How many books get published each month? Just like Ed Needham points out in his opening letter to issue 31 of Strong Words, it can sometimes feel like only two or three. You know, the ones that take up all the space in the windows of WH Smith and Waterstones, and all the column inches in the mainstream press.
The truth, of course, is somewhat different, and that’s where Strong Words comes in. “A great new magazine about great new books”, it does exactly what it says on the tin.
More than this though it makes me want to READ.
I want to read about the cutthroat world of elite ballet, what connects Tony Soprano and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, decaying movie theatres and the power of a positive infographic. And that’s just the first 20 pages, I’m not even a quarter of the way through the issue yet and my must read list is already too long.
I couldn’t begin to tell you how many individual books are reviewed in this issue, but well over a hundred I would imagine. I keep going. Next is a selection of “Ten Fictional New Wonders”, closely followed by another 15 fiction micro-reviews. I now want too many books, and that’s before we get to the cover story: “The Aristocrats” which takes an irreverent look at the upper classes through a series of new print releases. Being October, we then take a seasonal trip to the gothic novel, always a favourite, and “Melmoth The Wanderer” gets added to my list.
Graphic novels get a look in too, with a focus on four of the latest and a guide on how to write/draw your own. Sandwiched between these two pieces is a discourse on the never ending allure of the French cookbook.
There are only a few pages left to read, and I am convinced my list can’t get any longer…
But as I get towards the back, literally in the last 11 pages, I find sections on biography, non-fiction, true crime, children’s fiction, a publisher profile and a quiz.
By the final page I am shocked to learn that all of the above (and more besides) is contained in only 76 pages. Now I’ve read the magazine, how do I find time to read the books??
This tardis of a magazine is a highly recommended and regular part of my magazine repertoire these days, as my groaning bookshelves can testify.