The idea of this blog is to facilitate the love of reading by collecting news about new books, or sometimes good old books. It is also dedicated to stamping out the scourge of e-books, Kindles, Kobo's, i-Pads, and all other such abominations.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Welcome to Thorasbook

There are many problems in life but the one that this blog addresses is one of the most delicious: namely WHAT DO WE READ NEXT? And we mean, what BOOK, printed on paper with ink and bound with glue, not any cancer-causing, eyesight-destroying, short-attention-span-pandering battery-using gadget that serves up digits for a new generation that probably spends most of its time time playing mindless computer games on their i-Pads while only pretending they are reading a book. Is true book reading a dying art? NOT FOR US! We just want to cram as many great reads into our lives as we can. So many books, so little time....

Monday, December 09, 2013

31 True Stereotypes of Habitual Readers

From grade school onwards, avid readers get a lot of flak. This may be because reading is one of the most solitary pleasures; it's not an obvious means of bonding with peers (even though, duh, reading connects us with other people and cultures). Most sweeping generalizations about book lovers are completely untrue: We all wear glasses, our heads are always in the clouds, and we're usually overcome with crippling awkwardness when we're forced to socialize. On the other hand, some stereotypes seem to be accurate: We're hoarders, we idealize the lives of authors, and, no surprise here, we spend a whole lot of time in bookstores. These qualities are nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, they should be embraced! Here are 31 absolutely true, and absolutely wonderful stereotypes about book lovers: 1. You never leave home without a book. 2. In fact, you may or may not have been known to show up at restaurants, movie theaters, and bars, with a book in tow. 3. The idea of moving is a profound source of stress, if only because you can't imagine sorting, packing, and lifting your stacks of prized hardcovers. 4. This might be because you have issues with letting go of your prized editions, and could probably be diagnosed as a hoarder. reading pile of books 5. In fact, you'd rather buy a new copy of a book for a friend than let her borrow your personal copy... 6. ...because everyone knows there's nothing worse than bent spines and dog-eared pages, that is, if you ever even SEE the book again. bent pages book 7. But that doesn't stop you from being obnoxiously pushy and opinionated about your favorite books. 8. Holidays are just another excuse to share classics and hidden gems with your friends and family; never mind their looks of disappointment upon receiving War and Peace instead of the latest gadgets, or even, like, a cool tie. 9. Some people have favorite basketball teams; you have favorite translations. 10. In fact, if authors had trading cards, you'd collect them all. hemingway 11. Author biographies and Wikipedia pages are your celebrity tabloids... 12. ...although part of you may only be interested in how famous writers became so well-loved, because you secretly know that you yourself are only one page away from starting the Great American Novel. writing novel 13. Bad movie adaptations have the potential to ruin your entire summer. 14. Finding a typo in a book is the equivalent of hearing nails screech across a blackboard. 15. Forget freshly-baked cookies; your favorite smell is a musty, old book. old books 16. You have strong, unwavering opinions about e-readers versus physical books... 17. But regardless of your stance, you poured one out when Borders finally shut down... 18. And were on the welcoming committee when the new indie bookstore showed up in your neighborhood. 19. You cringe when you peruse airline bookstores. The trashy paperbacks! The terrible translations! The horror! (That doesn't stop you from buying a new book for the plane, though). reading book airplane 20. Packing lightly can be an issue; can you really be expected to pack all of your reading material in just two carry-ons? 21. Vicinity to a great bookstore or library is definitely a bigger real estate perk than exposed brick. Location, location, location! 22. Some of your favorite, happiest moments as a child were reading books with your parents. lots of books moving homes 23. Some people rescue stray animals; you rescue books. Stumbling upon a copy of a classic that you already own, abandoned on a stoop or thoughtlessly strewn on a garage sale table, inevitably leads to the "can we keep it? can we, can we?" talk. 24. You fantasize about meeting a romantic interest in a bookstore... man woman bookstore 25. And you always judge your potential significant others based on their bookshelves. Atlas Shrugged is more of a red flag than bad manners. 26. You're shocked, confused and disappointed when your life doesn't follow a logical narrative arc. "It wasn't supposed to happen this way!" you sigh when your friend cancels dinner plans, and then proceed to hop into bed to read your favorite book for the eighth time. 27. "So, what do you for fun?" is an anxiety-inducing question. Apparently, most people don't really think reading is all that fun. 28. Look, carrying The Goldfinch around all day is good enough of a work out... book nerd 29. You think audiobooks are perfectly viable road trip soundtracks. 30. You took a personal day when the latest installment in your favorite series came out. 31. ...and your ideal Friday night involves wine, a comfy chair, and getting lost in a great book. Courtesy Huffington Post

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Vancouver Island Dominates Booker List

Two novels written by Canadians – one set in goldrush California, the other in Second World War Europe – join four British titles on the shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize.

Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, about a pair of squabbling, conflicted and murderous siblings on the 19th-century Western frontier, is published by Toronto’s House of Anansi. DeWitt, who’s also a screenwriter and currently lives in Portland, Ore., was born on Vancouver Island.

The island has produced the other shortlisted Canadian, Esi Edugyan, who lives in Victoria. Her novel Half Blood Blues, released in Canada this weekend, tells the story of a black German trumpeter who goes missing after being arrested by Nazis at the start of the Second World War, and the mystery of his disappearance that stretches on for decades and embroils his former bandmates. The novel was supposed to be published by Key Porter Books, but when that firm collapsed earlier this year, it was snapped up by Toronto’s Thomas Allen Publishers.

Also on the shortlist are Julian Barnes, hoping to be a bride after three turns as a bridesmaid on the Booker shortlist, with his novel The Sense of an Ending; Jamrach’s Menagerie, by Carol Birch; Pigeon English, by first-time novelist Stephen Kelman; and Snowdrops, by another first-time novelist, A.D. Miller. In a surprise move, one of the favoured novels on the 13-title longlist – Alan Hollinghurst’s bestseller The Stranger’s Child – did not make the final cut.

The announcement was made in London today by the chair of the jury, former M15 chief and current author of spy novels, Stella Rimington. “Inevitably it was hard to whittle down the longlist to six titles,” Rimington said in a statement. “We were sorry to lose some great books. But, when push came to shove, we quickly agreed that these six very different titles were the best.”

The winner will be announced at a gala event in London on Oct. 18, and will receive both £50,000 ($80,000 Cdn) and a very nice dinner.

2011 Booker Longlist

Here it is, the world's most prestigious fiction prize most useful list. The shortlist and the final winner are almost always arbitray to say the least but the longlist can usually be trusted to gather together most of the best runners in the British and Commonwealth fiction race. Remember though, no Yanks. Somebody should do a major prize for the best book of fiction in English or English translation worldwide and start with a 50-book longlist. Finding books worth reading is becoming evr more the issue as people like Thora disappear from their storefronts on Main Street.

The Man Booker Prize Longlist, 2012:
Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending (Winner)
Sebastian Barry - On Canaan's Side
Carol Birch - Jamrach's Menagerie
Patrick deWitt - The Sisters Brothers
Esi Edugyan - Half Blood Blues
Yvette Edwards - A Cupboard Full of Coats
Alan Hollinghurst - The Stranger's Child
Stephen Kelman - Pigeon English
Patrick McGuinness - The Last Hundred Days
A.D. Miller - Snowdrops
Alison Pick - Far to Go
Jane Rogers - The Testament of Jessie Lamb
D.J. Taylor - Derby Day

Speaking of that, here's a link to all the Booker shortlists since it started. Plenty good reading there!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Funny but Smart: The 2010 Booker Winner

Howard Jacobson is tonight (Tuesday 12 October) named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Finkler Question, published by Bloomsbury.

London author and columnist Howard Jacobson has been longlisted twice for the prize, in 2006 for Kalooki Nights and in 2002 for Who's Sorry Now, but has never before been shortlisted.

The Finkler Question is a novel about love, loss and male friendship, and explores what it means to be Jewish today.

Said to have ‘some of the wittiest, most poignant and sharply intelligent comic prose in the English language', The Finkler Question has been described as ‘wonderful' and ‘richly satisfying' and as a novel of ‘full of wit, warmth, intelligence, human feeling and understanding'.

This is the third Man Booker winner published by Bloomsbury. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood won the prize in 2000 and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje in 1992. The publisher has had six shortlisted books including Cats Eye (1989), Alias Grace (1996) and Oryx and Crake (2003) by Margaret Atwood, Lies of Silence (1990) by Brian Moore, Crossing the River (1993) by Caryl Phillips and The Map of Love (1999) by Ahdaf Soueif.

