Book Reviews

It’s Saturday…

I should really be packing my suitcase for my trip to India later tonight. OR writing my letter of complaint about the way our local council is handling its proposal to downgrade our library to a voluntary service. I should also be tackling the bottomless pit that constitutes our ironing basket.

I am doing none of these things.

I am instead getting distracted by the multitude of interesting bookish type pieces of news coming through from blogs I follow and newsletters etc.  I thought I’d share a few of these with you (you’ll thank me for this I’m sure since you know you don’t want to be doing ironing, shopping etc either).

bookshop imaginationFirst item to catch my attention was this photo collection showing imaginative techniques some booksellers are using to get us to buy more of their stuff. These people have far more wit and creativity I have. I just wish the website had indicated where to find these wonderful places. Take me to them right away!


Then I saw that has published a very useful 16-point checklist that bloggers can use to make sure your content is top notch before you press the publish button.  Some of the 16 points are, I would hope, common sense actions we all take anyway – like checking for spelling errors. But there are others that I don’t think about such as “Did I break up my content into sections with headings?”. I know I do with some long posts but maybe not enough. I also don’t pay much attention to tagging photos or content. Maybe you’ll find some new tips yourself from this article.

And finally, a thought-provoking piece in the Guardian about the future of writing. With a headline The Death of Writing, how could I resist? The full title of the article is the Death of Writing – if James Joyce were alive today he’d be working for Google – in which Tom McCarthy argues that today:

it is funky architecture firms, digital media companies and brand consultancies that have assumed the mantle of the cultural avant garde. It is they who, now, seem to be performing writers’ essential task of working through the fragmentations of old orders of experience and representation, and coming up with radical new forms to chart and manage new, emergent ones.

McCarthy’s argument isn’t one that can be summarised easily so I suggest you take a look yourself. I’ve read it through twice now and am still trying to work out my response.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

20 thoughts on “It’s Saturday…

  • Oh, you are coming to India? Any plans on visiting the south? Bangalore?

    • Sorry no Nisha. I’m in Mumbai now and going to Delhi on Wednesday.

  • I did that earlier – pressed publish on an almost finished, but not ready for consumption, article, and in my panic deleted the lot. So that’s one tip I’ll definitely be following. I was so angry – I’d spent hours pecking away on the Kindle, and it was for International Women’s Day, so it seems kind of obsolete now…I may still do it, and explain the situation, but at that point I was too disheartened to start typing THE SAME THING all over again!

    • You feel absolutely sick don’t you – and disheartened! When you do it the second time (though maybe you’ll be clever enough not to because you’ll use this “schedule approach) you take a moment to copy and paste before you delete! Or you can actually change visibility to “private” (and work on it, then make it public again) or reset it to “draft” I think and keep working, then publish again (I think). BUT those who’ve subscribed by email will have got the email and will not get another one when you repost. Better I think to copy then delete then start as a new post. At least that’s my feeling – would love to know what others think? Or is everyone else more careful than crimeworm and me!

  • Thanks for this Karen – a far better use of your time than ironing, that’s for sure. I enjoyed the checklist article on content publishers. That sort of stuff always gets me in. It reminded me of a comment I was going to make on a previous post of yours; I did comment, but didn’t include one point that I meant to. It’s to do with post titles. I think you talked about trying to write interesting or creative post titles. I thought the same when I started blogging but I very quickly decided that for review posts I would stick very strictly to an author-title (or some people do title-author) structure for search optimisation reasons. It gets the key information up front and helps search engines find reviews. I then play a little bit with titles of non-review posts but even then I mostly think about using titles that help searching rather than titles that look fun or that play with words.

    I like using headings, dot points etc, though it can be tricky in review posts. I think they help readers, particularly with long posts. (I like reading posts that are broken up like that). And I do use categories and tags pretty consistently. But I’m a librarian by training and I recognise their value I suppose. I also like the recommendation to schedule posts early in the drafting. If you are sure you’ll finalise it before the scheduled time, it sure does prevent mistakenly hitting the publish button, which I have (excruciatingly) done a few times!

    Sorry for rambling. Now I’d better read that last article. Meanwhile, hope you have a great time in India.

    • I should pay more attention to SEO than I do given that I talked about its importance for many years as part of my job. A classic case of do as I say not as I do. I’ve experimented with the last few reviews where I included the name of the book and the author as the first sentence rather than the heading. Not sure if that works.

      • Haha Karen … Re your experiment it’s probably hard to tell, but a secondary benefit is that whenever you see a list of your own posts you can easily tell what they are about whereas with headings, after a few years, I suspect my memory would fail me. I’m often searching my own blog to refer back to something and so I find clear post titles help me a lot!

        • Looking through the old post titles would be a good test.

  • Very useful checklist – I had no idea about optimizing images and all 😀

    Hope you have a great trip to India 🙂 Which cities are you planning on visiting ?

    • I’m in Mumbai for two days then flying to Delhi so we can get to the Taj Mahal it’s a four hour drive and on Indian roads that will be a nightmare

      • If you are taking the highways, it wont be a problem at all 🙂 I thought I could help if you wanted something but I live in a different city 🙁
        Anyway happy travelling !! 🙂

  • Some great reading here. I managed to do some personal financial damage at a local indie bookstore today, no special displays required. Have a super trip to India…. should be some awesome blog material there!

    • I can on,y imagine how much trouble I would be in if those stores were near me

  • I wonder if that’s the article that provoked all the tweets I saw yesterday suggesting what George Orwell would be doing were he alive today? I shall investigate. I read, years ago, that back then, Trainspotting was the most shoplifted book – which sort of makes sense. I imagine Irvine Welsh is still quite high in the list…Great post, thank you!

      • And I should’ve said, do enjoy your trip! India sounds wonderful, but in reality I don’t think I could cope, with my crappy leg…look forward to hearing about it when you return!

        • Luckily I don’t have to drive otherwise I would be a ball of jelly by now. If there are three lanes for vehicles, you’ll find that the drivers turn it into five and the. You have to contend with people strolling through the middle as if they are invisible. I might survive if I didn’t have to make any turnings.

  • Hope you have a great trip, and I’m going to check that Ragan page out – I’m sure it’s going to be useful!

    • Intake the view with these mins of things that if you find one useful tip it was worth the time to read it


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