Bookshop of the month: October


As the nights draw in, pay a visit to one of the most northerly and remote bookshops in the UK, the tiny Stromness Books and Prints. The shop is too small for events, in winter customers are few and far between, and they don’t even have running water, but this all helps make them a model of independent bookselling against the odds.

Read more here. 

Reading of the world, and then going to see it


Russ Crawford

Growing up in the isolated small town of Ainsworth, Nebraska, which actually celebrates The Middle of Nowhere Days each summer, it was easy to feel a bit cut off from the world. With only two television channels (CBS and PBS), and a few radio stations, books were a primary gateway for me to the wider world. Continue Reading ›

Difficult, dark and uncomfortable:  writing about terrible truths


Melissa Graboyes

Claire Wendland’s ethnography, A Heart for the Work: Journeys through an African Medical School, was a very tough book for me to read. I picked it up at a difficult moment in my own journey to producing a book. I was a few years past my dissertation, and there were still a few more years of hard labor left to do before my book would be complete. Continue Reading ›

Ideology and Delusion

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Peter Hayes. Photo by Augustas Didzgalvis.

Intellectual autobiography is fertile ground for delusion and distortion. But I think the books that made me the kind of historian I am—contrarian, suspicious of received wisdom, mistrustful of “theory,” secular, rational, humanist, and focused on explaining the horrors to which politics led in the early twentieth century—were the great anti-ideological novels of the 1940s Continue Reading ›


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“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them,”

says American children’s author Daniel Handler, writing under his pen name Lemony Snicket.

This idea resonates with me, as I am sure it will with the other book-loving contributors to this blog. As someone who has left shampoo, socks and other essentials at home in order to cram more books into her suitcase,  book carrying comes at a cost. E-books, although a more practical holiday option, are a total turn-off. I agree with the managing director of British book chain Waterstones, James Daunt, who says that  reading a favourite novel on screen is like tasting vintage wine through a straw. 

Bookscombined is taking a break from posting this August – I’m too busy squeezing books into suitcases – but I hope you’ll visit again in September.

Happy summer reading.

The image featured at the beginning of this post is by The Other Dan. 

Books for Explorers: engaging the imaginary

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Wendy Wilson-Fall

The thing that really expresses my relationship to reading is the problem of imagining and creating a world. I mean, a world I would like to live in, a world that I can understand and see connected to other worlds.

Continue Reading ›