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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an FAQ?

It’s a frequently asked question. As in a question that gets asked a lot. If you’ve got a question and think you’re probably not the first person to ask it, then the answer to it might be here.

 

How much does delivery cost?

If you’re in the UK, delivery is absolutely free! Hurrah!

 

What about if I’m not in the UK?

It’s a flat rate for sending books abroad depending on the service used (starting at £9) but, unfortunately, I’m not able to send books to the EU because of complicated tax rules.

 

When are books dispatched?

I currently dispatch books every Tuesday and Thursday, and ideally your book will be dispatched within five days of being ordered. I’ll let you know if it’s going to be longer than that.

 

If you need your book by a certain day for a birthday, etc, just let me know and I’ll do my best to move it up the queue.

 

What are the subscription bundles?

They contain the best new releases on the website. Whether your tastes are for non-fiction, crime or young adult fiction, we can provide you with the very best books that are hot off the printing press.

 

When do I get the books I’ve subscribed to?

Standard monthly subscriptions are sent out at the end of each month, with the aim that you’ll get them on the 1st of the month. Orenda books, however, are dispatched by the 15th of each month. All other subscriptions are dispatched within five working days of their renewal.

 

What do I do if I get a book I’ve already read or don’t want in a subscription?

All the books in the subscriptions will have been released in the previous four weeks (although paperbacks may have previously been hardbacks) but anything that doesn’t tickle your fancy can be returned via the returns policy. You should never get a duplicate of a book you’ve bought from Bert’s previously – and If you let me know on Twitter or via email of the stuff you might have bought from another retailer (?!) , I’ll try my best to remember that too.

And what exactly is that returns policy?

If you want to return something, let me know within 14 days of receiving it, then post it back. You’ll have to cover the costs of postage, but it’s up to you whether you choose a tracked delivery. As soon as the book is back with me, your money will be refunded.

 

What happens if my book arrives damaged?

That’s no problem. Just let me know, and I’ll replace it!

 

When do you take payment for the subscriptions?

Payment is automatically taken in the month before you receive the books, so if you sign up on the 30th April, you’ll receive your first bundle in May, but if you sign up on 1st May, your first bundle will be with you in June.

 

How do I cancel my subscription?

I can’t imagine why you’d want to, but you can manage all your subscriptions within your account, or contact us directly to have it sorted for you.

 

What’s all this about Bert Points?

For every £1 you spend on the website, you’ll get 50 Bert Points. 50 Points is worth 5p off your next purchase. One £20 book, for example, will accrue you 1000 points, which is £1 off your next order. Bargain! You’ll be reminded at the purchase point that you’ve got points to spend.

 

Is there an upper limit of Bert Points I can have?

You can spend as many as you can accrue, but they expire after six months.

 

Why can’t I find the book I want?

Everything on the website is there because Bert has read it and loved it, or because a customer has requested it. This ensures a high quality of stock available – these are all good books. If you would like a book added, contact bert@bertsbooks.co.uk. You can also find me us on Twitter at @bertsbooks, but an email means you’re less likely to get missed.

 

Why haven’t you replied to my email?

I try and email you back as soon as possible. I’m the only one here though, so please excuse any delays. Double check your junk mail folder too – just in case!

 

Will you put the book I wrote on the website?

If I’ve read it and think it’s good, or if a customer requests it, certainly.

 

Will you read my book?

Ask your publisher to send me a proof and I’ll take a look. If you don’t have a publisher, then email me the details of your book and if I want to read it, I’ll ask you to send a copy over. I can’t read digital books, I’m afraid, and I can’t respond to every author request. As above, I’m just one person.

 

What is your favourite flavour of crisps?

Salt and vinegar, best served in a sandwich with a Dairylea cheese triangle. (Other cheeses are available.)

 

What is your favourite book?

There is not enough time to get into this…

 

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A Little Life – A Big Review

This post was originally published back in 2015 in a previous life, on a previous blog. I thought I’d share it for you now so you can see just why I love A Little Life so much 

 

It’s not often that I’m wrong, it’s an even more infrequent occurrence that I admit that I’m wrong. But I was.

Earlier this year, I read A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale and I wouldn’t stop raving about it. I even, what now seems a touch prematurely, considering it was January, billed it as my book of 2015.

I was wrong.

And that’s not to do down A Place Called Winter, it’s still within my top five books of all time, and most other years, would easily win the book of the year title.

But, a few months ago, a book by Hanya Yanagihara landed on my desk at work. It’s a big brick of a book, over seven hundred pages, and I knew nothing about it. I hadn’t even read the blurb, but I was told by a colleague that I would enjoy it. Mostly because he knew I enjoyed The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

So what was I expecting? The great American novel. A bit of a saga. Not much else.

The blurb tells us it is the tale of four friends, JB, Malcolm, Willem and Jude. But really, it is the story of Willem and Jude. But REALLY, it is the story of Jude.

We meet them when they’ve first moved to New York and Willem and Jude are looking for a place to live together. It is made clear at the very beginning, they are not a couple, nor are they brothers. They are simply friends. Best friends.

And that is what the story is about; the importance of friendship, how it effects our lives and how it can be bigger, yet more uncategorised than romantic love, than sexual love.

A Little Life is the story of love between men. It explores all aspects of it, and it does so beautifully, and yet so tragically.

It’s very difficult to talk about this novel without giving anything away, or indeed without going on for pages about the tiny point that you want to talk about, so perhaps the best thing to do is to tell you about the structure of the book.

The titular little life in question is that of Jude St Francis, and it is through a non-linear construction that we learn about it. He is mysterious, and reluctant to talk about his past, to the point that his friends, his closest friends know nothing of him, except not to ask.

