Do you ever wonder where a book starts its life?
Well no, I don't often either.
So it's quite surreal when you receive books from a publisher and you imagine them to be coming from a flat-roofed building down a side street somewhere, to then pitch up for lunch at their HQ and find it's a bit like a stately home.
I'm sure anyone who lives in or near Oxford knows the Oxford University Press building well, but I didn't. Expecting sandwiches at a prefab unit on an industrial estate was quite erroneous, what on earth was I thinking? This is Oxford and so it was most pleasurable to be nicely surprised by the grandeur of the building and the private dining rooms at the OUP.
It was excellent to finally meet Guy Pringle of newbooksmag at the same lunch along with good friends at OUP who kindly keep a steady flow of books heading this way for me to share on here. Guy bravely published the very first book review piece I ever submitted anywhere, and long before dgr scribbles was born.It was an article on one of my favourite books, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke and that acceptance gave me the courage to give it all a go.
It could be a tricky balance to maintain but as I make clear everywhere I go, the integrity of the blog is never knowingly compromised even by deliciously warm and spicy pumpkin soup and braised pheasant. It's all to no avail if the books are no good but thankfully I have loved Oxford World's Classics for years.
There are a few exciting events in the pipeline for 2008 and you will certainly all benefit as OUP have agreed to some wonderful book giveaways here when the Oxford World Classics are re-launched in new jackets in Spring 2008.
I'm not particularly bees-knees on trees but I expect someone recognises the variety of this one from its winter outline. It resides majestically in the OUP quadrangle and is quite a breathtaking sight even without its summer clothes.I had a wander around the OUP library and museum too and also caught sight of some of the historic correspondence from their archives, letters from Virginia Woolf, T.S.Eliot, George Bernard Shaw et al.
Oxford was freezing cold and I could have used a bonnet, but it is a vibrant and exciting city and anyone who lives in or near is very fortunate. For us it's like walking around University Challenge which Bookhound and I both grew up on, so the names of the Universities imprinted on our minds from childhood along with Bamber Gascoigne (fondly nicknamed 'Ban-the-gas-gun' chez my family) as we wandered past.Why did Brasenose always make us giggle as children?
It was my ambition to
- be on University Challenge
- to be in the team that sat upstairs
Going to university would have improved my chances of success I suppose and I can't tell you how disappointed I was to discover the truth, there is no upstairs.
But love city-mooching as we do and initially admit that we do miss city life, after a few hours we're mad keen to get back to the West Country which we finally did at about midnight.
I did gather some early booty for you so have four copies of Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne to give away.It's the South West Reading Adventure Special Edition, with the lovely Wallace and Grommet cover, so if anyone would like one please e mail your address to me here and we will get them in the post to you once the Christmas dust settles...or possibly before if you're quick.