THE 2014 BOOKTOPIA BOOKS OF THE YEAR

the-narrow-road-to-the-deep-north2014 will be remembered as the year Australian Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. We’re sure you’ll all recall that Narrow Road featured in our Best Books of 2013 list, along with Pulitzer Prize winning The Goldfinch and Stella Prize winning The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, so we feel very confident proclaiming that somewhere in this list, The 2014 Booktopia Books of the Year, is the winner of next year’s Man Booker. And probably The Stella and The Pulitzer… It makes sense, right?

So what goes into making such a list? Blood, sweat and tears. Firstly, the blood – a paper cut while shuffling the longlists. It hurt. Second, the sweat – wrestling all of our individual long lists into a short list. And lastly, the tears… We’re a passionate lot when it comes to books and each is stubborn in their own way. And we didn’t get our way all the time, hence the tears. But after many a vocal meeting we came to an agreement.

So here it is, the final list: The 2014 Booktopia Books of the Year

These selections are not in order, and while some amazing books have missed out, and such lists make a mockery out of art, we can’t resist a list, so here we are. Hopefully you see some of your favourites too.

LITERATURE

LILA
by Marilynne Robinson

A triumph from one of the world’s finest writers, Robinson returns to Gilead, Iowa, the scene of her acclaimed novels Gilead and Home in this incredible story of human frailty and redemption.

Click here for more details


GOLDEN BOYS
by Sonya Hartnett

Hartnett’s mesmerising tale of blurred lines in working class suburbia struck a chord with all readers, hauntingly told from the eyes of the children involved.

Click here for more details


AMNESIA
by Peter Carey
Continue reading

Did J.K. Rowling just announce a new Harry Potter novel?

J.K. Rowling sent twitter into a spin last night with a series of cryptic tweets that hinted at her writing a new novel, then hinting that it might be a new Harry Potter novel, followed by millions of fans hinting that they were very very excited.

It started when Rowling sent this tweet:

Rowling Tweet 1

Which led inevitably to tweets like this:

Rowling Tweet 2

We believe OMFG is an anagram for Oh My (it) Feels Good.

And tweets like that led to tweets like this from J.K. Rowling:

Rowling Tweet 3

Which led to Jo not working at all, but posting this riddle:

Rowling Tweet 4

Which led to some very quick fans coming up with this message:

Rowling Tweet 5

Which led to many of us doing this:

tumblr_inline_mwmskd4U791s8pyhu

So where does that leave us?

A long way from confirmed, but it looks more and more likely that we’ll be seeing a new Harry Potter novel, sooner rather than later.

Yep, we’re calling it.

Kind of.

But for now, have you seen the new editions of Harry Potter? They’re very pretty. Click here to check them out.

Harry Potter

An Open Letter from J.K. Rowling about Scottish Independence

This passionate open letter was recently published on J.K. Rowling’s website. As the vote for Scottish Independence approaches, we’ve decided to publish it in full to give Australians an idea of the magnitude of this decision, not unlike our 1999 Republic Referendum.

Do you agree with J.K? Leave your comments below.

J.K Rowling - In Conversation

I came to the question of independence with an open mind and an awareness of the seriousness of what we are being asked to decide. This is not a general election, after which we can curse the result, bide our time and hope to get a better result in four years. Whatever Scotland decides, we will probably find ourselves justifying our choice to our grandchildren. I wanted to write this because I always prefer to explain in my own words why I am supporting a cause and it will be made public shortly that I’ve made a substantial donation to the Better Together Campaign, which advocates keeping Scotland part of the United Kingdom.

As everyone living in Scotland will know, we are currently being bombarded with contradictory figures and forecasts/warnings of catastrophe/promises of Utopia as the referendum approaches and I expect we will shortly be enjoying (for want of a better word) wall-to-wall coverage.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I am friendly with individuals involved with both the Better Together Campaign and the Yes Campaign, so I know that there are intelligent, thoughtful people on both sides of this question. Indeed, I believe that intelligent, thoughtful people predominate.

The SunHowever, I also know that there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence and I suspect, notwithstanding the fact that I’ve lived in Scotland for twenty-one years and plan to remain here for the rest of my life, that they might judge me ‘insufficiently Scottish’ to have a valid view. It is true that I was born in the West Country and grew up on the Welsh border and while I have Scottish blood on my mother’s side, I also have English, French and Flemish ancestry. However, when people try to make this debate about the purity of your lineage, things start getting a little Death Eaterish for my taste. By residence, marriage, and out of gratitude for what this country has given me, my allegiance is wholly to Scotland and it is in that spirit that I have been listening to the months of arguments and counter-arguments.

