Friday, April 30, 2010

IndieBound

Big pack of "stuff" for the BA's IndieBound initiative arrived this morning - much excitement in store as the US IndieBound website is one that we have admired from over here, particularly some of the "Eat, Sleep, Read" material. Anyway, here's our window circa midday today: Lots of comments from customers already...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BBC Oxford Afternoon Bookclub

A busy few days, selling books at the Kennington Literary Festival on Saturday, and then at an event with historian and author Michal Giedroyc yesterday. But today was the BBC Oxford Afternoon Bookclub - five books, which, on reflection, could loosely be linked together by themes of community, equality...and taking time to smell the roses (perhaps). The five books discussed today can be found here and the link to the show is at the end of the post. It all started very seriously with a book recommended to tie into the election campaign, The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. A more quietly pursuasive, powerfully compelling argument for a more equal society you will not find. Distined to become a classic, this is one of our bestselling books in the shop at the moment, and word-of-mouth recommendation from customer brought it to my attention. A must-read if your political antenna need tuning amidst the current media din. We then moved on to the delightful Norris, The Bear Who Shared by the peerless Catherine Rayner. On one level a simple, yet rich sensory tale of a bear waiting for a delicious treat, it touches on 'How To Win Friends and Influence People' for pre-schoolers, and the benefits that accrue from trust and friendship is something Wilkinson and Pickett would wholeheartedly agree with. Barbara Trapido's first novel for seven years - Sex & Stravinsky - is my favourite book so far this year, even though I'm terribly biased as we are doing an event with her on May 12th. It's classic Trapido, a cast of characters that you know as friends by the end of the novel, richly recalled South African and Oxford settings, and themes as diverse as dance, fate, colonislism, Shakespearean comedy and the overbearing expectations of parents and its consequences. A reason to rejoice for lovers of good writing. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson is totally different - a true teen novel (as opposed to a 'young adult' novel hoping for adult cross-over success) this - on the face of it - deals with typical teen angst, dysfunctional parents, a move to a new home and school, new friends and body issues. Except...the book is set in the near future where advances in medical technology bring into question what it means to be human. You see, Jenna Fox has had a terrible accident, has been in a coma for a year...and knows nothing about who she is, except the home movies she watches. As she pieces together her past, and present, the clues start sliding into place about what really happened to her. And finally...Tiny Campsites. You don't get more zeitgeisty than a no-fly holiday eco-journalist, and Dixe Wills (pronounced 'Dixie') has produced a quirky, passionate guide to 75 of teh best tiny (under 1 acre) campsites the length and breadth of the UK. He has visited them all - and others beside - and on May 22nd Dixe is cycling to Mostly Books, pitching his tent, and taling about the joys of gathering the family and getting the tent out. You can listen to the show here until next Wednesday (May 5th). Fast forward to 1hr 10mins - and let me know what you think...

Friday, April 23, 2010

I need a hug! Hugless Douglas at Mostly Books

We've all been getting very excited about Hugless Douglas, the new book by local children's author David Melling, and we wanted to do a really special event when it was launched. So we hatched a rather groovy event for children in the courtyard garden, featuring David, some rather spiffing bear paws, a large cardboard cut-out - and plenty of pens, pencils, brown material...and glue! We ran two sessions in the afternoon last Saturday, and David started each with a storytime, reading aloud the story of the bear who wakes after a long sleep, and really needs a hug... David then gave us a drawing masterclass, teaching everyone how to draw Douglas, and tips for any budding future illustrators: Here are some of the bears that resulted: (That last one looks a bit suspect - drawn with the help of someone a bit older than out target audience methinks). And then came the messy bit. We had - at great effort, and not a little trial and error - created a series of card templates, with velcro (to allow us to do the whole thing twice) that completely covered a large template of Hugless - complete with head and arm holes. The kids had been asked to bring along brown material in a special bag, and we got to work cutting, ripping, sticking and glueing... and then taking each section and building our own bear... And finally, everyone got a chance to put on the Hugless scarf, some fabulous big Hugless Douglas gloves courtesy of Ali, and stick their head and arms through to give us their biggest, smiliest bear impressions. Rrrarggh!
Thanks very much to David (of course, for original story, drawing masterclass and bear template), Ali (for supremo crafting efforts), Ellie (for tireless glue monitoring and bear co-ordination all afternoon), Nicki (templates and velcro-ing), European air traffic control (removing contrail haze and making it such a sunny and warm afternoon), and the budding young bears who came along...

Friday, April 02, 2010

Solar, schizophrenia and the Still Point: BBC Oxford Afternoon Bookclub

Mad busy this week - but you can listen to the latest BBC Oxford Bookclub here - and see the list of books we discussed here. Fast forward to about 1hr 8 minutes on the BBC iPlayer. We were closed for Good Friday today - but open tomorrow. Hope everyone is able to take a bit of a break over Easter...