Costa Book of the Year: A Magnificent Lineup

Last night saw the announcement of the Costa Book of the Year award, chosen from the five winners of the individual book prizes Costa sponsor under novel, first novel, children’s book, poetry and biography. The nominees were as varied as the categories themselves:

  • Novel: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Winner)
  • First novel: Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
  • Children’s book: The Bombs that Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan
  • Poetry: Falling Awake by Alice Oswald
  • Biography: Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory by Keggie Carew.

I’m not sure I can really comment on how deserving Barry is this year as I’ve still not read 515djoalbxl-_sy344_bo1204203200_his offering (or any of the others for that matter). However, I will say that last night as I watched the awards I was intrigued by all of the books on the shortlist. Most of all Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory by Keggie Carew.
A biography of her father as he develops dementia, which as it descends past the surface details of the man himself, becomes a chase down the rabbit hole to find out a convoluted personal history. As a terminally nosey person, the idea of digging into the enigma of Carew’s father just captured my imagination. I have added this book to both my Amazon wishlist, Goodreads to-be-read, and the booklist of a reading group that’s formed in my university class (mostly because speech therapy trainees tend to be interested in dementia).

img_0547As for the winner, Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, it’s no secret I’m a great lover of the man’s work and have raved about it to all and sundry. I’ve been excited to read this one since I saw it in the Faber and Faber catalogue last year and FINALLY purchased it just today from a lovely clerk in Waterstones Gower Street. I’m really looking forward to getting into it!

On the rest of the books, I can only paraphrase others whom I’ve seen on the Beeb during the awards show but must admit I am also intrigued by them. In particular, the poetry entry Falling Awake which was described as a book of nature poetry that isn’t quite the pastoral comments one might expect. Also going with another fellow countryman, Graham Norton (one of this year’s judges), Golden Hill is firmly next in line on my to be read pile… after everything else.

So, if you’re at a loss for what to read check out the shortlist, maybe you’ll find your next favourite book!

-Moz

 

Feature: What’s London Reading 27/01/17

A new featured post here on TheCrackedSpineBlog: What’s London Reading. An insight into what London’s bookworms are munching on!

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Featured Reader: Serena, a masters student at UCL ( and one of Moz’s friends kind enough to pose for this kind of awkward angle).
Currently Reading: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.
Favourite Sentence/Passage: “Just because a man has made enough money to come to Gion and waste it however he chooses doesn’t mean he’s fun to be around. In fact, many of the men are accustomed to being treated with a great deal of respect. Sitting back with their hands on their knees and big frowns on their faces is about as much work as they plan to do in the way of being entertaining.”


I’m very excited to have finally gotten around to starting this feature on the blog as it’s been a long time in development and has taken me a while to actually ask anyone to be in a picture for it.

A huge thanks to the lovely Serena for volunteering and being a great model, even or this amateur photographer!

If you would like to take part in this ‘What’s London Reading’ feature and are free for a quick photo and chat please use the contact page of the blog, or you can message our Instagram or Facebook pages.

Review: A Man Called Ove

Please just let Ove succeed in the next chapter, I prayed every night as I cracked the spine of my Kindle.

a-man-called-ove-9781476738024_hrTitle: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Available: Now (Amazon, BookDepository)
Moz Rating: 3/5


Ove wants to kill himself. That’s pretty apparent from the first page, what was less apparent was how much I would also want Ove to kill himself by halfway through.

Continue reading “Review: A Man Called Ove”

Save the Date: February 18th

What’s better than getting drunk in the afternoon and regretting it the next day? Getting out and meeting strangers interested in London’s best bookshops and a bookish quiz, that’s what!

No, I’m not getting married, much to the disappointment of my mother. But this is better than a wedding: The London Bookshop Crawl  organised by Ninja Book Box. It’s like a pub crawl but better, even if the pub crawl might be wetter.

Moz, cut the prosaic nonsense, tell us what it is. Ok, ok, The London Bookshop Crawl is exactly what it says on the tin: an afternoon of crawling through some of London’s best independent (and some non-indie) bookshops with other book lovers and potential new friends. What better way to spend a February Saturday?

Currently, the spaces on the guided tours are all taken but there are still FREE tickets available if you want to trail through the shops at your own leisure. Tickets are available through Eventbrite (click here to register for yours).

Unfortunately I was also late to the party, so I’ve missed out on one of the guided tours too but am on the waiting list should a space become available! You can also sign up to take part in the “Bookish” quiz taking place after the crawl which promises to be a great chance to meet some new people and maybe get to know those you bumped into along the way of the book crawl.

