Could Rise In Sale Of Advanced Reading Copies Change The Literature Market?

When I recently saw reports that advanced copies of books by famed writers, including Sally Rooney, have been selling online for high prices before the novel is release.

Advanced copies are what bloggers and book reviewers like me receive so that we can write reviews that come out before or at the same time as a book is released.

When you receive an advance copy, you’ll usually see a notice on the outside, and often on the inside too, which states that the advanced copy is not for sale and only for reviewing purposes. However, many disreputable bloggers are now selling their advanced copies for big bucks and publishers are pretty powerless to stop them.

In the past, it’s been overlooked if advanced copies get given to charity shops long after the book is released. That’s because it’s hard to police and, frankly, it isn’t making reviewers any profits. It’s simply a way for book reviewers to declutter their lives long after the review is published. However, actually making money from advanced copies has always been a no-no, and frankly, I’d not heard of many cases of it happening in the past.

Now, it’s clear that the issue is getting worse. Bloggers are profiting from advanced copies and giving decent, genuine book reviewers a bad name. With the rise of online blogging and social media influencers, even more book publishers and promoters are facing problems as they are having to give out more advanced copies to entice reviewers. As more advanced copies, either electronic or physical, are offered to bloggers, there becomes a great risk that some of them will be distributed for profit prior to the release of the novel.

Frankly, I think it’s utterly disgusting that some book bloggers are trying to profit from advanced copies of books, to the detriment of authors. Writers were already hard hit, both by the COVID-19 pandemic and other industry changes. They need the support of book bloggers and reviewers, rather than the theft of their intellectual property for profit.

As a book reviewer myself, I work hard to provide constructive reviews for the benefit of authors, as well as my readers. So, I think it’s dreadful to use advanced copies for anything other than to read and review. While it does make me happy to get a copy of books, particularly ones I’m excited for, ahead of time, I think it’s definitely a privilege that needs to be respected. Bloggers who sell advanced copies are giving the industry a bad name and are, for the most part, in the minority.

Looking to the future, I think that this mass selling of advanced copies of books by influential writers will lead to publishers changing the way they distribute books to bloggers. I think that it’ll become more common for advanced copies to be sent electronically, which is already the case, but more convenience than for tracking purposes.

Moving forward, I think that book publishers and promoters will start tracking advance copies and where they end up. I also believe that they will start to be more discerning about who they give advanced copies to. That might mean a change for online bloggers, who might have to prove their metal before they receive advanced copies. All these developments will take time, but they could make the book reviewing and promoting markets better in the long run.

So, at the end of the day, I think that this development in the literary market could help to make the book reviewing space better going forward. It’s a real shame that some greedy individuals are trying to profit from advanced copies, but in the future, hopefully, it’ll be easier for genuine book reviewers to get hold of them and support authors and their readers.

Back To Bookstores: How To Browse Without Being A Bellend

The world is slowly reopening after COVID-19, which means, among many other fun things, that we can all finally return to our favourite stores.

Many people love browsing through clothing stores or looking at shoes, while I, and many others, love browsing through book stores.

Book stores are great to visit, but I’ve noticed, as I return to them, that some people don’t have any manners or, apparently, social skills.

Things have been open for a while here in the UK, but I know that every country is different. What isn’t different, is that you need to be looking out for others while you’re shopping for books.

Buying books in a store is a valuable way to help local businesses in your community that have struggled since the pandemic began. It’s also a fun and soothing activity that is great for book lovers, but you have to do it right without behaving like an absolute arse.

So, what I’m trying to say is, whether you love second-hand bookshops like me, or you’re a fan of big chains and buying new books, don’t be a douche. If you need to know how, here are some tips.

Wear A Mask If You Can

The mask laws might have been rescinded in many countries, but where possible you should keep wearing one in crowded places. It’ll mean that if you do have anything, then you’ll reduce the chance of it spreading to others who share your space. It’ll also mean that you’ll reduce the number of pathogens that you could potentially transfer to surfaces that you breathe on. Many people might think that wearing a mask now is pointless, but it’s a kind thing to do. Also, during the time when masks were a legal requirement, you probably bought some reusable ones. You can’t use them for anything else, so you might as well wear them!

