Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Calais Jungle Library - HELP!

OK then. We've been raising money and collecting books to donate to the "Jungle Library" in the Calais refugee camp. 

So far, we've raised over £2,500 and we have a ton load of books kindly donated by people from all over the country. We're still getting around twenty parcels a day with books to take to Calais. 

Image result for help

Here are three things;

  1. We need help sorting the books out. If you are free tomorrow (Thursday) and can spare an hour or two, please get in touch. 020 8881 6767. 
  2. We spoke to Mary Jones, the person looking after the Library and she is currently in the position where she's got plenty of fiction and kids books (in English) at the library. A lot of what's been donated is fiction and kids stuff, so we suggested to her that we have a mammoth sale of all the second stuff we've got and add that to the money that we're raising for her. She LOVED this idea, so we are having a....  
Image result for "pay what you like"

From Friday 18th September until Sunday 20th September

you can choose up to 6 books and pay as little as 1p for each (YOU MONSTER). You could pay a tenner for each too, but that's up to you.
We have well over 3,000 secondhand books here all looking to go to good homes.
We're hoping for sunny few days so that we can get the tables and boxes outside.

     3. I'm going to Calais on Monday 21st September to deliver the books we have and also to meet Mary and to give her some dosh. We've persuaded the lovely people at ZIPCAR to let us have a van, and we've (I think) persuaded the BBC to let us borrow a camera, so we can film our journey. 
Neither Tim or I drive, but the lovely Mark White, aka MarkyMarket is very kindly giving up his time and is going to help me get the books to Calais. 

This is all very exciting and I can't wait to meet Mary. Our aim is for this not to be a one-off thing. We'd like to keep our link with the library in Calais and continue to work with  Mary to ensure that at the very least, there is always a well stocked library at the camp. 

Thank you. 

The Suffragettes. A panel discussion. Thursday October 15th - 7.00pm


We're delighted to be able to put on a fantastic panel event at the shop to coincide with the release of the new film "SUFFRAGETTE", starring Helena Bonham-Carter, Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan.
We have three amazing authors here, who will be discussing the suffragette movement and the importance it played.
The authors are;
Lyndsey Jenkins
Lyndsey's book, 'Lady Constance Lytton: Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr' is a fascinating look at the life of one the more unlikely suffragettes. Daughter of a Viceroy of India and a lady in waiting to the Queen. She grew up in the family home of Knebworth and in embassies around the world…
Katherine Connelly
Author of 'Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socailist and Scourge of the Empire'. In this vivid biography Katherine Connelly examines Pankhurst’s role at the forefront of significant developments in the history of radical politics…
Fern Riddell
Fern is the author of 'The Victorian Guide to Sex', An exciting factual romp through sexual desire, practises and deviance in the Victorian era. The Victorian Guide to Sex will reveal advice and ideas on sexuality from the Victorian period. Drawing on both satirical and real life events from the period, it explores every facet of sexuality that the Victorians encountered.
There will be a discussion and also a Q+A, followed by a book signing.
Refreshements will be available.
Tickets for this are just £3, redeemable on any book on the night. 

An Evening with Sarah Winman - Thursday October 8th - 7.00pm

We’ve been trying for some considerable time to sort this out and now finally, we are delighted that Sarah Winman will be joining us at the shop.
Sarah’s first book, ‘When God Was a Rabbit’ published in 2011 is a brilliant story looking primarily at the intense relationship between Elly and her older brother Joe. It’s a dark , funny and very moving novel, which I suggest you purchase right now…Oh, but before you do, you ought to know that Sarah’s new novel, ‘A Year of Marvellous Ways’ has just come out. Another triumph, this is a beautifully constructed novel telling the unlikely friendship of 90 year oldMarvellous Ways and a young soldier Freddy Drake.
Sarah will be here to read and discuss her novels and to answer any questions you may have. Here books will be available on the night to buy and Sarah will be happy to sign copies for you.
Tickets are just £3, redeemable on either book purchased at the shop. 

