Wednesday 16 September 2009


Hello if you've come in from the BBAW website! You've come at the right time, because I've got a competition going to win a copy of my favourite novel, Miss Hargreaves... feel free to enter...

I am incorrigible, aren't I?

Let me explain. Amy, who's helping organise Book Blogger Appreciation Week this week, noticed my quick post on the absence of UK bloggers in the shortlists, and asked if I'd redress the balance by writing a piece for her about UK bloggers... Click here to read it on her page, but I've also copied it below. I'm not sure the blog links will work, but they're all in the sidebar anyway... (and, by the way, my tongue is firmly in cheek all the way through)

UK Book Bloggers

George Bernard Shaw (or someone like him) once said that Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language. Since he was Irish, that brings a whole other factor into the equation, and perhaps it’s best to pretend Dorothy Parker said it, and move on… because this is my roundabout way to say that Amy has very kindly asked me to write a bit for BBAW about the UK blogging scene. (Doesn’t the word ‘scene’ make that sound edgy? In half an hour or so, I’m going to join the cup-of-tea-and-biscuit scene. Wow, it works for anything.) Yes, that’s right, the country which brought you Shakespeare and Austen and Dickens and, erm, J.K. Rowling has also been busy a-blogging.

Of course we aren’t wholly divided blogging worlds – some of my favourite blogs are written Stateside, such as Danielle’s A Work in Progress – but most of the blogs I read are UK-based, and, as L.P. Hartley didn’t quite say in The Go-Between, the UK is another country; they do things differently there. For a start, we read different books, because different books are published here. The American blogs I read tend to be of an Anglophile persuasion, so perhaps the disparity isn’t so evident, but UK book blogs often go weak at the knees when Virago Modern Classics are mentioned, or Persephone Books, or proper orange-striped Penguins. UK’s independent publishers are celebrated, not least because they often prove most willing to send out review copies to blogs. We get excited when the Booker Longlist is announced – to American bloggers, Booker might just sound like a Creole equivalent of ‘reader’. We tend not to host reading challenges so much (don’t know why), our style is perhaps a little more dry, and, of course, over here 1800 isn’t very old and 1900 feels like yesterday. Jane Austen was dead before Herman Melville was in short trousers, etc. etc.

But we need some names, don’t we? Being a wee little place, our blogging community sometimes feels quite compact. There are doubtless thousands of literary blogs here in sunny Albion, but the ones I want to write about all more or less know each other – pop around for a cup of sugar, things like that. A whistle-stop tour of my favourite UK blogs always has to start with Cornflower. With a complementary ‘domestic arts blog’, Cornflower’s friendliness and charm comes with great book recommendations and beautiful things to look at as well. Elaine at Random Jottings is another favourite, since we share more or less the same taste in books – also does a sideline in opera-chat. And Simon S of Savidge Reads should get a mention, not just because his blog is always lively and witty and good, but because we follow each other all over the blogosphere – Simon S, Simon T, Simon S, Simon T. Try saying that five times whilst drinking a glass of water. Actually, don’t.

Alongside these old faithfuls, I must just mention one or two newer UK blogs to keep an eye on. I love Claire aka Paperback Reader and am rather excited by a very new blogger, Hayley at Desperate Reader. Of course there are many others – Brit Lit Blogs lists quite a few, though with slightly bizarre weightings given to some, and obscurity to others. Still worth a look, if you can navigate it.

One of the benefits of living on a small island (aside from never being more than 72 miles from the coast: fact) is that none of the UK bloggers are that far apart from each other. I can pop up to Edinburgh in much the same time it would take a Canadian to get a pint of milk. In fact, I will be doing that soon, hopefully, and seeing Karen from Cornflower whilst I’m there. Meeting bloggers in person is one of the fun, unexpected bonuses of writing a UK blog. Seeing the face behind the font is always exciting, and rather easier here than Across The Pond – I’ve met the good people behind Geranium Cat’s Bookshelf, Random Jottings, Dovegreyreader, Cornflower, Other Stories, Oxford Reader, The B Files, and Pursewarden – and there is talk of a UK blogger meet-up before the end of the year, watch this space.

