Category Archives: Spotlight On

Spotlight On: Books for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day coming up on 19 June, I’ve been thinking about books related to dads. It’s difficult to offer recommendations for books to give as presents, as the best gifts are those which are personal to the person receiving them. What I’ve done instead is selected a couple of books that beautifully explore the intricacies of fatherhood: Danny the Champion of the World and Ulysses. What are your favourite books about fathers?

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Spotlight On: Marilyn Monroe

Today would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 85th birthday. In honour of that, I’m sharing two of my favourite books about the actress. Barbara Leaming’s biography is a great introduction and a fascinating read, while Fragments gives fans the chance to read Marilyn’s own writing, from letters and notes to poems. She was a literature lover, and this collection revels in that.

Spotlight On: Joseph Cornell’s Influence


I first discovered Joseph Cornell’s work on a visit to MOMA in New York City in 2006. I was captivated by Taglioni’s Jewel Casket and my interest increased as I found out more about his assemblage art. Known for his boxes showcasing found objects, the twentieth-century American artist inspired many writers.

The Grand Hotels (of Joseph Cornell) by Robert Coover
Coover leads us through ten Grand Hotels, building into his “architectural portrait of the artist” biographical details alongside flights of fancy.

A Convergence of Birds ed. Jonathan Safran Foer
Foer invited writers, including Rick Moody and Joyce Carol Oates, to contribute to this collection of original fiction and poetry inspired by Cornell’s avian boxes.

To find out more about Cornell’s work, keep reading

Spotlight On: Rebellious Kids in Children’s Books

One of my highlights from the Royal Wedding was bridesmaid Grace van Cutsem and her brilliant show of independence on Buckingham Palace’s balcony. She did not like that fly past and she was not going to put on a performance!

That classic picture of Grace’s cross face, hands over ears, put me in mind of some of my favourite characters in children’s literature: the rebellious ones. I’ve selected two books, one from my own childhood and one more recent, that feature strong-willed children: The Wild Baby and Horrid Henry.

Who’s your favourite independently-minded character?

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Welcome to the Bookshelf Blog

All about biographies, children’s, poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction

I’ll be updating with book news, reviews, insider info, holiday reads, literary tours, adaptations, spotlights and sensory experiences

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