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Apr 06, 2020
If you’re looking for the best homeschooling books, about its basic principles or ideas to supplement things you’re doing, this list can help!
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Apr 06, 2020
Why BODY TALK is more relevant than ever: a look a the cover and description of BODY TALK, the third anthology edited by Kelly Jensen.
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Apr 06, 2020
There are resources for kids' book tastings, but what about the grown people? Here's a how-to for hosting a book tasting for adults at a public library.
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Apr 06, 2020
A daily roundup of the most interesting awesome and bookish links from around the web!
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Apr 06, 2020

The young Irish writer’s first novel is dry and sharp in its observation of twentysomething expat lives

I’m sorry. I really am. I know it’s frustrating that any new young female writer must find themselves compared to Sally Rooney. But I’m going to just get it out of the way, for Naoise Dolan is Irish, in her mid-20s, and her debut was previewed in literary magazine The Stinging Fly while Rooney edited it. But on this occasion, it’s more than just a question of biography: Dolan’s writing does genuinely occupy similar territory. There’s a certain dry, almost deadpan quality in her observation of the lives of her twentysomething characters – the complications of attraction, and the gap between what’s felt and what’s spoken; calmly articulated self-loathing, and precise capturing of class differences – that both authors nail down dead.

So lucky us, really. Exciting Times is a fun, snappy read – ordinarily, I’d say its short chapters could be torn through on your commute, but it’ll brighten lockdown too.

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Apr 06, 2020

Kicking off a series where writers revisit the book they loved most as a child, Sam Leith returns to a ‘sinister’ classic

‘Say! In the dark? Here in the dark? Would you, could you, in the dark?” Dr Seuss’s masterpiece – among his many masterpieces – is Green Eggs and Ham. It transfixed me as a child and it transfixes me now as I read it to my own children.

Perhaps the most haunting passage in it comes with those words. This demented little creature, desperate to press his unappetising brunch on the grouchy protagonist, is in a car, on a train, and that train is now hurtling through a distinctly cloacal tunnel. The egg-and-ham refuser teeters backwards on the bonnet of the car, retreating from the proffered plate. And those words: the cadence of them, the sinister whisper: here in the dark. It could be the strapline for a serial-killer movie starring Morgan Freeman, and here it is in the middle of a zany children’s book.

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Apr 05, 2020

Huckster, visionary – or a bit of both? An exhaustive new biography chases down the elusive punk promoter

Writing about Malcolm McLaren in 1978, his friend from art school Fred Vermorel described him as having “the vision of an artist, the heart of an anarchist and the imagination of a spiv”. It is still the most trenchant summation of a figure who, 10 years after his death and four decades on from the great punk disruption that he helped precipitate, remains oddly elusive in terms of his cultural importance. Paul Gorman’s exhaustive biography goes some way to explaining why this is the case.

The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren is a big book, nearly 900 pages long, and a detailed one, sometimes doggedly so. It traces a life that, by any standards, was eccentric and gleefully wayward. A self-styled cultural anarchist, who came of age in the political upheavals of the late 1960s, McLaren also modelled himself on old-school showbiz impresarios from the 1950s such as Larry Parnes, who controlled every aspect of the lives of the young singers on his books.

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Apr 05, 2020
The best deals of the day, curated by Book Riot.
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Apr 05, 2020

From Hilary Mantel to Kazuo Ishiguro and Marlon James to Sebastian Barry, writers share their favourite literary comforts

Author of American Wife and the forthcoming Rodham: What If Hillary Hadn’t Married Bill (Doubleday, May)

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Apr 05, 2020
Looking for a book to make you laugh, cry, and grow? Check out these 2020 new memoirs and personal essays that will take you on an emotional journey.
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Apr 05, 2020
Trom the spine-tingling to the rib-tickling, these are some of the best fiction podcasts you should get in your ears right now.
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Apr 05, 2020
An awesome daily roundup of the most interesting bookish links from around the web.
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Apr 05, 2020

Capturing the halcyon days of an artistic community on a Greek island in the 60s, this blissful novel of escapism is also a powerful meditation on art and sexuality

It’s unlikely Polly Samson knew that her fifth novel would be launched into a world teetering on the edge of the abyss, but there is something calculated about a book this sun-drenched coming out in early spring. Sitting in the shutdown, watching a grey mizzle of a day fade outside, A Theatre for Dreamers feels at once like a gift and an escape route. It’s set on the dreamy Greek island of Hydra in 1960, focusing on the international bohemian set that surrounded the authors Charmian Clift and George Johnston. Prominent among the artists, poets and scroungers are a Norwegian couple – Axel Jensen and Marianne Ihlen – and a young, charismatic Canadian by the name of Leonard Cohen.

