Between the Covers 27/10/2013

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

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The Independent Culture

Surprising news: there is a novel waiting to get out of Between the Covers, and that novel has written us an email. “Dear aspiring novelist,” it writes. “I’ve been swirling around in the breathtaking labyrinths of your unconscious mind for a while now, and I’m itching to leap into the world. The only way I can come out, though, is if you commit to writing me in November...” The email is a reminder that National Novel Writing Month – where novels including Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants began life – starts on Friday, and that anyone can join in. See for details.


There’s nothing that we like more at Between the Covers than a brand new bookish programme on television. (Nothing, that is, except a canvas book bag, but there are only so many of those that anyone can carry). So imagine our delight at the Dave channel’s new Wednesday night fix, Crackanory, which is Jackanory for time-poor adults living in a post-Twitter world. (The stories last only 15 minutes, they’re grown-up and funny, and they’re read by celebrities including Jack Dee, Sally Phillips and Charlie Higson.) The programme was launched last Wednesday with a survey of the UK public which revealed that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (right) is the “best” book of the century so far, while Katie Price’s Angel (right) is the “worst”, with E L James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy in a close second. We sneaked a preview of this Wednesday’s programme, and one of the stories, read by The Thick of It’s Rebecca Front, is about a struggling writer of “thrillotica” who discovers an unknown Shakespeare play in his attic. Shakespeare “as a writer, is nearly as popular as E L James,” explains the story, which was written before the results of the survey came in, we’re told.


Led by the novelist Keris Stainton, authors have grouped together under the banner “Authors for the Philippines” to raise money for the Red Cross appeal to support people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.  Writers, agents, mentors, and publishers are offering goods and services in an online auction, which will end at 8pm on Wednesday. So, for a beautiful, orginal illustration from a children’s book, a professional critique of your first three chapters or submission to an agent,  signed books and other memorabilia, a dedication in the next book of your favourite author, or a character named after you (among other prizes), go to, or email to donate something yourself.


Congratulations to Rob Lloyd Jones, whose Look Inside Space won the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize on Monday. And well done to the youths from more than 100 schools and groups who chose it as the winner ahead of the enticingly titled Don’t Flush: Lifting the Lid on the Science of Poo and Wee, by Richard Platt, Mary Platt, and John Kelly.