Wednesday, 25 September 2013

10 tips to help you read more

Here are 10 tips to help you read more.

I often have a spat of not reading anything. Last year I read about 6 or 7 books all year and for me that is woeful. I can use my new born son as an excuse but it's still pretty bad. At the start of this year I gave myself the task of reading a book a week. I am still way off target but I've managed to squeeze in some reading where before I would do anything else.

There is no maximum or minimum number of books you should read, as long as you enjoy it. If you fancy adding a book or two to your yearly log then try these for size.

1. Enjoy what you read.
OK, so it may seem simple but if you start reading Umbrella by Will Self and after page 10 you are utterly bamboozled then it's not a crime to stop. Personally I get to about page 50-70 and make my mind up, but I've given up on some so-called classics. I've sometimes later revisited them and completed a few and generally enjoyed them but don't put yourself through it. You'll come out dizzy and with a contempt for books. Reading is supposed to be fun!

2. Use more than a book
Being a bookshop owner I encourage buying books, but I also read on my phone and on my kindle. I use the Aldiko app on my phone to download and read classics. It gives me the opportunity to read anywhere I am. My son used to fall asleep on me and refuse to budge so I decided to use this time to read on my phone as it was the only thing I had on me at the time! I've discovered some fantastic books this way including Treasure Island, Pride and Prejudice and Call of the Wild.

3. Read more than one book at a time
To some it may be quite hard but I often have at least 2 books on the go, on different mediums. It helps if the books are different genres rather than having 2 crime thrillers. These can get mixed up and plots transfer from one book to another! At the moment I'm reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (on the Aldiko app), Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett (in paperback) and The Secret Garden (audiobook).

4. Use audiobooks
Some may say it's not reading but who cares? The Secret Garden is my very first audiobook and I love it. I put it on when I'm driving and doing chores around the house. If I went to the gym I'd put it on then too. It still counts. I use another free app called Librivox and there are hundreds of free classics to choose from, but try Audible for new books, there are thousands!

5. Read short stories
I've never been one to invest time in short stories. I always thought if I'm going to put effort and time into a book, I want to really give myself to it and spend time with the characters. This is so wrong. A short story can be amazingly nutritious. Depending how short, it can be read in just 20 minutes or so (I'm a slow reader). The Sherlock Holmes stories I'm reading at the moment are all short stories yet still encapsulate the characters, the smells and locations of London just as a novel does.

6. JUST read
The reason I've not hit my goal of a book a week this year is due to the Internet, and probably Twitter in particular. I try to read just before I go to sleep but often think "I'll just check Twitter first" then spend an hour working out my thumb muscle scrolling through. Put that phone down (unless using Aldiko of course!) and maybe even turn it off. Use the time you said you were going to read, to actually read.

7. Schedule more time
As stated I like to read before I go to bed, but I've also scheduled in an hour just to read during the day. It's easier for me as I work from home, but even if it's just 15 minutes before dinner, or in your lunch break, you'll soon see that book you've been meaning to read complete within a week or two.

8. Join a book club
I've started an online book club and it is going amazingly well. We vote on what book to read then we have the whole month to get through it, ending with a discussion on Facebook on the last Sunday of the month. We don't meet anywhere as it's online and each time we do the discussion I use my phone and the Facebook app rather than sit at a PC as it gives me much more freedom. Arguing about whether the book was decent or not is all part of the fun! Book clubs are all over too so if you want to sit, eat cake and chat about them then see if your local book shop of library runs one. Join The Big Comfy Book Club online HERE

9. Give yourself a challenge
If you only read 1 book a year why not make it a New Years Resolution to read more? Maybe there is a film coming out that has been adapted from a book, you could read the book BEFORE the film comes out then brag to your friends "Oh they missed so-and-so out of the film". Read ALL the Man Booker Prize books before the winner is announced. Work towards a goal. At the end treat yourself to a low-calorie carbonated refreshment. Nice.

10. Get up to date with the next big thing.
A lot of people think that Dan Brown is an awful writer, but his books have sold enough that if you line up every one he's sold it would reach a really, really long way. Probably a billion miles long. Forget about the critics, if you like chases and cars exploding and dinosaurs (who doesn't?!) then get in on the action. A million billion people who bought Dan Brown can't be wrong and you can chip in with the conversation around the watercooler or Internet forum about Inferno or Fifty Shades of Grey or Harry Potter. Take a look at the bestselling books this year, this month, this week and see why it's at the top.