Sanitise Your Hands Before You Start Touching Stuff

Most shops have sanitiser at the entryway, so you can easily clean your hands before you start browsing. If you’re visiting a small bookshop that doesn’t have sanitiser for customers, then you should use your own sanitiser before you start touching books. Hand sanitisers aren’t an alternative to washing your hands, particularly after you’ve eaten, touched animals or used the bathroom. However, in between visiting different shops and touching surfaces like door handles, it can be a useful way to make sure that your hands are clean and reduce your chances of transferring bacteria from different areas.

Give Staff And Other Shoppers Some Space

Like the mask laws, social distancing rules have also been relaxed in many areas. Still, it’s kind to give other people their space. Some people might not be feeling very safe right now, and others might still be adjusting to being in close contact with others after the pandemic. So, don’t go getting up in strangers’ grills. If the bookshop that you’re visiting is small, then you might have to wait to get to a bookshelf or to move around the store. Be patient and remember that everyone is struggling right now, so your kindness could make a massive difference to someone. If you need to ask the staff for help, then be polite and respectful (as you should always be). Don’t crowd them and if the staff member asks you to wait behind a screen or stand back, just do it.

Only Pick Up Books You’re Genuinely Interested In Or Considering Buying

In bookshops, it’s fun to pick up books and read the blurb. However, if you’re not interested in buying it or learning more about it, then you shouldn’t pick it up. If you can read the blurb on the back without lifting the book, for example if it’s placed backwards on the shelf, then you should try to read the back without touching it. If you decide that you’d like to purchase the book, then you can pick up one copy to take to the counter. If the store has one of those mobile zapper things to scan the barcode with, then hold the book out for the cashier to scan, so they don’t have to touch it. If the bookseller has to type in a code, then try reading it out for them, again, so they don’t have to touch the book. It’s a simple kindness but it could go a long way. If the person serving you is willing to touch the book, then fair play to them, but remember that everyone is different and try to help where you’re able to do so.

Buy A Gift Voucher If You Don’t Want A Book

Book sales have risen during the pandemic, but many bookstores, particularly small independent ones, have still found the pandemic tough. So, it’s more important now than ever before that you support these stores if you want them to stay open so you can keep visiting them. If you don’t want to by a book during your visit, then you could consider buying a gift card to support the store. You could give the gift card as a present for someone you love, or you could just keep them for yourself to use at a later date. Buying a gift card means that the store has some extra money now, at a time when things are precarious.

Be Nice

It sounds super obvious, but just try your best to be kind as much as you can. If you think someone else is being overly cautious, or doing something that you don’t agree with, just leave it and don’t force your opinion on others. Everyone has their own way of coping with this crisis, so as long as it’s not harming you, try to accept others as much as possible. The main message of this blog post is that everyone has a different way of coping with the pandemic, and you should do your best to be mindful of that. If you do, then the chances are that more people will also be respectful of your own boundaries and you’ll find book shopping more enjoyable.

Most Men Don’t Read Books By Women: No Shit Sherlock

Author MA Sieghart recently made the point that disturbingly few men read books written by women.

She even made a point of using the byline ‘MA’, rather than her first name, Mary Ann, because she wants men to read the piece.

For men, I’m sure that this is a shocking truth, but for any woman it should come as no surprise that men don’t read books written by women.

Despite the fact that, supposedly, our right to vote and have our own bank accounts means, for many men at least, that we don’t need feminism anymore, it’s still true that every woman you know has experienced sexism and harassment, and that we’ve been told at least once that our opinions aren’t worth a damn because we’re women.

That’s why I try not to use my real name on the blog too much- I know that many men (and some other women) feel intimidated by women with opinions.

It’s a scary fact, but as MA Sieghart highlights, the lack of female authors in most modern men’s reading lists is the reason why many men still treat women like trash. They still honk at us, demand that we stop feeling whatever we’re feeling to smile for them, sexually harass us and generally treat us as lesser than mediocre men.

As the author of this fascinating opinion piece highlights, the data shows that while women are willing to read books written by men, the same cannot be said for the reserve.

That means that many men don’t hear stories of what it’s like to be a woman written by women. Diversity is key for any well-rounded personal education and self-improvement,

It also means that men are more likely to perpetrate violence against women if they don’t view us as intelligent, thinking individuals worthy of their time and empathy. You might recently have seen the ‘If England gets beaten, then so does she’ campaign from charities discussing the potential rise in violence against women if England’s team didn’t win in the recent European Cup prior to our loss.

After that, there were many instances of threats and online hate towards both women and ethnic minorities.

