New York Public Library

If you’re a book or library nerd and the working week has gotten you down, look no further than this amazing video. It’s a time lapse of 52000 books being re-shelved in the Rose Main Reading Room.

A huge thanks to my mate, Kate for sharing this with me.

This video was first seen by me on Electric Lit. Do yourselves a favour. They look awesome!


Upcoming Events – October & November 2016

London Nineteenth Century Studies Book Launch

Date: 28/10/2016 – 18:3021:30
Institute: Institute of English Studies
Type: Other events
Venue: Gordon Room, G34, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

*Nineteenth-Century Radical Traditions* book launch, edited by Joseph Bristow and Josephine McDonagh, published by Palgrave Macmillan, a volume of essays in honour of the late Professor Sally Ledger.

For additional information please contact

History of Libraries Seminar

Date: 01/11/2016 – 17:3019:00
Institute: Institute of English Studies
Type: Seminar
Venue: Holden Room 103, First Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

John Bowman (formerly University College, London)

‘The Private Diaries of Robert Proctor’

The bibliographer Robert Proctor kept a private diary for the last four years of his life. From it we gain a picture of his work at the British Museum, his private life with Mother in Oxshott, and his obsession with anything related to William Morris. The talk will show how the diaries shed light on the life and death of an extraordinary man.

This event is part of the History of Libraries Seminar Series.

A number of seminar podcasts will be found on the website of the Institute of Historical Research at, including talks given by Alistair Black, Mark Purcell, Peter Hoare, Geoffrey Little, and Greg Woolf.

For additional information please contact

Book Collecting Seminar

Date: 01/11/2016 – 18:0020:00
Institute: Institute of English Studies
Type: Seminar
Venue: Bloomsbury Room, G35, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

For additional information please contact

Night in the Library

Date: 18/11/2016 – 18:00
Institute: Institute of Historical Research
Type: Other events
Venue: Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

As part of our contribution to Being Human, SAS’s festival of the humanities, we will give visitors the chance to explore our building and collection, as they learn more about ‘hope and fear’ during the Great Fire of London.

More information about this event will be available soon.

For additional information please contact




1. Perversely inclined to disagree or to do the opposite of what is expected or desired

Bob Dylan recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature but this is “a man who hasn’t written any literature,” (Stanley, 2016). Stanley goes on to ask “why popularise a prize which isn’t elected but chosen by the knowledgeable on the basis of achievement?”

In asking this question, Stanley negates the knowledge of everybody involved in the decision and promotes himself as a better decision maker. Stanley then goes on to insult the vast majority of his readers by stating, “Ah, but this is where we are in cultural terms. Distinction is gone; discrimination is a dirty word. Egality is in. Emotion is in. Nothing matters unless it sells. But anyone celebrating the death of quality – anyone imagining that the elimination of elitism leads inexorably to justice – should be very wary of what they wish for. A culture that gives Bob Dylan a literature prize is a culture that nominates Donald Trump for president. It is a culture uninterested in qualifications and concerned only with satisfying raw emotional need. There is pandering on the Left and pandering on the Right. It becomes very hard to engage on the basis of reason because reason is discriminatory. It requires thought and effort not only to use it but to understand it. Much, much easier to go with your gut. It’s not a huge leap from saying “Dylan because I like him” to “Trump because I feel like him.” It’s all lowbrow.

To imply, as Stanley does, that Dylan receiving an award is the equal of nominating Donald Trump for president, should be an affront to anyone who values their logical faculties. These two men (well, one man and an un-categorized species of pond life) are at polar ends of the sphere and to suggest they are in any way similar, does Dylan an enormous disservice. It also suggests Stanley is disengaged.

“…discrimination is a dirty word.”

– Try telling that to Black Lives Matter campaigners.
– Try telling that to someone considered to old for a job.
– Try telling that to the pregnant woman whom, while on maternity leave has her job changed and cannot return to paid employment.
– Try telling that to an individual transitioning.
– Try telling that to someone of any ethnic group.
– Try telling that to someone from a religious community – constantly depicted as villans.

Discrimination is only a dirty word for those who refuse to engage with life. For people who prefer think everything is rosy and functions only in the way they visualise. I’m a 30 something, childless, white woman and in a lot of the debates, invisible.

“Egality is in.” Stanley might like to think this is happening but you don’t need to go far to see that this is incredibly far from true. One example, which instantly springs to mind is the UK Bedroom Tax. Second is the struggle for people on minimum wage to be paid at a higher hourly rate. Third is the exorbitant rental and property rates in London.Forth is the treatment of NHS junior doctors. I could go on and there are so many more examples I haven’t mentioned or even thought of at this moment.

“Emotion is in.” I will concede this as truth.

I am emotional.

– I’m emotional because I see people being treated unfairly by governments.
– I’m emotional because I see children being killed in Syria.
– I’m emotional because instead of acting humanely towards refugees, there are people who would rather see them drown in the Mediterranean and treated like vermin. Yes. I’m looking at you, Katie Hopkins.
– I’m emotional because life is so increasingly media saturated that there is hardly an occurrence you don’t know about seconds after it happens.

Companies like Twitter might be bringing people together over common interests but it is also driving people apart. Facebook isn’t exempt from this. Anonymous keyboard warriors writing nasty comments about rape and murder simply because they can. I think this should make people emotional.

A culture that gives Bob Dylan a literature prize is a culture that nominates Donald Trump for president, is a non-sequitur – it conflates two very separate arguments and proposes them as equal. They’re really, really not.

Take a moment and think about whether you can even imagine these two men in the same room. I can but I can’t see it as a festive or comfortable occasion.

A line likeIdiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth is a perfect summation of Trump.


