A weekly round up of miscellaneous bookish news you may have missed.
Books About Town
Those of you lucky enough to live in London or to be visiting the city this summer will get the chance to see a new street art project based on books associated with the capital. In the Books About Town project, benches shaped as open books and decorated by famous illustrators and local artists, will appear round the city.
It’s a venture by the National Literacy Trust as a way of raising funds for their work in raising literacy levels in the UK and encouraging young people to read.
There are a number of leading artists involved from Ralph Steadman who will reproduce some of his illustrations for Alice Through the Looking Glass to Paul Kidby who will be painting characters from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. There is a list available showing where the benches will be located and which artist each will feature. You can watch the work in progress via their Twitter feed @Books
At the end of the summer all the benches will be auctioned. If you want to get involved you can become a bench sponsor for £8,000 (ouch !) or become a joint sponsor through a crowd fund initiative for the Charles Dickens Great Expectations bench.
Booklikes Gets a Makeover
The social media site for book lovers has been given a revamp. Apparently the changes mean that searching for a book is now easier because of changes to the layout and the navigation. Users can now search by language also.
I joined this site about a year ago just out of curiosity but actually haven’t used it. It’s not a criticism of the site because it looks pretty easy to use but I found it didn’t offer anything really different to GoodReads and Library Thing. I struggle enough to keep up with those so having another place to keep lists of what I’m reading, and to write reviews, just didn;t make sense. Still it;s good to see that it is thriving.
In Their Own Voice
The BBC website has a wealth of information but it’s so complex that it’s easy to miss the treasure. One section I stumbled across yesterday has been in existence for some considerable time but since it’s buried deep in the site navigation you may also have missed it. And this really is a treasure trove for anyone interested in hearing from the authors themselves about their work. The Modern Writers section is an archive of audio recordings with some of the leading writers from the Twentieth Century, in which they reveal their personality and their attitudes to the creative process.
This is an eclectic collection. You can hear Elizabeth Bowen explain the importance of creating strong characters and William Golding discuss the influences on his work. Monica Ali touches on the thorny question of how to achieve success with a second novel when your debut work was an outstanding hit while Iris Murdoch discusses the artistic conflict between freedom and form.
The earliest recording is from 1937, featuring Virginia Woolf but there are many recordings with contemporary authors like Hilary Mantel, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan.
With so much rich material from which to choose, the only question is where to begin.