Emily Rhodes rssBy_the_books

Author Jonathan Galassi (Photo: Elena Seibert)

Jonathan Galassi’s fictional poet made me doubt my knowledge of American literature

15 August 2015
Muse Jonathan Galassi

Cape, pp.272, £14.99, ISBN: 9780224102414

Jonathan Galassi is an American publisher, poet and translator. In his debut novel Muse, his passion for the ‘good old days’ of the publishing industry is palpable: a time when… Read more

A first edition of F Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' (Photo: Getty)

Finally! A reason to feel good about buying so many books

13 June 2015

As a bookseller, I’ve always thought that spending an alarmingly high proportion of my wages on books is a hazard of the job. You wouldn’t put an alcoholic in charge… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

The dark side of Delhi

13 June 2015
Invisible Threads Lucy Beresford

Quartet, pp.240, £15, ISBN: 9780704373853

When Sara discovers that her husband died in India, rather than being killed in Afghanistan as she was told, she travels to Delhi to uncover the circumstances of his death.… Read more

Couple in heated argument

Melissa Kite comes out fighting. Again

4 April 2015
The Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Arguing Melissa Kite

Corsair, pp.432, £8.99, ISBN: 9781472115362

Madison Flight is a divorce lawyer, nicknamed ‘the Chair-Scraper’ for the number of times she leaps to her feet arguing in court. She has been contrary since birth, putting her… Read more


Long live bookshops!

29 November 2014

You’d be forgiven for thinking that bookshops only ever close down. More than 500 have shut since 2005, leaving fewer than 1,000 in the UK. Yet amid the many doom-and-gloom… Read more


The unexpected joys of working while pregnant

8 November 2014

‘You are like my cat.’ So I was told when eight-and-a-half months pregnant, just before going on maternity leave from the bookshop. I had hauled myself up from putting a… Read more


Early editions

6 September 2014

‘The bath is still stained pink,’ said Anna, laughing as we reminisced about those halcyon days, now over a decade ago, when she started a school magazine. Anna and I… Read more


L.P. Hartley’s guide to coping with a heatwave

26 July 2014

Those of us who have been struggling to endure the recent heat should turn to L.P. Hartley’s classic coming-of-age novel The Go-Between for some advice. ‘There’s no such thing as bad… Read more

tea party

Great literary tea parties (oh, and ours)

21 June 2014

Every summer this magazine invites some of its (randomly selected) subscribers to tea in the garden. Every Englishman loves tea and the pages of English literature are richly adorned with… Read more

Reading: it’s not as solitary as you might think

Book clubs

12 April 2014

Everyone knows somebody who belongs to a book club. From informal gatherings of bookish friends in living rooms and cafés to ticketed events organised by newspapers, publishers and hubs like… Read more


First novels: When romance develops from an old photograph

22 February 2014
Ghost Moth Michèle Forbes

Weidenfeld, pp.272, £12.99, ISBN: 9780297870449

Land Where I Flee Prajwal Parajuly

Quercus, pp.272, £16.99, ISBN: 9781780872971

The People in the Photo Hélène Gestern

Gallic, pp.208, £8.99, ISBN: 9781908313546

The intensely lyrical Ghost Moth is set in Belfast in 1969, as the Troubles begin and when Katherine, housewife and mother of four, finds herself remembering an old love affair.… Read more


By the book: The NSA is behaving like a villain in a 1950s novel

18 January 2014

The continuing drip-feed of stories about governments and friendly-seeming internet giants sifting through our data has left some citizens feeling outraged and a bit duped. I have no doubt that… Read more

Lose weight the Muriel Spark way

24 August 2013

Those of you dieting your way to a svelte physique amid the flesh-exposing terrors of summer should take courage from Mrs Hawkins, the heroine of Muriel Spark’s wonderful novel A… Read more


What a tortoise can teach us

3 August 2013

‘Are you a dog or a cat person?’ It’s one of those questions that comes up eventually — in conversation, on Blind Date or during an Oxbridge interview. The theory… Read more

Shire, by Ali Smith - review

3 August 2013
Shire Ali Smith

Full Circle Editions, pp.128, £18, ISBN: 9780957152823

Pastoral elegy is not what you expect to find in a collection of short stories, but then Ali Smith is a wonderfully unexpected writer. In the first story, ‘The Beholder’,… Read more

By the book: All passion rent

6 July 2013

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, 81 per cent of British people want to own their homes within the next ten years. George Osborne is the latest in a… Read more

The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner - review

29 June 2013
The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner

Harvill, pp.400, £16.99, ISBN: 9781846557910

This bright, burning flame of a novel takes place in the art world of 1970s New York. Our guide to this scene of glittering parties and eccentric characters — such… Read more

Things I Don’t Want to Know, by Deborah Levy - review

22 June 2013
Things I Don’t Want to Know: A Response to George Orwell’s Why I Write Deborah Levy

Notting Hill Editions,, pp.108, £12, ISBN: 9781907903632

In her powerful rejoinder to Orwell’s 1946 essay ‘Why I Write’, Deborah Levy responds to his proposed motives for writing — ‘sheer egoism’, ‘aesthetic enthusiasm’, ‘historical impulse’ and ‘political purpose’… Read more


The birth of the Walking Book Club

9 March 2013

In they stride, in muddy trainers or wellies, swirls of cold air caught on their clothes, children in off-road buggies, dogs bedraggledly in tow. I’ve always been thrilled that so… Read more

Staplehurst Crash

A tale of HS2 cities

2 February 2013

The route was unveiled this week for phase two of HS2 — and those who got hot under the collar about phase one (London to Birmingham) are furious again, on… Read more

The Wizard of Oz

1 December 2012

The Conservatives’ next election campaign will be run by Lynton Crosby, an Australian whose success has earned him the title ‘The Wizard of Oz’. On examining L. Frank Baum’s classic… Read more

Womens Literature_109433382

Girls’ own

27 October 2012

Everyone was so busy celebrating Hilary Mantel’s second Booker Prize victory last week that it was easy to overlook the announcement that another of our literary prizes has been saved… Read more

Last orders

1 September 2012

Sad news from the Campaign for Real Ale, which says that more and more young people are drinking at home rather than down the pub. ‘Pre-loading’ at home before clubbing… Read more

The Tortoise and the Lib Dems

4 August 2012

The Lib Dems have been thoroughly ineffectual in the coalition. So much so that some of us — including Hugo Rifkind in this magazine — have asked why they bother… Read more

Gone with the corsets

14 July 2012

Painful, barbaric and Victorian are the words I think of when someone says corset, and yet these torturous contraptions are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Rigby & Peller, Marks &… Read more