Bill Gates’ favourite romcom novel

Detail Page Book Jacket

Bill and Melinda Gates loved The Rosie Project the debut novel by Graeme Simsion (and the sequel) saying it was ‘laugh out loud funny and profound’

A romantic comedy featuring professor of genetics Don Tillman (39, tall, intelligent and employed: “Logically I should be attractive to a wide range of women”), has undiagnosed Asperger’s and the author explores how a grown autistic man might approach a romantic relationship.

Don has two friends – his colleague at a Melbourne university, Gene, and his psychologist wife, Claudia, who try to help Don find love but “unfortunately their approach was based on the traditional dating paradigm, which I had previously abandoned on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and negative experiences”.

To choose a suitable wife, Don designs a detailed questionnaire that filters out unpromising candidates: women who are unpunctual, overweight, vegetarian; who drink or smoke or have STDs. 

Then he meets Rosie, who fails on almost every scoreThe Rosie Effect: Don Tillman No. 2  andit looks like there is no chance of love blossoming. When Rosie enlists Don’s genetic expertise to help find her natural father, otherwise known as The Father Project, the two are thrown into an entertaining series of comic set pieces and occasionally life-threatening situations.


Recently  The Rosie Effect 

With the Wife Project complete, Don settles into a new job and married life in New York. But it’s not long before certain events are taken out of his control and it’s time to embark on a new project. As he tries to get to grips with the requirements of starting a family, his unusual research style gets him into trouble. To make matters worse, he has invited his closest friend to stay with them, but Gene is not exactly the best model for marital happiness


Hardbacks, paperbacks

The narrow road to the deep north “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan, which has just won the Man Booker Prize, is only available  in hardback at the moment in the UK. Borrow it FREE from your library.

At 9 inches long and 464 pages deep, it weighs more than half a kilo so it is heavy to take on holiday or on the bus and to buy costs £16.99  A lighter, cheaper paperback edition will be published next year. So why do books come out in hardback first?

It’s usually books that are expected to sell well that come out in hardback first. Known as “windowing” it’s a sales strategy also used in the film industry, where cinema releases precede DVD versions by several months. Like cinema tickets, hardcover books generate more profit per unit than paperbacks. Film buffs like watching on the big screen; book collectors enjoy the hardback’s premium quality.

Hardbacks often have something extra – “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” has bright red endpapers, some embossed covers or come with bookmarks. Literary editors traditionally don’t review paperbacks!

Once hardback sales slow down, a paperback edition is released. More copies are printed and they sell in greater numbers but at a lower margin than the hardback. Libraries  buy hardbacks to make sure customers get the title as soon as possible, but we buy paperbacks in much larger quantities to get best value.

Some publishers time their hardback editions to come out just before Christmas, eyeing the gift market, before publishing the paperback edition in time for the summer holidays.

Early books had small print runs and were expensive, and paperbacks  only took off in Britain and America in the ’30s, (though had been around since 19thC) when Penguin and New American Library mass-produced cheap,  well-designed reproductions of older texts aimed at  readers who couldn’t afford hardbacks. Interest in reading as a pastime increased in WW2 –  just when paper was in short supply and more efficient methods of printing needed to be found.

Book collectors not wanting to pay for hardbacks, who used to wait for the paperback edition, can sometimes buy the title more cheaply as an eBook . “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” can be bought as an an eBook for about £6.  In the past, a successful book might have sold four times as many copies in paperback as hardback, but some recent releases have sold more copies in hardback than paperback, because of eBook versions.

This is where libraries sometimes miss out, not all popular titles are made available by the publishers for libraries to buy as eBooks! But whether you borrow hardback, paperback or the eBook version from libraries, all are free.

Harrogate History Festival

Harrogate History FestivalIf you are a history lover then Harrogate History Festival’s have just the thing for you. They are the organisers of the hugely successful Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival and they are branching out again this year after last years inaugural festival with a weekend devoted to historical books and their writers. The second Harrogate History Festival takes part this weekend from Thu 23rd Oct – Sun 26th. As with the Crime Writing Festival all the events take place in the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate making it easy to either go along to several events or just book the ones that interest you. You could really immerse yourself and go along for the whole weekend.

Highlights of the festival will include events with Bernard Cornwell (the creator of Sharpe - remember Sean Bean?), Alison Weir and Elizabeth Chadwick on Friday night. If that isn’t good enough there are countless other events to whet your appetite with Sandi Toksvig, Peter Snow, Sarah Dunant and many more.

Historical fiction is a great way to find out more about a particular period as well as immersing yourself in a great story. Want to go back and be a part of the Roman Empire? Then Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series is a good place to start. What about travelling back to fifteenth century Italy and the Borgias? Sarah Dunant covers this period in her novel Blood and Beauty.


