Matchbook Books!

It seems that there is a new genre in town – the ‘matchbook’. Two examples have caught our eye, firstly a new collection of 30 short ‘entertainments’ by Michael Frayn and the second issue of Matchbook Stories from Cypriot indie publisher Books Ex Machina. Both are charming ‘amuse bouche’ that delight with their wit and style, both in content and design.

Perfect as presents – especially to yourself both are now available in the shop priced £12.99

Harry Leslie Smith and Owen Jones in conversation with Melissa Benn

There is no doubt that one of the surprise personalities of the year has been Harry Leslie Smith, 91 year old survivor of the Great Depression and veteran of the Second World War. Whatever your politics, his memoir, Harry’s Last Stand, is an incredibly affecting book. On Tuesday October 28th you have the chance to see Harry in person.

Harry will share the stage at The Sheldonian Theatre with Owen Jones, political commentator and author of the bestselling ‘Chavs‘ and, now, ‘The Establishment‘. The discussion will be moderated by Melissa Benn.

Tickets cost £5 and can be obtained by visiting our Customer Service Department at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford or by tel: 01865 333623 email:

An Exciting Announcement – James Ellroy on Monday 17th November!

We are thrilled to announce that we will be hosting an event with James Ellroy here at Blackwell’s Bookshop on Monday 17th November at 7pm.

James Ellroy’s crime-writing is hard as granite, uncompromising and mesmerising and a talk from him is a near-indescribable experience! He is the author of numerous novels including ‘LA Confidential’, ‘The Black Dahlia’ and ‘American Tabloid’.

His new epic and ambitious new novel, ‘Perfidia’ is set in Los Angeles as America stands on the brink of World War II. It’s been described in The Guardian as “an epic and bizarrely transcendental novel that represents an extraordinary achievement by any measure…a sustained farrago of social, moral and human chaos”.

Please do book tickets quickly because we anticipate that this will be a very popular event.

Tickets cost £5 and are available from our Customer Services Department in the Norrington Room. Telephone 01865 333623 or email

Stand on the Shoulders of Giants – FREE talks from leading academics

For the start of term we are, once again, excited and honoured to be able to present a series of talks from some world-class academics. Each talk is free to attend, seats are limited so please arrive early to ensure a place – talks begin at 3pm each day.

Monday 13th October, 3pm
Will Hutton Political Economist and Principal of Hertford College, Oxford
“What Does Studying Economics Teach Us?”

Tuesday 14th October, 3pm
Adam Roberts, Senior Research Fellow, Balliol College, Oxford
“Tackling Political Violence in Politics and International Relations”

Wednesday 15th October, 3pm
Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford and Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford
“What Does Studying History Tell Us?”

Thursday 16th October, 3pm
Danny Dorling, Halford MackinderProfessor of Geography, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
“What Does Studying Inequality Teach Us?”

Friday 17th October, 3pm
Marianne Talbot, Director of Studies in Philosophy at the University of Oxford’s Department for Continuing Education
“What Does Studying Philosophy Teach Us?”  

Keep up to date with all our author events on our shop page

A Crash Course in Being an Oxford Fresher

Freshers’ Week is nearly upon us, and floods of students will soon be making their ways up to Oxford for the new academic year. This year I won’t be one of them, but with four years of Oxford studenting under my belt, I’ve got some pretty good tips for how to make the most of Freshers’ Week, and your time here in general.

And you know what? These five handy hints make pretty good sense for most other people too.

5) Get enough sleep

Both before you get to Oxford, and once you’re here, make sure you’re getting at least some sleep each night. As someone with a deep love of a warm duvet, I can’t overstate how important those few hours are to keep you smiling through Freshers’ Week. More importantly, good sleep is your first defence against the dreaded Freshers’ Flu. Trust me.

4) Don’t get too much sleep.

Come on, I’m not saying be tucked up in bed before 9 like a granny! So much great stuff happens in Freshers’ Week after dark – some organised stuff, like bops, and fancy dinners, and so on, and also those wonderful nights where parties in someone’s room trail off into painting each others’ faces while discussing the historical accuracy of Disney films. Oxford is at its most whimsical after dark – just see where the night takes you.

3) Say hi – to everyone.

When I was at school, my mum always told me it was important to have three people on side – the school nurse, the secretary, and the dinner lady. These three people look after you more than anyone else. As a fresher, I’d argue that there are four important people to win over – the college nurse, the hall staff, the librarian, and the porters. But there’re more – the chaplain, your tutors, the maintenance staff… What I’m saying is, say hi to everyone. Be nice to everyone. It’s not just your fellow freshers you need to charm – colleges are a big old support network, so make friends with everyone you can! It might make things a lot easier for you.

2) Say yes – to everything.

Freshers’ Week can be overwhelming, especially once you hit the Freshers’ Fair and experience about 40,000 societies vying for your attention. Say yes to everything (within reason). So you didn’t plan on joining the kickboxing society, learning to dance the tango, performing pantomimes or enjoying Greek cooking? So what? Try everything once, and you’ll be surprised what you end up loving. You can decide later what you want to keep in your life.

1) Don’t stress.

Okay, this one’s cheesy, I know. But Freshers’ Week is supposed to be fun. As long as you’re going to the compulsory stuff, and learning your way around Oxford and its weirdnesses, you’re doing okay. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, you’re doing okay. It’s one of the best and most exciting bits of Oxford life – I wish I could do it all over again. So go have fun, and don’t stress.

And of course, a bonus tip – make sure you have a look at our amazing upcoming events. Blackwell’s is a treasure of Oxford, and where else will you get the opportunity to meet your favourite author, listen to bands, learn new things and grab some guilty pleasure novels to go along with your tutor’s recommended reading list?

