Friday, October 28, 2011

A Mr B's Reading Year - November - Thin Blue Smoke, Doug Worgul

Today was an exciting day. Look what was waiting for me when I came home. Aren't you jealous just because of the packaging alone? And I know its not November but it came earlier than expected.

Mrs B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath has made one of my blogs before as the first shop where any member of the Twelve by Twelve group spotted a copy of our book in a proper bookshop rather than a quilt shop and subsequently as the shop where I was filmed for the BBC news. So it is fair to say I am predisposed to like it. But, I have to say I was a little sceptical of its latest innovative gift offering - A Mr B's Reading Year. In effect this is a postal version of their Reading Spa only it lasts for longer and you have to supply your own cake. ( Although, now I have said that it would not suprise me if a 'with added brownie' version of the gift is launched soon.) The idea is that they spend sometime getting to know you and your taste in books , either in person or by telephone or email. Then, each month except January, when you are presumed to have Christmas books ( and I assume the staff to be too knackered after the Christmas rush to be bothered) you get a personally chosen book with a note explaining why it was sent for you, written by your own personal bibliotherapist.

Now, the idea is great but I did wonder whether it was possible to know enough about the content of enough books and to know the reader well enough to get eleven good matches. But when I was in Bath this time I read three books I would not have picked up had they not recommended them and loved them all. And I am half way through one I did pick up all by myself but, as it was hardback, I would probably have put it back and awaited the paperback, had Ed not enthused about it so much, by the time he had finished, I was cradling it like my child, lest anyone abduct it from me. So I decided to let them challenge themselves on me and bought myself a gift.

This is what was inside my package.

Initial reaction: Doubt. The cover makes it look like a knock off of Angela's Ashes. Which, as a book was great. As the precursor of the misery memoir genre it was not great. But when I turn to the back cover, I understand. Although I have to say, it does not seem that they have had to try very hard. The blurb uses all the key words I would say I, liked in a book iin two sentences : love, friendship, community, race, faith, music, barbecue and the language of rabbis. Actually, on second glance, the Jewish connection turned out to be my mistake. It is about the language of rabbits. but thats quite intriguing too.

It says it is a debut novel ( good because if I like it there is no great expense of getting all the back catalogue) and that the author is in the ranks of chroniclers of American Life such as John Irving and Garrisson Keillor ( not good as those are two authors I have not read but always knew I probably should and if this book is good I will probably have to buy the back catalogue of TWO authors. And Mr B, if you are reading, no you can't send me those authors the next two months. That's cheating.) Dennis gets a spoiler email to check I do not already have a book they intend to send. His first impression of this book was the same as mine: that it looks like a Fried Green Tomato at the Whistlestop Cafe type of book, which is like saying it is a Helen Mirren type of actress.

So, I just have to finish The Submission by Amy Waldman and I can tuck into this one with good expectations. I read but rarely blog about what I read so I plan to blog my package each month then later tell you what I thought of it. You could buy a copy and read along if you like. If you want the packaging as much as I did Mr B's ( a shop in which incidentally my only financial interest is that they stay open so I can part with money in their premises) now have an internet shop.


Erica Spinks said...

Credit goes to you, Helen, for being open to new stories. Often, in the library, people ask for recommendations but, when offered, they are frequently too locked in to what they know and refuse to try something unknown. It's a low-risk option - if they don't like the books, they can just return them. No money involved!

Joanne S said...

Books are recommended to me but I first check to see what other book titles the recommender loves. When I worked at the library I could recommend books that I would never read just by using this system.

I'd listen to them and think "oh, a Vicki person" and know what to suggest they read. One guy would come in and ask "what's Joanne's husband got checked out?" He knew I selected for G. And they would request the same for him. He was always happy.

I foot dragged for over a year before reading "Cutting for Stone" and loved it. Still won't pick up Bee Season or The Help. The books I like a darker. Hardly any happy endings.

Judy said...


What a wonderful book shop wish we had one in OZ like that. You have me hooked on Thin Blue Smoke I'm off to track one down. I've just finished reading The Submission and Sister two of the best reads ever, an looking for a new read. Thanks.

Deborah Boschert said...

Yes! The packaging is beautiful. What a great deal. I'm looking forward to hearing about your next book surprise.

Doug Worgul said...

'Looking forward to your thoughts and comments on Thin Blue Smoke.
doug worgul