Inspired By Blake Festival

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I am delighted to announce the upcoming Inspired By Blake festival, which will be taking place from 18th-31st January. A celebration of the genius of William Blake’s work, and his continuing relevance to so much art and culture today, the festival will run in conjunction with the Ashmolean Museum’s major exhibition, William Blake: Apprentice and Master.

Inspired By Blake is  absolutely chock full of fascinating events – we have a pretty fab website with tons of information about the festival, what’s on, and why Blake is so brilliant. The Blake blog, on the site, will be filled with exciting behind-the-scenes content from our booksellers, and exclusive pieces from bestselling authors. We’ll be posting on Tuesdays and Fridays, all the way up to and through the festival. Of course, Broad Conversation won’t be forgotten, so keep your eyes peeled on both sites!

We would love to hear from you, too, especially if you take any photos at the events! We’ll be using the hashtag #inspiredbyblake, so do join in!

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest info.

Tariq Ali launches Karim Miské’s debut novel ‘Arab Jazz’

On Monday 9th February at 7pm, We are thrilled to be hosting the Oxford launch of Karim Miské’s debut crime thriller, ‘Arab Jazz’. Joining us to host the evening’s discussion will be journalist, author, radical thinker and the inspiration for the Rolling Stone’s ‘Street Fighting Man’, Tariq Ali.

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Kosher sushi, kebabs, a second hand bookshop and a bar: the 19th arrondissement in Parisis a cosmopolitan neighbourhood where multicultural citizens live, love and worship alongside one another. This peace is shattered when Ahmed Taroudant’s melancholy daydreams are interrupted by the blood dripping from his upstairs neighbour’s brutally mutilated corpse. The violent murder of Laura Vignole, and the pork joint placed next to her, set imaginations ablaze across the neighborhood, and Ahmed finds himself the prime suspect. However detectives Rachel Kupferstein and Jean Hamelot are not short of leads. What is the connection between a disbanded hip-hop group and the fiery extremist preachers that jostle in the streets for attention? And what is the mysterious new pill that is taking the district by storm? In this his debut novel, Karim Miské demonstrates a masterful control of setting, as he moves seamlessly between the sensual streets of Paris and the synagogues of New York to reveal the truth behind a horrifying crime.

The novel has just been awarded France’s most prestigious award for crime writing and has been described by Tariq as ‘Intelligent and Gripping’. Join us for what is likely to be an extremely passionate and thought provoking talk where art begins to imitate life.

Tickets cost just £3 and are available to purchase from the customer service department of Blackwell’s Oxford or by calling 01865 333623.

Five Minutes with Samantha Shannon

To celebrate the publication of ‘The Mime Order‘, Samantha Shannon’s follow up to ‘The Bone Season‘, we will be hosting a very special afternoon event, on Saturday 31st January at the Sheldonian Theatre. Joining Samantha to discuss her books and the wonderful world that she has created will be Andy Serkis, best known for his acting roles as Gollum, King Kong and Caesar from ‘Planet of the Apes‘. Andy is also the founder of Imaginarium Studios which has purchased the rights to Samatha’s ‘The Bone Season‘. 

Samantha was kind enough to answer a few questions for Broad Conversation, in order to whet your appetite for the event…

Let’s start with an easy one – are you reading anything good at the moment?

I’ve got a few books on the go at the moment. The first one is Stone Mattress, the new collection of short stories by Margaret Atwood, which is full of her wonderful, dark wit. I’m quite a long way into an early translation of The Key, the final book in the Engelsfors trilogy by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg. It’s a gritty, complex urban fantasy set in a small town in Sweden, following the struggles of six young women who discover that they’re witches. I’m also looking forward to starting The Chimes by Anna Smaill, a dystopia based around music.

The Mime Order comes out in the UK on 27th Jan. How was writing the second book different to the first? Are there any sneak peeks you can tease us with?

Unlike the first book, The Mime Order isn’t based in Oxford at all – it’s solely set in my home city of London. It follows Paige as she returns to London after her ordeal as a prisoner, determined to bring the truth about Scion to light, but it’s more of a challenge than she could ever have anticipated. It’s nerve-racking to have a second book coming out, but it was fantastically good fun to write, as I was able to show the reader much more of the Bone Season world – including some new characters – and delve deeper into the relationships between Paige and her fellow gang members.

You’re one of the most contactable authors I’ve seen, and are always answering fan questions and interacting with readers on your Tumblr. Has answering these questions had an impact on your view of the world you’ve created? Does it make you consider aspects of the books that you maybe hadn’t thought about?

It hasn’t affected the way I write the books, but it’s definitely thought-provoking when someone asks me a question about something I hadn’t thought about.

Has there been any scene in particular that was the hardest to write? What do you do if something just isn’t coming together?

The dénouement of The Mime Order was tough to write, as it’s a very long, action-heavy scene, spread over several chapters, and involves a large number of characters. The ending also took a few tries to get right, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

And one really obvious question – how did you feel when Imaginarium Studios took on ‘The Bone Season’?

I was over the moon. A few studios were interested in acquiring the film rights, but as soon as I heard that Andy Serkis was one of the co-founders of Imaginarium, I was intrigued. I admire Andy’s dedication to developing his particular field of interest within the film industry, and I was certain that if any studio was going to make The Bone Season look amazing on the big screen, it would be this one. I’ve really enjoyed working with the Imagineers so far. They’ve since teamed up with Chernin Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox to make the film, and they now have a double Oscar-nominated screenwriter on board.

