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Introducing Behind the Bookshelves: A Podcast from AbeBooks

Enjoy bookish podcasts? You’re in luck. AbeBooks has just launched a podcast series called Behind the Bookshelves. The idea of the podcast is to tell the stories behind books and the people who love them.

The first five episodes cover the early days of Penguin, the AA’s Big Book, Literary Oxford, the puzzle-book Masquerade and Mark Twain’s globetrotting. There’s often a fascinating story behind famous authors and their best known books, but the show will also look at obscure and out-of-print titles that may not be so well known. The podcast will appeal to both readers and collectors, and anyone who loves books and a good story.

The host is Richard Davies, who has worked with AbeBooks since 2005. Born in England and now a resident of Canada, Richard will bring a personal touch to the podcasts so expect a broad mixture of weird books, unusual stories, and memorable moments in book history. The initial format sees audio from Richard alone but the show will expand to include guests and interviews later in the year.

“I’m interested in ordinary people doing extraordinary things and how this can relate to the world of books,” says Davies. “A good example is Allen Lane who founded Penguin and shook up the worlds of reading and publishing by introducing affordable paperbacks. Other people in the publishing business thought Lane was crazy but he was a true visionary. We look at how Lane did this in our first episode.”

Behind the Bookshelves is designed to complement AbeBooks’ existing activity on blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Our first episode is embedded below. Find Behind the Bookshelves on….


Google Play



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10 Trailblazing Environmental Books for Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22. It began in 1970 and is now celebrated in more than 150 countries. The day is intended to raise awareness about the environmental issues facing the world. Writing on the environment and nature has a long legacy. A History of British Birds by Thomas Bewick, published in two volumes in 1797 and 1804, was the first field guide for birds. In 1854, Walden by Henry David Thoreau sparked the back-to-nature movement. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin founded evolutionary biology in 1859.

The genre took a dramatic turn in the 20th century with the publication of a series of books that highlighted the dangers faced by various environments and species. The 19th century themes of appreciation and understanding were joined by concern for the environment’s future and demands for conservation and preservation.

Silent Spring resulted in DDT being banned

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

Subject matter: Carson documented how unregulated use of pesticides adversely affected the environment and also humans, and, in doing so, she challenged America’s chemical industry at a time when environmental activism was unheard of.

Impact: The book was met with fierce criticism from major chemical producers. However, it sparked the start of the US ecological movement, and led to major media coverage about the harmful use of pesticides. The use of DDT was eventually banned in the US in 1972 and a worldwide ban followed. The book is still controversial today with many critics blaming Carson for hampering agricultural production around the world and allowing millions to die from malaria. DDT was originally intended to control malaria among soldiers in World War II. This book is worth reading today in order to discover how far corporations can go when unregulated.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas started campaigning at age 79

The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1947)

Subject matter: Published in same year as the opening of the Everglades National Park, this book describes how the Everglades were suffering and in need of restoration and preservation. The book positions the Everglades as a national treasure at time when many people thought it was just a swamp.

Impact: Douglas lived to 108. She campaigned for women’s and civil rights before becoming an environmental activist at the age of 79. Douglas was a relentless campaigner who used her skills as a freelance journalist to get her messages across. Her work was attacked by businesses looking to develop the Everglades. She spent five years researching the fragile and unique ecology of the Everglades for the book, which sold out within a month of being published.

Farley Mowat was accused to exaggeration

Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat (1963)

Subject matter: Mowat describes his experiences after being assigned to the Canadian sub-arctic in 1948 by the Dominion Wildlife Service to investigate the declining caribou population and whether wolves were to blame. He discovered wolves existed mostly on small mammals such as mice. He found that when wolves did hunt caribou, they killed the weaker, older and sick animals, which benefited the herd by allowing the fittest animals to breed and increased the speed of the herd’s migration. He blamed human hunters for the decline in caribou.

