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New Year 2021 Message

Like everyone, all of us at BOOKMARK are hoping that we can move positively ahead in 2021. With so much ongoing uncertainty as I write this (Covid numbers still increasing, warnings of no overseas travel until at least the autumn) forward planning for events is proving impossible.

However, we continue to look for new ways to engage with our friends, members, writers and publishers.

Despite all the difficulties of 2020, we inaugurated a Book of the Year Award (all titles listed below) which proved to be really successful. This introduced us to publishers, agents, writers. We were given a great write up in the Dundee Courier and the Perthshire Magazine as well as strong support from our local press and The Hub magazine. It brought together local businesses: Adventure into Books, Booklore and Sarah Cave, who made the lovely silver bookmark prize. The Library ordered all the titles and were delighted with the interest and high take-up in readership of all of them. We will be running a Book of the Year 2021 with a shortlist of six published in June and the winner announced in October.

If we can’t have a live Festival we may be able to run some online ‘Meet the Author’ sessions. My only hesitancy in confirming this is that we are determined to maintain the recognised quality that BOOKMARK has worked hard to achieve over the years. (Other Festivals who have gone online have their media structures already embedded in their organisations.) Any on-line event from {% component type: "snippet", alias: "bookmark" %} must provide an equally high standard of professional advice and input. All I ask is for your patience until we can guarantee this.  We will be having our first virtual AGM on Friday 26 February at 2.00pm.   Joining instructions will be sent out shortly.

However, first and foremost we are all readers, rather than festival-goers. With this in mind and to keep the BOOKMARK spirit going, a small selection of books is posted each month on our website and Facebook page. I realise that the internet is bursting with book recommendations, so why turn to our pages? All books are chosen with book groups in mind and are available on either Kindle or hard copy. (Should any book group wish further ideas for discussion, or ideas for other books on particular themes, please get in touch with us. I ran book discussion groups for over 20 years before having the pleasure of chairing BOOKMARKI guarantee the titles suggested offer the opportunity for spirited discussions.

And finally; a great thing about books of any genre is that we can all become armchair travellers. So until we can all meet again in person, I wish you a good few weeks, or months, of going to new places, meeting new people, engaging in all sorts of activities – through the pages of our books.

Gail Wylie

Book of the Year 2020 – and some other thoughts…

The winner was Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

The other shortlisted books (every one of which received a strong recommendation from the judges) were:

The Wolves of Leninsky Prospekt by Sarah Armstrong

The Bear Pit by S G Maclean

Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray

Along the Amber Route by C J Schüler

If you enjoyed these, you’ll enjoy their sequels:

The House of Lamentations by S G MacLean

and the following will be published in the next few months:

The Starlings of Bucharest by Sarah Armstrong

Shipwreck Island by Struan Murray

Abir Mukherjee’s sequel but I don’t have the title yet.

And some disappointments:

I admit to being disappointed with the winners of both the Booker Prize (Shuggie Bain) and the Women’s Prize for Fiction (Hamnet).  Those books just weren’t for me. I was also disappointed in tv or film adaptations of books I love: The Luminaries was almost unrecognisable; A Suitable Boy looked gorgeous but could have been a Mills and Boon title; Rebecca was not the novel du Maurier wrote; and after all that I couldn’t bear to watch The Singapore Grip. I look forward to new screenplays with new ideas.

To end positively there are some good adaptations on various networks - Babylon Berlin being an outstanding example.

So much to talk about, to read, to have differing opinions on. I very much look forward to the days ahead when we can meet and have these discussions in person.

Happy reading,