BBC Oxford Book Club

As of this afternoon, I am the new resident book 'expert' on BBC Radio Oxford's afternoon show, for Jo Thoenes' Book Club. If you'd like to hear how it went, it's on BBC iplayer - fast-forward to about 1 hour 7 minutes. Not sure it'll stay on there longer than a week of course... It was a lot of fun - very laid back, and I was made to feel very welcome by the team there. Bringing along some superb cupcakes for everyone to try (courtesy of Ali - who is a star and insanely talented at these things) definitely helped make a good impression - though I'm sure no-one could follow what I was saying on air thanks to a combination of nerves + my usual arm-waving rapid fire talking in these situations (obviously being on air the arm-waving effect was mostly lost). For the record - my five top recommends for this month are:
  • Ali Shaw's remarkable debut novel The Girl With Glass Feet - Gaskella has a wonderful - and spot-on - review over on her blog, but I must just say hats off to publisher Atlantic who have done the book justice in terms of the physical book itself. Ali is up for the Costa First Novel Award in January AND he happens to live and work in Oxford AND we have him coming to the shop in January 18th...
  • Neal Stephenson's Anathem. A fine example of all that is good about science fiction by a towering writer who can hold his own against the best in any genre. When a society is in danger of collapse, how best to ensure that knowledge survives?
  • Cupcakes From the Primrose Bakery by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas. We tasted them live on air and they tasted GOOD. These two mumpreneurs started in their own kitchen, and eventually opened their own bakery...
  • The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius by Graham Farmelo. Science biographies don't get much better than this, with the long-overdue life story of arguably the finest scientist Britain has produced since Isaac Newton. A man who used his grounding in engineering, and arcane branches of geometry to translate between the old and new physics - and even look ahead to the birth of string theory. Full of literary references, English history and even Cary Grant, this is a tour de force - and has rightly been shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award.
  • And finally, the Bedtime Collection: Stories, Rhymes and Pictures for the Very Young compiled by Wendy Cooling. A wonderful bedtime collection of illustrated stories from a veritable whos-who of children's writers and illustrators (it would be easier to list who isn't in the book, which I'm obviously not going to do because that would be mean). With all proceeds going to Bookstart, this is a great way (and at £7.99 great value) to discover a whole load of new authors you may never have come across.
The next show goes out 2pm 27th January. So I'll be on the lookout for my next five books. Oh, and aside from Ali Shaw we'll be letting you know about an event we are doing with Sara Paretsky and a few other 2010 events very soon as well...


  1. Oh yes, it's video which killed the radio star, not books, right? ;-)

    Let's hope books *make* the radio star in this case, not to mention Mrs Mostly Books' killer cupcakes! Well done Mark - I shall try and catch your dulcet tones if they haven't delected them yet.

    Your list makes me wish I were a faster reader - I don't seem to get far beyond reading reviews. Perhaps a workshop on how to read faster and concentrate better might be in order for the future...?

  2. Well done Mark! I listened on listen again. It must have been quite nerve-wracking but fun.

    I'm currently reading 'The Blasphemer' by Nigel Farndale which is due out v.soon and loving it - a multi-stranded novel about terrorism, mid-life crises, Darwin, and Ypres and its aftermath!

  3. Hi I went to your shop today, for the first time, and I only live in Wantage..I found out about your shop through a lady that works for you who has a blog...just as I do!

    A lovely shop it is too!! I love all the gifts and cards, especially in the childrens section.

    I know this might be a bit forward, but also wondering if you have any vacancies at all.