Impact: This book has been widely published and has been credited with discouraging the practice of culling wolves. As with most environmental books, Never Cry Wolf has its critics, who claim Mowat exaggerated the facts in order to deliver a good story. Several Canadian government bodies saw Mowat as a disruptive influence at the time. Today he’s regarded as an environmental pioneer. This book is highly readable and ideal for young readers brought up on children’s fiction where the wolf is big and bad, and eats Grandma.

John Muir first observed the Sierra Nevada as a shepherd

My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir (1911)

Subject matter: Muir describes his first trip to California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains in what is now Yosemite National Park in 1869. The young Scottish immigrant joined a crew of shepherds and kept a diary while tending sheep over four months. He details vistas, flora and fauna, and other natural wonders.

Impact: No-one has advocated more for the preservation of wilderness in the United States than Muir. His 12 books and hundreds of articles mark him out as a key naturalist and nature writer. This book has helped to bring numerous visitors to Yosemite with four million people now visiting the area each year. The Sequoia National Park was also created partially thanks to his work. Muir co-founded the Sierra Club which campaigns on conservation issues.

Aldo Leopold advocated for a “land ethic”

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (1949)

Subject matter: Leopold describes the land around his home in Sauk County, Wisconsin, in a series of essays. He advocates for a responsible relationship between the land and people. He writes about striking a balance and reveals the negative effects of removing one species, like a predator, from the natural order.

Impact: The author coined the term “land ethic” and asked that humans develop a new ethic in order to preserve ecosystems. The book’s influence has mostly been in the United States.

Gavin Maxwell’s book was turned into a film

Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell (1960)

Subject matter: Maxwell describes his experiences with otters at his remote house in Scotland. It’s an account of humanity living with wildlife, and coming to understand nature.

Impact: The book was turned into a film starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna in 1969. Ring of Bright Water shows that no matter how advanced we feel that we can always learn more about nature and animals.

This diary was never intended for publication

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden (1906/1977)

Subject matter: This is an amateur naturalist’s diary for the year 1906 where the changing seasons are shown by changes in plants and animals in the English countryside. Holden uses text, including poetry, and illustrations of birds, plants and insects.

Impact: The book was first published in 1977 and became an immediate publishing sensation. It was a personal diary and never intended for publication. But this book shows almost anyone can have an appreciation for nature if they just take the time to look carefully.

Edward Abbey was against national parks where visitors could drive everywhere

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey (1968)

Subject matter: Desert Solitaire is a collection of essays about life in the wilderness based on Abbey’s activities as a park ranger at the Arches National Monument in Utah in the late 1950s. He writes about damage caused by over development and tourism. The book is also philosophical as Abbey dwells on the power and ruthlessness of the desert such as when a search and rescue team are required to recover a dead body.

Impact: Abbey’s book put the Arches National Monument on the map. He heavily criticized the US Parks Service for developing parks filled with highways where visitors could drive-in and drive-out without truly experiencing the surroundings. He revealed how a desert area can be as fascinating as a forest or coastline. He showed how modern American culture was not in the least aligned with nature.

This book was inspired by John Cheever’s fictional short story, The Swimmer

Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey through Britain by Roger Deakin (1999)

Subject matter: Waterlog describes Deakin’s experiences of wild swimming in British waterways. It was inspired by John Cheever’s short story, The Swimmer, which was eventually adapted into a film starring Burt Lancaster. Deakin’s mission was to swim across Britain from Cornwall to the east coast, and he swims through bays, rivers, canals, lakes, ponds and one swimming pool.

Impact: Deakin advocates for open access to the countryside and waterways. Waterlog was the only book that Deakin published in his lifetime, but it was a bestseller in the UK and helped create the wild swimming movement. The book goes beyond swimming and looks at English history, woodland, rights of way and ancient hedgerows.

Dian Fossey was murdered… almost certainly for her work against poachers

Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey (1983)

Subject matter: Fossey’s book describes her efforts to study and preserve mountain gorillas in Africa from the mid-1960s to her death in 1985. She strongly opposed both tourism and poaching.

