About Booker Talk

Welsh Dragon

Y Ddraig Goch – The Red Dragon. National symbol of my home country, Wales.

Who is BookerTalk?

  • In real life, I’m known as Karen.
  • I’m a native of Wales in the UK.
  • I worked as a journalist for many, many years, reporting on everything from crime and government mismanagement to human interest.
  • Until December 2016 when I retired (hooray) I worked as a corporate communications manager for a multinational company
  • I’ve not eaten meat for 20 years.
  • When I’m not reading or blogging I like making jewellery and bread (not at the same time however since that could get a bit messy)
  • Slowly – very slowly – I am trying to put a history of my family together
  • Favourite places in the world: Washington DC, South Africa, Gower Peninsula (in Wales in case you don’t recognise it); Glacial lake on Tiego Pass in Yosemite National Park
  • Dislikes: bureaucracy, lazy writing, jargon
  • Most hated words: leverage;  ‘north star’ – essentially any word or phrase that people concoct in an effort to sound important

My reading tastes

It’s very seldom you’ll see me without my nose in some kind of reading material. Preferably it will be a book but what kind of book is often hard to pin down. It could be a classic (I especially love 19th century fiction) or something in translation or the winner of a literary prize. I find it easier really to describe what I don’t like …

  • Science fantasy is a big turn off.  So is anything in the science fiction genre.
  • I also have an aversion to books featuring circuses and talking animals
  • Don’t even think about giving me a book where the cover features a bare-chested guys who glowers or a heavily-made up woman trying to look sultry

I tend more towards realism. A good book for me has to have characters I feel I could get to know and a plot that intrigues. Over-blown descriptive passages leave me cold. I want writing that sparkles and doesn’t feel like someone has laboured in the literary mines for days to find yet more adjectives……

My favourite novels

Middlemarch – George Eliot

Germinal – Emile Zola

The Raj Quartet – Paul Scott

Favourite Non Fiction books

Wild Swans – Jung Chang

Maximum City – Suketu Mehta

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

How to Contact me 

You could try waving your arms or hollering but you’ll be more likely to get a response if you do one of the following

  • send me a private message via Twitter @bookertalk.
  • use the contact form below uk

  1. Hey Karen! Have you ever done audiobooks?


  2. Thanks so much for the heads up on Reading Ireland month! Definitely going to check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for your review of Schooldays of Jesus. I, too, found it baffling. Incidentally, my only did-not-finish among the Booker winners was also Famished Road, although I do plan to try reading it again.


  4. Hi, we’re a publisher of books by Welsh women – Honno: http://www.honno.co.uk. We publish fiction, non-fiction and classics and would love to let you know about some of our titles if that would be of interest? My email address is: press@honno.co.uk. Best wishes, Helena Earnshaw


  5. Hiya. I’m afraid I’m going to renege on supplying a Guest Post for Feb. Have mulled it over and decided that a 75 year old white woman writing on South African books is not a good idea at this point in time. Local atmosphere has been very fraught for entire month of January, inflamed by the usual old boring uproar over racism, and whatever I say about our local lit scene is bound to be mis-interpreted, so I would prefer not to say anything at all. South Africa is a very complicated country to live in. Be glad you live in Europe. I hope yo9u understand. Please acknowledge this – unfortunately I don’t have yr e-mail address, or would have sent this info via that means.


  6. You had me at Germinal! I’m a high school English teacher and I have my AP students read it every year! For me the first chapters are some of the best in literature!


  7. Hello – thanks for following my blog, despatchesfromtimbuktu.wordpress.com
    I’m a Booker Prize fan, always follow each year’s nominations/awards, and try to read at least some of the novels.


  8. I came across your profile from Kinna’s book blog. I love this blog and will be back from time to time! Hope you can visit African Book Addict too :).


  9. Hey Karen! Your blog is one of my favorites and I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award:


  10. Thanks Dan for that insight. I’ll take a look at the site when I have a moment. By the way I agree with your comment in the final paragraph that the label is irrelevant and its the contents that matter.


  11. I’m glad I found your blog. My tastes seem to be very similar to yours. I LOVE “Middlemarch,” for example.

    On another note, I spent just a day or two in Wales, and found it gorgeous! I’d love to spend more time there.