Sir Andrew Motion, Chair of the judges, made the announcement, which was broadcast by the BBC from the awards dinner at London's Guildhall. Peter Clarke, Chief Executive of Man, presented Howard Jacobson with a cheque for £50,000.

Andrew Motion comments ‘The Finkler Question is a marvellous book: very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle. It is all that it seems to be and much more than it seems to be. A completely worthy winner of this great prize.'

Over and above his prize of £50,000, Howard Jacobson can expect a huge increase in sales and recognition worldwide. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer-bound edition of their book.

The judging panel for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Fiction was: Andrew Motion (Chair), former Poet Laureate; Rosie Blau, Literary Editor of the Financial Times; Deborah Bull, formerly a dancer, now Creative Director of the Royal Opera House as well as a writer and broadcaster; Tom Sutcliffe, journalist, broadcaster and author and Frances Wilson, biographer and critic.

Sales of the books longlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize have been stronger than ever before, with sales over 45% higher than last year.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Guardian First Book Award Longlist

Best Firsts According to the Guardian

The past vies with the future and poetry with prose on the longlist of the 2010 Guardian first book award, which was announced today. The 10 debut titles in the running for the £10,000 award range from dystopian fiction to popular psychology, and span the globe from Somalia to Finland, Kashmir to Winston Churchill's family home in Kent.

The longlist


Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt (Fig Tree)

Boxer, Beetle by Ned Beauman (Sceptre)

Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam (Harvill)

Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman (Cape)

Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed (HarperCollins)


Bomber County: The Lost Airmen of World War Two by Daniel Swift (Hamish Hamilton)

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz (Portobello)

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper by Alexandra Harris (Thames & Hudson)

Curfewed Night: A Frontline Memoir of Life, Love and War in Kashmir by Basharat Peer (HarperCollins)


The Floating Man by Katharine Towers (Picador)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Booker Longlist: The Long Song Is No Long Shot

Bookmakers William Hill have installed Andrea Levy as the favourite to win the 2010 Man Booker Prize following the announcement of the longlist today. David Mitchell, is the second favourite in the betting for his novel The Thousand Autumns Of Zacob de Zoet.

"This is one of the hardest longlists that we have had to price up, but the early stand out is Andrea Levy and it will be very interesting to see who the money comes in for," said Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe.

William Hill odds - to win Man Booker Prize:

4/1 Andrea Levy - The Long Song

9/2 David Mitchell - The Thousand Autumns of Zacob de Zoet

5/1 Helen Dunmore - The Betrayal

6/1 Rose Tremain - Trespass

7/1 Peter Carey - Parrott and Oliver in America

8/1 Howard Jacobson - The Finkler Question

8/1 Paul Murray - Skippy Dies

12/1 Emma Donoghue - Room

12/1 Tom McCarthy - C

12/1 Alan Warner - The Stars in the Bright Sky

16/1 Damon Galgut - In a Strange Room

16/1 Lisa Moore - February

16/1 Christos Tsiolkas The Slap

Man Booker Dozen Announced

The judges for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Fiction today, Tuesday 27 July, announced the longlist for the prize, the leading literary award in the English speaking world.

A total of 138 books, 14 of which were called in by the judges, were considered for the 'Man Booker Dozen' longlist of 13 books.

The longlist includes:

Peter Carey Parrot and Oliver in America (Faber and Faber)

Emma Donoghue Room (Pan MacMillan - Picador)

Helen Dunmore The Betrayal (Penguin - Fig Tree)

Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Grove Atlantic - Atlantic Books)

Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)

Andrea Levy The Long Song

(Headline Publishing Group - Headline Review)

Tom McCarthy C (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

David Mitchell The Thousand Autumns of Zacob de Zoet (Hodder & Stoughton - Sceptre)

Lisa Moore February (Random House - Chatto & Windus)

Paul Murray Skippy Dies (Penguin - Hamish Hamilton)

Rose Tremain Trespass (Random House - Chatto & Windus)

Christos Tsiolkas The Slap (Grove Atlantic - Tuskar Rock)

Alan Warner The Stars in the Bright Sky

(Random House - Jonathan Cape)

The chair of judges, Andrew Motion, comments: "Here are thirteen exceptional novels -books we have chosen for their intrinsic quality, without reference to the past work of their authors. Wide-ranging in their geography and their concern, they tell powerful stories which make the familiar strange and cover an enormous range of history and feeling. We feel confident that they will provoke and entertain."