Seems scary, but women face a lot of violence and injustice at the hand of men, even to this very day, and one way to reduce this is to encourage men to read more books by female authors.

For that matter, men also need to read books by authors from a wide range of backgrounds. Whether it’s individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community, differently abled individuals or writers from different races and countries, those who aren’t white, able bodied heterosexual men often struggle to get their stories heard.

Boosting diversity starts at the beginning, which is why we need to improve diversity in school reading lists. We need more books in schools by a wide range of different writers.

It also means teaching kids, particularly boys, that reading the stories and ideas of those who are different to them, particularly women and members of the BAME community, is vital. It’s also fun and can broaden your horizons. Make kids read a variety of books; don’t just give them books that feature the odd black or female character, but are written by white men, like Of Mice And Men, To Kill A Mocking Bird or Disgrace.

Instead, I think that more kids should be reading books by strong women with important stories to tell, like Maya Angelou, Roxane Gay, Margret Atwood, Alice Walker and others. Reading these important stories will help kids to see a diverse range of people actually write about themselves, rather than having to read their stories second hand from the pens of white, male authors.

Improving diversity in reading means that we also have to work hard to improve diversity in writing. I’ve already lamented on the lack of female writers in many genres, including spy fiction, which desperately needs more women writers. Some of the deplorable depictions I’ve seen of female characters in some spy books and thrillers written by men is enough to make you cringe. I’ve seen women president characters that only do as they’re told by men through to women who open their blouses to flirt. Anyone who’s ever even spent time with women should realise that these scenarios are utterly ridiculous, but somehow grown male writers don’t, and these books actually manage to make it past editors, proofreaders and major international publishers and make it into print.

That’s why publishers and the literary community as a whole needs to make a greater push towards even more diversity. We need writers from different backgrounds to be able to publish their stories and make their voices heard. If more women and members of marginalised communities can get their work published, then they’ll be able to slowly help push aside the myriad of male stories trying, and failing, to portray the struggles that women and those from other communities face.

Also, the simple fact is that people can’t read more fiction written by women if it isn’t published and made widely available. As someone who does lots of interviews with writers, one thing I’ve learned is that many women struggle to get their work published. While men do too, women writers, particularly talented ones writing about feminism and the struggles they face in their everyday lives, are often the worst hit. That needs to change if we want to make meaningful strides towards more diversity in the reading lists of everyone, but particularly those who need it the most; those with the privilege. As a white woman and member of the LGBTQIA+ community I’m constantly aware of the deficiencies in my reading, and work to read as widely as possible, but if men aren’t doing the same then nothing’s going to change. I’m not saying I’m perfect, far from it, but I always try my best to improve and broaden my mind.

At the end of the day, I think that the lack of diversity in men’s reading habits seriously limits our society, and is central to the issues that women and members of the LGBTQIA+ and BAME communities face. Men who want to be our allies can do so by reading books by those from marginalised communities. By buying and reading these books you’ll improve your own perception of the world, broaden your horizons and also help to fund unique writers. You’ll be voting with your money and showing publishers that these authors deserve more publicity and support. This blog is a place for a diverse range of writers, so if you have any suggestions, or are a BAME, female or LGBTQIA+ writer yourself and want some promotion and support, then I’m here for you.

Why Authors Should Get Royalties On Second-Hand Copies

When buying books, it’s easy to think that you’re supporting your favourite author, but that’s not always the case. When you buy books second hand, you’re only helping the seller, even if it is your local independent second-hand bookstore or a charity shop.

Authors don’t currently receive a share in the money made from second hand copies of their work, which means that the only way to truly help the writers you love is buy their books brand new. Even then, it’s not that simple- the books sold in supermarkets and in discount stores, although new, are cheap for a reason: writers don’t make as much on them.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy your books second hand, it just means that the system needs to change. Buying books second-hand is a great way to save the environment, as new books won’t be made and then languish on people’s bookshelves, unread and uncared about. 

Thankfully, things are slowly starting to change. To help struggling authors who work hard on their art, a collective of booksellers have set up a royalty scheme to compensate authors whenever their books are purchased through their sites.

The scheme is in its early stages, with a yearly maximum amount of royalties set and a limited number of retailers currently signed up to the project. However, it’s still a step in the right direction.

Acting as a fund, the scheme will pay authors from the kitty. It’s already being touted as a game changer by many organisations in the bookselling and writing community.