Monday, September 07, 2015

Calais Jungle Library - another update!

Short introduction;
We're raising money to get books for a makeshift library in the Calais refugee camp (known as The Jungle), set up by teacher Mary Jones. Read about it HERE

OK, are you all up to speed now? Excellent.

Today, I had the pleasure of speaking to Mary (who's been so busy in the last week, that she only found out about what we were doing this morning!) on the telephone.

A telephone, earlier today. 

She was absolutely rushed off her feet, and during the fifteen minute conversation we had, it was apparent that her role in the camp was so much more than 'simply' looking after the Library. She'd just received a delivery of donated shoes and was sorting out who in the camp needed them (it seemed that a large number of the donations the camp received, books or otherwise, were delivered to her).

She wanted to say how incredibly grateful she was for the response for her "more books for the library" plea.
She has been overwhelmed.

Jungle Books Library, earlier today. 

Now, here is the bit I need you to read.


If you've already sent them to us, or if they are in the post already, that is brilliant. THANK YOU.
But if you were planning on dropping off any more books for us to get to the library, please hold off.

At the moment, the stuff we have and the books we are going to order especially for those people at the camp are more than enough.

However, Mary did say...


These donations will  go towards restocking the shelves at the library, as the books that we donate will be given to those people in the camp (we're not expecting the books to be returned to the library). This is a longer term plan than but we want to try and sustain the library for as long as possible.


It looks like we'll be delivering the books to Calais ourselves, and we'll also be putting a video together of the trip there.  

A map, earlier today. 

We've (nearly) managed to persuade a company to let us have a free van for a couple of days, and it also looks like we'll be able to borrow a camera from the Broadcasting Company whose license fee is worth every penny.

Anyway, more of that next time.
Thanks for your continued support for this. 

Sunday, September 06, 2015

The Jungle Library. Update.

10 days ago, I posted a thing on here asking for donations for The Jungle Library, a makeshift library set up by a teacher called  Mary Jones at the refugee camp in Calais.

Up until last Wednesday, we'd had a few, very generous donations from our customers and we were delighted that we could help in some way.

Then, following the media reporting of poor Aylan Kurdi, whose image I will never forget, things changed.
I have very mixed feeling about how the media portrayed this, (and i'm not going to argue this point with anyone, so let's not go there OK?), but one thing it did do was change attitudes and more importantly it seems to have led to a change in government policy.

On a very local level, our small appeal for books for the library was suddenly catapulted into the limelight, as The Independent and the Telegraph picked up on the story.

All of a sudden we were inundated with kind offers as thousands (about 26,000 at the last count) read the blogpost.

Here are a few things that have happened so far:

  • over £2,500 has been donated towards books and stuff for the Calais refugees (you can add to this too, if you want)

  • We've received thousands of books (and know we'll be getting at least three times as many this week too) from you lovely people. 

A small selection
  • The BBC came over to our gaff and stuck us on the London News. This is no longer available to view, but you'll have to take my word for it that I looked fabulous and it was worth the licence fee money alone. 
  • An Amazon Wishlist, set up by Worzel Wooface , attracted 160 purchases! Rather than donate books, this list was curated especially, so that people could buy specific books and games that the people at the camp need and get them delivered direct to us. Essentially we are going to be getting 160 Amazon parcels through the post! But it was an spectacular success, and those parcels amount to over £1200 worth of goods. 
There are other more incredible things that happened. Here are a couple that you really ought to know about.

Patrick Ness (he's an author. He's written some rather exceptional books too, but don't let him get all big headed about it), started an appeal for Save the Children's Syrian Refugee fund, in which he pledged to match donations if they got to £10,000. It took less than 2 hours! 

Good old Patrick Ness (as of Sept 6th 2015)

It then took on a life of its own with authors including Jojo Moyes, David Nicholls, Anthony Horowitz and Marian Keyes all agreeing to add £10,000 if more donations were given. Money currently raised is teetering around half a million pounds!! That's fucking AMAZING!!!
Give more money HERE (if you can).

