Man Booker Prize Shortlist

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014 shortlist of six books has now been revealed! They’re all in stock, links below. Be the first to read them.

Paul O’Rourke, 40 year-old slightly curmudgeonly dentist, runs a thriving practice in New York. Yet he is discovering he needs more in his life than a steady income and the perfect mochaccino. But what?

As Paul tries to work out the meaning of life, a Facebook page and Twitter account appear in his name. What’s at first an outrageous violation of privacy soon becomes something more frightening: the possibility that the online “Paul” might be a better version of the man in the flesh. Who is doing this and will it cost Paul his sanity?

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

A love story unfolding over half a century between a doctor and his uncle’s wife. Taking its title from one of the most famous books in Japanese literature, written by the great haiku poet Basho, Flanagan’s novel has as its heart one of the most infamous episodes of Japanese history, the construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway in World War II.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

As a child, Rosemary used to talk all the time. So much so that her parents used to tell her to start in the middle if she wanted to tell a story. Now Rosemary has just started college and she barely talks at all. And she definitely doesn’t talk about her family.

J by Howard Jacobson

Set in the future, a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited,J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying.

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

Calcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is this note…


How to be Both by Ali Smith

A novel all about art’s versatility.  Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions.  There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s.  There’s the child of a child of the 1960s.  Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.


Chair of the 2014 judges, AC Grayling, commented on behalf of the judges:

‘We are delighted to announce our international shortlist. As the Man Booker Prize expands its borders, these six exceptional books take the reader on journeys around the world, between the UK, New York, Thailand, Italy, Calcutta and times past, present and future.

‘We had a lengthy and intensive debate to whittle the list down to these six.  It is a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English.’

House of Ashes by Monique Roffey #LeedsReadsRecommends

House of Ashes

House of Ashes by Monique Roffey is an absorbing tale written by an author who was born in Trinidad in 1965, and knows  Caribbean history well. House of Ashes, her fourth novel, is a thriller set in 1990 in a fictional Caribbean country called Sans Amen.

In an echo of Trinidad in 1970, when the uprising came close to toppling Trinidad’s prime minister Eric Williams,  the island’s national palace is stormed by a group of “badjohn” freedom fighters who hold the prime minister and his staff captive.

 “The City of Silk is seething. The corrupt government has been ruling over the people too long and the city is becoming restless. Then one hot evening The Leader, a head of a group of rebels, gathers his followers and tells them: ‘Today, we will be making history. For ourselves, and our fellow countrymen of Sans Amen.’And so a ragtag collection of men and boys take up arms and storm two of the most important buildings in the city: the house of power and the television studios. Together they will take back what is rightfully theirs.

Caught up in the madness is Ashes. A bookish, learned man, he has been swept up by The Leader’s powerful rhetoric. But now that words have turned to action he is not so sure anymore. And trapped inside the government building with the rebels is Aspasia. A proud woman, a mother of boys, she sees much of her sons in these boys with guns in their hands and power in their eyes.A powerful, evocative and important novel from the author of The White Woman on the Green Bicycle”

#FF Poem of the week

Innermost One by Rabindranath TagoreFarewell song

 He it is, the innermost one,

who awakens my being with his deep hidden touches.


He it is who puts his enchantment upon these eyes

and joyfully plays on the chords of my heart

in varied cadence of pleasure and pain.


He it is who weaves the web of this maya

in evanescent hues of gold and silver, blue and green,

and lets peep out through the folds his feet,

at whose touch I forget myself.


Days come and ages pass,

and it is ever he who moves my heart in many a name,

in many a guise, in many a rapture of joy and of sorrow.

Rockers publish children’s books

bruce springsteenBruce Springsteen has written his first children’s book about bank-robber Outlaw Pete and it was inspired by memories of 1950s children’s book Brave Cowboy Bill which his mother read to him as a child.  

It’s an illustrated cowboy story for youngsters about a bank-robber “trying to outrun his sins”. Pete, based on an eight-minute ballad from his Working on a Dream album, will be published by Simon & Schuster in November.  

 Jonathan Karp, Simon & Schuster’s president says the story will appeal to adults too“It’s a book for anybody who loves a good Western. It’s for readers of all ages,” he said. “It has an adult sensibility, and so does the book. Outlaw Pete is a quintessentially Springsteen character, brought to life here, and like the song, it’s a meditation on fate.  “Pete is robbing banks at a very young age, and he does a lot of things he regrets, but as the lyric says, youJacket Image can’t undo the things you’ve done.”  Springsteen has also been working on an autobiography 

Madonna, Sting and Sir Paul McCartney have also written kids’ books in the past but Springsteen’s is going to be ‘grittier.’ 

“The Boss” does face competition in the shape of another ‘older’, Keith Richards.  The Rolling Stone  publishes a picture book, Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar in the next few weeks.  



Millions of images from books available on Flickr

 2.6 million public domain images, all taken from books, magazines andTragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea newspapers published over a 500 year period – up to 1922 when copyright kicks in – can now be searched on the internet.  The image on the right is one of the oldest in the collection dated 1502


Other projects have digitized books, focusing on text. This project concentrates on images. Kayleev Leetaru, the American academic who began the work  at Georgetown University as part of a fellowship sponsored by Yahoo, who own Flickr said “For all these years all the libraries have been digitizing their books, but they have been putting them up as PDFs or text searchable works.” “They have been focusing on the books as a collection of words. This inverts that.” It is anticipated that the archive will grow to 14.6 million images.

There’s now even more pictures of cats on the internet



CatThe Flickr project draws on 600 million pages that were originally scanned by the Internet Archive. It uses special software to extract images from those pages, plus the text that surrounds the images. The page associated with the image tells you where the image comes from. It’s all fascinating 



TelephoneTo search  the archive, from the home page,  you can do a keyword search. As you fill in the keyword, Flickr autopopulates the box with the words “Internet Archive Book Images’ Photostream.” Click on those autopopulated words, or else the search results will include images from other parts of Flickr.

Or go to the interior page and do a search which brings up results from the book image archive only. All images can be downloaded for free a they’re all public domain.

The ‘Are you well read?’ challenge

Nineteen eighty-fourThe Ice Bucket Challenge might be on the wane and the more comfortable  Book List Challenge has appeared on Facebook. That’s asking you to list your top ten books which we’d find that quite hard, though we would love to hear about your top ten on Leeds Reads.

An easier challenge might be the ‘Are you well read’ challenge though we’re not saying what we scored, it wasn’t brilliant!