It would be great to see, in the future, booksellers making an effort to provide a section of the profits to authors, particularly those who are independent writers or who have fewer alternative sources of revenue, such as TV or film right options. It might be that they could do it for writers whose works are popular on the site- so instead of paying per book, these second hand booksellers, be they shops or websites, simply pay an annual fee to popular writers for the right to stock used copies of their back catalogue.

I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out- it’s safe to say that I have nothing in my life all worked out, least of all this! However, I think that the industry needs to make sweeping changes to account for the ever-increasing trade in used copies of printed books. Some sellers even make a lot of money out of particularly difficult to find titles, but not a penny of that currently goes to the book’s writers or their estates.

A change in the system needs to be made, and while this new fund is a great start, more is required. I’m neither a bookseller nor an author- although one day I will finish my novel! I’m simply a book lover and voracious reader who thinks that, in order to get new writers to focus on their writing and have the time to dedicate to creating amazing new works of fiction, we need to pay them properly. It’s the same as in every industry; we’re seeing it currently in hospitality, where an industry that previously undervalued and mistreated its workers is having to raise wages and think long and hard about how it treats them in order to survive. The same will eventually happen in literature, as good authors stop writing full-time because they simply can’t pay their bills. When this happens, the industry will be forced to change, so it’s better that it evolves now before the change becomes inevitable.

By supporting writers and giving them some of the royalties on their books, particularly valuable first editions or uncommon books that are out of print but still sought-after by readers, booksellers could help keep the writing industry thriving and improve diversity.

After all, there’s constantly a push for greater diversity in the writing world. But, when push comes to shove, the biggest barrier is always going to be a lack of funding. Many individuals simply don’t have the time to dedicate to unpaid work that doesn’t give them any security. Others don’t have the option to choose expensive self-publishing methods or pricey book publicity agents to arrange blog tours and book signings on their behalf.

With greater earning potential comes a greater chance that a more diverse range of voices will be heard in the writing community, particularly in the fiction market. I’ve already mentioned the need to increase diversity in school reading lists, but this simply isn’t possible or sustainable if every talented novelist isn’t able to get their voices heard. That means that we need to make fiction writing a viable career, and for many, that’s simply not the case right now.

At the same time, we also need to acknowledge that second hand books are an important part of the literary market. Not every book buyer can afford to pay the initial release price for a book. Also, they might enjoy the process of browsing for used books, which have character. I personally love my copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, which I bought at a charity shop and contains some amazing annotations from its previous owner.

Second hand books are also better for the environment, as they mean that books that were previously sat on shelves, unused, can go to a new home. Buying used books reduces the amount of waste in the publishing industry. New books are great, but they take a lot of energy and raw materials to produce, which means that buying used copies saves resources.

Therefore, the publishing industry needs to embrace new ways to benefit both the second hand book market and authors. This new scheme is an exciting step in the right direction, but more needs to be done in the future.

Overall, I think that this scheme is an amazing idea that, if developed properly, has the potential to become a game changer for the writing industry. Hopefully it will be picked up by more book retailers over the coming months and will evolve into a practice that remains in place throughout the coming years and changes the bookselling market for the better.

Why Golden Age Crime Fiction Is A Great Choice For Summer

Despite what you might think, summer is a great time for reading. While you’re relaxing on the beach or making your way to a fun outing in the sun, you’ll need something fun to keep you occupied.

That’s why reading is a great pastime- in the summer, it’s easy to do and doesn’t require you to get sweaty or wear any fancy protective gear. It’s also a cheap and accessible way to spend your time. Whether the weather outside is frightful even in the summer (I live in the UK, so it usually is), or it’s finally giving us a blast of sunlight, you can enjoy a good book.

Buying books for winter is a lot easier than for summer. When reading in the winter, you’re looking for something unique and gripping that will give you thrills. In the summer, however, you’re looking for something comforting and interesting, that will mean that you don’t have to think too much, especially when it’s hot and you don’t want to have to strain your brain.

If you’re looking for books to read in summer, then I’ve found the perfect solution: Golden Age crime fiction is the way to go. It’s the perfect blend of cosy fiction and instantly familiar stories.

As you might have guessed from my recent post about my favourite underrated characters from Agatha Christie novels, I’ve been on a bit of a Golden Age crime fiction binge lately. Primarily I’ve been re-reading old faves, but I’ve also checked out some exciting new books in this genre.