£1300 was raised by publisher and all round nice guy Scott Pack and Jonathan Main, who owns The Bookseller Crow, London's second best bookshop. They offered professional advice to authors in exchange for money for the Syrian refugees. 

The book industry is ace.

Our next step is getting the books over to Calais....(that will be covered in the next blogpost, as this one is long enough already). 

Please, if you can, keep donating and sharing the message. These people need our help.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Man Booker Book Challenge. IT'S BACK!!

The Man Booker Prize Book Challenge. It’s Back!
Thursday September 17th and again on Tuesday October 13th. 
Once again the nation holds its breath in anticipation of the announcement of The Man Booker Prize shortlist on September 15th.

 London will grind to a standstill and police cordons will be set up to hold back fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the judges entering the hallowed Booker Towers to announce their decision.

And media attention couldn't be more intense. Heightened security measures have been introduced to ensure the Longlisted authors’ protection as Booker frenzy continues to sweep the nation. 

So, who is it going to be?? Only the judges know, but we hear from an anonymous source that the six shortlisted authors are all likely to come from the 13 books on the longlist.
And here is that Longlist.

Bill Clegg  - Did You Ever Have a Family (Jonathan Cape)           
Anne Enright - The Green Road (Jonathan Cape)
Marlon James  - A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications)
Laila Lalami - The Moor's Account (Periscope, Garnet Publishing)
Tom McCarthy  - Satin Island (Jonathan Cape)
Chigozie Obioma  - The Fishermen (ONE, Pushkin Press)
Andrew O’Hagan  - The Illuminations (Faber & Faber)
Marilynne Robinson  - Lila (Virago)           
Anuradha Roy - Sleeping on Jupiter (MacLehose Press, Quercus)
Sunjeev Sahota - The Year of the Runaways (Picador)
Anna Smaill  - The Chimes (Sceptre)
Anne Tyler - A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus)
Hanya Yanagihara - A Little Life (Picador)

After the controversy of last year’s boycott of the Man Booker, rules have changed and it seems that the books are  (nearly) all available, which means EVERYONE has a chance to read them!

So I am delighted to announce  that The Big Green Bookshop will be running its Booker Book Challenge again *cheers*.

Here’s how it works;
As soon as the shortlist is announced, we’ll order copies of each of the books, which we’ll hopefully get by Thursday September 17th.  We’ll open until about 8pm on the Thursday, so people can come and pick up copies of the books.

Over the next five or so weeks the idea is to make a concerted effort to read as many of the six shortlisted books as you can.
We'll meet on Tuesday October 13th, the evening the winner is announced, to discuss each of the books. After a heated debate, and a glass or two of wine, the group will vote for whom they think should win. We’ll then watch the televised ceremony, and hopefully cheer as our choice and the actual winner is one and the same. Or more likely, shout and curse as our least favourite book takes the glory.

We realise that the cost of buying six books, some of them hardback is somewhat budget busting. So for our local customers, rather than asking you to buy all the books at full price we’ve come up with a few solutions;

•For a one off payment of £30, we will be a lending library, where you can borrow each of the books for a week each. You can also keep your favourite book after the ceremony. Pre-order this deal HERE.
•We will offer a discount of 20% on the shortlist.
•A group of you could share the cost, so for example 3 of you could buy 2 books each. 

However you decide to do this, we will do everything we can to make the books accessible to you. The important thing is that you're able to join in. 

It's a challenge to read six books in four weeks (especially books you wouldn't necessarily read), but if you think you're up for it, get involved.
My guess at the Shortlist (based on nothing). 

Anne Enright
Tom McCarthy  
Andrew O’Hagan
 Marilynne Robinson  
Anne Tyler
Hanya Yanagihara

Please let me know if you’re planning on getting involved, so I can order enough books. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Jungle Library

September 4th +++ UPDATE+++ September 4th
we've added a DONATE HERE button , so that any money sent can buy the specific books that the library needs. If you can help, that would be amazing. 
(thanks to those of you who suggested this)

A makeshift library has been set up at the migrant camp at Calais. They need more books. 
We want to help. But, of course, we would like your help too. 