I for one am excited. Maybe you are too, check out the event’s Facebook Page for more details and updates!

-Moz

The 2017 Reading Challenge And Why I’m Not Partaking

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that one of the phrases I say most often is “I’m a busy person. I don’t have time for that.” So for 2017, my challenge isn’t to read a mountain of books I barely notice and maybe yours shouldn’t be either.

Happy New Year CrackedSpiners!

January is finally here, and it’s a new year new you! This year you’re going to get back to the gym, eat healthy, and finally complete a Goodreads Reading Challenge of 50 books. It’s going to be you best year yet… But it’s not really is it? Chances are we’ll stick to the gym for a few weeks, eat a cereal bar and pretend it wasn’t a Coco Pops cereal bar, and then spend the rest of the year staring at the Goodreads Challenge as it let’s you know how you’re not meeting your target.

Now, I’ve done the Goodreads Challenge in the past, don’t get me wrong. I love the feeling of clocking up those public announcements of who’s on track and working hard to meet their goal. That’s the problem though, I’m working hard to meet the goal. I’m not reading for pleasure but to beat the others. It became a drudgery of books to read and how to offset those sluggish months where even finishing one and cracking a new spine seemed a huge task.

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that one of the phrases I say most often is “I’m a busy person. I don’t have time for that.” So for 2017, my challenge isn’t to read a mountain of books I barely notice while I devour them. Instead I’m opting for “By the end of 2017 I will have read and enjoyed at least one part of the books I find time for” maybe such a goal will be more helpful to anyone struggling to get back into reading than a mammoth target!

New year, same blogger,

-Moz

P.S to the lucky searcher who found this blog with the “small t!ts” Google Search, we apologise for the confusion.

Header Image via Goodreads.

What the Dickens is ‘A Christmas Carol’?

A treasured tale is reimagined in one of London’s most authentic literary museums this Christmas Eve with thanks to Equapoise Theatre and the Dickens Museum.

1843, it’s snowy in London. The ruts from the cart wheels have made a muddy slush of the fresh white snowfall. Charles Dickens has just published the tale of hope and morals that is A Christmas Carol, a book so well received by the general public that Dickens was not only credited (incorrectly so) with the introduction of Christmas as we know it, but also (more correctly) with the improved working conditions in the workhouses. To this day, we still tell and re-tell the story whether it be in the Muppets, Jim Carey’s dubious adaption, or indeed you could go and see it in the run up to Christmas this year in the Charles Dickens Museum where Equapoise Theatre have again taken up the mantle of performing it for your seasonal sprinkle of Dickens.

It wasn’t your typical Dickensian December day when I set out to the Charles Dickens Museum where I was lucky enough to nab an EXCLUSIVE interview with the directors of the company and the show, Laura Donnelly and Eleri Jones, rather it was warm enough for me to unbutton my jacket and take my hat off altogether. Tiny Tim would have been jealous. Both Laura and Eleri were in high spirits on a break from rehearsing and we sat down with a cup of coffee in the boardroom and got right to it.


Moz: This is your second year in the Charles Dickens House isn’t it? I’m just wondering how was it that Equapoise came to be involved last year?

Eleri: My old lecturer from Drama Centre was in touch with the education manager of the museum and she got in touch with him and said did you know anybody, any sort of young theatre companies or anybody who’s looking for an opportunity to work over Christmas. As he had just been to see our debut production in the September and this was sort of October time we were fresh in his mind, so he recommended us to her. And we just set up a meeting and went from there. And they’ve asked us back this year which was very nice as well.

Moz: That’s really excellent to be called back, but do you feel, with this being such a treasured Christmas story that there’s a pressure from the museum, or the people coming to see it that they want to see a particular Christmas Carol?

Laura: I think, the museum have always been great about it they know how many interpretations there are out there and they’re happy for us to go ahead and do what we want to do with it. I think last year it wasn’t so much that there was pressure from the audience, I think we put a pressure on ourselves because it was our first time working with something so treasured. We wanted to give everyone what they were expecting from it but with a new experience. Coming into it this year we’re happy to shock people a little more. [Here Laura looks to Eleri who, without missing a beat, takes up right where Laura left off].

Eleri: Yeah I think when you’re working with an original text there’s a faithfulness to it that you have to keep, and that comes from your own love of the work and your personal investment in the story “When did you first read it; when did you hear it!” and all that stuff as well. I totally agree with what we’ve been saying, it’s striking that balance between giving people what they expect on some level and familiar characters, things that they can relate to and recognise because it’s that nostalgia that’s in the text as well. But also giving them something new, trying to have a fresh look at it, trying to bring it into relevance in 2016.