That’s because, as the sun finally starts to come out in the UK (it’s only June after all), I’ve found myself delving back into the arms of my old Golden Age crime favourites. I’ve enjoyed a lot of these books and stories in the past, and now I’m happy to be re-reading them now that the sun’s out.

For me, Golden Age crime fiction is the ultimate in summer reading. When you’re looking for comfort and something to cheer you up, a rip-roaring thriller is the ideal way to bring yourself out of your shell. As long as it’s not too gory, a police procedural or a modern thriller usually fits the bill for cheering me up.

When it comes to sunshine, I need something fun and calm, and I want something that’s set during a sunny period. Many Golden Age crime fiction writers wrote books and short stories set in sunny climates, so I can usually find something sunny and bright.

That’s particularly important when you live somewhere like England: where we get like four hours of sunshine every year, usually in bloody May. Right now, we’ve been very fortunate to have some nice weather, and I want to make the most of it by reading books that transport me to a sunny place, even in the evenings when it goes dark.

Still, I don’t want to read those awful romance books that some of my friends take on holiday with them. I want something that still interests me and is gripping, rather than just some soppy book that’s simply set in sunny climes.

That’s why I love reading Golden Age crime fiction during the summer, particularly when we get rare bouts of sunny weather in the UK, or if I travel to another country with decent weather. Books by classic authors from the period, including my old favourites Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers are great for taking on holiday, or a staycation, or to simply enjoy at home.

There are also Golden Age style novels, written today, that can give you the feel of traditional, quaint cosy crime fiction. One of my favourite modern series that feels like traditional Golden Age crime fiction is the Phryne Fisher novels by the amazing Kerry Greenwood. These amazing books are set in the 1920s, and feature an incredible female protagonist who’s unconventional detective style allows her to uncover the truth about a range of sordid crimes and murders.

If you want to check out something that feels familiar, then you could consider some reimagined version of your favourite Golden Age crime fiction serials. There’s plenty of incredible reimagined crime series out there, including Sophie Hannah’s amazingly authentic Poirot stories and Jill Paton Walsh’s version of the Lord Peter Wimsey books. Whatever you like, you’ll be able to find something that you love that extends your enjoyment of your favourite Golden Age book series this summer.

So, if you’re searching for a new book or a series of novels that will help you to enjoy the summer sunshine, then I think you should check out Golden Age crime fiction. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or you’ve never even read an Agatha Christie novel (how I don’t know, but I’m sure there must be at least one of you out there somewhere), you should try reading Golden Age crime fiction this summer.

My Favourite Underrated Agatha Christie Characters

When you think of the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, you probably remember her most notable detective, the Belgium private sleuth Hercule Poirot.

If you’re a bit more of a fan of the undisputed Golden Age crime fiction genius, then you might also love her homely, elderly amateur detective and general busybody, Miss Marple.

While this pair characters are, indisputably, amazing, there’s a lot more to the Queen of Crime than just these two.  Christie was a prolific author, who wrote 66 full-length novels, as well as hundreds of short stories that were published in over a dozen collections and many newspapers and periodicals over the years.

Her work defined the Golden Age of Crime Fiction, and became a source of inspiration for writers and artists from around the world. Her work is popular everywhere, and it’s even been turned into animated series in Asia and major blockbusters in Hollywood.

While Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple novels are renowned around the world, and even the sight of a set of dark moustaches invokes an image of her famed detective, the Queen Of Crime also created many other memorable and intriguing characters.

Many of these characters aren’t given the attention and renown that they deserve. During the pandemic, I’ve been turning to Golden Age Crime Fiction and old favourite authors like Christie to bring me comfort, and I’ve found myself revisiting some of her amazing, yet underrated, characters.

That’s why I’ve put together this brief list of some of my favourite and, in my opinion, under appreciated, Christie characters. It’s not a definitive list, and I’m sure other fans of the author might not agree with all of my choices, but hopefully this list will inspire you to check out some Christie characters that you’ve not investigated before.

Parker Pyne: Parker Pyne is a sort of consultant life coach, who aids private individuals in everything from relationship issues through to suspicious deaths and almost everything in between. He advertises in the newspapers with short, cryptic ads that entice many individuals from all walks of life to reach out to him and embroil him in their mysteries and lives. The character appears in a selection of short stories that are really interesting. He also appears in a short story entitled Death On The Nile, which later became the name of one of Christie’s most famous Poirot novels. The story is an early incantation of the novel, but it’s very different in plot, with only a few small similarities. This progression shows how Christie used short stories as a creative springboard.