Impact: Fossey was murdered, almost certainly because of her efforts to protect gorillas. Slain in her bedroom, no valuables were taken from the room leading to the conclusion that poachers killed her. She highlighted that poaching was a major problem and started the movement for African parks to do more to protect their animals. She wasn’t just a campaigner but also raised money for her own anti-poaching patrols in Rwanda. Fossey made numerous scientific discoveries about gorillas and their complex social hierarchies. No-one did more to highlight the problem of poaching. Her critics accused her of loving gorillas more than humans.

AbeBooks’ most expensive sales in January, February & March 2018

A Keith Haring exhibition catalog that sold for $9,500

From German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to American artist Keith Haring, here is a list of AbeBooks’ most expensive sales in January, February & March. See the top 15 sales.

The Evolution of Peter Rabbit

Peter Rabbit is still sneaking into Mr McGregor’s garden to steal vegetables. Our video traces Peter’s history from being privately printed in 1901 to this year’s movie adaptation.

It’s the Gormenghast Automata: Mervyn Peake’s characters in motion

This is the ‘Gormenghast Automata’ – the ultimate accessory for fans of British novelist and artist Mervyn Peake, who created the Gormenghast trilogy of gothic fantasy novels. Custom built by an anonymous Gormenghast-loving English craftsman from wood and metal, this brand new automated mechanical device depicts Peake’s decaying castle and some of its unusual inhabitants.

Learn more

Addicted to KFC? Five Finger Lickin’ Good Fried Chicken Cookbooks

As the UK struggles through the ongoing KFC crisis, AbeBooks.co.uk has prepared a list of the best fried chicken cookbooks to help Britons prepare fried chicken in their own homes. And, for good measure, we have added 10 facts about fried chicken below.

Fried & True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides by Lee Brian Schrager & Adeena Sussman

The authors toured high-class restaurants and roadside shacks for this cookbook. Recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (Seeded Chicken Schnitzel with Parsley-Caper Mayonnaise) and Thomas Keller (Buttermilk Fried Chicken) are included.

Fried Chicken: Recipes for the Crispy, Crunchy, Comfort-Food Classic by Rebecca Lang

Fifty family-friendly fried chicken recipes from the American South, including Bacon-Fried Chicken Smothered in Gravy, Tennessee Hot Chicken; and even Gluten-Free Southern Fried Chicken. Also contains international variations such as Korean Fried Chicken.

Fried Chicken: the World’s Best Recipes from Memphis to Milan, from Buffalo to Bangkok by Damon Fowler

Contains 75 recipes that go way beyond Kentucky and the American South. Discover how chicken is fried around the world from the Caribbean to Greece, including an Italian fried chicken  in Florentine wine batter recipe.

Fried Chicken & Friends: The Hartsyard Family Cookbook by Gregory Llewellyn & Naomi Hart

Husband and wife team Naomi Hart (an Aussie) and Gregory Llewelyn (an American) run the Hartsyard restaurant in Sydney, Australia, which has become a mecca for lovers of southern-style cooking. One hundred recipes.

Southern Country Cooking from the Loveless Cafe: Fried Chicken, Hams, and Jams from Nashville’s Favorite Café by Jane & Michael Stern

Nashville’s Loveless Café has been a Tennessee institution for more than 65 years. Its fried chicken is just one of its nationally acclaimed dishes. There are also ribs, burgers, meatloaf, waffles…the list goes on and on. It’s been acclaimed by USA Today, Ellen DeGeneres, Martha Stewart, and hundreds of thousands of diners.

Ten Facts about Fried Chicken

1 It may have been Scottish immigrants, with their love of frying, who brought fried chicken to the American South. No-one really knows, but fried chicken is now a staple dish throughout the region where it is commonly eaten as Sunday lunch and on public holidays.