It is over seven hundred pages long, but each section, each chapter, feels like its own book. We learn in them the stories of all four characters to varying degrees, and though some of the chapters are as long as eighty pages, the prose and the characters are so elegantly drawn, it is impossible not to get swept away.

Cathy Rentzenbrink wrote in the Bookseller that she read the book in one night. This is unbelievable, believable, and unbelievable again all at once.

Initially, the size of the book is off-putting. It certainly doesn’t strike you as a quick read and the first thirty to forty pages are confusing. There are so many male twenty-something characters that it is difficult to tell them apart.

But then, something clicks and you’re not just able to tell the characters apart, but they have started to become part of you. The book starts to become part of you and although you kind of broadly know what’s going to happen, you have to read on. And that’s when you understand how it’s possible to have read it one night.

The desire to read on is strong, but what I can’t understand, is how anyone can be emotionally stable enough to read it in one sitting. There is a point about a third of the way through – and I don’t think this spoils anything – where the tragic background of Jude starts to become clear, and you realise that this is a book that’s going to break your heart.

That’s not to say it is filled with unrelenting misery. I read A Little Life at the same time that I downloaded Will Young’s latest album 85% Proof. It’s a typical Will Young album, cracking vocals, a little bit dance-y but quite melancholy, but I had it playing in the background as I read parts of the book, and every song on it seemed to fit the plot.

Three songs stand out:

Thank You – a song from Jude to Caleb

Blue – a song from Willem to Jude, that actually contains the line “We live a little life”

And Joy – a song that is melodically upbeat and happy, but is lyrically about hope. “Nothing really matters, we’ve got everything we need, take a big leap and we will feel joy.”

It’s a song about daring to hope that things are going to work out, and that is the pervading feeling that you get from this book. Life is miserable, bad things happen, but the characters in this book are not just living little lives, they’re living great ones, because of the relationships and friendships that they form with each other.

There’s a whole section of the book in the last third called “The Happy Years” and by the time you get there and you see the heading, your heart sinks, because you know that nothing is going to stay happy, by this point, you know it’s a book that’s not only going to break your heart, it’s going to shatter it and use the bits to create itself a home.

And there are moments during The Happy Years where you’re screaming at the characters, urging them to just… well, I shan’t say. But you are. They’re making themselves miserable and it’s unbearable.

Then, at the end of The Happy Years, at their happiest, something happens, in the last three to four paragraphs. I had to put the book down and walk away.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and there were maybe a hundred pages or so left. I had time to finish it before going for dinner at my mum’s, but by this point, I knew that I would not be in any state come the end of the book, where I would be able to be around people, let alone make small talk with my granddad and mum.

I came back in the evening, curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine and began to read.

I started with Will Young playing in the background, but it became clear after just one page that the music wasn’t suitable. Not because it didn’t match, but because I was being sucked into this world. Into Jude’s world.

It doesn’t spoil anything to say that first part of the last section is told from Jude’s point of view – as I’ve already said, the book is told in a non-linear structure – and I started to cry.

I’m not a big crier. I’m not emotional. But sometimes when watching a film, or a TV program, a small tear will escape. It happens more often with books, where one or two tears will trickle down my face. It last happened with A Place Called Winter, and previously to that it happened with the book that I won’t name (I’ve mentioned this book before, but it’s becoming less and less important to me that I don’t share it, perhaps one day, I will).

In the space of 98 pages, I cried four times. A trickle or two of a tear. Maybe on one occasion three tears, because I really screwed up my face and squeezed that third one out. This was surprising enough to me, to know that A Little Life had truly affected me, but then…

The last section of the book is a letter from Harold – Jude’s adoptive father, and it had made a tear escape already once. And then there is the payoff to a moment three or four hundred pages earlier and I immediately started to sob.

Big, unmanly, tears misting my eyes, properly crying.

I had to put the book down, two pages from the end, because I couldn’t see to read. I had to compose myself before I could bring myself to carry on any further.

To people who want more than plot from their books, the kind of person who might enjoy The Goldfinch, then I would ask you to please read this book, to stick with it past that first confusing section (which by the way, I think is intentional, because it seems ridiculous now, that one could confuse any of these characters).

I was wrong when I said A Place Called Winter was my book of the year. It’s still a very good book, one of the best. But, if there’s a book better than A Little Life, I don’t have the emotional strength to read it for at least six months, and so I am crowning A Little Life my book of 2015.

It’s probably the book of my life.

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Upcoming Books

Do you find it hard to keep up with all the exciting new books due to be published? Do you wish there was one handy list that had all the best ones in one place, arranged by date?

 

Then you’re in luck! I’ve listed below everything that is currently available to pre-order on Bert’s Books – I’ll update it regularly too, so keep this page bookmarked and come back regularly! AND finally, if there’s anything you’re desperate to get your hands on, that you can’t find below, then let me know!

 

 

1st July 2022

5th July 2022

7th July 2022

10th July 2022

12th July 2022

14th July 2022

15th July 2022

21st July 2022

4th August 2022

10th August 2022

18th August 2022

25th August 2022

30th August 2022

1st September 2022

6th September 2022

8th September 2022

9th September 2022

15th September 2022

27th September 2022

29th September 2022

30th September 2022

6th October 2022

13th October 2022

18th October 2022

20th October 2022

25th October 2022

27th October 2022

1st November 2022

3rd November 2022

10th November 2022

15th November 2022

22nd November 2022

24th November 2022

6th December 2022

19th January 2023

24th January 2023

2nd February 2023

16th February 2023

23rd March 2023

6th April 2023

27th April 2023

11th May 2023