Giving a classic new life

Keeping teenagers reading books for fun has long been a challenge for parents and the publishing industry alike – although the young adult market has exploded over recent years with authors like Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins hitting the big time when they successfully made the crossover from the shelves to the big screen. But while the YA market is booming for paranormal, dystopian and coming of age novels, encouraging a new generation of readers to embrace classic novels is an entirely different challenge.

Wuthering HeightsI recently went to an exhibition at the British Library that looked at the history of the gothic theme in literature, and one thing I found really interesting was an example of a 2009 reprint of Wuthering Heights. The cover had been completely redesigned in the style of the hugely popular Twilight books to try and win over the notoriously difficult teenage market by enticing avid Stephanie Meyer fans would relate to the colour and style of the new cover.

It might sound strange, but the two books both have gothic themes in common and there are apparently repeated references to Wuthering Heights throughout the Twilight series. The new cover actually proved remarkably effective. In fact, it was so successful that sales of Wuthering Heights, originally published in 1847, increased fourfold between 2005, when the first Twilight book was published, and 2010. Continue reading


Searching for a bargain book buy

Wherever possible, I’m a big believer in helping to support high street and local bookstores. But as we all know, feeding a reading habit can prove expensive. As we come towards Christmas, when salaries are stretched even further than usual and more and more of us will start to feel the pinch, it’s great to know that there are still ways that we can get our hands on books for less. Last month, I managed to pick up five books for less than £6 by keeping an eye out for online deals and scouting for second hand steals:

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – £2 from local British Heart Foundation charity shop
This has been getting a huge amount of hype recently. It’s been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, it made the Waterstones Book Club list and it’s been getting tons of publicity and reviews. I know very little about the actual plot, but I’m really looking forward to finding out.

Pure by Andrew Miller – £2 from local charity shop
The winner of the 2011 Costa Book or the Year Award, this is a historical novel set shortly before the French Revolution, when a young Frenchman named Jean-Baptiste is tasked with cleansing an overfilled Parisian cemetery. This year’s Costa shortlist has recently been announced and can be viewed here.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – 99p from local Age UK charity shop
Tolstoy’s classic is a hefty tome at over 800 pages, and if I’m honest, this is probably one that’s going to sit unopened on my bookshelf for a while. But at just 99p, this was a bargain I just couldn’t pass up. One day, when I fancy a challenge, I’m sure I’ll get round to it!

Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1) by Robin Hobb – Free ebook
I’ve been aware of Robin Hobb, who has been described by George R. R. Martin as producing books that are ‘like diamonds in a sea of zircons’ for a while, thanks to ongoing enthusiasm on the blogger-sphere and extensive advertising for a different book by the same author on the London Underground over the summer. The first in a fantasy series, ‘Assassin’s Apprentice’ was first published back in 2011 but was on offer as a free ebook, across all online platforms, for a limited time at the start of November. I’ve no doubt they expect to make their money back from people purchasing the later books in the story after they’re hooked, but it was still a great deal!

Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – 85p ebook on Amazon
This was another short-lived reduction of one of the books on my wish list. The Amazon Kindle store offers daily and monthly deals on books from a whole range of genres and it’s well worth checking them regularly to see if anything comes up that you’re interested in. ‘Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore’ has had great reviews and sees a bookstore employee turn to the powers of technology and the possibilities of Google to solve the ancient mystery behind the strange behaviour of the store’s customers.