In Search of Good Books

Gifts for Christmas (and other occasions) have traditionally included books. Many people prefer physical books, even if they buy an e-book version as well. E-book sales are apparently no longer rising, while print book sales are holding up, so it looks as if they will continue to make great presents.

Book blogs and more

One problem is knowing what to buy. Newspapers and magazines have reduced the number of books they review, while public libraries are buying fewer books or closing (can you believe that our own brilliant local library was demolished to make way for a 99P store?). Most chain bookstores have changed drastically in the last few years, with far fewer titles being stocked and an emphasis on celebrity books. Perhaps you are lucky to have a good independent bookstore close by, but another very good way of finding out about new and old books is to sign up to some book blogs. There are many wonderful people out there who are reading books as independent reviewers and posting comments on their own blogs in an entertaining way. Mentioned here are a few blogs that we like very much, with a little bit of bias since we have been reviewed favourably by each of them at some time! Many of them link to one another, so you will get drawn to other blogs and are sure to encounter books that will have you reading non-stop forever. – run by Louise Owens in Australia. The blog says that she ‘shares her passion for great books by reviewing 10 books each month that she has loved on a particular theme’. In addition, there are many author interviews and beautiful photographs. – subtitled ‘a reader’s journey’ and run by Lory from New Hampshire who says: ‘I can’t imagine my life without books’. Coinciding with Hallowe’en, this blog joined in with the ‘Witch Week 2015’, a celebration of fantasy books and authors, while back in August (as part of a wider event ‘Austen in August’) Lory did a post called ‘Ten Books that I’d Put on the Syllabus for Austen in August’ – one of which was ours. – in the description of herself, this reviewer says that ‘I am the girl who frequently risks missing her train stop because I’m caught in a book. I am the girl who feels nervous to leave the house without a book in her handbag and then another one on standby in case I finish the first one. I am the Girl with her Head in a Book.’ Who can resist?

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Of course, we can’t resist mentioning our own books, details of which are on our website. Many are in paperback, and the most recent are:

Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England (Abacus, ISBN 9780349138602). In north America, its title is Jane Austen’s England (Penguin, ISBN 9780143125723)

Jack Tar: The extraordinary lives of ordinary seamen in Nelson’s navy (Abacus, ISBN 9780349120348).

The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo (Abacus, ISBN 9780349119168). Published by Penguin in north America (ISBN 9780143113928)

Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle (Abacus, ISBN 0349116326). In north America, its title is Nelson’s Trafalgar (Penguin, ISBN 0143037951)

E-book versions of all the above are available, as well as of Empires of the Plain (Harper Perennial, on the decipherment of cuneiform, Afghanistan, Iraq and much more). There are foreign translations of some books – the latest one is for Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England, which will be published in China in about two years from now.