In the first of our new monthly column exploring all things in the book world, Getintothis’ Cath Bore looks into Quick Reads, Kate Tempest, John Cooper Clarke and more.
Amazon released the Kindle, its first e-reader, in November 2007. The device sold out in an impressive five and a half hours, and remained out of stock for almost six months. The device went on sale proper in late April 2008, and it seems timely that the first Wrapped Up In Books column falls on the publishing phenomenon’s decade anniversary, an event which kicked off the self publishing and e book revolution.
The power of the book, both in physical and digital formats, has lost none of its potency in the last ten years, and reading – and writing – is a passion which continues unabated. Wrapped Up In Books – a title shamelessly nicked from Belle and Sebastian, thanks guys – celebrates that love of the written word, fiction, non-fiction, poetry in its many beautiful genres and forms.
This month, authors published by established publishing houses speak alongside the self-published, and the inaugural Bookworm of the Month shares his top literary picks via his trusty typewriter, underscored by a wax seal.
Wrapped Up In Books – where the traditional and modern exist happily, and with a good book.
- Crime and thriller fiction boom in UK
The UK is experiencing a crime wave tight now – albeit one confined to the printed page.
Contemporary crime and thriller novels continue to enjoy a sharp increase in popularity, with sales up by 19% between 2015 and 2017, according to data company Neilsen Bookscan. The genre has overtaken sales for general and literary fiction. Last year, 18.7 million crime books were sold in Britain.
David Jackson, creator of the Liverpool-based D. S. Nathan Cody novels. His new book Don’t Make a Sound is published next month.He told us: ‘More than any other genre, crime novels reinforce the ‘just world fallacy’ – the need in many people to believe that good will be rewarded and bad will be punished. ‘There is a strong puzzle or mystery element that people love to solve. People are fascinated by evil, wickedness and the macabre.’
Fellow thriller author Rebecca Bradley, a former police detective, agrees.
‘The world is in so much turmoil at the moment that I think readers need the resolution that crime fiction gives them because there is no closure or completion in the real world and there doesn’t seem to be any in sight. At least with a good book you can immerse yourself in all the bad stuff and see the good guy come out on top and I think people really need that right now,’ she reckons.
Big sellers in 2017 included long term household names like Lee Child and Dan Brown, but also those emerging in the last handful of years, such as Shari Lapena and Claire Mackintosh.
‘The bad guy generally gets their comeuppance, whereas in real life, it doesn’t always work that way….readers like to play armchair detective, they try to figure out who the bad guy is before the protagonist does,’ says Rebecca.
‘Readers want to understand what drives others (and sometimes themselves) to do such things,’ adds David.
Don’t Make A Sound by David Jackson is published by Bonnier Zaffre on 3 May; the book launch is at Waterstones Liverpool ONE on the same day. Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley is published 8 May.
- Dead Girls – Abigail Tarttelin
We’re told that Abigail Tarttelin’s new novel Dead Girls is perfect for fans of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, the 2016 debut from Joanna Cannon. Goats and Sheep explored the nature of childhood curiosity, and whilst Dead Girls certainly encompasses that – our protagonist, eleven year old Thera, is determined to find the killer of her best friend, Billie, and sees no reason why her goal is not fully achievable – this book quickly takes a decidedly more sinister turn.
Dead Girls, as the title suggests, starts in dark waters and sails even deeper into them. On the surface the plot where Thera, with the help of a Ouji board and the spirits of four murdered girls plus Billie’s ghost hunting the killer has all the hallmarks of a classic episode of Scooby Doo, we’re confronted, abruptly, with questions about morality, doing the right thing, and the some might say the natural human instinct for revenge following grief, loss and violent injustice.
The need for revenge is temporary, most of us rein it in, yet author Tarttelin has Thera pursuing revenge with a frightening degree of logic.
‘In Dead Girls, Thera pursues revenge… I’m not saying it’s not justified, but note that I am using a child to explore this notion, because vengeance, anger, hatred are all childish notions. As a feminist, I believe in victory, and I believe in doing what is productive, and what leads to progress,’ Abigail says. ‘I don’t believe in safe spaces, or that the opposite side is evil. I believe I am capable of living in a frightening world, and that reaching across the aisle with understanding, grace and a little humour, makes me a victor and not a victim.’
‘Thera is a victor. She may or may not succeed, but she sets out to become one. And even when you think it’s over, you can tell by her demeanour that it’s just begun. It’s how I want all women to be.’
Dead Girls is dedicated to the dead and missing girls, UNICEF citing statistics that every ten minutes, an adolescent girl dies a violent death, and without giving anything away, it feels like all women and girls’ collective anger over the stats and #metoo and #timesup, and the gender pay gap and all the other violent and injustices against women have reached a violent conclusion in Dead Girls.
‘I wrote Dead Girls for the girls who didn’t make it,’ the author adds, simply. ‘It’s a story where the dead girls have a chance to even the score.’
The image of dead girls as angelic victims is a popular cliché, and the purer and nicer the victim, the more deserving she is of our sympathy, and of justice.
‘…sickeningly, we still calculate a woman’s worth by her purity. In Dead Girls, our heroine Thera makes the point that it isn’t necessary to canonize girls to mourn their death…I’m very anti- the phrase, “good girl”. What a terrible thing to teach a child to be! How can we blame the patriarchy for holding us back if the very lesson we teach girls is to be good, obedient, and not get out of line?’
- Dead Girls is published on 3 May by Mantle / Pan Macmillan
- New poetry collections from Kate Tempest and John Cooper Clarke
Writer and performer Kate Tempest will publish her third book of poetry, Running Upon The Wires, on 20 September. The collection charts the end of a relationship and the beginning of a new one, via formal poems, spoken songs, fragments, vignettes and ballads. It is Tempest’s first book of free-standing poetry since 2014’s Hold Your Own. Her debut collection, Everything Speaks in its Own Way, was self published in 2012 .
