Category Archives: Book Reviews

Books on Television: Good or Bad?

Recently, there was a petition circulating on-line bewailing the lack of television coverage in the UK on the subject of books. In particular, the petition called on the BBC to consider a regular television programme that would be dedicated to books and reading.

I signed the petition, but I did wonder what the point of this programme might be. ‘To promote books and reading’ is the obvious answer, but I don’t know if a television programme could actually deliver that. Worse, I fear it might do the opposite, and give the impression that reading is a minority activity that needs to be shuffled off to its own little niche in the broadcast schedules, well out of the way of normal folk.

My fear stems from the fact that, as far as I can imagine, there are only four things that a television programme about books can provide. These are:

  • Reviews of books

  • Interviews with authors

  • Readings of extracts from books

  • ‘Round-table’ discussions on literary subjects

For the life of me, I can’t think of anything else that a book programme could do beyond those four themes.

That’s fine, you might say, that’s all a book program needs—but wouldn’t a programme that consists almost exclusively of a round of reviews, interviews, readings and discussions be—let’s not beat around the bush—a bit dull? Dull in terms of being poor television, I mean. Book reviews, I believe, are better served by the written media—either print or on-line—rather than someone delivering a ‘piece to camera’. Listening to the author read his own work is great, but that can be done with better effect on the radio. So what is there in that earnest parade of talking heads praising the books they’ve read to make the non-reading public think ‘Gosh, that looks interesting. I must read more books’? Very little, as far as I can see.

Television is primarily a visual medium, but the only overtly visual aspect to a book is the cover—everything else happens in the imagination. It’s quite likely that dramatic adaptations of novels—like the current BBC production of Wolf Hall—will sell more books and get more people reading than a dedicated book programme. Not everyone’s novel can receive the big budget treatment (more’s the pity), but it is surely a step in the right direction.

I’m not against the BBC providing more programmes about books (I did sign the petition, after all) but I do wonder what good such a programme would do. Unless someone can devise the equivalent of a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ for books, I fear that any book programme on television will struggle with a tiny production budget, shunted away to a graveyard slot in the schedules, and consequently watched by a tiny audience.

After all, most book lovers prefer to read books, not watch television.


Filed under Adaptation, Book Reviews, Drama, Fiction, Publishing

Being Published

Being a published novelist has bought some new experiences for me.

When I was an unpublished writer, I lived in a bubble, writing (mostly) for my own pleasure and satisfaction. That’s not to say that I didn’t have that dream in the back of my mind that one day I would be published and my books would be reviewed in the national press – it was just less important than the writing itself. For most of the time, I did not share my writing with anyone, not even friends or family. It was a hobby, of sorts, simply a way to satisfy the creative side of my personality. To improve my skills, I joined a writers’ group, and occasionally attended creative writing courses. When I became internet-savvy, I even posted sample chapters on a writers’ website for evaluation by the other members of the site. I did receive some feedback – although the feedback from those sources was generally a particular ‘writerly’ sort of feedback: technical advice about sentence construction and character development and plot devices. The writers giving their opinion frequently said that they liked my stories, but that was within the context of a writer giving a professional judgement on a piece of work, not a reader who read the book purely for pleasure.

Now that I am published, my book is available for the reading public to buy and read. People who are complete strangers to me, people who I have never met (nor am ever likely to meet) have picked up or downloaded my book and read it simply because they wanted to be entertained. None of them are under any obligation to provide me with feedback, if they don’t want to. For all I know, some of them may have absolutely hated it – although if they did, I will probably never find out. But I know that some readers have definitely enjoyed my book because they have been kind enough to post reviews on the internet saying so.

Now, I am not the sort of person who likes to blow his own trumpet, but I have to say that all the reviews for Five and a Half Tons posted so far are very positive. A few have had reservations, naturally, but I expected that. There are reviews on both and There are also reviews on Marlene Lee’s blog, Reader’s Favorite and Our Book Reviews Online. Gerry, the reviewer at Our Book Reviews Online, has even picked Five and A Half Tons as one of his books of the year! Big thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to write and post a review.

If anyone who has read Five and a Half Tons would like to write a review of their own, on Amazon or Goodreads, I would love to read what you thought of it.


Filed under Book Reviews, Five and a Half Tons, Springer

The Art of Misdirection


My review of Agatha Christie’s classic The Mysterious Affair at Styles has been uploaded on the Grey Cells Press website. This book was Christie’s first published novel and the debut of her great detective, Hercule Poirot.

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Filed under Book Reviews