Monday, July 05, 2010

This Just In: American Novel Dead

Book pundits in the United States are being urged to line up on one side or other this summer: Is the American novel finally dead or not? The row began when the controversial critic Lee Siegel wrote a piece for the New York Observer declaring that the American public no longer talk about novels and that this creative form, once so full of fire, has lost its spark for ever.

"For about a million reasons," Siegel claimed, "fiction has now become a museum-piece genre most of whose practitioners are more like cripplingly self-conscious curators or theoreticians than writers. For better or for worse, the greatest storytellers of our time are the non-fiction writers."

As the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction, awarded on Thursday in London, recognised the importance of the new book by American journalist Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, the debate Siegel has re-started raged on in books pages and on literary websites. Will American fiction ever compete again with non-fiction for contemporary relevance, critics in both camps are asking.

Siegel's assault on America's novelists was prompted by the publication of the New Yorker's annual "20 Under 40" list of new writers, but it has exposed a bitterness at the heart of the world of books.

Railing against "the New Yorker's self-promoting, vulgar list" of favoured newcomers, Siegel smears the whole literary pack as being damagingly self-referential and led by the nose by publicists. Calling for new talent and new genres, he laments the fact that nobody bothered to question the "20 Under 40" selection.

The British critic James Wood, now perhaps the leading voice in literary journalism in America, is at the centre of the row. For Siegel, the prominence and fame of Wood – who writes for the New York Times – sums up the current crisis in fiction.

"May the gods bless my former New Republic colleague, and may he keep reviewing novels for another hundred years, but the very emergence of Mr Wood signals the decline of fiction, his driving passion," Siegel claims, going on to argue that the death of an artistic form is evident when the analysis of it has become so top-heavy.

But the literati have hit back. They argue Siegel is using his contentious thesis to get at a rival publication and a rival critic. A riposte published in the Los Angeles Times first pointed out that other journals had criticised the New Yorker's selection of writers and then took on Siegel's theory, point by point. Another response to Siegel carried online in the Huffington Post last week went so far as to suggest it is not the American novel we should mourn, but the American literary scene.

Critics like Siegel, it urges, "have refused to even open the curtains in their ivory towers to see the wonderful, burgeoning literary world that has sprung up around them. They are dismissive of book blogs, of genre fiction, of pretty much anything that, say, wouldn't be covered in the New Yorker".

Declaring the death of the novel is now almost as much of a literary tradition as the novel itself. American writers, proud of their canon – from Mark Twain, Herman Melville and Ernest Hemingway, to John Steinbeck, Joseph Heller and Saul Bellow – are, alternately, eager to kill off the genre and exasperated by their long wait for the next big writer.

Back in 2003, a column by renowned critic Harold Bloom decried the National Book Foundation's decision to give Stephen King an award for a "Distinguished Contribution to American Letters". Attacking JK Rowling in the same article, Bloom suggested that good literature could never be as popular as King's horror stories and Rowling's Harry Potter books. Andrew Marr, writing in this newspaper in 2001, also declared the British novel dead.

For the author Geoff Dyer, speaking this weekend, the problem now lies much more in the flawed category of literary fiction. "I don't have the patience to read novels these days unless the author has either jettisoned most of the stuff that is considered essential to novel-writing or is a complete and absolute master, like Alan Hollinghurst, say," he said.

"So-called literary fiction seems a particular degraded category in the UK these days, often devoid of any and all things literary in so far as the word suggests some kind of value judgment." But the publisher Jamie Byng, head of Canongate, said Siegel's reasoning was "preposterous", adding: "There is important, challenging thought-provoking fiction out there, just as there is non-fiction. I just don't buy any broad-brushstroke statement like 'fiction is dead'."

It could be that Siegel simply hoped to shake novelists up. The critic Frank Kermode once said the novel was a form that revived itself periodically. "The special fate of the novel, considered as a genre, is to be always dying; and the main reason for this is that the most intelligent novelists and readers are always conscious of the gap, consisting of absurdity, that grows between the world as it seems to be and the world proposed in novels," Kermode wrote. As a result, writers, from Jane Austen and Laurence Sterne to JD Salinger, plan to write an anti-novel and then end up, Kermode said, pointing "the way to a new novel, a new convention".