On Monday, I read this article in The Guardian about a teacher, who has set up a small library in the growing refugee camp in Calais. 

The teacher Mary Jones said;

“I wanted to start something that offered real, practical help. Many people here are well-educated — they want to get on and they want books that will help them read and write English, apply for jobs, fill-in forms.” 

Christened "Jungle Books" (the camp is nicknamed The Jungle), when the article was written they had about 300 books.

Now i'm sure they've been inundated with offers of help since then. I emailed Mary myself on Tuesday to let her know that I was going to try and get some more books for her.
So if you're able and would like to help the library in Calais, please feel free to bring in any books you think might be useful. Depending on how many we get, we'll get them delivered once a week, for how ever long they need them.

We have a load of secondhand books here which we're going to box up and get to the camp (we'll look out particularly for kids books, dictionaries and fiction, but as Mary says;

“We’ve only just set the library up and it’s been fascinating to see what people are asking for — short stories and poetry, for example — but we need Pashto-French dictionaries, Pashto-English dictionaries, Eritrean dictionaries, books in native languages"

So if you're able and would like to help the library in Calais, please feel free to bring in any books you think might be useful. Depending on how many we get, we'll get them delivered once a week, for how ever long they need them.

Oh, and if there are any publishers/distributors out there who'd like to help too that'd be great. 

Contact the shop on 020 8881 6767.

+++ UPDATE - SEPTEMBER 3rd +++

Hello and THANK YOU for all the offers of help. 
I'd just like to add a couple of things. 

A lot of people around the UK are asking us where their local drop of point is, and the honest answer is "we don't know".
What we're doing isn't a national scheme. We saw what was happening in Calais and wanted to help.

If you know any other places taking books to send to Calais, I'd love to know so that I can share this information. 

In the meantime, if you want to post and books to us, the address is 

Big Green Bookshop
Unit 1, Brampton park Road, 
Wood Green
N22 6BG

If you want to drop some books in to the store, that's also brilliant. But please note, we are a small shop. If you plan to bring stacks of books, please call beforehand. 020 8881 6767. 

We'll try and keep on top of all messages and calls from you lot, but please remember, there's only two of us!

Thanks again for all your kind offers. 

Books I Read On Holiday.

I went to France last week. It was our first holiday abroad since we had Freya (SEVEN YEARS AGO) and I have to tell you, it was pretty damn groovy.

We stayed in a lovely mobile home at a place called Camping Du Lac De Jaunay, in the Vendée. Here it is;

Anyway, as well as goofing about with my family, loafing around on the beach, eating delicious food and drinking cheap wine, I also had a chance to read a book or three whilst I was there.

Would you like to know what they were and what I thought of them? 

OK then.

Shame by Melanie Finn (only available in silly hardback at the moment).

This is the story of Pilgrim Jones, who has travelled to a remote part of Africa to escape her past, after divorce and a tragic accident leave her with little reason to remain where she is. 

This is a book that I can't quite categorise (which is a good thing). It's a thriller, a book about loss, guilt, and it has a cracking unexpected turn. 

Great story, great atmosphere, fantastic sense of place. There were a couple of moments where you had to suspend your disbelief, but I was drawn into the story and loved it. 

Pilgrim is not a likeable character, despite the tragedy that has befallen her. She is almost simply a vessel for the story. But Melanie Finn writes wonderfully and I would encourage you to seek this out.  

Fish Net by Kirstin Innes (available in a sensible paperback stylee)


Fiona is stuck in a mundane office job, but everything changes when she finds out that her sister Rosa, who disappeared six years previously had been working as a prostitute. 
As she furthers the search for Rosa, her life and attitudes change dramatically. 

An enjoyable and thought provoking novel, that risks being preachy, but to my mind pitches itself just about right. 