Laura: Yes, approaching the story with a relevance to something different and framing it with the themes of our modern poverty and our modern relationship with Christmas.

Mrs Cratchitt.JPG
The remarkably witty Emily Cratchit was brought to life by Madison Clare’s quick tongue and charming delivery.

Continue reading “What the Dickens is ‘A Christmas Carol’?”

Moz’s Top 5 Gifts for the Bookworm in Your Life

When you’re out of ideas and it comes down to books or candles, always go for books for Christmas!

With all the pinching, punching, first-of-the-monthing yesterday I didn’t get a chance to write this post, but at last here we are. It can be insanely hard to choose a book to give to the person you only just realised you need a gift for after all the booklover in your life. Who knows what they’ve read? Heaven knows you probably stopped listening to the storylines of what they read way back in January. Fear not panic-buyer, I’m here to help.

For the Feminist/Teenage Boy
asking2bfor2bit

Asking for It by Louise O’Neill.

I’ve mentioned this one before on the blog when I read it back in September. Although it’s not exactly a Christmassy read it’s absolutely one of the funniest, most thought-provoking, and challenging (in terms of worldview as opposed to heavy literature) books I’ve picked up this year. Set in small town Ireland, the story delves into the Social Media-driven lives of Irish teenagers and, of course, all that the title implies. Feminist for obvious reasons but also a must read for a teenage boy coming of age in this curious time when no means yes and sex is the new handshake.

Amazon Link

For the One Who “Saw THAT Coming”
16299With this year being the centenary of the Queen of Murder, I want to say ANYTHING by Agatha Christie, but I’ll not leave the library of tomes to you with so little guidance. Without a doubt, And Then There Were None is one of my favourite murder mysteries. Equal parts chilling, darkly funny, and utterly gripping, Christie managed to create a plot no one could have predicted. Even if they have seen one of the multitude of adaptions of this (especially if it was the most recent BBC adaption starring Aiden Turner), it’s bound to please.

Amazon Link

For the Guy Who Only Reads Classics but Needs to Branch Out
51rimwr5pulI’ve raved about Barry to every Tom, Dick, and Ali since I first picked up A Long Long Way last year as part of my bookclub and every time I recommend it, or any of Barry’s other works, I am met at first with scepticism and then, once they’ve finished, that satisfactory feeling that comes when someone tells you they loved what you recommended. Of course, I can’t take credit for this recommendation as it (as usual) came from J, my significant otter, and you know, the Costa Book of the Year Award which Barry won in 2008 for The Secret Scripture. So, if you’re worried that your bookworm in need of branching out has already dipped into the titles mentioned, you could also opt for his new book, Days Without End, which was only just released in October by Faber and Faber. I’ve not read it but given that Barry’s prose reads like poetry, this is bound to be a treat.

Amazon Link

For the One Who Loves a Good Pleasure Read
we-are-all-completely-beside-ourselves-karen-jay-fowlerNot everyone wants to read a book that feels more like a job than the 8 hours they get paid for every day. We at TheCrackedSpine know this most of all, both of us having rather hectic schedules. I have a tip for this too, because sometimes light reads are trite reads, and no one needs that for Christmas, not after the year we collectively have had in 2016. In 2015, that halcyon bygone era, I happened upon a recommendation for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler and just picked it up as a distraction from the commute to and from work. A fascinating story of a somewhat dysfunctional family of two psychologists, I was hooked and the book only distracted me from the bus fumes for 3 days.

Amazon Link

For the Hopeless Romantic
635957916185414958-824906754_modern_romance-640x480Another commute read for me, perhaps more a cynic than romantic, Aziz Ansari’s (of Parks and Rec as well as Master of None) interesting investigation into the online dating world thoroughly entertained. I will put my hand up and say I listened to this one because Aziz himself is reading it. The comic timing of the book would surely not be lost in print but Ansari really made this book come to life in his voiceover. If you have a Tinder-holic or amatuer angler on Plenty of Fish in your house, pick this up as a stocking filler.

Amazon Link

So there you have it ladies and gents, Moz’s top 5 gift recommendations for the last minute stocking fillers. I hope your Christmas shopping is quick and easy, preferably online, and certainly not happening on the 26th.

TL;DR: It’s a list, the easiest of online media to digest, scroll up and look at the pictures.

-Moz