Beryl Bainbridge dies, aged 75

The grande dame of British literature passed away in the early hours of this morning, her literary agent has confirmed.

Writer Beryl Bainbridge at home Grande dame of British literature ... Beryl Bainbridge.

Maverick, unique and horribly funny, according to her fellow authors: the world of British literature felt an emptier place today following the death of Beryl Bainbridge, aged 75.

She was admitted to hospital last week following a recurrence of cancer, and died suddenly in the early hours of this morning.

One of the grandes dames of the UK's literary scene, Bainbridge was a prolific writer whose short, dark comic novels – which invariably included a streak of tragedy - landed her five shortlistings for the Man Booker prize (and the label of perennial Booker bridesmaid), made her a two-time winner of the Whitbread award and saw her awarded a DBE in 2000.

"She was a wonderful writer in the tradition of British petit guignol that included Evelyn Waugh and Muriel Spark: coolly stylish, meticulous, beady-eyed and horribly funny. I would have wished her more injury time, but her record stands," said the Man Booker prize-winning author John Banville. "I met [her] on a couple of occasions and was much taken with her manner of stark lugubriousness tempered with high and subversive irony - just like her books."

"Beryl had an absolutely original voice: she was a serious comedian, all of whose novels ended tragically," said the biographer Michael Holroyd. "She presented herself sometimes as a clown, an entertainer, but behind that mask was a committed novelist. She was unique."

"What was so splendid about her was that she was completely maverick," agreed the novelist Penelope Lively, winner of the Booker and Carnegie awards. "When she first began you were very aware of her fresh, startling voice. I remember coming across her first novels and thinking 'goodness, I haven't read anything like this before'."

"Very sad," tweeted Margaret Atwood of her "old pal" Bainbridge this afternoon. "Wondrous original, great sport, loved her books. Hope she has champagne in heaven & a smoke..."

Bainbridge's literary career can be divided neatly in two: her earlier novels, from The Dressmaker and Sweet William to Guardian fiction prize winner The Bottle Factory Outing, drew on her own life – her upbringing in Liverpool, her time working as an actor (including a stint on Coronation Street), her life in Camden in the 1960s. She then began to write historical novels, tackling Scott of the Antarctic in The Birthday Boys, Samuel Johnson in According to Queeney and the voyage of the Titanic in Every Man for Himself, and died with 18 novels, two collections of short stories and a handful of plays for stage and television to her name.

She was, said Lively, "so versatile". Her historical novels "were completely different from her earlier books. She had a distinctive voice, but also a wonderfully pliable and versatile one".

Bainbridge was "putting the finishing touches" to a novel – her 19th – which she had been working on for the last six months when she died, said Ed Wilson at her literary agency Johnson & Alcock. Little, Brown will publish the book, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress – about the assassination of Bobby Kennedy - next year.

It's "fantastic - more like her early, more comic work", said Richard Beswick, her editor at Little, Brown, who called her "a one-off, a total original, a legend that deserves to be a legend". "I don't think anybody else writes like her [although] she's got elements of other people - bits of Harold Pinter and Kafka, that morbidly humorous take on life, that very dark humour," he added.

Known to chain-smoke while she wrote her novels (at an ancient computer), Bainbridge gave up smoking in 2004 but took it up again - "though I smoke far fewer now - about six a day", she told the Observer last year. She was also a keen whisky drinker, getting through half a bottle a week. "It began as a social thing because if you go out to launches you were always offered a drink," she said. "I never saw the point of drinking wine, because you have to drink so much to get that feeling, so I'd always have a whisky."

Lively said that Bainbridge "was always good fun at a party - and unexpected, because you never knew what she was going to say or do".

"I have huge admiration and respect for her," she added. "She was someone who, when she entered a room, you thought 'oh good, there's Beryl'."

Bainbridge told the Guardian in 2007 of how she had become convinced that she would die at the age of 71, like her parents and grandparents. "My generation weren't expected to get as old as this; they all died off quite soon," she said. "I've always been interested in death."

In an interview with the Guardian in 2005, Bainbridge said that she had "everything ready" for her death. "In files. I'm extremely ... no, I'm very ordered in that sort of way. I think it's important. You have to know where things are and how and what."