Between the Covers 14/10/2012

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books

Ladbrokes appears to have made a mistake in its latest odds for which book will be Christmas bestseller. They've made David Walliams's Camp David favourite, at 4-1, followed by J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy (9-2), Cheryl Cole's My Story (5-1), and the Guinness World Records 2013 (6-1), and so on through the chefs and celebrities until Justin Bieber's Just Getting Started at No 10. But Clare Balding's My Animals and Other Family, described last week by this paper's reviewer as "brilliant", is nowhere in the top 10! This is despite Balding's stated aim to claim the No 1 spot: "I would never have thought that was possible a few weeks ago," said Balding at the Cheltenham Literature Festival last week, "but now I'm going for it". Come on, readers: David may be camp, but Balding flicked a sausage at the Queen. There's still plenty of time to order for Christmas.

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Between the Covers can't wait for the publication of Tove Jansson's first Moomins book, which is to be published in English for the first time in this country by Sort of Books on 1 November. In The Moomins and the Great Flood, created in 1945 as a distraction from the Second World War, "Moominmamma and young Moomintroll search for the long-lost Moominpappa through forest and flood, meeting a little creature (an early Sniff) and the elegantly strange Tulippa along the way." The books are illustrated with Jansson's sepia watercolours and pen and ink drawings. Jansson's centenary will be celebrated in 2014, and BBC4 will air a documentary about her this December.

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Another anniversary will be celebrated in August 2013, with the publication of Afterliff, by John Lloyd and the Friends of Douglas Adams – a tribute to Lloyd and Adams's 1983 book The Meaning of Liff. The original was, of course, a "dictionary of things that there should be words for but aren't"; including "Shoeburyness" ("the vague uncomfortable feeling you get when sitting on a seat which is still warm from somebody else's bottom") and "to Plymouth" ("to relate an amusing story to someone without remembering that it was they who told it to you in the first place"). Lloyd reveals that he has been compiling new words for the dictionary for 10 years.

***

The band Mumford & Sons have admitted that their new album contains a line lifted straight from Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. But they won't say what that line is. It appears in a track on Babel, and is a piece of dialogue spoken by Thomas Cromwell. "I'm not going to tell you which, because I think it might be illegal," the front man Marcus Mumford told the BBC. Rather more forthcoming is the website Small Demons, which cross-references books with songs, movies, TV and more, to reveal among other things the most commonly referenced songs in literature. "Hey Jude" by The Beatles is No 1. Unfortunately, the site doesn't work in reverse, and Between the Covers can't remember all of Mantel's 672-page, Man Booker-winner. "I know that time has numbered my days", from the title track, seems a likely fit.

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