A guide for parents and carers choosing early chapter books

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One of the most magical times in parenthood, especially for a book nerd mum or dad, is watching our children learn to read — first to sound out letters and syllables, then words, and then whole sentences. And before you know it, they too can know the joy of being transported beyond their bedroom and to all kinds of magical worlds: worlds with unicorns and princesses and talking animals, or worlds more like our own but filled with fun, interesting characters who can start to feel like friends. …

Perfect for Mother’s Day… or any other time

Image from Pixabay

Mothering is complex, exhausting, heartbreaking, and wonderful — all of those things at the same time, and a whole lot more besides. There are as many experiences of motherhood in the world as there are are mothers, if not more. These books explore some of those experiences — and what better time to read them than Mother’s Day?

Fleishman is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Reflecting on the first five years of running an indie bookstore

East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill turned five years old this month. I’m lucky enough to get to work there. I spoke to Laurie Gillman, its founder, for the Brit Lit Podcast, and here is some of what she told me about the process of opening and running a bookshop and keeping it going over the last, challenging year.

CH: Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and about the bookshop you founded?

LG: I have lived in Washington DC for 30 years now, and in this neighborhood of Capitol Hill for 28 years. …

Treat someone and support an indie bookstore too!

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Mother’s Day is coming up fast, but don’t panic! You’ve still got time to get your mom the perfect gift, and support Small Business Week at the same time. If the mom you are treating is a reader, she’ll love one of these options from DC independent bookstores.

A surprise pack from East City Bookshop

Best paired with hot chocolate and a fluffy blanket

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Well, it’s been…quite a year. Maybe, like me, you’re feeling exhausted, fragile, and in need of comfort? If so, perhaps you’ll enjoy curling up with one of these feel-good books in the cold winter months.

It might not be a coincidence that many of these books on my list are British. Yes, I am British too, so it makes sense these are the books I’m drawn to. But it’s also because there’s been a definite trend in the UK over recent years for something that’s been called “up lit” — books with “kindness at their core”, as the Guardian puts…

(A great gift idea for your favourite bookworm!)

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If there’s anything library fans love more than anything else in the world, it’s books. So what could be better than a book about a library, or featuring a librarian as its main character? Beyond the few obvious and well-known choices — The Shadow of the Wind, The Time Traveller’s WifeI’ve rounded up a few more for you to try.

And who isn’t anxious in 2020?

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When the history books are written about 2020, I’m betting the word “anxiety” will come up a lot. Whether it’s the panic buying of toilet paper or the nagging worry that even a much-needed hug is potentially dangerous, there’s a lot to be anxious about, from the slightly frivolous to the downright depressing. But of course, even without the pandemic, there would have been plenty of causes for anxiety in 2020 — the U.S. election, yes, but also in the general course of being human and loving other humans. As with so many things, though: part of the solution is…

Books and bookish gear for your favourite book lover!

Image bought from Shutterstock

If you have a bookworm in your life, I’m here to help you pick the perfect gift for them — whether that’s books or bookish accessories. After all, being a bookworm is not just about reading — it’s a way of life!


With Libro.fm, you can choose 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month subscriptions. Your recipient chooses the audiobooks, one every month, and your gift supports an independent bookshop, too. (These are available worldwide, not just the US!)

Start your holiday shopping now!

promotional material made by Book Are My Bag

October, for me, is all about beautiful light and crunching leaves under my feet, adding cardigans back into my wardrobe, and the still relatively new school year full of hope and resolutions. I believe in enjoying each season in its turn and not constantly rushing onto the next thing. If anyone tries to play Christmas music around me before Thanksgiving, I give them a glare that could roast a turkey.

But, this year, with regards to this as to so many things, I’m having to adjust — and if we want our favourite small businesses to survive, we all have…

They’ll love you forever, I promise

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There are so many new releases every week, and publisher dollars are concentrated on a small proportion of those. The rest have to fight for attention, and that can be hard work and also emotionally draining for an author after they’ve already put years of their life into making a book they’re proud of.

Plus, think about it: are you more likely to buy a book that its own author is trying to sell you, or to believe a third party when they tell you it’s good? I know which side I fall on. …

Claire Handscombe

Editor of WALK WITH US: How the West Wing Changed Our Lives; author of the novel UNSCRIPTED and of CONQUERING BABEL: a Practical Guide to Learning a Language.

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