Posted by: billpurdue | June 26, 2009

60 Catching up and looking forward

Oddest Book Title Prize

This prize is awarded annually by the Diagram Group for the title which is voted by readers of the The Bookseller magazine as the most unusual title published during the previous 12 months. I’m afraid  the winner escaped me this year until now – it was back in February that the winner was announced; the extremely odd,  but not specially amusing The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-miligram Containers of Fromage Frais, published by Icon Group International.  Other contenders were Baboon Metaphysics, Strip and Knit with Style and The Large Sieve and its Applications. Next year I’ll try to be on time with the results and I hope there’s something a little bit more, well, exciting!

Get ready for an Autumn bonanza

Michael PalinThe Bookseller magazine reports that publishers are bringing out some very tempting titles this Autumn to try and encourage book buyers who may be put off by the credit squeeze.  One of the highlights for me would be Michael Palin’s Halfway to Hollywood [Weidenfeld & Nicholson £20 9780297844402, published 17th Sept] which will be the second volume of his diaries from 1980 to 1988 (or is it 1987 as on the book cover?).  This is the period when members of the Monty Python team were starting to go their separate ways and Michael Palin found himself in several films, including “A Private Function”, which is one of my favourite films of all time. I didn’t know that, for a while,  he also hosted the very popular TV show on US television “Saturday Night Live” and that his mother once made a highly successful guest appearance.

Also on my “curiosity” list (ie. titles I want to check up on when they come out) is Look Back in Hunger by Jo Brand, [Headline Review £20 9780755355235,published on Oct.1st] another autobiography. Jo has become more of a general TV personality just lately after starting out as a stand up comedian. Recent TV appearances have ranged from “Country File” and as one of the judges in “The Speaker”.

Finally in this pick of what’s to come – Tickling the English by Dara O’Briain [Michael  Joseph £18.99 9780718154370] might be worth a try. This Irish comedian who has lived in England for quite some time tries to fathom out what makes the English tick. I don’t go for his TV show “Mock the Week”, but perhaps he might be more “me” when he’s in print.

Something quite different….

….different in writing style that is. A bestselling novelist Victoria About (pronounced “Abut”) decides it would be a good idea to invite eleven friends to stay in a rented house for a few weeks just to see what happens and how the people interact. With the help of hidden cameras, this will provide plenty of material for her next novel.  But things don’t  turn out as expected; the house is apparently haunted, the guests do as they like, not as Victoria wants them to behave and the hidden cameras are discovered.

Finding myselfFinding Myself by Toby Litt [Penguin £7.99 9780141006543]  promised to be a very funny book, if all the quotes on the back cover from the reviews were to be believed, but I really didn’t get on with the style – to say it’s informal would be an understatement:  we get Victoria’s innermost musings and from time to time we come across sections of text crossed out, sometimes with comments handwritten in the margin, presumably from Victoria’s fictional editor. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the more conventional style.

Literacy News

I receive the National Literacy Trust’s email newsletter and in the latest received this week, there’s news of a competition for young fiction writers. It’s open to anyone aged from 8 to 18 and the age groups are divided into three age categories. It’s a bit of a tight deadline as the closing date is 15th July. For some writing tips go to

The trust has announced  the result of a recent poll which asked “Who has the most influence over children’s reading habits?” Of those asked, 79% said “family”. If that isn’t a good reason for parents reading to their children, then I don’t know what is.

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