On the one hand, the Yes campaign promises a fairer, greener, richer and more equal society if Scotland leaves the UK, and that sounds highly appealing. I’m no fan of the current Westminster government and I couldn’t be happier that devolution has protected us from what is being done to health and education south of the border. I’m also frequently irritated by a London-centric media that can be careless and dismissive in its treatment of Scotland. On the other hand, I’m mindful of the fact that when RBS needed to be bailed out, membership of the union saved us from economic catastrophe and I worry about whether North Sea oil can, as we are told by the ‘Yes’ campaign, sustain and even improve Scotland’s standard of living.

Some of the most pro-independence people I know think that Scotland need not be afraid of going it alone, because it will excel no matter what. This romantic outlook strikes a chord with me, because I happen to think that this country is exceptional, too. Scotland has punched above its weight in just about every field of endeavour you care to mention, pouring out world-class scientists, statesmen, economists, philanthropists, sportsmen, writers, musicians and indeed Westminster Prime Ministers in quantities you would expect from a far larger country.

PeopleMy hesitance at embracing independence has nothing to do with lack of belief in Scotland’s remarkable people or its achievements. The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same twenty-first century pressures as the rest of the world. It must compete in the same global markets, defend itself from the same threats and navigate what still feels like a fragile economic recovery. The more I listen to the Yes campaign, the more I worry about its minimisation and even denial of risks. Whenever the big issues are raised – our heavy reliance on oil revenue if we become independent, what currency we’ll use, whether we’ll get back into the EU – reasonable questions are drowned out by accusations of ‘scaremongering.’ Meanwhile, dramatically differing figures and predictions are being slapped in front of us by both campaigns, so that it becomes difficult to know what to believe.

I doubt I’m alone in trying to find as much impartial and non-partisan information as I can, especially regarding the economy. Of course, some will say that worrying about our economic prospects is poor-spirited, because those people take the view ‘I’ll be skint if I want to and Westminster can’t tell me otherwise’. I’m afraid that’s a form of ‘patriotism’ that I will never understand. It places higher importance on ‘sticking it’ to David Cameron, who will be long gone before the full consequences of independence are felt, than to looking after your own. It prefers the grand ‘up yours’ gesture to considering what you might be doing to the prospects of future generations.

The more I have read from a variety of independent and unbiased sources, the more I have come to the conclusion that while independence might give us opportunities – any change brings opportunities – it also carries serious risks. The Institute for Fiscal Studies concludes that Alex Salmond has underestimated the long-term impact of our ageing population and the fact that oil and gas reserves are being depleted. This view is also taken by the independent study ‘Scotland’s Choices: The Referendum and What Happens Afterwards’ by Iain McLean, Jim Gallagher and Guy Lodge, which says that ‘it would be a foolish Scottish government that planned future public expenditure on the basis of current tax receipts from North Sea oil and gas’.

NoMy fears about the economy extend into an area in which I have a very personal interest: Scottish medical research. Having put a large amount of money into Multiple Sclerosis research here, I was worried to see an open letter from all five of Scotland’s medical schools expressing ‘grave concerns’ that independence could jeopardise what is currently Scotland’s world-class performance in this area. Fourteen professors put their names to this letter, which says that Alex Salmond’s plans for a common research funding area are ‘fraught with difficulty’ and ‘unlikely to come to fruition’. According to the professors who signed the letter, ‘it is highly unlikely that the remaining UK would tolerate a situation in which an independent “competitor” country won more money than it contributed.’ In this area, as in many others, I worry that Alex Salmond’s ambition is outstripping his reach.

I’ve heard it said that ‘we’ve got to leave, because they’ll punish us if we don’t’, but my guess is that if we vote to stay, we will be in the heady position of the spouse who looked like walking out, but decided to give things one last go. All the major political parties are currently wooing us with offers of extra powers, keen to keep Scotland happy so that it does not hold an independence referendum every ten years and cause uncertainty and turmoil all over again. I doubt whether we will ever have been more popular, or in a better position to dictate terms, than if we vote to stay.

JK-Rowling-2If we leave, though, there will be no going back. This separation will not be quick and clean: it will take microsurgery to disentangle three centuries of close interdependence, after which we will have to deal with three bitter neighbours. I doubt that an independent Scotland will be able to bank on its ex-partners’ fond memories of the old relationship once we’ve left. The rest of the UK will have had no say in the biggest change to the Union in centuries, but will suffer the economic consequences. When Alex Salmond tells us that we can keep whatever we’re particularly attached to – be it EU membership, the pound or the Queen, or insists that his preferred arrangements for monetary union or defence will be rubber-stamped by our ex-partners – he is talking about issues that Scotland will need, in every case, to negotiate. In the words of ‘Scotland’s Choices’ ‘Scotland will be very much the smaller partner seeking arrangements from the UK to meet its own needs, and may not be in a very powerful negotiating position.’

