Hello! Welcome back! Obviously it is still very much SUMMER but it is time for our back to school September book recommendations. Who better to sponsor this than the beautiful Betsy Benn? The prettiest stationary for a new September start that can be personalised for an extra special thrill of joyous fresh pages and new beginnings. Oh the bliss of brand new stationary!!! That first page of neatest writing…stroking the pure front cover (this one is particularly tactile) and knowing that you will fill it with brilliance…then scribbling and doodling throughout!!
Established in 2010, Betsy Benn’s personalised presents and gifts have a unique story telling aspect to them, “celebrating the wonderful and momentous as well as the sublime and ordinary occasions in our lives”. With a deep love of good typography and design, when you tell them your story, one of their designers will recreate it for you onto personalised prints or bespoke designs to get it looking absolutely perfect.
This notebook is so strokably perfect that I shall not scribble and doodle, I am absolutely definitely going to write something…probably a best selling novel..maybe an extraordinary memoir…I haven’t decided yet..but I do know I will be asking our guest author this month to write the blurb…enter the Uber talented Louise Willder of only just published but already five star reviewed “Blurb Your Enthusiam”. I shall let the brains Rebecca Fletcher explain more…Are You Sitting Comfortably….
After what feels like a month of Sundays, September has crept in through the kitchen door when we weren’t looking. It’s time for a new notebook and a new stack of books by the bed as we dive into this term. Welcome back to Are You Sitting Comfortably?
I don’t know about you but I always feel that September has a distinct bookishness about it. I imagine it as a library, complete with ladders, a chair shuffling towards a table, the creak of a leathery spine bent and a welcome fustiness of old paper held in the stillness. Bliss for this bookworm. So, to delight in all things Septemberish, from bookshops and libraries to discovering the wonderful world of book covers and their magic, this month’s reads revel in the beauty, power and comfort of bookishness.
Our first pick is The Librarian from Top 10 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Cleaner of Chartres and Miss Garnett’s Angel, Salley Vickers.
‘Librarians are not alone in having favourites among their clientele but a shared love of reading is an especially powerful bond. It was through Jessica Jenkins that Sylvia met those versions of reality, the characters in fiction, who if not larger than life can become a shaping influence and an inner guide.’
It’s 1958 and fresh from one of the new post-war Library Schools, Sylvia Blackwell, a young woman in her twenties, takes a job in a run-down library in East Mole. Awash with enthusiasm and a mission to inspire the children of East Mole and enrich their reading, Sylvia sets about bringing the library back into action. When she finds herself falling in love with the local married doctor as well as befriending his precocious daughter and the neighbour’s son, tongues begin to wag in East Mole and Sylvia’s actions threaten, not only her job but the very existence of the library itself. The Librarian is a love letter to the power of books and how they can change and inspire us all.
Our classic this month is The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald, a poignant but humorous tale of what happens when you try to change the ways things have always been done.
‘There was the elaborate endpaper which she had puzzled over when she was a little girl. A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. After some hesitation, she put it between Religion and Home Medicine.’
When Mrs Florence Green decides to fulfil a dream by opening a bookshop in the little Suffolk town of Hardborough, there’s more than a whiff of polite dissent from the local community. Determined and steadfast in the face of battle as busybodies, unsuccessful neighbouring shopkeepers and the strangest of supernatural forces descend on Florence and her bookshop, she tries her best to prove them all wrong. If you’ve ever lived in a village, you’ll know just what Penelope Fitzgerald was trying to embody in this story – her talent for capturing the everyday and parochial is truly winning. A razor-sharp social comedy and exquisite portrayal of small town living, this book will steal your heart with its story of one woman’s quest to give something everything she has.
And finally….we bring you the ultimate bookish book, Louise Willder’s Blurb Your Enthusiam: An A-Z of Literary Persuasion.
‘I read blurbs obsessively, not only on books, but also the copy on tube ads, posters, DVDs, catalogues, even sandwich packets, trying to calculate what is going on and whether it works: Who writes them? How do they decide what to say? Why do the film descriptions on Netflix never bear any resemblance to the film you’ve just seen?’
From crime to romance, movies to documentaries, we’re all familiar with those little titbits of text designed to twist an arm into reading or watching. What if we’ve really been judging a book by its cover all along? Master wordsmith Louise Willder takes us on a literary journey to answer just that and other questions such as Should all adjectives be murdered? Or Is it true that (checks jacket) you need an animal on a book’s cover to make it a bestseller?
A dedicated ‘blurbologist’, Louise is probably the person behind my hopeless lack of willpower when it comes to perusing bookshops. Let me explain. As a copywriter at Penguin Books, Louise has been playing with words and crafting miniature cover stories that entice for the last twenty five years. We’ve all probably read something she’s written and never known it….until now. In Blurb Your Enthusiasm (and in more than her usual 100 words), Louise explores the dark art of persuasion that is blurb writing and presents us with a veritable feast of tips, literary history and publishing secrets. Much like a well-written blurb, I fell for this one – hook, line and sinker.
Rebecca Fletcher (@margotgoodlife) has a beautiful new website where you can discover more about the brainy book goddess. https://www.rebecca-fletcher.co.uk/
Thank you so much to our fabulous sponsors Betsy Benn – the thought and care that has gone into your designs shines out through every product. Your love of stories and the wonderful friendship between the three of you makes you the absolute perfect sponsors for our September book recommendations.