2 There are three main techniques for frying chickens – pan frying, deep frying and broasting where a pressure fryer is used. Key elements of recipes are going to be whether your chicken is marinated, the type of coating used or the preferred seasoning, the all-important cooking time and the temperature of the oil.

3 The earliest recorded recipe for American-style fried chicken is believed to be in a British cookbook, Hannah Glasse’s highly influential The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easypublished in 1747. It calls for marinated chicken fried in hog’s lard.

4 Fried chicken was initially a luxury food in the American South but gained mass appeal as farmed chickens became cheaper and more plentiful.

6 Traditional fried chicken is not a true fast food. It’s going to need at least 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time.

7 Colonel Harland Sanders turned fried chicken into a fast food staple when he began franchising his Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in the 1950s.  KFC is the world’s second biggest restaurant chain and can be found in more than 100 countries. Sanders served his first fried chicken while running a petrol station in Kentucky. He was originally from Indiana.

8 KFC’s Colonel Sanders was not a real colonel in the military sense. He was given the honorary title in 1950 by Kentucky’s governor Lawrence Wetherby.

9 Fried chicken is a dish cooked around the world. Variations can be found in the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Korea is particularly noted for its fried chicken recipes.

10 A key part of KFC’s marketing has been around its secret recipe featuring 11 herbs and spices. Colonel Sanders actually put a copy of the recipe above the door at his petrol station diner during the 1940s, but no-one copied down the ingredients.

Tell Delia that specialty cookbooks are alive and well

Last week, the doyenne of British food writers Delia Smith was awarded the Companion of Honour for services to cookery at Buckingham Palace.

At the time, Delia – who is deservedly known by one name to millions of people rather like Madonna, Adele and Bono – said that cookbooks were dead because recipes were now so easy to find online. “There is not the need now to keep books. I think there are far too many of them, actually,” she said.

Delia’s Complete Cookery Course

Now, Delia is close to my heart. When my family moved to Canada from the UK, we only brought nine books with us and one of them was Delia’s Complete Cookery Course. But her comments didn’t quite add up from where AbeBooks.co.uk stands, so we analysed a complete day of sales – November 14, the day Delia went to Buckingham Palace to pick up her award.

The cookery books displayed below were sold during that 24-hour period and these are just the English language cookbooks. There were also sales of recipe books in French, Spanish, German, and Italian that we didn’t take into account.

Cookbooks appear to be alive and well, with demand for books that offer recipes beyond regulation meals and general cuisine. There is a need for specialty recipe books that serve a specific need or purpose. Some may be out-of-print or difficult to find. Another general purpose cookbook from some celebrity or other will almost certainly be forgotten within a couple of years.

The list includes cookbooks that cover Nordic, Catalan, Turkish, Nepalese, French, African, Spanish, Indian, Texan, Malaysian, Irish, Hungarian, French, Jewish, Russian, and Thai cuisine.

The specific foods covered include spam, sriracha, dried beans and rhubarb (the wonderfully named Rhubarbaria: Recipes for Rhubarb by Mary Prior), as well as vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.

Books dedicated to particular cooking methods cover slow cookers, pressure cookers, barbecues, woks, cast-iron cookware, food processors, and Dutch ovens (which is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid).

There are cookbooks for kids, dieters, people on a budget, people going on picnics, banquet hosts, and people interested in eating like the Victorians and folks from Medieval times (presumably nobility rather than peasants).

Celebrity-related cookbooks sold that day span the Grateful Dead, Paul Newman, Nero Wolfe, Redwall, and Dr Seuss. Thankfully, several copies of Delia’s Complete Cookery Course were sold but few books from TV chefs were being purchased. Nothing from Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson.

And the bestselling recipe book of that day? The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book. This book was first published in 1954. Alice B Toklas was Gertrude Stein’s partner and the book is partly autobiographical. It famously includes a recipe for hashish fudge.

