Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

“He’ll be famous….there will be books written about Harry – every child in our world will know his name!” Professor McGonagall

A Year in Provence

The Outsider

The Old Man and the Sea

BBC Oxford has been running a series called 100 books you must read before you die. And this book is one of them. Patrick Neale* from Jaffe & Neale Bookshop makes the case for its inclusion here.


*no relation

A Whole Life

The following is from the Man Booker shortlist site for 2015.

A Whole Life

Translated by Charlotte Collins

Published by Pan Macmillan, Picador

Andreas lives his whole life in the Austrian Alps, where he arrives as a young boy taken in by a farming family. He is a man of very few words and so, when he falls in love with Marie, he doesn’t ask for her hand in marriage but instead has some of his friends light her name at dusk across the mountain. When Marie dies in an avalanche, pregnant with their first child, Andreas’s heart is broken. He leaves his valley just once more, to fight in WWII – where he is taken prisoner in the Caucasus – and returns to find that modernity has reached his remote haven. Like John Williams’ Stoner or Denis Johnson’s Train DreamsA Whole Life is a tender book about finding dignity and beauty in solitude. It looks at the moments, big and small, that make us what we are.

Robert Seethaler is an Austrian living in Berlin and is the author of four previous novels. He also works as an actor, most recently in Paulo Sorrentino’s Youth. 

Charlotte Collins studied English at Cambridge University. She worked as an actor and radio journalist in both Germany and the UK before becoming a literary translator, and has also translated Robert Seethaler’s novel The Tobacconist.

Last of the Amazons






One of the backdrops for Shantaram is a building site that has spawned the slum where many of the characters live. An article on the BBC website gives voice to some of the workers behind India’s construction boom. You can find the article here.


If you like Shantaram then you might like Badventuring too…it’s a blog by Tom Hartland, a young man from Wolverhampton who took off around India and beyond on a bike and wrote about his adventures along the way (there’s a link here)

“The best stories are born in adversity, honed in hardship and steeped in survival.

Let’s stop being second-hand story-tellers and get busy crafting our own tales!“

It’s ok lads. He’s fully recovered now….



Mr Phillips

How often do men really think about sex?

Every 7 seconds? That would be 514 times an hour.

19 times a day?

Or once a day?

Interesting piece here explores the data and the methodologies.


The Dry