I hope this list has inspired you to pick up a few more books and get your read on. You can, incidentally, pick them up from OUR SHOP, with just £1 postage on everything.

Any more tips then let me know and I'll share to the world. Contact me on Twitter @BigComfyBooks, Facebook or comment below.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

October book club choice - Man Booker Mania!

Our October book club choice will be chosen from the list of 6 Man Booker Prize nominees.

I love the Man Booker Prize for several reasons. New authors are brought to public attention. It's one of the only book related events to be covered by the media extensively. Small publishers are given a huge boost. People buy more books. Plus loads more!

Often the list is argued that it's too snobbish, too easy, too literal or too stale, but for me I love the fact that these discussions are taking place.

I failed to read a Man Booker nominee last year but usually I try to cram as many in as I can. Sometimes the books on the list are absolute stinkers. Snowdrops by A D Miller from 2011 is one of the worst books I've ever read and even the winner from a few years ago, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, had me bored to tears. Conversely The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt is one of my all time favourite books and Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch is simply a delight.

So what does this year hold? Below are the six short-listed entries. Read the blurb then take your choice!
Either vote via Facebook, let me know on Twitter or comment below this blog.

Our September book of the month discussion will be Sunday at 4pm where we'll be discussing The Book Thief. The vote will close at the same time.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Harvest by Jim Crace
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Tale of the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin

Have a look at the Man Booker website for more info.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Fargo Family - Meeting everyone at Fargo Village

On Tuesday I had the chance to attend the very first tenants meeting at Fargo Villege. Around 15 or so tenants already signed up to Fargo got together to chat on Far Gosford Street in Coventry, ask questions and generally get to know each other. It was a very successful evening with ideas being shared between us. The meetings will become fairly regular and keep us up to date on the works going on on the site, offering us help with finances, new businesses, marketing and anything that we feel we need.
(l-r) Beadlebop, Big Comfy Bookshop and RogueArt!
The go-to guys at Fargo, Jo and Steve, are very much approachable and open to any ideas and worries we all had and we were mostly given an answer straight away to questions asked, with other queries being taken away so they could research them and let us know next time.

Below is a list of businesses and people who will join me at Fargo. With just under 50% of the place rented, and it still to be built, places are going very quickly so at the next meeting I'm looking forward to saying hello to more new people.

These are off the top of my head and if I can find a website/link to them. Please check them out by liking/following or just spreading the word of Fargo:

Beadlebop Design - Facebook
Karmen's Kreations - Website
Iris Aperture - Website | Facebook | Twitter
UTI Creative - Website
Astral Gypsy - Website
Twilight - Facebook
Urban Coffee Co.

More TBC.

And of course Fargo Village! - Website | Facebook | Twitter

And me!
The Big Comfy Bookshop - Website | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

 PS. Man Booker Fever hitting! Shortlist announced!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson

I've seen a great documentary about Jeanette Winterson and I even gave her book Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? out on World Book Night, yet I've never actually read any of her books, so when Sexing the Cherry won the vote in our book club I was excited.

It's a hard book to describe. It roughly follows Jordan and his 'mother' in the 17th century, except time, space and all things real are not really true. Villages that float, an elephantine protagonist and the stories of the 12 princesses (great bit btw) all mash together with the London Plague, feminism and sexuality. At even 144 pages I really struggled to follow it. Winterson's literary tongue, especially towards the end, was overindulgent and suffocated what was already a convoluted idea. I really enjoy literary fiction but was sorely disappointed with this result.
The book club was split, with some also not enjoying it but some really revelling in the prose.
Here's hoping that her other books are not as muddy and troublesome for me.

A dour 3.5 on the comfometer.
I'm excited to start The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

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Thursday, 5 September 2013

Books on TV, 50 Shades and more Salinger - Book News!

