Between the covers: Everyman's Library; Eric Hobsbawm; The Snow Child; the Honest Toddler


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The Independent Culture

Hats off to the Everyman's Library, founded in 1906 by Joseph Dent on the basis that "with a hundred volumes a man may be intellectually rich for life". Its mission is to publish beautiful editions of classic books at affordable prices, from Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson in 1906, to, most recently, Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, and Julian Barnes's Flaubert's Parrot and A History of the World in 10½ Chapters.

Their latest venture is a new website,, where readers can hear the voices of six well-loved authors: Leo Tolstoy reading from For Every Day; James Joyce reading from Ulysses; Anna Akhmatova; Albert Camus; Boris Pasternak and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

To celebrate, Everyman's Library will give away to one lucky IoS reader a set of 10 handsome titles from its "Build Your Own Library" section, which includes Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, and many more. Go to to find out how to apply. The competition closes on 29 October.


* Tributes have flowed in to Eric Hobsbawm, the Marxist historian who died on Monday. Between the Covers met him first at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 1998, where he was a fearsome debater, a hilarious addition to the green room, kind to the team of young festival volunteers, and usually to be seen holding hands with Marlene, his wife since 1962. RIP.


* Many struggling authors complain that their hours spent slaving in front of a hot word-processing programme might as well be hours thrown into a big hole in the ground. Not so Eowyn Ivey, who is relishing it. Set deep in the Alaskan wilderness, her first novel The Snow Child (Headline Review, £7.99) has been a huge success.

Ivey is a bookseller who herself lives in a remote Alaskan home, and she tells us that all these book sales are making a lovely hole in the ground. "For more than five years my family and I have hauled our water and collected rainwater for our garden and animals," she confides. "Our rural home did not have a well, and is located too far away from any town to benefit from a water system. When The Snow Child was first published, my husband joked that every book purchased was a small contribution to our well.

But it wasn't all in jest! This summer, with help from book sales, we drilled our well and struck water at 145 feet underground. We now have the luxury of endless hot baths and never worrying about running out of water." Between the Covers' latest campaign is: buy a book; save water; help a debut writer have a bath!


* Aren't authors getting younger these days? Now Orion has bought rights to a parenting manual by an anonymous author known as the Honest Toddler. "Once in a while a voice captures a generation – Bridget Jones, Adrian Mole …" says a source at the publisher. "Now the Honest Toddler speaks for under-threes everywhere." She adds: "This is the first time I've included a specific quantity and colour of gummy bears in an offer." The book will be published in 2013, by which time its author will probably also be on the Man Booker longlist.