penguin Press Publishing
34 Mariella Frostrup Presenter Broadcasting
35 Malcolm Gladwell Author Author
36 Simon Prosser Publishing director, Hamish Hamilton Publishing
37 Marian Keyes Author Author
38 Philip Pullman Author Author
39 Ursula Mackenzie Chief Executive, Publisher, Little Brown Publishing
40 Dan Franklin Publisher, Jonathan Cape Publishing
41 Mark Lawson Author and presenter Author
42 Jamie Byng MD, Canongate Publishing
43 Sigrid Rausing Publisher, Granta magazine and Granta Books Publishing
44 Deborah Rogers Literary agent Literary agent
45 Salman Rushdie Author Author
46 Seamus Heaney Poet Poet
47 James Wood Critic Literary critic or editor
48 Peter Englund Author and secretary of the Swedish Academy Author
49 Richard & Judy Presenters, book club overseers Broadcasting
50 Martin Amis Author Author
51 Peter Florence Director, Hay festivals Literary festivals
52 Jonathan Franzen Author Author
53 Michiko Kakutani Chief reviewer, New York Times Literary critic or editor
54 Toby Mundy CEO, Atlantic Books Publishing
55 Alexandra Pringle Editor-in-chief, Bloomsbury Publishing
56 Nigella Lawson Broadcaster and cookery writer Broadcasting
57 Andrew Marr Author and broadcaster Broadcasting
58 Philip Roth Author Author
59 Stephen Fry Author, broadcaster, tweeter Broadcasting
60 Richard Dawkins Author Author
61 Stephenie Meyer Author Author
62 Deborah Treisman Fiction editor, New Yorker Literary critic or editor
63 Stephanie Duncan Digital media director, Bloomsbury Publishing
64 Dan Brown Author Author
65 Lennie Goodings Publisher, Virago Press Publishing
66 Tariq Ali Author, commentator Author
67 Robert Silvers Editor, New York Review of Books Literary critic or editor
68 Andrew Motion Poet Poet
69 Sarah Waters Author Author
70 Christopher MacLehose Publisher, Quercus Publishing
71 Hilary Mantel Author Author
72 Jeremy Hunt Culture secretary Politician
73 Ahdaf Soueif Author, Palfest founder Author
74 John le Carré Author Author
75 Ravi Mirchandani Publishing director, Atlantic Books Publishing
76 Nick Barley Director, Edinburgh international book festival Literary festivals
77 Nicholas Pearson Publishing director, Fourth Estate Publishing
78 Amanda Ross TV producer Broadcasting
79 Mary Kay Wilmers Editor, London Review of Books Literary critic or editor
80 Daisy Goodwin Author, TV producer and presenter Broadcasting
81 Neil Gaiman Author Author
82 Sam Husain CEO, Foyles Bookselling
83 Antonia Byatt Director of literature, Arts Council England Other
84 Colm Tóibín Author and publisher Author
85 Alan Bennett Author Author
86 Peter Stothard Editor, Times Literary Supplement Literary critic or editor
87 Peter Straus Literary agent and publisher Literary agent
88 Andrew Davies Author and screenwriter Author
89 Tom Holland Author, and chair of the Society of Authors Author
90 Caroline Michel Literary agent Literary agent
91 Simon Schama Historian, broadcaster Broadcasting
92 Jonathan Heawood Director, English PEN Other
93 Anthea Bell Translator Other
94 Hisham Mater Author, commentator Author
95 Tanya Seghatchian Film producer and former head of Film Fund, BFI Other
96 Alan Moore Graphic novelist Author
97 Antony Beevor Military historian Author
98 Ted Smart Founder, the Book People Bookselling
99 Amanda Hocking Self-published author Author
100 You Reader, buyer, blogger, commenter, tweeter… Other

Anonymous paper sculpture in support of libraries

Friend Margriet Ruurs alerted me to an article in The Guardian about these anonymously created paper sculptures left for libraries and book festivals in the UK.  What a wonderful idea.  They are beautiful, delicate, and amazingly creative works of art created from books about books and their importance in our world.  Here’s a pic of my favorite.

“The cup on the top has a swirl of words which read ” Nothing beats a nice cup of tea (or coffee) and a really good BOOK”

The other sculptures are just as cool, so be sure to check out The Guardian article with photos.  What a creative soul.  So the challenge is, come on Canada (especially Toronto where they want to  privatize libraries) lets get creative about our support for books and libararies!.