If you can get on a ‘plane and join us, you’d be very welcome – but for now I hope I’ve done my bit for the blogs of Great Britain. Do stop by and say hello, forgive us when we –ise things instead of –izing them, and maybe we’ll make Anglophiles of you yet.


  1. I know Savigdge Reads and Cornflower. Thanks for listing the others. And I am glad I found you blog via BBAW!

  2. Yea for BBAW UK recognition! I can't even tell you how much I appreciate blogs like Savidge Reads, Paperback Reader, Bloomsbury Bell and yours for expanding my reading horizons. Now we need to get some Canada love going for Darlene who does a great job spreading the Anglophile love.

  3. It was certainly my Anglophilia that led me to Stuck In A Book in the first place. For me SIAB has been a magical portal into a wonderful world of like-minded bloggers.

    I was thinking the other day I would like to find more stateside bloggers, but my taste in fiction is such that I may not have as much in common with your typical North American book blogger. Still, I know they are out there and I hope to drive a few more out of the woodwork later this week with a book giveaway for North American readers. I have an extra copy of Henrietta's War, and since it isn't available here I thought I would pass it around on this side of the Atlantic.

  4. Fantastic. I purposefully seek out UK blogs because they match my reading list a bit more but I will try and do more to highlight these blogs on my own and help out the reunification cause.

  5. Well said Simon! I seek out UK bloggers specifically, as they usually write about the books that I'm interested in reading. They have a way with a phrase that I find sophisticated and appealing not to mention a fantastic sense of humour! I'm surrounded by people reading NA contemporary fiction, the UK bloggers make my anglophile life a whole lot brighter on this side of the pond.

    Book Psmith, I do feel the love, you're very sweet!

  6. I agree with Darlene and Thomas-- I am an American Anglophile and I'm much more interested in what's in your bookshops than in what's in mine. In fact, the only book blogs I read are the Brit ones. Thank God for The Book Depository; occasionally I splurge and get books from there that I can't wait to see here.

  7. Wonderful post! As I mentioned on your earlier post, I read as many--possibly more--UK blogs as I do US ones, and you lot certainly add more books to my TBR pile.

    And if I manage my yearly sojourn to the UK next spring, I may just take you up on the meet-up idea.

  8. Well written, Simon.

    Tell me more about this proposed UK blogger meet .... and don't forget to invite me or I may simply have to gatecrash!

  9. It's great to see the UK book blogs getting some recognition. And there are several here and in the comments that I don't know. Time to do some visiting!

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  11. Simon,
    So happy you were able to get recognition for UK Book Blogs. I know you were sad about the lack of them.

    I came here to check out your blog again. Although I don't need anymore books - they keep sending them for me to review- I am going to wind up getting into the contest for Miss Hargreaves! You are so in love with this book that I just have to read it now.:)

    Barbara (from the US)
    Barbara's Meanderings

  12. It is an important and thoughtful post. Have you read The Stone Fields By Courtney Angelica Brkic?

  13. Great post, I've always been fascinated by the differences that the UK blogs have compared to the US ones. Some good blogs to check out too.

  14. Lovely post Simon, and very flattering for me to be mentioned. Thank You.

  15. A very well-written post! I know some of these blogs but will have to check out the rest.

  16. Wonderful post Simon--very witty and well said (one of the reasons I love UK blogs). I think I already follow most of the bloggers you mention, but will stoll have to check out a couple of the new to me ones. Many thanks for the kind mention. It's sort of telling when I start ordering more books from the Book Depository than from! I sometimes feel like I have one foot on each side of the Atlantic--well, only literarily of course.

  17. Great use of the word incorridgable (I have so mispelt that) and thank you very much for the kind words, sorry its such a belated thank you.


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