Here’s the list:

The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash (1982)

The Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout (1973)

A Catalan Cookery Book by Irving Davis & Patience Gray (1969)

The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson (2015)

Cook It in Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for the One Pan That Does It All by Cook’s Country (2016)

Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin (2016)

Cooking Your Way to Good Health: More Delicious Recipes from Doug Kaufmann’s Anti-fungal Diet by Doug Kaufmann & Denni Dunham (2011)

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book (2010)

McCall’s Cook Book: The Absolutely Complete Step-By-Step Cooking and Serving Guide by McCall’s Food Editors & Richard Roseblum (1963)

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman (2017)

Joys of Nepalese Cooking by Indra Majupuria (1997)

Brunetti’s Cookbook by Roberta Pianaro & Donna Leon (2010)

Marion Brown’s Southern Cook Book (1980)

How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman (2013)

Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook by Al J. Reagan & Nell B. Nichols (1959)

The Art of African Cooking by Sandy Lesberg (1971)

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 (1983) by Julia Chid

Cast-Iron Cooking: Recipes & Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Cast-Iron Cookware by Rachael Narins (2016)

An Irish Country Cookbook: More Than 140 Family Recipes from Soda Bread to Irish Stew, Paired with Ten New, Charming Short Stories from the Beloved Irish Country Series by Patrick Taylor (2017)

The Meat Cookbook by Nichola Fletcher (2014)

The Constance Spry Cookery Book by Constance Spry & Rosemary Hume (2014)

The Grandma’s Attic Cookbook by Arleta Richardson (1993)

The Redwall Cookbook by Brian Jacques (2005)

Plant-Based Cookbook: Good for Your Heart, Your Health, and Your Life; 200 Whole-food Recipes by Trish Sebben-Krupka (2015)

The Frugal Paleo Cookbook: Affordable, Easy & Delicious Paleo Cooking by Ciarra Hannah & Melissa Joulwan (2014)

The Cape Malay Cookbook by Faldela Williams (1988)

Betty Crocker Cookbook (2016)

The Hairy Bikers Cookbook by Dave Myers & Si King (2013)

Eat to Live Quick and Easy Cookbook: 131 Delicious Recipes for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health by Joel Fuhrman (2017)

Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater (2011)

Cook Now, Eat Later by Mary Berry (2014)

More Calculated Cooking by Jeanne Jones (1981)

Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli and Alice Waters (1994)

Hungarian Cookery by Fred Macnicol (1978)

New Magimix Cookbook by Marika Hanbury-Tenison (1982)

Eva Batt’s Vegan Cooking (1985)

Vegetarian Cookery (500 Recipes) by Patty Fisher (1969)

Everyday Cookery by Mrs. Beeton (1963)

Cooking With the Dead: Recipes and Stories from Fans on the Road by Elizabeth Zipern (1995)

Delia’s Complete Cookery Course Vol 1-3 (2007)

Slow Cooker Quick Fixes: Recipes for Everyday Cover ‘n Cook Convenience by Susan Hernandez Ray (2010)

Cook, Eat, Thrive: Vegan Recipes from Everyday to Exotic by Joy Tienzo (2012)

A Banquet on a Budget: Cooking for Weddings, Birthdays and Other Big Parties by Judy Ridgway (2016)

Cooking the Spanish Way by Elsa Behrens (1962)

Cooking and Dining in Medieval England by Peter Brears (2012)

The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book: More than 400 Recipes from Appetizers to Desserts by Better Homes and Gardens (2009)

The Calculating Cook: A Gourmet Cookbook for Diabetics and Dieters by Jeanne Jones (1980)

Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer &‎ Marion Rombauer Becker (2006)

Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Dr. Seuss by Georgeanne Brennan & Frankie Frankeny (2006)

The New Vegan Cookbook: Innovative Vegetarian Recipes Free of Dairy, Eggs, and Cholesterol by Lorna Sass & Jonelle Weaver (2001)

Dried Beans & Grains (The Good Cook, Techniques & Recipes) by Richard Olney & Carol Cutler (1982)

