The Sunday Salon – newbooks magazine

tssbadge1My copy of ‘newbooks’ magazine arrived the other day. This is perhaps the one magazine that I always read from cover to cover. The editorial highlights the changes in publishing in the last decades with

… the conglomeration first of publishing houses and then bookselling, and the negative contribution made by literary agents pedalling a ‘stifling excess of lucrative junk’, hand-in-hand with Google and Amazon’s rapid growth in influence. … ‘No one can predict how books and readers will survive.

The trend seems to be away from books in print, with not only independent bookshops dwindling but also the high street bookshops in decline, towards the on-line digital era. Whilst this is something that has been debated extensively online before, it did strike me that this could mean that in future magazines like ‘newbooks’ would not be issued physically but only available on line and how would I like that?

Well, I wouldn’t – I like it dropping through the letterbox onto the doormat and then flicking through its pages before settling down to read it. Maybe there won’t be any letterboxes in future – everything will be done online? I have no problem with reading somethings online – after all I write this blog and read lots of other blogs quite happily. But I’m not up to reading whole books on screen, nor do I want to print them off and read them that way and the same goes for magazines – I want the physical object – books in print please. Although I do buy some books from online boksellers I prefer to go to a bookshop and browse the books. So I hope the complete change doesn’t come soon.

newbooks-augustIn the meantime I’m happy reading and choosing which book to pick as my free book from ‘newbooks’. Will it be An Equal Stillness by Francesca Kay, The Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday, Antigona and Me by Kate Clanchy, The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark, or The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery?

Mog commented on my previous post that she has chosen The Book of Unholy Mischief and I’m very tempted  by that one too. It’s set in Venice in 1498, where an ancient book, rumoured to contain heresies and secrets of immeasurable power, is hidden. Luciano, a chef’s apprentice in the doge’s palace is drawn into the search leading him into a perilous maze to the centre of an intrigue concerning some of the most powerful and dangerous men in Venice.

I’m also drawn to The Girl on the Landing, which is about Michael and his wife Elizabeth. Michael spots a painting whilst staying at a friend’s country house in Ireland. In the background of the painting he see a woman clad in a dark green dress, except his hosts say there is no woman in the picture and indeed when he looks again she is not there.

There is also an interview with Paul Torday in the magazine in which Zoe Fairbairns reveals that its the nature of Britishness and Englishness that is debated furiously in this book as Michael, on medication which he then refuses to take, plummets towards breakdown. She writes:

If identity and personality are so fragile, how can anyone said to be ‘truly’ British, ‘truly’ anything? It’s disturbing stuff, but compulsively readable, which is what Torday wants: ‘My perfect reader is someone who picks the book up and goes on reading it until it’s late at night.’

That could be me!

8 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon – newbooks magazine

  1. If you haven’t read it yet, ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ is very French and rather wonderful (although some have found it hard to get into).


  2. I’m all for ‘real’ books as well. I want the ‘heft’ of the paper in my hands. If I had your choice I would definitely go for Francesca Kay’s ‘An Equal Stillness’. It won this year’s First Novel Orange award and deserved it. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.


  3. I’m not very into ebooks either. I want the real thing. There’s nothing like paper, glue, and ink. =)

    I don’t know which I’d pick! The only one I’ve read is The Book of Unholy Mischief and I liked it a lot.


  4. I join you and the others in preferring a real book or periodical. I will even print off magazine articles I find online in order to read them if they are any length at all. Blog entries are about my limit for length of reading online!


  5. I’ll join the chorus of loving the real book. One of my favorite postures is to lie back with a good book. That’s hard to do with my laptop and impossible with a conventional pc. Even if I printed off a book, those pages are big and floppy and don’t have the feel and smell of a good book. I think it will be a while before everyone changes.


  6. I too can’t imagine using an electronic reader for books. I love how a book feels in my hands – something a kindle could never replicate.

    I wanted to thank you for your review of We Have Always Lived in the Castle a while back. I read it after reading about it on your blog – a very interesting and atmospheric book. Am looking forward to reading more of your discoveries!


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