Between the covers: What’s really going on in the world of books

Sally Gardner (above) has called for a Richter scale for dyslexics

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Here’s some good advice to writers from the million-selling author Sally Gardner, whose novel, Maggot Moon (Hot Key Books 2012), won both the Costa Children’s Book Prize and the Carnegie Medal in 2013. Gardner (below) is dyslexic, and she spoke recently at the Bloomsbury Institute in London at an event called “Creativity and Dyslexia”, arguing that there should be a Richter scale for dyslexics. She also called for a return to Shakespearean days: people should be able to spell words however they like, she said. “That’s what I love about the English language, the plasticity.” She performed her rap poem, “Disobey Me”, announcing that it is a “flip-flop” rather than a hip-hop poem, because her son has told her she is too old for hip-hop. “What made you become a writer?” asked one 10-year-old guest. “A wolf came to the door,” she explained, “and I needed to pay him.” Gardner was speaking at the event, arranged by the British Dyslexia Association, with fellow writer Tom McLaughlin, who agreed with Sally’s comments and said: “You don’t need to spell to be a writer.”

Therefore, if you’re going to make one New Year’s Resolution this year (there’s still time), make it “to be a writer”, not “to get thin”. And if you’re still not convinced, read I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting,  by Rebecca Harrington (Virago, 15 January), in which the author tries haggis, Diet Coke binges, and something horrible called a “salt water flush”, risking faints, spots, and food poisoning, to copy every celebrity fad diet known to womankind. And what does she discover about fad dieters’ ability to keep friends, lose weight, and stay that way? Well, I won’t spoil it for you by giving away the ending, but you can probably have a jolly good guess.

And if all of this makes you feel a bit grumpy, well that’s fine, according to The Power of Negative Emotion: How Anger, Guilt and Self-Doubt are Essential to Success and Fulfillment, by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener (Oneworld,  8 January). According to the blurb, anger fuels creativity, guilt sparks improvement, self-doubt enhances performance, selfishness increases courage, and mindlessness leads to better decisions. It sounds like the perfect manual for someone waking up on a January morning. Happy Grumpy New Year.

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