If you’re a fan of ‘The Bone Season’, and can’t wait for ‘The Mime Order’, book now to see Samantha and Andy in conversation! Tickets for the event cost £5. You can also pre-order ‘The Mime Order’ (published 27th Jan 2015) and get a free ticket to the event.

Simply visit the Customer Service Desk in the Broad Street shop, or phone them on 01865 333623. For enquiries email: events.oxford@blackwell.co.uk

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest info.

Blackwell’s Book Gift Club

Anyone with bookish friends and family knows the joy of being handed a book you’ve never heard of, accompanied by a glowing recommendation, and discovering a real treasure. Sometimes the books you didn’t know you wanted are the books that grab you the most… Mark Forsyth’s essay The Unknown Unknown discusses ‘the delight of not getting what you wanted’ from a bookshop who can work magic in providing unknown, unmissable books.

The Blackwell’s Book Gift Club works on this very principle – we will choose a brand new book for you (or your favourite book-lover), and send it to you each month. It’s a little bit of literary magic in your letterbox!

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We choose the most interesting and high quality books published during the year, so you’ll always receive a brand new hardback book, published within the last three months, and worth at least £16. Books will be sent out on the 1st of each month, and should be with you/your chosen recipient within five working days.

There are five categories to choose from:

1. Fiction

2. History

3. Politics, Philosophy and Culture

4. Science

5. ‘The Perfect Mixture’ – a selection of books from all categories

You can subscribe for 6 months or 12 months, and the prices are as follows:

12 months: £199 for the Fiction category, and £221 for the other four categories.

6 months: £99.50 for the Fiction category, and £110.50 for the other four categories.

If you would prefer to receive paperbacks, then for 12 months it’s just £120 for the Fiction category, and £150 for any other category, and for 6 months, it’s £60 for Fiction and £75 for the other categories.

Postage within the UK is free – if the subscription is a present for somebody else, we can send the payment details to you and the books to another address. Please email oxford@blackwell.co.uk, with the subject ‘Book Gift Club’, for advice on international postage costs.

To leave you with some temptation, here’s a selection of some previous Gift Club choices…

              

              

The books that you are most likely to see under your tree this year…

As we tick off the first week of December we start to get a good feel for which books are going to be at the top of our bestseller lists come Christmas. If you are looking for inspiration for that ‘hard to buy for’ relative this might give you some ideas…

For details of these books and for plenty more recommendations from our booksellers visit our shop website, and don’t forget, you can always chat to us on Twitter!

Folio, Beautiful Folio

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Did you know that Blackwell’s is the only stockist of Folio Society books in the whole of Oxford? These beautiful, luxurious hand-crafted editions of classic, iconic books are so gorgeous, it seemed like a great idea to showcase some of these beauties for you here on the blog! (more…)

The Giving Tree

If you would like to contribute to the Giving Tree but cannot make it into the shop you can make a purchase online here

“To quote the book “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein: Once there was a tree…../and she loved a little boy. Well, our giving tree is a tree that likes to give to boys and girls of Oxford who are less fortunate than most and our tree, just like the one in the book, (and with your wonderful help), gives and gives to make sure children all over Oxford wake up on Christmas morning with a smile on their face and present to open.  There’s nothing better than the gift of reading and what better way to share that gift with a child who really needs it.”

Ben Titchener, Children’s Department

Our wonderful Christmas Giving Tree 2014 has launched! Huge thanks to authors Jo Cotterill, Susie Day, Robin Stevens and Sally Nicholls for giving it such a fine launch – you can read Jo’s account here.

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This is a scheme which invites customers at Blackwell’s to choose and donate books which will then be wrapped up by staff in our Children’s Department and delivered by The Children’s Society to disadvantaged children who may otherwise go without this Christmas. The Giving Tree is something we have got behind for three years now and the people of Oxford have been wonderfully generous in making Christmas better for the recipients of Giving Tree gifts.

We are only too aware that many children and young people may not have the opportunity to visit bookshops such as ours. More to the point they may not even have access to books at all. We want to help change that, and The Giving Tree has proven to be a brilliant way to do so.

Children represented by The Children’s Society choose a book they would like as a present. We then hang their wished-for title on a tag on our Tree ready to be picked off by our customers to buy for the child. There is also the option of buying a book not specified by a particular child but which you have fond memories of or feel would make the perfect gift, which will then be presented to an appropriately aged recipient. Comedian David Mitchell has already got involved by donating a copy of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which he loved as a child.

The Children’s Society has helped changed children’s stories for over a century. We expose injustice and address hard truths, tackling child poverty and neglect head-on. We fight for change based on the experiences of every child we work with and the solid evidence we gather. Through our campaigning, commitment and care, we are determined to give every child in this country the greatest possible chance in life.
3.7 million children live in poverty in the UK. With your help, we’re working to improve children’s lives.

So this Christmas, while shopping for gifts and treats, why not take a moment to buy a present for a child less fortunate than most? Even if you are not able to get to the shop, you can participate in the Giving Tree online!

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest info.