It's the 23rd January, and I'm freezing. I don't usually feel the cold, but I've spent all day in a conference about educational innovation. I think a useful innovation would have been to turn the heating on. It was a good conference, but the temperature in the hall (Senate House, University of London), was lower than it was outside.
So, a brisk walk brings me to St Pancras station, and the branch of Hatchards there. (As an aside, if you ever want a signed book, Hatchards is the place to go. Foyles has a few, and other bookshops have them occasionally, but Hatchards has the most, and all the time.)
I'm now going to switch to the past tense.
I started looking in the non-fiction section, and an assistant came along, sat on a stool, and asked me if I was looking for anything in particular. I wondered if she thought I looked like a shoplifter! Anyway, I told her I was interested in Why we sleep, by Matthew Walker. She took me straight to it, and told me why she liked it. I asked her if it was fairly scientific, rather than anecdotal, and she assured me it was.
So, I bought it, and the young lady at the till was charm personified.
It was a nice experience. It left me feeling a lot warmer inside than when I entered, and not merely because of the temperature.
I like Amazon, but I don't think any algorithm can replace well-informed and pleasant bookshop staff.
Rather than wait until I've read books before reviewing them, I think a halfway house is to at least let people know about books and, if possible, my first impressions. My intention is to write full reviews of these in due course. I hope you find these snapshots useful and interesting.
So you think you've read some atrocious writing in your life? Well, you ain't seen nothing yet.
How should you pitch a publisher with your book proposal? Or, to look at this another way, how should you not do so? This book answers that question.
Even if you are a non-fiction writer, this book is worth reading.
A well-written and, frankly, frightening book about the benefits we get from sleep. frightening? Yes, because of the costs we pay when we skimp on (good quality) sleep.
If you can get to Shoreditch in London, be sure to visit the Brick Lane Bookshop. Thiis article tells you why.
Read on for news about my new books-related newsletter. Reviews of books and bookshops, new book announcements, writerly tips, and news about my own works.
The London Book Fair website now has seminar listings in place. This article lists my top 11 sessions so far.
This book may be thirty years old, but its advice is still pertinent. If you want to have a blitz or crackdown against, or shake-up of, bad writing (all examples of 'tabloidese'), then this is the book for you.
How an experience at one of my favourite bookshops warmed me up on a freezing day.