Since the Book Show on Sky was cancelled earlier this year (RIP) there is not one TV show on air dedicated to books. To me this is a travesty. The beauty of the Book Show was that we not only got to know about what new books were out but what went into the writing, getting to know the author, presented skillfully by Mariella Frostrup. I loved seeing snippets of authors homes and how they work, classics revisited and the end of show questions. I'm sad. But now there is a new book show appearing on TV.
Not so much a review show but a book club similar to 'Richard and Judy's' and 'The TV Book Club' that appeared a few years back (meh). This new show is based around crime thrillers.
It's produced by Amanda Ross, who also produced The TV Book Club as well as Richard and Judy's. If it runs along the same lines then we'll get a few celebrities to read that weeks book and then spend half an hour dissecting it. Top crime authors have been confirmed to appearing such as Martina Cole and Harlan Coben. I champion the fact we have books returning to TV, albeit for a short time.

The Crime Thriller Book Club starts on ITV3 on September 16th and runs til 24th October where the channels Crime Thriller Awards will take place.

If I say 50 Shades to you I'd hazard a guess you know what I am talking about. This Goliath of a book trilogy by newcomer E.L.James comprising 50 Shades of Grey, 50 Shades Darker and 50 Shades Freed will be turned into a film (no doubt the trilogy) and the question on everybody's lips is who will play Christian and Anastasia?
Well stop those rumours as the pair have been confirmed as Byker Grove alumni Charlie Hunnam and daughter of Melanie Griffith, Dakota Johnson.
After scouring the net it's quite clear the 50 Shades fans seem a little underwhelmed, but only time will tell if they create cinematic steam. The film will be released in August 2014 and make a billion dollars on day one and create stars of the duo.

Finally J.D.Salinger, who's one and only novel The Catcher In The Rye became an American classic is to posthumously release a series of other novels. Five to be exact. Some of these will be based on the anti-hero from Catcher, Holden Caulfield. Another is based around Salingers brief and rocky marriage to Sylvia, with others rumoured to be based on his experiences in WWII. These 5 books will be released from 2015-20. In the meantime a new documentary focusing on the mystery surrounding Salinger is out soon.

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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Septembers Book Club choice is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is our book club choice in September after our week of votes. I'm excited by this as I've been meaning to read this for ages and now I HAVE to, seeing as I run this book club!
If you fancy joining the book club, it's purely online and we have a group on Facebook (click here and add yourself) but if you're not on Facebook then fear not as you can join in the conversation over on Twitter or simply comment on this blog. Join in anyway you can!

You'll have til September 29th, 4pm to get through it, then we'll talk about it over on Facebook.

Happy reading folks! 


PS I have yet to receive my copy of the book so I'm unable to take a picture of my cats with it, so instead here is Dean on his own.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Fargo Village - The new home of The Big Comfy Bookshop

After over 12 months I am excited to say I have signed a lease for a property!

My shop will be where the rolling shutter is

I will be moving into a purpose built creative village in Coventry called Fargo Village, on Far Gosford Street.
Fargo is an exciting new cultural hub that will open next year. It is being built on a disused industrial site, using the old buildings themselves rather than knocking down and making a building-by-numbers, and will incorporate dozens of independent businesses, including me! As well as books you'll find artists, music, dance, food and more.

I was approached by Jo from Fargo whilst I was in Earlsdon for the Earlsdon festival. I tucked the leaflet into my bag and subsequently forgot all about it. Only a month later whilst reorganising things did I come across the leaflet and investigate further. I was struck immediately by how similar both Fargo's and my ideas were.

I've visited the site twice already, once whilst it was being featured on Midlands Today (my foot was clearly visible in the background whilst a councillor was being interviewed!).

I am extremely excited by this new venture and hope to get an open date soon. As well as books I'll be selling cakes made by Clairey's Cakes (simply divine!) and Ali Smart, and selling locally made crafts, such as the talented Emily's at Cotton Cat UK. The place is currently being built though so all I know at the moment is it's open next year. I'll still be attending craft fairs and other places in the meantime (I have a 'residency' at POD in Coventry thanks to Adam at the wonderful Here Comes Everyone magazine)

As well as the main buildings, there will also be shipping containers to work and sell from! These can be leased for a short period too so if you fancy having a go at a business but think it's too risky, it really is a grand opportunity.

Please go and visit the Fargo website and follow and like on their social media sites too.

Follow me on Twitter - @BigComfyBooks
Like me on Facebook - Facebook

How about browsing the shop too? -