THANKS to all who entered the Literary Lunch competition for your fantastic book recommendations and kind words. The winner picked by random generator is Peggy Riley.
Today is the 5th anniversary of the Literary Sofa, and instead of saying ‘I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly’, I feel the opposite. Running this blog has had such a big impact on my life that I can hardly remember the pre-Sofa days. Things have changed so much along the way. These five years, the majority of my time as a writer, have seen me progress from seeking an agent to publication of my debut novel Paris Mon Amour in June this year. I wrote about the happy combination of blogging and writing in this piece for the Ham & High.
The blog has been very positive for me on a personal and professional level, expanding my literary horizons, developing my critical faculties and giving me useful insights into the publishing business. But what I value most is what I hoped for at the outset: connecting with my fantastic guest authors and readers (many of whom I’ve now met in real life). I am proud and delighted to have created a place to share my love of fiction and writing with all of you!
Often I get asked ‘what makes a successful book blog?’ and in short, I think it’s down to passion, individuality and quality. (If it was all about the number of hits, they wouldn’t be consulting me!) And I’d like to thank my amazing guest authors, who do most of the work, and above all, everyone who reads and supports the Literary Sofa – some of you have been with me from the very beginning. Many thanks also to the editors and publicists who send me books and invite me to events and to my fellow book bloggers for the inspiration and enjoyment I get from reading their blogs.
Introducing SOFA SPOTLIGHT
Five years is a good moment to take stock of any project, and I’m making a few changes in order to prioritise my own writing and related reading, much of which is non-fiction, not recent or not in English. Therefore my two big selections of recommended fiction (Hot Picks and Summer Reads) will be replaced by a quarterly ‘Sofa Spotlight’ which will be more flexible and responsive to exciting discoveries; as it stands, I frequently miss books which deserve to be included and end up not covering them at all. With each new season (approximately), the Spotlight will fall on 4-6 books and in addition to a description, I’ll tell you why they impressed me. I hope this will be just as popular and an even better way to support books (and authors) I believe in, which don’t always get the attention they warrant in a crowded marketplace. The first Winter Sofa Spotlight will be in November.
The Literary Lunch competition
And now for the ‘traditional’ blog anniversary Literary Lunch competition. As with previous years (and various other occasions), I will take the winner out for a Very Nice Lunch in London – or Paris, if you insist – date and venue by mutual agreement to accommodate your food preferences. If past experience is anything to go by we will spend hours talking about books, writing, travel or anything else that crops up. It’s always been a pleasure and I look forward to treating this year’s winner!
COMPETITION NOW ENDED – SEE ABOVE FOR WINNER!
In the comments section below, name your (ONE) favourite book read this year. It can be ANY kind of book, published ANY year. If you want to say why, please keep it brief. It doesn’t matter if someone else has picked the same one.
The winner will be selected by random number generator on FRIDAY 23 SEPTEMBER at 6pm – so you don’t have long!
Happy blog birthday, Isabel – I’m trying my luck again to see if this is my lucky year! I’ve read loads of great books this year, many of them from indie presses, so it’s hard to choose. But seeing as you put ONE in capitals I won’t put the two I’m dithering between! So, my choice is Purity by Jonathan Franzen. Epic and intimate at the same time with so many stories interwoven. Loved it and was surprised to find that I did as everyone always raves about The Corrections and Freedom and I didn’t love either of them.
Carson McCullers: The Member of the Wedding.
I just love that book, Michelle! Great choice.
Everything Love Is – Claire King
“A year of marvellous ways” by Sarah Winman
Happy Blog Birthday! As I’m in NYC and away from my shelves, I can’t remember what I’ve read. So I’ll pick what I’m reading right now – The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr. Her how-to book on writing a memoir is pretty ace, too. You know, I’d always love to have lunch with you! X
Happy Blog Birthday Isabel! Five years – what a milestone! IVe read so many wonderful books this year but the one that stands out the most in my mind is Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must be the Place. It’s not my absolute favourite of hers but it is consummate Maggie and a tour de force. Would love to have w literary matter over lunch!
It has to be Nigel Slater’s ‘Toast’ – just lovely!
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. Happy blog birthday!
Happy blog birthday – I love reading it! My book is ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Andrew Doerr
It’s not a new book, but this year I read Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’d wanted to read her work for a while- and expand my horizons to African writers- and can now see why she is so lauded. It was an incredible book and I can’t wait to get stuck into more of her work.
Book I would recommend that resonated with me,is Our Souls at Night By Kent Haruf. Wonderful insights into companionship and love as we grow older,beautifully expressed and an unspooling of friendship that has remained with me. Bren Pointer, Kensal Rise,London
The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley. A lovely children’s book (first read when I was 8) with humour on different levels.
Five years? Five years! Huge congrats on everything you’ve achieved in one tiny half of a decade, Isabel. My number one? To name more than one would be tricky, lots of close seconds, but this book is my absolute favourite of recent reads: The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood. It tickled my imagination and the writing is beautiful. Cracking ending, too!
Happy Blog Birthday … 🍾🎂🍸❤📚
Looking forward to the new sofa spotlight feature😀
Wise Children by Angela Carter
‘A Song for Issy Bradley’ by Carys Bray- moving story of how a family come to terms with bereavement, esp a mother and how life can unravel – but not overly serious – wonderful light humour which lifts the novel. About a Mormon family but it could be anyone`s.
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky by Patrick Hamilton.
Congratulations on your blogpentiversary, Isabel. It’s still going amazingly strong(ly).
Happy 5th birthday and congratulations! Favourite book this year (just finished it this morning): “Some prefer nettles” by Junichiro Tanizaki (1956). Will be blogging about this wonderful Japanese writer soon!
What a lovely way to mark a milestone. I like your idea of the Sofa Spotlight
Congratulations Isabel (and thanks along the way). Look At Me by Anita Brookner.
Happy bloggiversary. I loved ‘Caught Inside’ by Jamie Deacon
The Book of Night Women. Still recovering.
Paul McVeigh’s The Good Son. So vivid, so evocative, so compelling.
Slade House by David Mitchell. Imaginative and vivid storytelling, had me wanting more and I loved The Bone Clocks…so a happy turn for me. Happy blog birthday!
It has to be Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf. Simple and heartbreaking.
Happy bloggy birthday! Finally got round to reading Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House – extraordinary stuff. Fear literally leaps off the page…!
The book that I can’t get out of my head this year is A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray. Beautiful writing, moving story and full of compassion.
Congratulations, Isabel, and the long list of comments here is testament to the well-deserved popularity of your blog. So many fabulous books to choose between, but my favourite has to be the intensely wacky Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore.
Here’s to another five years!