With such a vivid, atmospheric setup, the book almost writes itself, but Samson has done something more than just wallow in the loveliness of it all. This novel will be a surefire summer hit, but it has a darkness and complexity that reward careful reading. Cohen and Marianne operate at tangents to the central story of the novel, which is narrated by the likable ingenue Erica, a novitiate novelist in her late teens whose mother’s dying wish was for her daughter to go off on an adventure. Erica’s mother lived under the heel of a primly dictatorial husband, although there is evidence of a secret life in her friendship with Clift and a squirrelled-away bequest that permits Erica, her brother Bobby and her boyfriend Jimmy to escape drab London for Greece. They come, as the irate and tubercular George Johnston puts it, “lured by our fantastically blue water and cheap rent to live out their carefree immorality away from prying city eyes”.

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Apr 05, 2020

Novelists are being attacked for telling stories about experiences that aren’t their own. But isn’t that the point of using the imagination?

Billed as the big page-turner of the season, My Dark Vanessa, American author Kate Elizabeth Russell’s first novel, is a tale for the Time’s Up generation. Its involving drama invites readers to look back again at any treasured youthful memories they may harbour of a past relationship with an older lover and ask: was it really all so pure and so romantic?

But her provocative book has also caused a stir, first in America and now in Britain, for a different reason. Like Jeanine Cummins, author of this year’s American Dirt, Russell has been repeatedly asked to defend her right to tell a story that is not her own.

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Apr 04, 2020

A timely study of the world’s growing sense of doom ranges from tourists in Chernobyl to Elon Musk’s plan to colonise Mars

While the publication dates of many books may have been pushed back in the light of the current crisis, this one is right on the money. Mark O’Connell’s quest to locate the various manifestations of our collective apocalypse-anxiety might have been written with the long hours of global lockdown in mind. “It was the end of the world, and I was sitting on the couch watching cartoons with my son,” he begins. He proceeds like Noah sensing rain in the air.

Related: Real estate for the apocalypse: my journey into a survival bunker

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Apr 04, 2020

Award-winning children’s book writer Jasbinder Bilan picks tales of exploration and empowerment

Q: My 11-year-old son has Asperger’s and finds relating to others and understanding social conventions very difficult. Which children’s novels would best give him an insight into how other people work?
Anonymous, 44, Cardiff

A: Jasbinder Bilan is the author of Asha & the Spirit Bird, winner of the 2019 Costa Children’s Book award. She writes:

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Apr 04, 2020

The award-winning author on her favourite dystopian fiction, why she’d like to meet Alice Munro, and her eerie new novel set during the 2008 financial crash

Emily St John Mandel is a Canadian novelist now residing in New York. Her fourth novel, the dystopian fiction of Station Eleven, propelled her to fame in 2014. It was a bestseller in both the UK and the US, winning the Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction, and nominations for the National Book Award and the Pen/Faulkner award. Her new novel is The Glass Hotel.

The Glass Hotel centres on the 2008 financial crash. Why was that a period you wanted to explore?
It’s a period in recent history that I remember so vividly. It was such an unsettling, chaotic time. In particular, I was fascinated by the Bernie Madoff story. The Glass Hotel is not about Bernie Madoff or his staff, his family or his investors. But it is the same crime in the novel. Madoff almost seemed like the embodiment of that era. There was such popular rage directed against him because we thought our economies were solid and it turned out to be something of a house of cards. And here was this fabulously wealthy conman who’d been gambling with retirement savings.

