We made a Christmas advert. It cost two million pounds but, to be honest, most of that went on pear drops and fizzy pop.
For some writers it doesn’t seem to be enough to be able to think of one book to write. Inside their books they mention other books that will usually never be written in our real world. Throwaway ideas that sound like they’d be wonderful if written out in full. As voracious readers ourselves, we aren’t happy with the huge amount of books already available, we want the books that aren’t available as well. Here are some of the nonexistent books that we’d like to read the most (along with the books they appear in).
As always, click on any title or cover to see it at Waterstones.com
They say the first line is one of the most important parts of a book*. Get it right and the readers’ eyes are all yours, get it wrong and they’ll start looking around, distracted by the feet of strangers or two birds fighting over a sandwich.
Over on our Instagram account (here, follow it here) we’ve been asking people for the first lines that have grabbed them. So, along with a few of our own personal favourites, and a pleasingly alliterative title, here are fourteen fantastic first lines.
We like books, it’s true. We want the best for them. We want them to be recognised for the wonderful things they can be and, we’ll admit it, it hurts when we see them taken apart and turned into badly thought through films.
At some stage, who knows when, we’d like to form a Book Protection League that will prevent all future film adaptations. Yes, some of them might be good, but for every Godfather there’s ten other books left crying in a ditch, all wishing they were never seduced by the brilliant, bright lights of Hollywood.
Read on for the six book to film adaptations that make us sad inside..
One of the problems of working in a bookshop is that a once enjoyable Sunday afternoon of sorting out my personal bookcase now just feels like a day at work. As much as I like books, it’s nice to have two days a week where I don’t have to constantly rearrange them. Back then, however, in the dark days before the bookshop, I would spend hours wondering where the books should live.
I’ve spent most of my life arguing with people that ‘the floor’ is a valid storage space. Especially when it comes to books and, now that everyone I know lives in small London flats, people are finally conceding my point. It’s strange to me that some people have enough space in their homes for more than one small bookcase. One of my biggest problem is deciding which books get to go on the actual shelves.
—Lionel Asbo - Martin Amis
Auto-Tuned Opening Lines - Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis
Our favourite one yet, Martin Amis’ new novel becomes a haunting Scott Walker-esque melody.
I’m having an affair with an older woman.
Shes’ a lady of some sophistication,
and makes a refreshing change from the teen agers I know
(like Alektra for example, or Chanel.)
The sex is fantastic and I think I’m in love.
But ther’es one very serious complication
and i’ts this;shes’ my Gran!
Desmond Pepperdine (Desmond, Des, Desi),
the author of this document, was fifteen and a half.
And his handwriting, nowadays, was selfconsciously elegant;
the letters used to slope backward,
but he patiently trained them to slope forward;
and when everything was smoothly conjoined
he started adding little flourishes
(his e was positively ornate—
like a w turned on its side)
We’ve been asking authors to tell us a bit about their favourite books and how they’ve influenced their own writing. The response so far has been fantastic and we’re glad to say it’s the turn of Kevin Brooks this week. His newest book, Until the Darkness Comes was published a couple of weeks ago, it’s almost as if we try to coincide these entires with new releases. Under the cut you’ll see his picks:
Usually, we’d link all these books back to Waterstones.com but as that’s down today (20th June) so we can’t. Wait until the website’s back up before putting this up, you say? We’d love to but these things take time to put together and tomorrow’s a busy day in the shop. It’s much quicker to insert the links later. Anyway, we’ll pass on to Mr Brooks.
—The Illustrated Man - Ray Bradbury
Auto-Tuned Opening Lines - The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
More than a few of the booksellers in our store are admirers of Ray Bradbury’s books and we were very sad to hear of his death. We recorded this song about a month ago but didn’t want to put it up as last week as, quite frankly, we think it might have seemed opportunistic. So, here, in our own way of tribute to one of the best modern writers there’s been, is the auto-tuned Illustrated Man.
when I first met the Illustrated Man.
Walking along an asphalt road,
I was on the final leg of a two weeks’ walking tour of Wisconsin.
Late in the afternoon I stopped, ate some pork, beans, and a doughnut,
and was preparing to stretch out and read
when the Illustrated Man walked over the hill
and stood for a moment against the sky.
I didn’t know he was illustrated then.
I only know that he was tall, once well muscled,
but now, for some reason, going to fat.
I recall that his arms were long, and the hands thick,
but that his face was like a child’s, set upon a massive body.
He seemed only to sense my presence,
Jonathan Lee is the author of Who Is Mr Satoshi? and, published today, Joy (look! There’s a picture of the cover above and below, a plot synopsis we’ve shamelessly taken from our parent site, Waterstones.com)
'Did she jump? Did she fall? Will she wake?' On an ordinary Friday afternoon in the office, talented young lawyer Joy Stephens plummets forty feet onto a marble floor. In the shadow of this baffling event, the lives of those closest to her begin to collide and change in unexpected ways. There is Dennis, her disgraced husband, who finds consolation in books; her colleague Peter, whose refuge is a mix of hedonism and hard work; Barbara, Joy's prickly PA, who'd be content if only she could get away to New York; and Samir, Joy's hygiene-obsessed personal trainer, who escapes into exercise routines and other, stranger rituals. In a sparkling glass office in London's Square Mile - a place bursting with flirtations, water cooler confrontations and dangerous amounts of abject boredom - each of them is forced to question what they've witnessed, and to face past moments that have defined Joy's life, as well as their own.
And, below the cut, Jonathan has written about his own favourite books and personal influences. Click on any book’s title or cover to see it at Waterstones.com. That’s our bit, now we’ll pass you on to Jonathan.
You finish yet another book where a first-person narrator has told you all about their adventures or a nameless god has just finished a story about characters who you suspect don’t really exist. ‘I think, therefore I am,’ you think (therefore you are). You want a book about a character you know is real. Let’s face it, you want a book about you. You don’t want to be sitting on the bus to work reading about other people, you want to be reading about nobody but yourself. So, here you are, six books about you. You raging ego-maniac.
(You can click on the title or cover of each book and find yourself on the corresponding page at waterstones.com)