The characters were realistic.I particularly liked Fiona, who was uncomfortably and refreshingly true to life. The story (in most parts) was believable, and it was a book whose subject matter was dealt with in a uncharacteristically positive way. 

I am very pleased I read it. 

The Good Son by Paul McVeigh (paperback, innit)

Oh yes.
Ireland. Mickey Donnelly is the smartest kid in class. His smartness is only matched by his imagination. Sadly for him, this makes him a target. Mickey is at a school in Belfast during the peak of the Troubles. 
His Da is an alcoholic and his older brother Paddy is drawn to the IRA. Mickey's relationship with his little sister Wee Maggie is very special, but not as special as the one with his Ma, who despite the fierce words and smacks around the head, he loves unconditionally. 
He's about to go to secondary school and he is the only one in his school who's been accepted at St Malachy's Grammar School. 
He thinks this is his chance to escape, but then this chance is snatched away from him. 
This story covers the eight weeks of Mickey's summer holiday, after leaving primary school and preparing to deal with life in secondary school with the same bullies he's put up with for the previous few years.
It is stormingly brilliant. Mickey is a superb character. Paul McVeigh brings him to life in a very special way. This book made me cry. Twice (maybe 4 times).
I rate this book.

All three of these books have been shortlisted for The Guardian's Not The Booker Prize, and there'll be a chance to see all six (hopefully) of the shortlisted authors here at the Big Green Bookshop on Saturday October 10th, when the Not the Booker will be holding its ONLY event!
More details HERE

I shall be reading the other three titles over the next few weeks. 

As you were. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Not The Booker - LIVE EVENT.

Saturday October 10th at 7.00pm
Not the Booker LIVE EVENT
The first Not The Booker Prize was launched in 2009 by Sam Jordison in the Guardian. This award offers the public  a chance to have their say in deciding who wins the prize. Mmm, slightly more democratic than other big book prizes, don’t you think?
This Year's Prize
The entry criterion is very similar to the Booker Prize.
Readers are asked to nominate a book fitting these criteria and a longlist is then announced. This longlist is then whittled down to six books.
The six shortlisted books were announced on August 3rd.
They are;
Kirstin Innes – Fishnet  (Freight Books)
Kat Gordon – The Artificial Anatomy of Parks  (Legend Press)
Oliver Langmead – Dark Star  (Unsung Stories)
Paul McVeigh – The Good Son  (Salt)
Tasha Kavanagh – Things We Have in Common  (Canongate)
Melanie Finn - Shame  (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
And we are delighted that the Not the Booker Prize is going live! Wembley Arena was deemed too insignificant and The South Bank was turned down. Only Wood Green could host such an event.
All six authors have been invited by The Guardian to attend a panel reading and discussion. We are delighted that we think all six will be able to make it...
Hosted by Sam Jordison, not only will you get the chance to meet the authors, there will also be a Q and A and a signing.
Tickets for this event are just £5, available HERE, redeemable on any of the shortlisted books.
Spaces are very limited and this event is likely to sell out very quickly.

David Nicholls - Tuesday September 29th

 Tuesday September 29th – 7.00pm – 9.00pm
An Evening with David Nicholls
Following on from the bestselling One Day,we are absolutely delighted that David Nicholls will be joining us to discuss his latest paperback Us.
Douglas Petersen understands his wife's need to 'rediscover herself' now that their son is leaving home.
He just thought they'd be doing their rediscovering together.
So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.
The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.
What could possibly go wrong?
Us is a hilarious, eminently readable story about love and families, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year.
Not content with writing brilliant, bestselling novels, David is also a BAFTA nominated screenwriter whose TV credits include the third series of Cold Feet, Rescue Me, and I Saw You. His adaptation of Far From The Madding Crowd, was released earlier this year.
David will be here discussing his writing and will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Copies of his books will be available to purchase on the night.
Tickets are just £5 (HERE) and are likely to sell very quickly, so please book early.