Books Magazine

Blog Anniversary Competition

By Isabel Costello @isabelcostello


Blog Anniversary Competition
It’s a lonely road sometimes when you’re a ‘writer waiting to happen’ (as one lovely person called me yesterday, you know who you are).  I love writing and am very lucky to have a great support network, but there are still times when I feel I’m talking into a cupboard.  It just happens a lot less since I started this blog exactly a year ago.

Until I came up with the snappier On the Literary Sofa, the blog was called Books, Places, Life, and although I had no idea what I was doing when I set it up, it is about those things.

I reflect on LIFE in its Up and Down phases – it seems you know the feeling(s)

I talk about ‘my’ PLACES – and you tell me about yours

But above all, what we do here is talk BOOKS

I must be doing something right.  The point is, you read it, and that makes any writer happy. By some extraordinary stroke of synchronicity, the hits counter passed the 20,000 mark today.  20,000!  I am thrilled and completely amazed –  I certainly couldn’t have foreseen that a year ago.  Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who reads and supports On the Literary Sofa and to the talented authors who write books that are worth discussing.

So, to celebrate, I’m running a competition…  The main prize is on me (unless you run a gorgeous restaurant…), and for the impressive selection of book prizes I am very grateful to publishers Simon & Schuster UK, Bloomsbury and Penguin UK, and authors Roger Morris and Miranda France – thank you all very much.

First Prize – Let’s Do Lunch!

The winner gets to join me for lunch in Central London to talk books on a mutually convenient date – somewhere nice like Villandry or Le Deuxième.  Don’t let the talking books thing put you off – I have been known to engage in other topics of conversation such as travel, food, art, films – most things in fact except sport and politics. Clear your diary for the afternoon – my last bookish lunch lasted 4 hours, and there wasn’t even any alcohol involved!

If the winner is unable to accept the first prize for practical reasons, they will be offered a book prize (or gift certificate, if overseas) of equivalent value and the next person drawn who is able to take the first prize will win it.

Book Prizes

One lucky winner will receive a  pack of 4 Simon & Schuster titles I’ve featured On The Literary Sofa: The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood, The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd, The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (all reviewed here) and The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace

Bloomsbury have also generously offered 4 titles, this time as individual prizes:

John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk – newly published and already attracting huge buzz.

Canada by Richard Ford – my answer to the question you have to answer for the competition.

Rook by Jane Rusbridge – stunning ‘accessible literary fiction’, by a favorite author I recently had the pleasure of interviewing at the Ham & High Literary Festival.

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar – by Suzanne Joinson – one of my Top Summer Reads

Penguin UK are giving a copy of Zadie Smith’s new London novel NW which I reviewed this week.

Roger Morris has given two signed copies of A Gentle Axe, the first title in his St Petersburg historical crime series featuring Porfiry Petrovich, the detective from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

Miranda France will send one winner a signed copy of her novel That Summer at Hill Farm, also one of my Top Summer Reads.


The competition is open to anyone, one entry per person.  Winners will be picked at random and the results announced on Friday 28 September.   Leave a comment below (all you need is an email address which will not be visible) telling me the book you’ve enjoyed reading most this year and (briefly) why.  It could be anything – a Classic (year of publication doesn’t matter), a bestseller, a title in translation – even a cookbook.  It’s fine if someone else has nominated the same book.

The literary lunch prize is to be taken by 30 June 2013.

If you are on Twitter, please re-tweet the link to the competition which you can find in my timeline.

Note for overseas entrants

I don’t want to exclude my overseas readers, of which there are many (in fact more in the US than the UK).  See the note above concerning the First Prize (although obviously if you are planning to visit London, that would work).  Book prizes (except for the pack of 4 titles) are eligible to be won by overseas entrants, however, if the cost of postage is disproportionate to the cost of the book I will send you a gift certificate of equivalent value and reallocate the prize to a UK winner.  Any North American winners will receive their books in late October when I will personally shlep them across the Atlantic and post in New York!

I’m hoping for LOADS of entries, and can’t wait to hear which book you’ve enjoyed the most.  (I know it’s an impossible question.)  Please spread the word about the competition in any way you can.


Lloyd Shepherd will be my Guest Author On the Literary Sofa as his debut The English Monster is released in paperback in the UK.  I hope he’s feeling talkative on the subject of his second novel, which will be published next year.

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