Ariadne Oliver: Appearing in several Poirot novels and a couple of standalone short stories, Mrs Ariadne Oliver was Christie’s literary self-portrait. The character is an eccentric author who created a Finnish detective, who she’s sick of- similar to Christie herself, who told many of her friends and fans that she was tired of writing about Hercule Poirot. Ariadne Oliver also adores apples, and is generally just a funny and witty character who’s great fun for readers, as well as being a useful foil for the detective. I love her TV portrayal in the ITV Poirot series and the character is definitely undervalued in the books. She’s wacky and funny, while also being intelligent and she has the ability to command the attention she deserves, rather than getting dismissed as so many similar characters are in books. She’s funny but also droll and makes acute observations about the human condition, which is again a refreshing change.

Luke Fitzwilliam: This ex-policeman character returns from India in the novel Murder Is Easy and meets an elderly lady on a train. She states that she’s going to report a serial killer to the police. Before she gets to Scotland Yard, she dies in mysterious circumstances. Unable to let the matter lie, Luke Fitzwilliam decides to investigate. The character isn’t a reoccurring one, but he does stick with me because he’s deeply compassionate and has an intuitive understanding of human nature. He’s also wrong many times, and is open and honest about his lack of knowledge, which is refreshing as many of Christie’s protagonists are very arrogant and proud of their abilities.

Superintendent Battle: While Inspector Japp, the character inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Inspector Lestrade is perhaps the best known of Christie’s policemen characters; Superintendent Battle is arguably the most interesting. Battle appears in five of Christie’s full-length novels, including standalone tales and Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot books. He also appears in several short stories. The character is related to several others who turn out to be instrumental in other Christie mysteries. He’s also a lot more in-depth and insightful than some other police characters, who simply act as an official counterpart to private detectives. Battle is intelligent in his own right, and brings a lot of information and useful ideas to the investigation, even if, ultimately, the protagonist detective is the one who eventually gets the glory of actually solving the case in the end. 

Miss Lemon: Hercule Poirot’s secretary who also appears in a selection of other short stories, including a couple of Parker Pyne tales is also a funny character in her own right. Christie’s description of the character, who is portrayed as having no imagination and being dedicated exclusively to the creation of the perfect filing system, is droll and witty. It’s also an interesting commentary on the way that many detective novels at the time portrayed working women as sexless, dull people who have no lives outside of their work. Miss Lemon has a sister, and the novel Hickory Dickory Dock contains funny passages about how Poriot doesn’t realise that the character would ever have a family and that she was born as a secretary with a desire to improve filing. The character is a funny commentary on the portrayal of women in literature and a useful soundboard for the eccentric Belgium sleuth.

Mr Satterthwaite: In The Mysterious Mr Quin short story collection, and a few other tales, Mr Satterthwaite and Harley Quin muse over a selection of unusual and seemingly unsolvable crimes. While Harley Quin might be the titular character in the series, he’s merely a plot device used to prompt his friend, Mr Satterthwaite, into uncovering the truth. While his name appears in the title of the book of short stories, Quin not a two-dimensional character, whereas the elderly and old-fashioned Mr Satterthwaite is a fully-fledged character with inventive ideas and witty repartee. He’s an avid and astute observer of the human race who uses his insight to help him to find out the truth in even the most unsettling and confusing cases. The character also appears in the Poirot novel Three Act Tragedy and the short story Dead Man’s Chest, which shows how useful a foil and observer he is.

Is It Just Lockdown That’s Driving Children Towards More Challenging Books?

Recent studies have shown that children are reading more challenging and longer books during the lockdown. They’ve been checking out longer texts and novels on more challenging topics than ever before.

While you might think that kids would be less inclined to read with schools closed and so much technology at their disposal, they’re actually reading more books and ones that involve more complex ideas and plot points.

That’s a great thing: reading can help kids with everything from increasing their vocabulary to helping them to learn more about different cultures and experiences. It’s an important part of life and it can be really vital for kid’s development.

Fantasy novels topped the list of books that kids read during the past year, with Rick Reardon’s The House of Hades coming out on top. Other popular titles included Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban and The Hate You Give. As you can see, the titles are predominantly fantasy. The Harry Potter title was an obvious one; that series is like comfort reading. However, that particular book marks the point in which the series turns from a cheery children’s saga into a darker, more complicated set of books.

