Fun bookish stuff


I was looking for a book recommendations tool online and found some excellent stuff. The Lovereading Google Maps Book Mash-up and the Mappit Global Book Map are both user-generated maps of book settings. The content varies widely but they’re both fun to explore and could be useful if you fancy recreating my recent attempts to list authors from my home town and region.

However, what I was really looking for was a place to type in the names of authors I know a friend likes and get recommendations of similar authors. And that’s just what the Gnooks Map of Literature is. I have had a lot of fun playing with this. Again, it’s user-generated so there are some spelling errors (which you can fix if you see them) but the more people who contribute, the better the data that comes out of it, so do go have a look at the Suggestions tool to help build the Gnod database.

In bookish news this week, novelist Neil Griffiths has launched the Republic of Consciousness prize, a book award open only to small publishers, intended to foster the more niche, unusual or experimental fare that tends to not find a home at the big publishing houses. It’s a good idea and I hope he’s able to keep up the media attention, as that’s the only real way such prizes can make a difference.

If you’re a fan of libraries, check out journalist Ada Calhoun’s lovely New Yorker essay that pays homage to New York Public Libraries. And author Jessie Burton wrote a gorgeous piece on her blog about the relationship between her writing and her anxiety.

Finally, if you want to flex those brain connections but don’t want to read a book on every esoteric subject that interests you, try the YouTube channel Big Think, which features short straight-to-camera ponderings on philosophical, social, political and scientific questions from some big names and less well known ones. There’s John Cleese on political correctness, Lawrence Krauss on creative thinking, Joy Hirsch on nature v nurture. So much good stuff I’ve lost hours watching it!

What fun stuff have you found this week, online or in the good old physical domain?