My World Book Day gift to you...

She is razor sharp and insightful. Her precise language captures the essence of what it means to be an award-winning, Croatian writer on the margins of a star-struck industry, and she does this without once gazing at her navel.

She uses Ivana Trump as an example of how anyone can be an author, but authors can’t penetrate other industries in the same way, such as become sports personalities or business leaders. Above all, she offers a cultural commentary on the cogs that make up the publishing industry, as well as a candid peek into the writers’ psyche, weaving in encounters with other writers and agents along the way.

Her name is Dubravka Ugresic, and her critically acclaimed book Thank You For Not Reading is a must read for anyone thinking about earning a living as a writer.

Read it and weep heavy tears onto your next tax return.


Husband: What shall we do for Valentines Day?

Wife: What we always do.

Husband: Which is?

Wife: You know, say we're not doing anything, then rush out to the shops at the last minute to buy each other something - ANYTHING - so it doesn't feel like a normal work day.

Husband: Hmmph. We're not doing that this year.

Wife: Agreed.

Husband: So what shall we do then?

Wife: How about fight about your daily fruit and veg intake?

Husband: Excellent, I'll get the wine. It's made of grapes.

Wife: That's just fruit. What about the veg?

Husband: I'll eat a cabbage after.

Wife: What, a whole one?

Husband: For you, yes.

Wife: I love you.

Husband: I know.

What, no Nagra?

I have been wanting my own copies of Look We Have Coming to Dover and The Hole in the Sum of my Parts for a while now, so off I went to the gigantic high street bookstore in Leeds. Three spacious floors of books, with each section given a huge flank of shelves and tables piled with the ‘must reads’ du jour. Imagine my disappointment, then, when the impressive poetry section had no Daljit Nagra or Matt Harvey. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I turned the corner and...wait, what’s this...why, it’s a tiny, puny, itty, bitty eight shelves dedicated to Black and Asian writers. Here they are:

asian shelf
asian shelf
asian shelf2
asian shelf2

I counted the number of authors they put on these shelves: approximately 150 (although it looks a lot less in the photos). They have included Yann Martel as a Black and Asian author. It beggars belief.

So a big fat raspberry to that particular store, but a huge bunch of fair-trade flowers to Foyles on Charing Cross Road (but not Mr Grump who served me), for having the brilliant Look We Have Coming to Dover and The Hole in the Sum of my Parts plus Where Earwigs Dare. Not even the London Review Bookshop could match that.