So, it’s clear that children are enjoying more complex books over the past few months. Obviously, this study doesn’t reflect every child in the world, but it does give us a unique insight into how kids are reading and what’s going on in the world of children’s literature.

While I agree with the study that the amount of extra time they had during the lockdown has contributed to their improved reading habits, I also think that there are other issues at play here.

For example, I think that the fact that kids couldn’t go outside and learn by playing made them want to enter into an imaginary world. While TV shows can help, there’s no better way to transport yourself to a fantasy world than reading a good book.

So, I think that the lockdown has definitely impacted on the choice of books that kids read. However, I also think that there are other factors that have pushed kids into the arms of more complex and challenging novels.

For example, I definitely reckon that the recent social situation has pushed kids to read more widely, and to choose books that explore a more diverse range of topics. The Hate You Give, in particular, is about racial inequality. Considering the BLM protests and recent increased media focus on the murders of innocent black individuals at the hands of the police (it’s been happening for decades, but it’s only really since 2020 that they’ve been the focus of public outrage and extensive, critical media coverage), it’s clear that these factors have influenced children’s choices.

Also, another thing to remember is that while kids choose what they want to read, it’s often the parents and other relatives who buy books for them and help to influence their choices. After all, they’re the ones that have the money, particularly when the kids are too young to have their own jobs or earn significant pocket money.

Therefore, I feel like the recent social unrest has also been, at least partially, responsible for the change in children’s reading habits. It’s led their parents to provide them with a wider variety of reading materials on different topics. The increased focus on diversity in today’s society, which is frankly long overdue, is driving parents to purchase a wider range of authors and topics.

That’s how it goes with both younger kids, as their parents and guardians tend to purchase their books. Older children and teenagers tend to be exposed to more TV and have access to their own cash, so they’re even more likely to be influenced by factors such as social change. Therefore, it’s understandable that young adult books such as The Hate You Give are more popular now.

I also reckon that another issue that’s changed the way children read is what I’m terming ‘screen fatigue’. After months of having to do their schooling online and spending hours everyday staring at screens, I think that many kids are probably sick and tired of staring at screens. I don’t have kids myself, but I do know a lot of people who do, and I know that between virtual schooling, playing video games and watching endless TV, they’re a bit tired of screens.

They all want to play outside and spend time in the real world. That’s why I think that books, particularly longer books, are more popular with kids right now. Children want to spend more time doing cool stuff, but between poor weather (it’s the UK) and the quarantine restrictions, they’ve been stuck indoors with limited options. Long books give kids a unique opportunity to dive into a new world and stay there.

With shorter books, you don’t really get the chance to immerse yourself in the novel’s setting and plot before it’s all over again and you have to start a new book. That’s why longer, more complex books and series are ideal when you’re looking to get away from it, which today’s kids definitely are.

Ultimately, I think that the lockdown has definitely had a major impact on children’s reading, and adult’s reading for that matter. It’s changed all of our lives in so many different ways, and I’m sure that it’s affected our reading habits- I know it has changed mine. However, I think that as the world is changing and kids are being exposed to more turmoil and social change from a young age, there are other factors that have impacted on the reading habits of kids in 2021.

Happy 5th Birthday To The Dorset Book Detective!

It’s insane to think that the Dorset Book Detective, my little blog where I rant and rave and recommend my favourite reads, has turned 5 years old today!

Over those 5 years I’ve had loads of fun reviewing new books, interviewing amazing authors and generally just sharing my thoughts on crime fiction, thrillers, mystery novels, pastoral texts and, once, a cookbook.

I’d just like to say a massive thank you to all of the authors, publishers and book publicists who’ve supported my blog since it began. Also, most importantly, a huge thanks to my readers and followers, who’ve made this blog so fun to write for and manage.

In the future, I’m hoping you’ll get to enjoy even more of the content you love the most. I know the top 5 lists are many people’s favourites, but if you’ve seen something you like and want to see more of on the Dorset Book Detective, or you think there’s something the blog is missing, then feel free to reach out and I’ll consider your ideas.

Thanks again to everyone who’s supported my blog over the past 5 years, and here’s to another 5 more!

Inventive Book Storage Solutions For Your Online Purchases

Buying new books is fun, but it does leave you stuck with the age-old issue: where to put them all.