Cook Vegan by Richard Youngs (2001)

Cooking Light Way to Cook: The Complete Visual Guide to Everyday Cooking by Cooking Light Magazine (2013)

Dutch Oven Cooking by Ray Overton (1998)

Dutch Oven Cooking by John G. Ragsdale (2006)

The Silver Palate Cookbook by Sheila Lukins & Julee Rosso (2007)

The New Basics Cookbook by Sheila Lukins &‎ Julee Rosso (1989)

Cooking for Family and Friends: 100 Lean Recipes to Enjoy Together by Joe Wicks (2017)

A Texas Family’s Cookbook by Joseph Lowery with Donald R. Counts & Kathryn O’C. Counts (1988)

The New McCall’s Cookbook by Mary Eckley (1973)

Cook’s Country 2007 by America’s Test Kitchen (2007)

Cooking the Jewish Way by Ann Wald (1961)

Vegan Cooking For Dummies by Alexandra Jamieson (2010)

The Art of India’s Cookery: Curries, Kebabs, Festival Foods, & Other Specialties from India’s North, East, South, & West by William Irving Kaufman (1964)

Findhorn Family Cook Book by Kay Lynne Sherman (1982)

Cooking the Russian Way by Musia Soper (1961)

The Escoffier Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery: For Connoisseurs, Chefs, Epicures Complete With 2973 Recipes by Auguste Escoffier & Charlotte Adams (2000)

Spring and Summer: Cooking with a Veg Box by Guy Watson and Kirsty Hale (2015)

The Art of Wok Cooking from West Bend by West Bend Co (1984)

Cooking in a Bedsitter by Katharine Whitehorn (1999)

Spam – The Cookbook by Marguerite Patten (2009)

New Dieter’s Cookbook: Eat Well, Feel Great, Lose Weight by Kristi Thomas & Better Homes and Gardens (2003)

Daisy Cooks: Latin Flavors That Will Rock Your World by Daisy Martinez (2005)

Cooking with Trader Joe’s: The 5 Ingredient Cookbook by Deana Gunn & Wona Miniati (2015)

The Book of Thai Cooking by Hilaire Walden (1992)

Newman’s Own Cookbook by Paul Newman & A.E. Hotchner (1998)

The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 “Rooster Sauce” Recipes that Pack a Punch by Randy Clemens (2011)

Gracious Gator Cooks by FL Junior League of Gainesville & Angie Bowdoin (1997)

Smoke & Spice: Cooking With Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue by Cheryl Alters Jamison & Bill Jamison (2014)

Victorian Recipes by David Notley (1998)

Food and Friends: Recipes and Memories from Simca’s Cuisine by Simone Beck & Suzanne Patterson (1993)

World’s Best Recipes Cookbook by Marvin Small (1969)

Delicieux: The Recipes of France by Gabriel Gate (2017)

Malaysia: Recipes from a Family Kitchen by Ping Coombes (2017)

Rhubarbaria: Recipes for Rhubarb by Mary Prior (2008)

The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket by Marnie Hanel & Andrea Slonecker (2015)

500 Soup Recipes by Bridget Jones (2007)

101 Recipes for Kids: Tried-and-Tested Ideas by Angela Nilsen & Jeni Wright (2008)

80 Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker by Richard Ehrlich (2012)

Recipes for a Small Planet by Ellen Buchman Ewald (1985)

2017 PBFA Christmas Book Fair coming up soon

Anthony Smithson from the Keel Row Bookshop

The PBFA’s Christmas Book Fair is just around the corner. This year it takes places at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury on Coram Street, London, WC1N 1HT, on Saturday 2 December between 10.30am and 4.30pm. Once again, AbeBooks.co.uk is excited to be supporting this annual event.

