Five things that we loved this week
Our literary round-up of the last seven days
A Ferrante Fever with a stuffed crust, please
Ferrante fever has hit and it is hot, readers. Did you know you can order a Ferrante pizza now, in pizzerias in Naples? Topped with fierce, intelligent anger, slices of passion and more than a sprinkle of honesty. No, alright, I don’t know the toppings on a Ferrante - but they do exist. Naples is abuzz with tourism – and with locals celebrating the enigmatic and elusive Neapolitan author in every way they can. Visitors are opting to explore not just the usual, tourist-friendly spots – they are seeking out the shady backstreets and more run-down quarters of the city, all in a bid to experience the world of Ferrante’s fantastic novels. If you can’t make the trip, don’t fret – the novels are set to be televised too.
Lord of the rhymes
Two poems lost to history have been unearthed once again – and they happen to be by none other than the creator of Middle Earth himself, J.R.R. Tolkien. The two poems had been published in a local Oxford school magazine, while Tolkien was a professor at Oxford University, and subsequently forgotten, until a Tolkien scholar sought them out. One, The Shadow Man tells of an odd character who ‘dwelt alone’ and had no shadow. The other, Noel, is a typically Tolkienesque take on Christmas, replete with hills and dales and ‘lords of snow’, dark halls and vast fires. The poems will most likely be added to future, revised editions of Tolkien’s poetry.
I like big books and I cannot lie
War and Peace - the book - is currently on the Booksellers's top 50 list for the first time since the list began. This is incredible. The enormous (and exquisitely written) door-stop of a novel has long been cited in the top ten of books people never get round to reading – or lie about reading - so what has changed? The BBC have clearly drummed up a storm of interest by their lavish, and racy adaptation, which reviewers in Russia have described as a ‘classic with cleavage’. Of course there was more to to its success than just nudity, the adaptation has been praised for the quality of acting, the scriptwriting and for capturing a ‘glimpse into the Russian soul’ too. Well, if you are going to read enormous books, why stop at War and Peace? We recommend: Gravity’s Rainbow, Ulysses, The Way of The Swann and Infinite Jest too.
Reading is the elixir of youth
A recent study by a British Medical journal, BMJ Open, has discovered that book clubs can extend your life. However – and this is a big however – this only applies to the recently retired. Essentially, the study found attending a book group reduces your chances of dying in the first six years post-retirement. Regular social interaction is vital in retirement, so of course similar clubs will have the same benefits. But as anyone can start a book club, it is a great way to stay social. So retirees, if you are keen on starting a book club, but unsure which books to choose, why , we have our very own Waterstones Book Club titles, so why not read one every couple of weeks?
The Carnegie Hall of children’s fiction prizes
The CILIP Carnegie Medal is the oldest and most renowned Children’s Fiction prize, the winner of which receives a gold medal, but, uniquely, they also receive £500 of books to donate to their favourite library. The award was established by an industrialist, Andrew Carnegie, who famously said, after using libraries as a child, "If ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries." Well, that is precisely what happened and Carnegie set up over 2,800 libraries, in the English speaking world, in his lifetime. Good old Carnegie. The award has just announced their longlist, which, we are excited to see, features Terry Pratchett’s last book, The Shepherd’s Crown and Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree. The shortlist will be announced on the 15th of March.
We could tell you the year is 1944, that the main character is called Tyrone Slothrop and that he has a problem because bombs are falling across Europe and crashing to earth at the exact locations of his sexual conquests. But that doesn't really begin to cover it.
A Tolkien Treasury: Stories, Poems, and Illustrations Celebrating the Author and His World (Paperback)
Stories, poems, illustrations, and essays by luminaries that celebrate the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Follows a man's thoughts and dreams during a single night.
Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength. This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.
The lives of Pierre, Prince Andrei and Natasha are changed forever as conflict rages throughout the early nineteenth century. This book entwines love, death and determinism with Russia's war with Napoleon and its effects on those swept up by the terror it brings.