As book sales have soared throughout the lockdown, many of us now have loads of texts in our homes.

In many cases, we’ve not got enough shelving and storage solutions to put them all on.

You can sell or donate your old books, but if you’ve got a massive To Be Read pile or you just don’t can’t let go yet, then you’ll need to consider book storage options.

Of course, all of this could be alleviated with a Kindle, but frankly, there’s nothing quite like the experience of reading a paper book. Some people I know love their Kindle, but if you need to have physical copy of a book, then you’ll also need a physical place to keep your collection.

If, like me, you’ve been buying loads of books online during the lockdown, you’ll need some storage solutions.

Things will only get worse now that non-essential shops, like bookstores, have reopened, and you might find your home overrun with books!

While a large bookcase might seem like an obvious choice, it’s not always doable. They’re expensive and can be tough for people to assemble and move, particularly if you’re on your own.

The alternative, stacking your books up in piles all over the floor, isn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing or good for your precious tomes.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to store your books. If you hate doing DIY and don’t want to be making bookshelves all the time, here are some ideas.

Crates

Crates might seem like an industrial solution for storing your books in a garage or attic, but they’re actually also useful for displaying them too. They give your space a tidy and utilitarian look. My housemate gave me some plastic crates she had spare, and I love storing my books in them. They’re great for large books, like hardbacks. If you get the crates with the slats in the sides then you can read the titles through the sides, making it easier to find your favourites whenever you want to.

Clear Storage Tubs

Another way to view all your books easily without keeping them in piles on the floor is to store them in clear plastic tubs. You know the kind; they’re the best friend of students everywhere. The kind you can buy from Wilko or B&M for really cheap. You can stack them up on top of each other and then cover them with a pretty throw if you’re keeping them somewhere they can be seen. Then, when you want your books, all you have to do is take the throw off and you can see the contents of the box really easily and find the title you want to read. These tubs are a cost-effective and easy way to store your books and you can hide them under throws and even use them as a table for small items on top, so they’re a unique and versatile solution to your book storage issues.

Ladders

It might seem a bit like a dumb Pinterest idea that’d never really work in real life, but ladders actually can hold books if you get the right one and prop it against a wall. I’ve seen a few people do it and it’s pretty cool. Plus, you can customise ladders and make them unique and cool. For example, if you get a wooden ladder then you can paint it in awesome colours or even cover it in wallpaper. I’ve also seen people wrap fairy lights around the sides of ladders to make a really funky style for their unique shelving solution. Using a ladder is also cheaper and easier than assembling a bookcase. It also means you can repurpose your shelving as a ladder if you get tired of it. Although, if you’re going to use it in the long run then it’s probably best if you bolt it in place to keep it secure or put a back onto the ladder, so your books don’t keep falling off it.

Drawers

Sounds weird I know, but hear me out- storing books in drawers is easy and great for if you have a spare chest that you don’t use. After all, people keep CDs and DVDs in drawers in entertainment units, so why not do the same with your books? It’s a great way to display your books, as you can put them all spine up, then find the one you want without having to rummage about too much. Also, it’ll keep your books safe from too much dust, which is good if you like to keep them pristine. If you put too many books in drawers that aren’t suitable for them then they can become heavy and hard to open, so try picking drawers that are on runners. The ones you have to drag out tend to get heavy and unwieldy. It also helps if you pick a pieces of furniture that’s made from good solid wood; a cheap, flimsy piece might break under the weight of your books.

Floating Bookshelves

If you like the idea of shelving but don’t have the space for a massive freestanding bookshelf, then you could try using floating shelves that attach to walls. They’re usually pretty easy to hang, although they usually need nails which might be a problem if, like me, you’re 1. Bad at DIY and 2. Living in rented accommodation where you can’t just put up shelves if and when you want to. However, if you live in your own home and are handy with a drill then floating shelves on the walls could help you display your favourite titles without taking up room precious floor space.

Buy A Small Bookshelf

Another solution for if you don’t fancy buying and assembling a full size bookshelf is to consider getting a small, freestanding one. Often they come fully assembled, particularly if you buy them second hand. I got a small spinning bookshelf from a charity furniture store a few years ago and it’s now one of my favourite possessions. It’s great for storing my books, and it spins round, so I can see them in all their glory. Spinning it round is also really fun, so that’s an added bonus!