I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you
Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is
To see you.

Firstly, Trump could never be so elegant. Second, Dylan’s words show a man who is engaged with his world. He is clearly watching everything going on around him.

So no, Mr Stanley, I don’t think this is “lowbrow”. I think this an elegant, pacifist reaction to all the shit dumped on the average person who simply wants to live a good life without the constant interference of mean minded individuals who want to line their pockets with money. Dylan might not fit the model of literature but he does let his work speak for itself.

Join Me – Nonfiction November

I am setting myself a challenge for November. I want to read nonfiction only. Okay, so it’s not really much of a challenge when you think about it though.

I would like to extend an invitation to you to join me in reading any of the books I’ve selected. They are;

Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London
The Murder of William of Norwich
Haunted Plantations of the South
The Four-Dimensional Human

You can follow this blog or you can Like my Facebook page or you can follow me on Twitter. The more the merrier!

Reading themes

This morning, I completed my Goodreads reading challenge! 45 books in 9 months and five days. Now I know I could have increased the number but part of me likes the number, 45. It’s a good, solid, rounded off number that at some points of this year, I didn’t think I’d ever reach.

So here I am. What do I do now? Well, I’ve had an idea and I’d like to extend it out to readers of this blog.

Next month will be Nonfiction November

I invite you to join me in reading

Followed by Dickensian December – where, if you should feel so moved, you could join me in reading

if time permits for all three – Bleak House is a hefty tome.

I fancy doing French February  as well but let’s not go to crazy on themes.

What Our Insistence On Ferrante’s Identity Actually Means About Women, Consent, And Art — Books and Reviews

I am currently reading and enjoying the internationally acclaimed Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante featuring childhood friends Elena and Lila after everyone whose literary taste I trust kept raving about them online. This week I have just started the second one – they are four, and I’m told the two last ones are the real […]

via What Our Insistence On Ferrante’s Identity Actually Means About Women, Consent, And Art — Books and Reviews

Two Cents – Elena Ferrante [previously known as September in Review]


After 10 books in August, 3 in September is quite a come down. This is what happens when you’ve back at work and various life distractions take over. I could have sworn there was another for the month but it’s taking me a while to get through The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante.

I guess most of the reading community will have also seen by now that the little creep, Claudio Gatti, decided to expose the real person behind the pseudonym. How desperate was he for his time in the spot light! Why could he not, like so many others, just respect the fact that Ferrante doesn’t want us to know his or her real identity. It makes me angry to hear the journalist say readers have a right to know who the author is. I don’t think we do. The intrigue is not knowing the author as you’re reading the book. When you’re reading for the story not because someone’s name is on the cover.

He said: “Millions of [Ferrante’s] books are bought by readers. I have to be honest and say this quote made me laugh. Readers buying books. Who would have thought it?


“In a way I think readers have the right to know something about the person who created the work.”

No. Nope. Uh uh. Nup. Nada. Nein. Non. Nee. Votch. Nej. Nie. Nu. Net. Nage.


When did all the readers of Ferrante’s work give Gatti the go ahead to invade the privacy of someone who clearly didn’t want the attention. Personally, I was happy with respecting the wishes of Ferrante. Was I curious? Sure and I’ll bet I’m not the only curious bunny but it wasn’t my right to know.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: “I did it because she was a very much public figure.”


Again with a statement based in a reality only Gatti lives in. How does a pseudonym become a “public figure”. Up until he cruelly and shamefully outed the person he believes to be Ferrante, there had been no public figure in the usual sense. There were no recorded interviews for radio or tv. There were no photos. There were only written responses to questions emailed.

This does not, in my mind, equate to “public”.

What this does equate to is a man imposing his non existent rights on the life and and work of a woman. Gatti has continued the male / female dichotomy or powerful / submissive and in doing so, proven there is a problem within society when this is applauded as good “investigative journalism”. (And in this, I break it down to the minimum oppositions as I am fully aware of how hard other communities are working and struggling to gain their rights).

As Deborah Orr writes, as far as I’m concerned, Gatti has violated my right not to know.

“We just think that this kind of journalism is disgusting. Searching in the wallet of a writer who has just decided not to be public,” said Sandro Ferri.

Ferri’s right. 100%.

From Erri De Luca to Loredana Lipperini (who writes under a pseudonym), the consensus among top Italian writers was that the alleged outing of Ferrante was a dark day for journalism and that her work ought to speak for itself. One Roman paper questioned whether Gatti had pursued Ferrante with a “fury that was worthy of a better cause”.

Mr Gatti,


Gatti goes on to accuse Ferrante of lying. I can only say to this, FREAKING DUH!! The author is using a PSEUDONYM! This means there is no need to be truthful with a biography. How does Gatti not comprehend this? Gatti says there were inconsistencies with her story? Fine. But there are inconsistencies in mine. There will be the same problems in his. We tell people about our lives in as much or as little detail as we feel necessary at the time. An acquaintance doesn’t have the right to know more about you than a close friend who has seen you through the black days.

On a slightly separate track, Hodder and Stoughton proved with their #readwithoutprejudice promotion of Jodi Picoult’s new book that it is possible to read a book based on the story being told. You only have to look at social media to see the campaign worked.

Ultimately, it does not matter how politely we ask for privacy, how we try to protect our own space, there is always someone determined to peer in, to make us listen. Jojo Moyes

And Mr Gatti,


Further Reading to the articles referenced in text;

‘Stop the siege of Elena Ferrante,’ says publisher amid unmasking row
Unmasking of Italian writer Elena Ferrante triggers writers’ privacy row
Elena Ferrante and the Power of Appropriation
Kim Kardashian West, Elena Ferrante, and the Right to Privacy