Between The Covers: 19/02/2012

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

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The Independent Culture

*Thanks to The Bookseller's "accelerators" chart for showing the cynical Between the Covers that sometimes, something good can come of Valentine's Day – namely, in this case, people buying more books.

Among the top-10 books which sold more copies last week than in previous weeks were three that are all about love: A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton (aka Giles Andreae aka Purple Ronnie), It Must Be Love (a book of quotes published by Summersdale under the near-ubiquitous Keep Calm and Carry On brand) and Ten Poems About Love, edited by Jenny Swann.

*Inevitably, the YouTube trend for short videos making fun of "sh*t people say" has reached the publishing and literary journalism industries, with two short films spoofing "sh*t agents say" and "sh*t book reviewers say". The latter includes a number of phrases of which reviewers should be ashamed: "Kafkaesque ... at once thrilling and deeply sobering ... the love child between Jonathan Franzen and Emily Dickinson ... lapidary prose ... it's the first great novel of our new millennium/of the post-9/11 age/of our new year/of the month/since lunch ..." and the over-used to the point of meaninglessness "tour de force". Oh, and, "But why cut the books section, don't they realise that's where the readers are?" Nobody here on Between the Covers would ever dream of using such phrases. Or, at least, hardly ever.

*Congratulations to Paul Blezard, blogger, bibliophile, author and unstoppable interviewer of authors, who has added a new string to his bow by co-founding a media and PR agency called Bright Red Coat with the historical novelist Fiona Mountain. Blez is perhaps best known for being unceremoniously removed from his job as literary editor of The Lady (the first since Charles Dickens), when Rachel Johnson took over as editor and sacked him on camera for the TV documentary The Lady and the Revamp. Now, it seems, he has several jobs; as well as Bright Red Coat, he is hosting events at the Dubai Festival of Literature in March and the Oxford Literary Festival in April. "I'm coming under some pressure on an OxLitFest event with Joanne Harris, Francesca Simon and Kevin Crossley-Holland where, under the banner title 'Norse Code', we're discussing the influence of Norse myths and legends in their works," he tells us. "Apparently, KC-H can recite the entirety of Beowulf (left) in the original. The question, can I tempt him to do so ... or will I need to be ready to prevent him from doing so?"

*Similarly geeky about language is the author and broadcaster Professor David Crystal, who has been invited back to Coventry University on 29 February to revisit his popular talk on pragmatics. A university source tells us that he will "debunk a few myths about how language is changing with the increase of digital literacies", and, knowing Crystal, there are bound to be some jokes. Let's hope that he does the one about the typical instant-messaging sequence in computer-mediated communication, which reads something like:P makes point A

P makes supplementary point B

Q responds to point B (Q1)

P makes supplementary point C

Q responds to point A (Q2)

Q responds to point C (Q3)

P responds to Q1 ... Perhaps it's the way he tells them.

Fifty places, at £10 each, are being held for the public; these must be booked by Wednesday 22 February. To make a reservation, email