  12. I have nominated you for ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD, keep on inspiring with your amazing posts. Here’s the link:


  13. Hi Karen! Love the blog and it’s great to find you. Thanks for visiting mine and I’d love to be on your blog. Wales is definitely not England! 🙂 x


  14. I thought it was only old fuddy-duddies like me who still liked the Raj Quartet. So was glad to see it on your favourite list. It’s on my Desert Island list. But please don’t be too hard on people with e-readers Once you start having eye problems they are a real boon.


    • I am a fan of e readers I promise. My comment was really that my preference is for the ‘real thing’ but when I’m travelling the e-reader is so much more convenient. I didn’t know about the benefit to those with eye problems but how reassuring that there is a way for them to continue doing something they love through technology advances


  15. Hi
    May I hope that you can review an award-winning historical novel? I published a Korean War novel The Dance of the Spirits on Amazon. The book won the 2014 eLit Awards sponsored by Jenkins Group. The book tells a story of a forbidden love in a forgotten war and received positive reviews from Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco Reviews, Midwest Book Review, and some Amazon readers.
    ISBN 9780989690928
    Best wishes to you and yours
    Catherine Aerie


  16. I just recently purchased a copy of Middlemarch after realizing I had not read it. I thought I did, back in college, but had one of those searing memory flashes and realized it was Adam Bede we’d read for class. I’m planning on reading it later this summer. So happy to have found your blog through ArmchairBEA.


  17. I rarely leave remarks, but i did a few searching
    and wound up hee About Me | BookerTalk. And I actually do have a couple of questions
    for you if you don’t mind. Is it simply mee or does
    it appear like a few of the remarks apoear like wrirten by brzin dead people?
    😛 And, if you are writing at additional online sites, I’d like to
    follow everything fresh you have tto post. Would you list
    of all of your shared pages like your Facebok page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


  18. Karen, I discovered you through Sheila’s blog (Book Journey). So glad I did 😀 And I can’t say enough how much I LOVE your header!!! 😀


  19. Karen, I just found your site and I greatly look forward to exploring it. Thanks for creating and sharing what is clearly a labor of love. You will appreciate this – I found you today having just received a one ton single volume edition of The Jewel in the Crown and was curious about that first paragraph, Bibighar Gardens specifically. I am keenly aware of my historical ignorance and so I read mostly nonfiction, but for me that only goes so far, especially since the more history I ready the more I want to run screaming off the nearest cliff (explanation: I’m reading about Stalin now). I know one needs novels if the goal is to understand of how we all got to this terrifying but for some of us at least still beautiful, magical now. I look forward to coming back often to figure out who’s next. Thank you and your readers for this site.


    • Hello Dave, thanks for dropping by. Hope you enjoy Jewel in the Crown as much as I did (the tv series is wonderful by the way) Karen Heenan-Davies



  20. I have the same adversity to e-books. I would love to have you check out my epic quest to finish 100 Classic Books and the corresponding blog http://classicbookreader.wordpress.com/


  21. Just found your blog and was interested to see that Wild Swans is one of your favorite non fiction books. It’s also one of mine and although I read it about ten years ago when I was still living in Canada I’m reminded of passages from time to time. I’m also looking forward to reading what you think of Peter Ackroyd’s book – haven’t read anything by him since First Light, which I found haunting.


    • First of all my deepest apologies Edward for my tardy response. Your comment went into the spam folder for some reason. The Ackroyd book, Camberwell Tales wasn’t great. Not bad but just not all that good – and not anywhere up to the standard of Hawsksmoor.


  22. And a thank you to you also Geoff for following me and becoming my 50th follower. I loved your classics list – we have so many books in common on our lists it will be fun to watch your progress.


  23. Thanks for following my blog and I can’t wait to check out more about yours, but I HAD to comment about The Blind Assassin! I love it and Atwood in general and I’m also working my way through the Booker winners as well, but in no particular order or deadline 🙂


  24. Hey. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog about the Booker and thought it only fitting to nominate you for a Booker Award! I don’t know if you like getting awards or not but I see them as a kind of reminder to remember to thank the bloggers who write the blogs we each love and cherish. So thank you! If you want to receive it, you can read about it here: http://christinarosendahl.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/the-booker-award/


    • I did see this in your blog and commented on how much this meant to me. It’s given me the confidence I needed to keep blogging. Thank you for the wonderful start to a sunday


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