If the majority of people in Scotland want independence I truly hope that it is a resounding success. While a few of our fiercer nationalists might like to drive me forcibly over the border after reading this, I’d prefer to stay and contribute to a country that has given me more than I can easily express. It is because I love this country that I want it to thrive. Whatever the outcome of the referendum on 18th September, it will be a historic moment for Scotland. I just hope with all my heart that we never have cause to look back and feel that we made a historically bad mistake.

Did you win a signed copy of The Silkworm by J.K. Rowling?

During July and August we gave you the chance to win a hardcover edition of The Silkworm signed by J.K.Rowling as Robert Galbraith!

All you needed to do to enter was purchase any of J.K. Rowling’s Adult Fiction titles before August 31st to go in the draw.

And the lucky winner is (drumroll please)…………

S.Burdett from Wonga Park in Victoria!

SilkwormCompetitionNewsletterBanner2107

the-silkwormThe Silkworm

by Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises.

The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him. And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…

Grab a copy of The Silkworm here


Winners recap:

Framed photograph from the gorgeous book Outback Stations

M.Ellis, North Haven, NSW

Copies of LEGO Mini-Figure Year by Year

A.Burnell, St Ives, NSW
K.Gruber,  Roseville, NSW
J.McVernon, Black Rock, VIC
M.Rook, Carindale, QLD
K.Pigram, Randwick, NSW
L.Wakerley, Calamvale, QLD
A.Cummins, Birchgrove, NSW
E.Chan, Hornsby Westfield, NSW
H. Indorato, North Ryde, NSW
D.Freeman, Taree, NSW

The Ploughmen prize pack…

J.Scott, Neerim Junction, VIC


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

J.K Rowling publishes new Harry Potter story

J.K Rowling has published a new Harry Potter short story on her Harry Potter fan site Pottermore. The 1,500-word piece released this morning centres on a now 34-year-old Harry Potter with greying hair attending the Quidditch World Cup 2014.

Rowling has also been writing other pieces on the tournament for Pottermore to coincide with the World Cup in Brazil.

Rowling writes that as Harry approaches 34, he has “threads of silver” in his black hair, and also sports a mysterious cut over his cheekbone. Ron’s hair, meanwhile, “appears to be thinning slightly.” Their wives Ginny and Hermione and their children, along with ex-Dumbledore’s Army members Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom, all feature in the sharp-quilled piece that offers updates on their current lives.

J.K Rowling has been as busy as ever since finishing the Harry Potter series with her latest novel (written as Robert Galbraith) The Silkworm enjoying critical acclaim since its release.

For your chance to win a hardcover edition signed by J.K Rowling as Robert Galbraith click here.

New Novel by J.K. Rowling to be Published in June

J.K. Rowling is back!

After the commercial and critical success of her venture into crime novels with The Cuckoo’s Calling Rowling, writing again as Robert Galbraith, returns with The Silkworm, a novel that has an intriguing twist, the murder of a famous novelist!

Needless to say we’re excited, and you should be too.

If The Casual Vacancy didn’t prove once and for all that J.K. Rowling is more than just wizards and warlocks, then The Cuckoo’s Calling certainly did. Beat the rush and pre-order today.

Grab a copy of J.K. Rowling’s The Silkworm here

The Silkworm

by J.K. Rowling

(writing as Robert Galbraith)

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises.

The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him. And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…

The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.

Grab a copy of J.K. Rowling’s The Silkworm here

Winners of the Maggie Beer, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Jennifer Saunders prizes!

Maggie Beer Hamper – valued at over $500!

B. Colebrook, Nelson Bay, NSW

Grab a copy of Maggie’s Christmas here


imag1263-1Winner of THE ULTIMATE STEPHEN KING BOOK PACK – over 50 titles!

H. Carruthers, Torrens Park, SA


Grab a copy of Doctor Sleep here


the-casual-vacancyWinners of a signed copy of The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling!

L.Hope, Castle Hill, NSW
E.Lewis, Clifton Hill, VIC
E. McMurdie, Silvan, VIC
F. Coman, Mont Albert, VIC
B. Zerner, Fairfield, QLD
P. McGahan, Toowoomba, QLD


Grab a copy of The Casual Vacancy here


bonkers-my-life-in-laughsWinners of a signed copy of Bonkers : My Life in Laughs by Jennifer Saunders

B. Kemmis, Toormina, NSW
C. Teh, Narraweena, NSW
M. Strang, Pymble, NSW
Y. Gray, Strathfield, NSW
L. Fuller, Baulkham Hills, NSW
R. Morrison, Kiama Downs, NSW
A. Jones, Cannington, WA
D. Griffiths, Prahran, VIC
G. Barker, Bentleigh, VIC
P. Buttigieg, North Perth, WA


Grab a copy of Bonkers here


Congratulations to all the winners!
A Booktopia representative will be in contact with you via email or phone during December to confirm delivery of your prize.

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