The recent Big Jubilee Book List is the latest in a trend that’s been around for a while now. ‘Top 100 Books to Read Before You Die!’ ‘The BBC Believes You’ve Only Read 6 of These Books!*’, ‘Most Popular Books of (any year you care to choose!)’ And my particular favourite, ‘An Editor’s Bookshelf, Not Including the Pictures of Her Dog.’
The list, so to speak, is endless.
I’m not entirely sure what purpose these lists serve. That they are informative is a given, but the implied element of competition always strikes me as slightly passive aggressive. If you haven’t read Ulysses, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, or Love in the Time of Cholera, what on earth have you been doing with your reading time?
The books on display at the forthcoming Honno Authors Book Fair are, by and large, unsung outside of Wales. None of them have reached the giddy heights of a BBC instructional list. These omissions, however, in no way lessen their value as books worth buying and reading. And several have been long and shortlisted for prizes (one has been a winner.) Some have featured as Book of the Month on a variety of platforms, and as a Readers’ or Publishers’ Choice in numerous publications.
The circles of literature tend to overlap and thanks to the likes of Twitter it is possible to engage in serendipitous and fleeting collisions with the great and the good. I’ve had the odd tweet liked and even commented on by one or two blue tick authors; had a few pleasant interactions. In the moment it generates a grin but the Twitterverse is ephemeral and the twitterati notoriously fickle! The essential nature of a book fair is the opposite of social media. Book fairs are places where real people gather in real time: authors and readers alike. Where it is possible to pick up a book that catches your eye and then, glance up and discover the author, behind her table, happy as Larry’s sister to see you! She may also be a little anxious, in case you don’t in fact want to talk to her at all. The point is, if you do, she will engage because, along with the books, talks and panels, what a book fair offers is the chance to interact with actual authors.
We may not be renowned or have blue ticks; we do have name badges. (Some of us have sweets!) We are most certainly present and unequivocal in our willingness to be as vocal as you like. We are Honno Authors and along with a few guest friends, we look forward to seeing you on Saturday 7 May in the delightful town of Narberth at the newly refurbished and charming Queen’s Hall. For full details of everything on offer see: thornemoore.com/honno-authors-book-fair
* Only twenty-four out of the 100 titles listed are written by women. (And I’ve read most of the list, so the BBC can stick that in it’s proverbial pipe & smoke it!)