Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Bookworm News: October/November 2011

Awards news
The 2011 Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded to Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. The citation from the committee said that "through his condensed translucent images he gives us fresh access to reality." The eighty-year-old recipient of the $1.5 million award beat off stiff competition, including Haruki Murakami, and has had his work translated into more than 50 languages - so there's no excuse for us all to not seek out his poetry.

The Forward Poetry Prize was also won by John Burnside, who had made the shortlist three times previously. He was awarded the £10,000 prize for his collection Black Cat Bone, which has also been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize alongside work by Carol Ann Duffy and Alice Oswald, to name just a few.

Across the Channel it is a secondary school biology teacher who has won France's most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, with The French Art of War (L'art français de guerre). Alexis Jenni will not receive a large monetary award as a result of being declared the winner, but will take his place in the hall of fame with previous winners Proust, de Beauvoir, and Houllebecq, and enjoy an almost guaranteed increase in sales and acclaim.

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo won the £30,000 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, which honours a book providing the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues. Smaller readers can enjoy the winners of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize: Cats Ahoy! (Peter Bently/Jim Field) and The Brilliant World of Tom Gates (Liz Pichon). And since young readers often become young writers too, let's mention Lucy Caldwell, who at age 30 has won the £30,000 Dylan Thomas Prize for Young Writers, for her novel The Meeting Point. Professor Peter Stead, founder of the award for best writing in any genre by a writer under 30, praised The Meeting Point as "a beautifully written and mature reflection on identity, loyalty and belief in a complex world."

Author proves beauty is more than skin deep
[image]Author Bethan Stritton is a mum on a mission to counteract what she believes is the damaging effect that the beauty and cosmetics industry is having on women’s self esteem. “The industry is spending billions of pounds to convince us that the only way we can be seen as ‘beautiful’ is to buy their products. As a result people are spending more and more on an impossible dream.” In her new book “Grow your Gorgeousness”, Bethan offers a way back to true beauty by helping women to celebrate themselves as gorgeous just for being who they are. The mum from the Isle of Wight, who lost two friends to eating disorders, uses personal development techniques and empowerment tools to help women of all ages and all body types redefine themselves, and could well prove a breath of fresh air in the airbrushed industry that we are subjected to on a daily basis.

Amazon's latest acquisition
In spite of charges from industry organisations including the Independent Publishers' Guild that such a move would create a monopoly, Amazon's acquisition of UK online retailer The Book Depository has been approved. The Office for Fair Trading decided that competition within Amazon marketplace would continue to be strong after the takeover, and pointed out that the Book Depository only accounted for 2-4% of the online market for physical books.

Pottermore no more?
J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website, which had been planning to emerge from closed beta status in October, now features this message: "Pottermore is currently unavailable. We are making important updates to the site, which may take some time." The Pottermore Insider blog offered an explanation: "Since we launched Pottermore, our one million Beta users have given us lots of amazing feedback, and we've been collecting their thoughts and comments so that we can make Pottermore the best experience it can be before it opens to everyone. After looking closely at all the information that we've gathered, we have decided to further extend the Beta period so we can improve Pottermore before giving more people access. This means the site will not be opening to new users in the immediate future, but please know that we will open registration as soon as we can."

Neil Gaiman meets The Simpsons...

Fox released images and an official synopsis for a new episode of The Simpsons, on which special guest Neil Gaiman joins Homer's book-writing team. Comic Book Resources reported that Gaiman also posted a clip from the show, with "a glimpse of a bookstore display showcasing the author's work, including The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1, and The Absolute Death."

...and Neil Hannon meets Arthur Ransome
Expectations are likely high for Ransome fans as Swallows and Amazons hits the stage. This literary adaptation takes the form of a musical adventure, with The Divine Comedy's lead singer, Neil Hannon, providing the musical and lyrical soundtrack. Directed by Tom Morris and adapted by Helen Edmundson (who adapted Coram Boy), the play is sure to please Hannon and Ransome fans alike, and best of all for younger readers, under 18s are half price on the more expensive seats.

Touchscreen gloves to light Kindle lovers' fire
For those who want to keep warm and still use their iPhones and Kindles, TouchAbility has launched a new range of touchscreen compatible gloves featuring special conductive fibres in all ten fingers. The genuine silver thread that these contain help to allow the electrical impulses from the wearer's fingers to be passed through the gloves, and onto the touch screen. This thread is barely visible, unlike many other types of touchscreen glove that have distinct pads of conductive material or contrasting coloured sections on the tips of one or two fingers.
Available exclusively at the TouchAbility online store for £12.99, the gloves come in 2 colours (grey and charcoal) and 2 sizes (medium and large). Also to go with the Kindle is the Blasted Boxset: five full-length novels by five different authors on a branded USB stick in a presentation pack, combining the convenience and affordability of ebooks with the gratification of a tangible product, for the price of a single hardback.

Dating for literary lovers is the new dating site from The Stage that connects singles with a shared interest in the performing, literary or visual arts. The tailored service for arts lovers enables users to search for others via their cultural interests, whether it's photography, reading, or the theatre (to name just a few). Creating a profile, uploading up to 10 photos and receiving 100 potential matches is free of charge and the perfect way for members to start exploring the service. As an exclusive introductory offer, is giving away 500 free one-month subscriptions. The subscription gives individuals the benefits of all the subscriber-only features including up to 1000 suitable matches and use of a safe, private messaging service. A free one-month subscription can be claimed by visiting As someone who met her husband online (albeit not through a dedicated dating site), I'd thoroughly recommend being open-minded about finding love on the internet: physical appearance will one day fade, and it is the meeting of minds and interests that ultimately keeps people together long-term.

Wishing you a happy holiday season with all of your loved ones :)

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