There really should be something for everyone at the festival so if you are looking for a good way to get out of the Autumn weather then have a look at the programme.


The Peculier Life of a Lonely Postman – review

The Peculiar Life of the Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault  - is a French Canadian novel which has had good reviews,”original, subtle and touching, telling the tragic and often comic routine of one man’s life and fate”.

It tells the story of a young postman in Montreal named Bilodo. Shy and unassuming, Bilodo spends his free time practising calligraphy, playing video games, and sitting in his customary seat at the local café.

He does have a secret however: he’s fond of intercepting the personal mail he’s supposed to be delivering, carefully opening it, and reading the contents before the intended recipients actually get it.

Through these letter opening activities, he discovers Ségolène, a beautiful schoolteacher and poet who lives  in Guadeloupe. Poring over her letters, which usually consist of one carefully constructed haiku, he immediately falls in love with her.

A series of fatal events unfolds whereby Bilodo himself is able to carry on the correspondence …as he steps in to ensure the letters keep coming.


The Samuel Johnson Prize shortlist 2014

This years’s shortlist of six books for the prestigious Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction, worth £20,000 to the winner, has now been announced.

Read all about the shortlisted books

We have them all in stock

 H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald  

 Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

Empire of Necessity by Greg Grandin 

Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead

Roy Jenkins by John Campbell

Common People by Alison Light

 The Iceberg: A Memoir by Marion Coutts 


#10Books set in – Berlin

Alone in BerlinBerlin is a city with so much history. Here’s 10 books to borrow from the library. They include a range of stories from political oppression to tales of romance and adventure.  Ten captivating novels to evoke Berlin.

Hans Fallada – Alone in Berlin – Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the nervous Frau Rosenthal, the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm, and the unassuming working-class couple Otto and Anna Quangel

Christopher Isherwood – Goodbye to Berlin – . Evokes the gathering storm in Berlin before and just after the rise to power of the Nazis, as seen through the eyes of a series of individuals

Chloe Aridjis – Book of Clouds - Adrift in Berlin and with no desire to return home to Mexico, Tatiana tries to distance herself from the city’s past. Yet the phantoms of Berlin are more alive to her than the people she passes on her daily walks. When she takes a job transcribing notes for the reclusive historian Doktor Weiss, her life in Berlin becomes more complex

Ian McEwan – The Innocent – McEwan acknowledges his debt to the historian David Martin for the true story of the Berlin Tunnel or Operation Gold. To this truth, McEwan has wedded a fiction of tragedy and a love story of a sort

Anna Funder - All that I am: Stories from behind the Berlin Wall – stories of people who found the courage to resist the Stasi, Slumberland: a novelthe communist regime’s secret police

Len Deighton – Funeral in Berlin - Classic spy thriller

Jonathan Littell – The Kindly Ones - This Faustian story with a terrifying twist is the fictional memoir of Dr Max Aue, a former SS intelligence officer, who has reinvented himself as a family man and owner of a lace factory in post-war France

Ida Hattemer-Higgins – The history of history: a novel of Berlin - A young American woman stumbles one morning from the forest outside Berlin – hands dirty, clothes torn. She can remember nothing of the night. She returns to the life she once knew, but soon an enigmatic letter arrives from an unknown doctor claiming to be ‘concerned for her fate’

Paul Beatty – Slumberland - After creating the perfect beat, DJ Darky goes in search of Charles Stone, a little-known avant garde jazzman, to play over his sonic masterpiece. His quest takes him to a recently unified Berlin, where he stumbles through the city’s streets ruminating about race, sex and love in search of his artistic – and spiritual – other

David Thomas – Blood Relative – Atmospheric page-turner that brings the often-grim realities of socialist Berlin to life. A murder mystery-come-psychological thriller with a dark underlying mystery, it grips you tight and keeps you guessing until the very last page

National Book Awards 2014

Here’s a flavour of some of the the books shortlisted for the National Book Awards These awards, which started in 1950, celebrate the best of American literature, and aim to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America. They’re  given by writers to writers.

Winners receive $10,000, and they will be announced on 19th November. Favourites are Marilynne Robinson and Anthony Doerr


Anthony Doerr All the Light we cannot see – Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

Marilynne Robinson - Lila - Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Gilead’ and Orange Prize-winning ‘Home’, ‘Lila’ is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence

Phil Klay – Redeployment – This novel is about the human cost of war by former marine captain and Iraq veteran, Phil Klay. Redeployment takes readers to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos

Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists 20 years after, ‘Station Eleven’ charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan – warned about the flu just in time; Arthur’s first wife Miranda; Arthur’s oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed ‘prophet’

Non fiction

Evan Osnos – Age of ambition: chasing fortune, truth, and faith in the new China – As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic and cultural upheaval. In this text, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country – the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control

John Lahr – Tennessee Williams: mad pilgrimage of the flesh