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  • Not long left to pick out those last minute Christmas presents. Here are ten books that will always be gladly received...

    Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 by David Kynaston

    The best history book of the past decade? Difficult one to argue, but it gets our vote.

    Halo Encyclopedia

    For the gamer in your life... The definitive guide to the halo universe.

    Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

    The book that made punctuation sexy! Funny and informative. 3 million readers can't be wrong.

    The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

    Despite sometimes acting as if he'd invented atheism and despite mostly coming off like a precocious sixth-former who has just seen through the delusions of his elders and betters, Dawkins unarguably got a lot of people talking the role of religion in our lives.

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

    Understandable, one of the best-loved books of the past decade. The book's 'hero', Christopher Boone, has Asperger's, but Haddon makes it clear that he's no more or less confused about our complex world than the rest of us!

    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

    Travel writer Bill Bryson shows us his inner polymath and explains, well, nearly everything!

    The Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1929-1940

    Finally, publication of the hugely important -- and compelling, funny, informative and vital -- letters of one of the most important writers of the Twentieth Century. Essential.

    Meltdown by Paul Mason

    Financially-speaking, 2009 was bonkers! The BBC's Paul Mason explains it all more clearly than anyone in his excellent Meltdown.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

    The first book in Larsson's ubiquitous Millennium Trilogy. Probably the best crime book you'll read this decade.

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

    It started the mash-up books trend and, as so often is the case, the original is the best. The genius title alone was enough to ensure it's cult status.

  • Each Monday, here on Editor's Corner, I'm going to take a look at some of the news that has been dominating the book industry in the preceding week.

    The news, as usual, is mostly gathered thanks to the excellent resources that are the Publishers Weekly website and the GalleyCat blog.

    • as part of the sale of its business to business publications, "Nielsen Business Media has announced that it is closing its book review publication Kirkus Reviews as well as Editor & Publisher"
    • "Publishing commentators are discussing the fact that the archive that Kirkus Reviews had is hugely valuable -- wondering what could be done with that," said publishing expert Kat Meyer, pondering the sad news that Kirkus Reviews will close. "Is somebody going to buy it? It could be turned into anything from a Rotten Tomatoes for books (or added to such a site), or it could become valuable for libraries"
    • Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group have announced plans to delay digital publication of some or most of their frontlists -- and HarperCollins have followed suit...
    • Goodreads, the social network for readers, has "scored $2 million in new financing with the help of True Ventures... Goodreads will use the new funds to improve the site and create more features around reading ranging from quizzes to bookswaps to e-book support tools... Goodreads has a booming community of 2,600,000 readers, who have panned and celebrated 64,000,000 books"
    • the Consumer Product Safety Commission "has recalled some 140,000 Monday the Bullfrog plush books because a plastic eye on the frog of the children's books can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children"
  • Bookseller redux banner

    Each Monday, here on Editor's Corner, I run through the latest issue of the Bookseller magazine and pick out the bits and pieces of book industry news that catch my eye.

    This quick round-up of book stuff is culled from the pages of last Friday's 11th December issue and via the Bookseller website:

    • Stephenie Meyer and Guinness World Records 2010 "have been declared the big winners of this Christmas but Jamie Oliver and Peter Kay are the biggest turkeys... Jamie's America was held as one of the biggest disappointments, with sales failing to match last year's success of his Ministry of Food"
    • Borders UK "administrator MCR is facing growing pressure from publishers, which are still seeking to establish retention of title (ROT) claims two weeks after the beleagured retailer went into administration"
    • independents "appear set for a respectable 2009, with flat year-on-year sales amid a declining book market"
    • the "BBC has denied Lonely Planet parent BBC Worldwide is up for sale after the government said it expects the BBC to look more widely at options for its commercial arm"
    • discount chain "The Works, which plunged into administration last year, has had its most successful trading year earning a profit of £3m"
    • serial deals "have declined by as much as a tenth in the last two to three years, adding further pressure to parts of the non-fiction book world"
    • a "group of London librarians have expressed strong concerns about a proposal to consolidate London's library services into four or five 'regions'... Librarians said their services to the public would be compromised by the plan, that shared services would be 'sprawling and inflexible' and that a 10% reduction in specialist/professional staff (375 jobs in total) would 'undermine' the profession"
    • John Blake "is publishing a book by true crime author Gary King that will 'tell the whole story of the twisted murder case' behind the death of British student Meredith Kercher"
    • academic bookseller and library supplier "Lindsay & Croft will be merged into Blackwell's Book Services business"
    • Jamie Oliver's "independently developed '20 Minute Meals' iPhone App could well top 100,000 units, according to App publisher Jason Dunne"
  • Full of fascinating characters and brilliantly told, James Bradley's The Imperial Cruise "will forever reshape the way we understand U.S. history":

    In 1905 President Teddy Roosevelt dispatched Secretary of War William Howard Taft on the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in history to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, China, and Korea. Roosevelt's glamorous twenty-one year old daughter Alice served as mistress of the cruise, which included senators and congressmen. On this trip, Taft concluded secret agreements in Roosevelt's name...

    In 2005, a century later, James Bradley traveled in the wake of Roosevelt's mission and discovered what had transpired in Honolulu, Tokyo, Manila, Beijing and Seoul. In 1905, Roosevelt was bully-confident and made secret agreements that he though would secure America's westward push into the Pacific. Instead, he lit the long fuse on the Asian firecrackers that would singe America's hands for a century.

  • Ooh, I likes this! The Insect That Stole Butter? is an Oxford Dictionary of word origins, an "accessible, lively A-Z of thousands of words and their origins, drawn from Oxford's unrivalled dictionary research and language monitoring":

    Combining both accessibility and authority, The Insect That Stole Butter? describes the origins and development of over 3,000 words and phrases in the English language. The book relates the fascinating stories behind many of our most curious terms and expressions in order to offer the reader a much more explicit account than can be found in a general English dictionary.

    Organized A-Z, the entries include first known use along with examples that illustrate the many faces of the particular word or phrase, from 'handsome' to 'bachelor' and 'cute' to 'baby', from 'pagan' to 'palaver' and 'toff' to 'torpedo'. Also featured are almost 20 special panels that cover expressions common in English but drawn from other languages, such as 'coffee', 'sugar', and 'candy' from Arabic or 'booze', 'brandy', and 'gin' (Dutch). This absorbing volume is useful for language students and enthusiasts, but also an intriguing read for any person interested in the development of the English language and of language development in general. Includes an extended introduction on the history of the English language.

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