Thousands of rare books, prints, photographs and ephemera will be offered for sale at prices to suit every enthusiast. The attending booksellers include Keel Row Bookshop, Worlds End Bookshop, Lucius Books, Peter Harrington, Jonkers Rare Books, Sophie Schneideman, and Hyraxia Books. Numerous sellers from outside London travel to the capital in order to exhibit at this pre-Christmas fair.

The hotel has a bar/cafe and a restaurant, and the Brunswick Centre is also next door with more services. (Fans of used bookshops will also know that the Skoob Bookshop is close by too.) Russell Square is the nearest Tube station and there’s always plenty to see and do in the Bloomsbury area.

Visit the PBFA website to download a complimentary ticket.

PBFA stands for Provincial Booksellers’ Fairs Association and its legacy dates back to a small book fair in Kensington in 1972. It now stages book fairs across the British Isles and Ireland, from Aberdeen to Dublin, from Chelmsford to the Isle of Skye. Members display a wide variety of books, both used and antiquarian, and also maps, prints and ephemera. PBFA sellers adhere to a code of practice regarding pricing and description of items on sale.

Man Booker 2017 shortlist includes Auster, Saunders, Ali Hamid and a bookseller from York

The 2017 Man Booker Prize shortlist has been announced. You can look at the list in several ways – three male and three female writers; two British, one British-Pakistani and three American writers, or even four established names and two new faces.

Smith is shortlisted for the fourth time. Hamid made the list in 2007 with The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Mozley is the youngest at 29, and one of two debut authors – the other is 38-year-old American Emily Fridlund.  4 3 2 1, or 4321, by Auster is the longest novel at 866 pages, while Lincoln in the Bardo is Saunders’ first full-length novel. Mozley works part-time in a bookshop in York where she has been selling her book. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 17 October in London’s Guildhall, and he or she will receive £50,000 plus lots of book sales.

More about the shortlisted novels:

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster

This is Auster’s first novel in seven years. Details of a life spent growing up in Brooklyn—of loving the Brooklyn Dodgers, Laurel and Hardy, summer camp—are laid out with the earnest intensity of a writer looking back on his life. Plot points arise—for instance, a person is killed by lightning—which mimic more unique moments from Auster’s own life experience. At nearly 900 pages, it is also a long novel—but a reason for that is 4 3 2 1 tells the story of its protagonist, Archie Ferguson, four different times. What remains consistent throughout Archie’s life (or lives) is that his father starts out with the same career, Archie falls in love with the same girl, and his personality seems more nature than nurture. But those are starting off points, and if our lives are the sum of our choices, they are the sum of other people’s choices as well. Circumstances matter, and what will keep you thinking about this book is the convergence of time and circumstance within each of Archie’s different lives. His past propels him, his circumstances form him, and regardless of which life we are reading, time will ultimately take him.

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

This is exactly the kind of book you want to curl up with in the winter. It’s propulsive, vividly written, laced with a razor’s chill and filled with imagery that’s impossible to forget. There is a constant sense of foreboding, of wondering when the truth will crash through the Minnesota ice. Linda is a loner, a teenage girl who walks to school and lives on a failed commune in the woods. But her life of solitude cracks open when her history teacher—whom she fantasizes about—is charged with child pornography. Outside of school, Linda begins to spend time with a young boy and his mother who moved into a house across the lake, but their family, like her teacher, are not as they appear. Fridlund masterfully ratchets up the tension, exploding this story of secrets and girlhood with crisp, cutting prose that will leave you shocked and in awe. A remarkable novel, that just so happens to be a debut, by a fiercely talented writer.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

When Nadia and Saeed fall in love in a distant unnamed city, they are just like any other young couple. But soon bullets begin to fly, fighter jets streak the sky, and curfews fall. As the spell of violence spreads, they flee their country, leaving behind their loved ones. Early in Exit West, Hamid explains that geography is destiny, and in the case of his two young lovers, geography dictates that they must leave. Hamid offers up a fantastical device to deliver his refugees to places: they pass through magic doors.