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Apr 04, 2020
The best book deals of the day, curated by Book Riot.
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Apr 04, 2020

The creators of the Gruffalo have produced a series of cartoons to encourage people to stay at home during the coronavirus crisis

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Apr 04, 2020
Comfort reading for when your period just knocks you out.
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Apr 04, 2020
Space isn't all it's cracked up to be.
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Apr 04, 2020

The children’s author talks about her latest, perhaps bravest, novel in which she tackles gay love for the first time – and shines a light on her own private life

“I can’t think of a book where there’s a woman born into a working-class background, who in her 70s is living a very comfortable, upper-middle-class sort of life; a woman who married at 19, had a baby at 21, was a policeman’s wife for years, but whose marriage broke up in late middle age and who became very well known for a time. She then met a woman and became very happy with her. There isn’t one!”

Former children’s laureate Jacqueline Wilson is rattling through the outline of her own autobiography – which she has no plans to write, although she did publish a “simplified” memoir for children, Jacky Daydream, in 2007. While her story – her rise from “perfectly ordinary” beginnings to become one of the most successful British children’s authors – is well known, the last chapter may come as surprise to her legion of fans.

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Apr 04, 2020

In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché; Ledger by Jane Hirshfield; I, Ursula by Ruth Stacey; Yves Bonnefoy: Prose edited by Stephen Romer, Anthony Rudolf and John Naughton


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Apr 04, 2020

From love affairs and hippiedom to life as a cultural ambassador – a comprehensive biography unpicks the great sitar player’s complex legacy

Forever photographed sitting cross-legged and clutching his sitar, with incense burning, Ravi Shankar has been credited with almost single-handedly spreading the age-long traditions of Indian classical music to the western world. He is renowned for his punishing work ethic and collaborations with George Harrison, Philip Glass and Yehudi Menuhin. This first authorised biography is the product of 25 years’ research and interviews. For fans of Shankar and Indian classical, Oliver Craske’s mighty work will surely be a delight.

It details Shankar’s career from a childhood spent performing as a dancer in his older brother Uday’s troupe to his tentative beginnings as a sitar soloist, training under guru Allauddin Khan. His fame soared during the hippy movement of the 1960s and he spent his twilight years as a recognised composer and Indian cultural ambassador. Craske has a deep understanding of the complex and nuanced traditions of Indian classical and emphasises throughout that “it is crucial to retain the Indian perspective”. He focuses not just on the virtuosic showmanship of speed and accuracy but rather “the very serene part of the music, the spiritual, devotional and soothing part”, as Shankar said.

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Apr 03, 2020

The story of an abusive relationship between a teacher and his pupil is intelligent, brave and painful to read

The literary exploration of sexual consent is nothing new, but the change in attitudes that allowed #MeToo to flourish has galvanised a new reckoning. The sexual abuse of children in the past is the razor-sharp tip of a huge iceberg that has often gone unnoticed and was mostly submerged. People who hardly knew they were victims are now telling their stories and, more significantly, their accusations are being listened to. France has recently been shaken by Vanessa Springora’s Consent, which describes her relationship in the 1980s with the prominent author Gabriel Matzneff. She was 14, he was 36 years older, but in the past, nobody seemed to mind when he declared and even published books about his sexual predilection for underage girls and boys.

In Kate Elizabeth Russell’s powerful debut novel, Vanessa Wyes is 15 when she becomes involved with a teacher at her Maine boarding school. At 42, Jacob Strane is neither young nor attractive, but Vanessa is only too willing to be pulled into what she believes is first love. Russell cleverly lures us inside the labyrinth of the teenage mind – hot with hormonal turmoil, pushing boundaries, craving admiration, breaking rules and obsessing about sex. Vanessa has never kissed a boy, but she welcomes the advances of her English teacher. Strane begins by touching her knee under the desk in class, progresses to furtive kisses and then they go to bed. “I’m going to ruin you,” he says, as if tormented. He praises her writing and quotes Nabokov – “My Dark Vanessa” comes from Pale Fire. He also gives her Lolita, which becomes such an obsession that she later confuses her own memories with those of “Lo and Humbert”.

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