Tempest was nominated for the 2014 Mercury Music Prize for her album Everybody Down and nominated for a Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist earlier this year for Let Them Eat Chaos.
This autumn, just in time for Chrimbo, John Cooper Clarke is to bring out his first collection of poetry since 1981’s Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt. And that’s not all. In 2019 we are to expect an autobiography. The rights to both books were, predictably, understandably, subject to a hotly contested auction, the rights bought by Picador.
The autobiography covers Cooper Clarke’s extraordinary life, and in it he talks about his passions including Elvis films (he famously chose this as his specialist subject in Celebrity Mastermind), Arthur Rimbaud, football, horse racing, The Simpsons, The Sweeney, and politics.
Dr John Cooper Clarke is at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 22 Nov
- What do you think about when you think of nothing? Children’s Laureate Roscoe Lecture
The current Children’s Laureate Lauren Child comes to Liverpool in May to give a lecture on creativity.
It is increasingly accepted that a lack of creative outlet has a negative impact on our mental health – but while children learn through playing, we don’t let ourselves have this space as adults. Idle time to experiment and enjoy – to do things for the sheer pleasure of doing them has been squeezed out of our lives and, Lauren will argue, we need it back,
Lauren Child is a multi-award-winning, bestselling writer and artist. She is the creator of many much-loved characters, including Clarice Bean (this series has sold over 6 million copies worldwide), Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola.
Lauren is a passionate advocate for visual literacy and the importance of quality picture books for children, and encouraging creativity in children and adults.
Previous Children’s Laureates have included Malorie Blackman, Jacqueline Wilson, and Michael Rosen.
The lecture will take place on Thursday 31 May 2018 in St Georges Hall, Liverpool.
Other literary events this month:
- 1 May An Evening with Kate Mosse: Thornton Hall Hotel &Spa (Linghams)
- 4 May Jonathan Harvey Discusses The Years She Stole: Waterstones, Liverpool ONE
- 9 May Crime Writers Sharon Bolton & Mary Torjussen In Discussion: Waterstones, Liverpool ONE
- Writing on the Wall festival takes place in various venues across Liverpool throughout May
Campaign to save Quick Reads
The popular and vital adult literacy campaign, Quick Reads, is due to shut after an18-month search for a funding sponsor failed.
Quick Reads publishes short, quality, accessible books by well known authors to boost reading amongst members of marginalised groups.
Reading for pleasure and increased literacy has been linked to a reduction in the symptoms of depression, yet statistics say16% of adults (around 5.8 million people) in England and Northern Ireland score at the lowest level of proficiency in literacy. Unemployed adults are twice as likely to have weak literacy skills as those in full-time employment.
This year’s Quick Reads list includes novels by Kit De Waal, Dorothy Koomson and Mark Billingham.
4.8 million books have been distributed through the initiative since its inception in 2006, they are available in libraries – leading to 3 million loans since the scheme began in 2006 – and from major retailers.
Help raise awareness of Quick Reads‘ need for a sponsor: Tweet with #SaveQuickReads.
- Bookworm of the month: Ryan Murphy, musician.
Getintothis: What is your favourite book, Ryan? And why?
There are an abundance of brilliant books in the world so far – too many to choose just one. As with song-writers, I like to take the time to absorb as much of an author’s work as I can get my hands on. Some of my favourite novelists are Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Henry Miller, Haruki Murakarmi and Hermann Hesse. I also like the work of graphic novelists such as Alan Moore, Alison Bechdel and Adrian Tomine.
Blog-writer Maria Popova (@brainpicker on Twitter) provides a superb source of literary insight and recommendations. It was through her blog I discovered Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau.
Walden is an autobiographical declaration of independence. Thoreau‘s voyage into the woods is one of spiritual discovery. He encounters ‘self-reliance’ and shines a light on the values of solitude.
I first read Walden in 2010, during my first year of university studying Popular Music in Liverpool – one hundred and fifty-six years after it was first published – ah, the power of the written word! On the first page of my battered old copy, I have underlined the following sentence:
“Perhaps these pages are more particularly addressed to poor students.”
Upon reading this, I remember thinking, this book must have been written for me. On its umpteenth re-reading, Thoreau‘s words remain relevant and powerful. Survival in the woods depends on routine, patience and hard work. Clear-mindedness and a strong kinship with nature are also key.
Films like Into The Wild, and more recently Captain Fantastic, have drawn on the themes discussed in Walden, but none, in my opinion, have dealt with the dichotomy between one’s serenity and the trappings of our modern society as genuinely as Thoreau.
Walden has been and will continue to be an enormous inspiration in my life. I even bought the t-shirt (see attached photograph)! Capitalist confession though this may be, wearing it reminds me of time I have spent and will spend reading; of the importance of solitude in this busy, hyper-connected world.
Getintothis: What book are you enjoying at the moment, or is there one that’s had an impact on you recently?
I have just finished The Beach by Alex Garland (absolutely great, infuriatingly; he was only twenty-five when he wrote it!), and I’m currently reading The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz… – the collection is a tremendously inspiring read!…before you go and read something else, here’s another quote from Walden.
“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage.”
A tad dated perhaps, but a beautiful sentiment nonetheless.’
Ryan Murphy is singer, songwriter and guitarist in Hooton Tennis Club and the newly formed Seatbelts, along with James Madden. Seatbelts released a single, Hey, Hey Tiger, on Rooftop Records in March and bring out an EP Songs For Vonnegut in May. They play Getintothis’ Deep Cuts night at Buyers Club, Liverpool on 3 May, and Sound City