The Opposite of Loneliness – Saturday 25th October

‘The Opposite of Loneliness’ 

A Celebration of Marina Keegan’s Writing with Kevin and Tracy Keegan

Saturday 25th October, 7pm

October 25th, 2014 would have been Marina Keegan’s 25th birthday. Marina was killed in a car accident just days after graduating from Yale and writing her inspirational essay, The Opposite of Loneliness. Published posthumously, this collection of her work manages to be moving and uplifting, tinged with hope and sadness and the impossible-to-describe feeling of being 22 and on the brink of new beginnings. There’s a wide variety of pieces here, from witty non-fiction to cleverly observed stories, and Marina’s keen eye for the human condition makes each piece compulsively readable. It’s a book that will stay with you for a long time after you finish the final page.

This evening will celebrate Marina’s legacy and the innocence and beauty of this wonderful book. We will be joined by Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, and Suzanne Baboneau, managing director of Simon and Schuster UK, in conversation, and there will also be selected readings from The Opposite of Loneliness, giving people an opportunity to reflect, and to celebrate a life which was tragically cut short but which has now become an inspiration to many people. We will also be joined on the evening by Marina’s parents, Kevin and Tracy Keegan, who will be reading excerpts from Marina’s work, and Beth McNamara, Marina’s high school English teacher, will be reading the title essay, ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’.

This is a FREE event to attend. For a ticket please collect from our Customer Service Department at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford. Alternatively, contact us on 01865 333 623 or for enquiries please email




Celebrate Bookshops! We’re Having a Bookshop Party for ‘Books Are My Bag’


Books Are My Bag – the national celebration day for bookshops across the country is on Saturday 11th October. Our wonderful Hannah is pulling our efforts together for the day…

“When I was young the best thing about Christmas and Birthdays meant the traditional trip to a bookshop with money my loved ones had gifted to me. I grew up in a town where a small Mackenzie’s was the closet to a bookshop we had (now a W H Smiths), the joys of a commuter town with direct links to London, so it not only meant a trip to a big bookshop full of stories I was itching to own but a trip to the neighbouring big town a train journey away, making the journey even more exciting.

My poor mum used to have to drag me away after hours (literally) of being in the bookshop, I was that child, the one who wanted give every book a loving home on my bookcase.

Now years later I still feel that same excitement of visiting a stunning bookshop for the first time. Seeing how they display their books and create the perfect browsing experience, each one unique and special in their own perfect way. To be able to physically pick up a book, run your fingers across the spines of books on shelves and get a feel for what could turn out to be the next best book you’ve ever read. Oh and lets not forget the talented booksellers who can recommend books till tomorrow and help you when need to find exactly what you were after or perhaps didn’t realise you were even after. I’m proud to say I work and have worked with many of these bookseller stars.

Bookshops are happy places, which should all year round be celebrated but sometimes you need a reason to really get up from your computers, forget online shopping and rekindle this experience of utter joy. Or maybe you visit us or another bookshop every week or month and know exactly what I’m talking about. (To you i thank and salute you). Therefore the Bookseller’s Association created Books Are My Bag last year, a campaign to show support to bookshops all across the UK, chains and independent alike. Groovy bags were created and handed out for free to bookshop visitors and bookshop parties appeared everywhere. We had so much fun that we decided to put together another day of fun events this year to celebrate Book Are My Bag 2014, all details are listed below. Please come by on the day it would be lovely to see you!”

Even Myrtle, our shop dinosaur got in on the Books Are My Bag fever last year

Even Myrtle, our shop dinosaur got in on the Books Are My Bag fever last year

On Saturday 11th October pick up your 2014 bag and take part in our book themed events and activities. In the Norrington Room at 1pm we will be hosting our “Beat the Bookseller Quiz” and on the ground floor we will be randomly surprising our favourite customers with the gift of a book. In the children’s department we will be joined by award winning authors, who will be telling us their favourite bookshop memories at 2pm, then jumping behind the till as honorary booksellers for the afternoon, as well as book craft activities and a guess the book quiz. Other activities taking place in the bookshop include:

–  Blackwell’s Book Bake Off,  members of staff will be putting the book to the test and championing their favourite bake for you to try and vote for your favourite.

–  Hunt the vouchers, we will be hiding some £1 vouchers throughout the shop for you to find! Throughout the day we will be giving you clues on our social media pages.

–  Bookseller Tours, at 10am and 4pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday we will be offering you the chance to be shown round the shop by one of our magnificent booksellers, learning about the history, the day to day role of being a bookseller and a chance to see our special Gaffers Office. It is free to attend but places are limited and need to be booked in advance. Please visit our Customer Services department to book your place or email

“At the end of the day, a bookshop is more than a retail shop. It’s a cultural space, a place where you can step back from your busy life in a comfy chair but most importantly it’s a community space. At the end of the day we are YOUR bookshop, displaying books we feel you want to see. Bookshops do more than sell you a book we also create memories and educate. I work in events, which is a vibrant and exciting place to be. We host up to 5 events a week every week on a range of subjects and fascinating authors. Check out our website for a sample of what we have coming up.

We must unite together and not forget about our local bookshops. If we do, that exerience I spoke about at the beginning, that was the start of my lifetime of reading, will not be there for future generations. The thought of children not visiting bookshops is honestly as far as I am concerned, heartbreaking. Help keep bookshops thriving by visiting on Saturday 11th October to show your support. For more information about the campaign, visit the official Books Are My Bag website.”