The Nan Booker Prize

July 29, 2015, Posted by Beau Merchant in Books, Books Worth Staring At, Uncategorized

The Nan Booker Prize 2015

Inspired by the 2015 Man Booker Prize longlist announcement, we asked our own Nan Who Stares at Books (Beau’s Nan) to pick her favourite books of the last year. So, slightly missing the point, she sent us a list of books and her (unedited) opinion on them, dating back to 1947. Bless ‘er, you legend Nan!

So, without further ado, we present you with the shortlist for the inaugural Nan Booker Prize:

     Alone in Berlin

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

“How lives change overnight, how through fear friends become enemies.yet kindness is amongst it also. Excellent reading.”


That Woman

That Women (she meant Woman) by Anna Sebba (she meant Anne)

“First book on Wallis, that l felt told whole story.”

 American Devil

American Devil by Oliver Stark

“Gripping, makes one think, how these peoples minds work, 3/4 way through.”



Toast by Nigel Slater

“Oh yes! The joys of yester-years. Curly Wurleys, Merrymaids choclate toffees. Junket. Kathy kirby,the memories came flooding back. Laughed, cried. ‘Oh happy days’ brought back by a book.”


Joe and Marilyn by Roger Kahn

“A love story of passion, despair, friendship. An actress and Baseball star. Magic.”


Waiting for Doggo

Waiting for Doggo by Mark Mills

“Very different from his others. But so bloody ennoyable. Xxxx Cup of tea then back to Doggo xxxx Enjoyable I mean actually xxxx”

See you again same time next year, Nan.

March 19, 2015, Posted by Mr Book in Books, Comics, Uncategorized

Comic Week: A taste of The Phoenix

As comic week continues, today we have a look at The Phoenix, an awesome weekly comic story. Have a browse, and check out more of their stuff at 


Don’t forget to check out this great blog piece by Neill Cameron, or take a look at some cultural highlights from the Etherington Brothers

December 19, 2014, Posted by Richard in Uncategorized

A Poem For People Still Stuck In The Office

Richard Roper presents his (potentially) annual poem for the poor souls still left in the office, waiting to escape for the Christmas break…

We are the few who are left.

Lacking leave to take and

Colleagues to bake us

Uneven mince pies.


We are the few who are left.

We rattle Celebrations tins

With only bloody Bountys remaining,

Complaining about our lot.


We are the few who are left.

But don’t despair my friends.

Make the most of this time

By smuggling cheap red wine to your desks,

And be bereft of responsibility but

Get marginally tipsy.


Revel in this relative solace.

Picture the others (formerly smug)

Crammed into a slowly-moving

First Great Western trains consumed

By the fug of farts and despair,

People pulling out their hair rushing

To leave the city whilst you get squiffy

On a bottle of last year’s Sherry you found in a

Jiffy bag in your desk drawer.


We are the few who are left.

So sweep the office for

Discarded Secret Santa booze,

And use the time to sit, oozing

Gin through the pores of your skin,

With chocolate smeared grins,


In peace. Before the madness begins.

October 28, 2014, Posted by Richard in Books, Culture, Exhibitions, Uncategorized

Sherlock Holmes: ‘The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die’ Exhibition Review

We’d checked out the place where he gets his bacon butty in the morning, and now we were off to the Museum of London to see a thrilling exhibition that leaves no stone unturned in the quest to show us the real Sherlock Holmes.

The joy of ‘Sherlock Holmes: The Man who Never Lived and Never Died’ is in the perfect balance of showing us the fictional Holmes and the real world that he inhabited. For example, one of the most fascinating exhibits – the piece of paper where Arthur Conan Doyle first sketched out an idea for ‘Mr Sherrinford Holmes’ and his sidekick ‘Ormond Sacker’ – sits neatly near a wonderful Turner painting of the The Reichenbach Falls.

The early Doyle details and early artefacts sit artfully alongside Benedict Cumberbatch’s now iconic trench coat and scarf. Along the way there is a glut of typewriters, telephones and contemporary maps that add a wonderful richness.

Inevitably, given that the lads at Guinness have Sherlock down as the most played character in screen history, there are video clips galore. It’s certainly interesting to see the difference in how, say, Christopher Lee tackled the character as opposed to Mr Cumberbatch, but to some extent it did show up how the many actors who’ve played Dr Watson over the years have really only been forced to articulate wide-eyed, jowel-quivering incredulity (‘By Jove, Holmes. How could you possibly have known I’d had Findus Crispy Pancakes for dinner?’ Etc…).

This is an expertly collated exhibition that will appeal to die-hard Doyle fans and curious Cumberbatchians alike. One word of advice – take fifteen minutes or so to read The Adventure of the Dancing Men, one of Doyle’s 56 short Sherlock stories, which curls round the wall outside the exhibition. It’s a reminder of what a genius Doyle really was, and why Sherlock is such an enduring character.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 22.39.51

Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die is at the Museum of London until 12 April 2015
Book tickets here

IMAGES: Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock © Mr Pics /,
Baker Street station © littlesam /

July 16, 2014, Posted by Tom in Uncategorized

The Men Who Stare At Books catwalk…

Inspired by the #DailyMail and their illuminating & important coverage of the cabinet reshuffle, we’ve created our own…