Rather than unmooring the story from reality, this device, as well as a few other fantastical touches, makes the book more poignant and focused, pointing our attention to the emotions of exile rather than the mechanics. Surrounded by other refugees, Nadia and Saeed try to establish their places in the world, putting up different responses to their circumstances. The result is a novel that is personal, not pedantic, an intimate human story about an experience shared by countless people of the world, one that most Americans just witness on television.  

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

According to the Guardian, “Elmet, charts how John, a man-mountain who used to make his money as a bare-knuckle boxer and muscle for hire, retreats from his hostile world to a copse in Yorkshire’s West Riding. He makes a refuge for his children and teaches them to live off the land, foraging for berries, planting plums and potatoes, hunting pigeons and pheasants with bows and arrows whittled from oak or yew. But Daddy doesn’t own the land on which he has built his home, and, when the man whose name is on the title deeds pays them a visit, a confrontation begins that can only end in disaster.”

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Saunders has said that Lincoln in the Bardo began as a play, and that sense of a drama gradually revealing itself through disparate voices remains in the work’s final form. The year is 1862. President Abraham Lincoln, already tormented by the knowledge that he’s responsible for the deaths of thousands of young men on the battlefields of the American Civil War, loses his beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, to typhoid.

The plot begins after Willie is laid to rest in a cemetery near the White House, where, invisible to the living, ghosts linger, unwilling to relinquish this world for the next. Their bantering conversation, much of it concerned with earthly — and earthy – pleasures, counterbalances Lincoln’s abject sorrow.

Autumn by Ali Smith

According to Dwight Garner in the NY Times, “Autumn is about a long platonic friendship between an elderly man and a much younger woman. His name is Daniel. He’s 101. . . . Her name is Elisabeth. She’s a 32-year-old fitfully employed art lecturer at an unnamed university in London. She comes to read to, and be with, him. . . . There’s a bit of a Harold and Maude thing going on here. . . . As Elisabeth and Daniel talk, and as Elisabeth processes the events of her life, a world opens. Autumn begins to be about 100 things in addition to friendship. It’s about poverty and bureaucracy and sex and morality and music. It includes a long and potent detour into the tragic life and powerful painting of the British Pop artist Pauline Boty (1938-66), whose work, Smith makes plain, should be better known. . . . This is the place to come out and say it: Ali Smith has a beautiful mind. I found this book to be unbearably moving in its playful, strange, soulful assessment of what it means to be alive at a somber time.”

Don’t miss the Amsterdam Antiquarian Book & Map Fair

Anyone who loves antique books, atlases, old maps, fine prints, manuscripts, first editions and any other versions of the written/printed word should visit the Amsterdam International Antiquarian Book & Map Fair on 30 September and 1 October.

Visit the 2017 Amsterdam Antiquarian Book Fair

The fair has attracted a large number of prominent antiquarian dealers from the Netherlands and also Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Portugal and even Australia. There will be something for everyone, from incunables to books printed in the 21st century. Anyone who just wants to browse is welcome and there is no admission fee.

AbeBooks.co.uk is thrilled to support this year’s event and we are looking forward to attending.

The exhibitors include a large number of members from the Dutch Association of Antiquarian Book Dealers. First-time exhibitors include Librairie Alain Brieux from Paris, Il Cartiglio Libreria Antiquaria from Turin, and Sophie Schneideman Rare Books from London. Collectors of German crime fiction will find the appearance of Michael Solder especially interesting. His antiquarian book shop in the Frauenstraße in Münster has served for many years as the back-drop for the long-running German TV crime series Tatort.

Just like last year, curators Reinder Storm and Adriaan Plak from the University of Amsterdam will be giving specialist guided tours on Sunday around the stands.

The fair will be found on the first floor of the Marriott Hotel, Stadhouderskade 12, Amsterdam, and is centrally located between the Leidsche Plein and the Vondelpark. It will be open on Saturday from 1pm to 6pm and on Sunday from 11am to 6pm.

Learn more at the fair’s website.