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!
Months ago Bert gave me access to add books to the website myself; it’s probably lost of him a lot of impulse purchases on my part because I’m very lazy at heart but I’ve finally got around to making use of the function because I want to buy a gift for two little boys I know.
I spend a lot of time reading with my four year old daughter (who, regardless of what Bert tells you, is not called Meryl) and there are some picture books I absolutely love and cannot resist buying extra copies for her family and friends. I thought I’d share a list of some of my favourites with you:
I’m sure lots of parents will be familiar with the brightly coloured Oi Frog, Oi Dog, etc, books from this author which I know my daughter would definitely recommend because of the funny rhymes and tongue twisters although honestly, as the person who has to do all the reading these ones aren’t always at the top of my list! You’re Called What? is just as silly as his other books but I love it, it’s all about real animals with strange names and includes a double page spread at the back with pictures and facts about these animals making the book just as interesting for me as it is for the little one. And even better, it’s actually helped me out in the weekly online family quiz a couple of times!
Obviously it doesn’t hurt that I was introduced to this book by Tom Hardy reading it on Cbeebies Bedtime Stories but this is probably my all time favourite children’s book, the sentiment of the story is beautiful and is a delight to read out loud. I love the colourful illustrations and if you do too then I’d also recommend the authors YouTube channel, the whole family have been enjoying #DrawWithRob during lockdown. I always buy this book for friends with new babies on the way, it makes a great gift!
A little girl who loves to invent and has to learn not to get frustrated when she doesn’t get everything right the first time is a fabulous role model. I bought this book (and the subsequent Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention) for all of my friends little girls, and then realised I was being sexist, so bought it for all the little boys too.
My four year old often gets in a strop when she can’t do something by herself immediately so you’ll often hear me saying “Be like Izzy Gizmo, try, try again”.
This is another heart-warming book with a great message; about following your dreams, even if others don’t think you can achieve them. I love how enthusiastic my little one gets about sticking up for Biff the dog who wants to be a ballerina and this book has also made it into a few birthday presents for her friends.
Every self-respecting toddler has a large stash of Julia Donaldson books so you probably don’t need me to recommend any but the favourite in this household is Zog. Julia Donaldson’s books are always fun to read and fun to listen to which I’m sure is why they’re such a success. Zog features dragons, princesses, knights and (this is clearly a trend with me) has a story line about defying expectations to follow your heart. If you do like this book I’d also recommend the follow up Zog and the Flying Doctors and The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp.
We have a lot of Steve Antony’s books, you always have to support your local talent and he’s very good at instilling good manners (check out the Mr Panda books if you haven’t already)! The latest addition to the collection though is Unplugged which see’s Blip, the (very adorable) robot, accidently get unplugged from her computer so off she goes to explore the outside world. The timing of my purchase of this book was perfect as my daughter had just discovered YouTube but through clever illustrations Blip has shown her you can have just as much fun outside with your friends as you can playing on your devices.
Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet’s books are great for little readers and we have all the Supertato books as well as many of their others. I always think it’s a little bit strange when a picture book review describes it as hilarious but Supertato’s adventures with the other fruits and vegetables in the supermarket are peppered with clever one liners which keep me amused whilst the bright pictures and fun storylines keep the little one coming back to these books time after time!
I couldn’t miss The Love in My Heart off of this list, this tale of love and family is so beautiful I actually had it as the reading at my wedding. This book was a gift from a friend years ago and was perfect as a bedtime story for my very young daughter with it’s simple rhyming stories and gorgeous illustrations, we’d all read it together night after night and it still features on the bedtime reading list often now.
I’d read it, it was excellent and yet Matt was turned down by thirty publishers because the book was ‘too gay’.
It’s really not. I’ve read much gayer books – but they’re usually confined to the heavy tomes written by writers who suck on pipes and win the Booker.
If The Madonna of Bolton – the fastest funded book on Unbound – isn’t reaching the hands of the every day customer, how many other books aren’t I thought?
You know the rest – but the reason I’m talking about it today is that this week sees the publication of The Madonna of Boltonin paperback you can buy it on Bert’s, of course, but if you want to know more about how Matt ticks, here in his own words he explains ten important books from his life – handily, most of them are available to order by clicking on the links.
My mum first read this to me, my brother and sister when we were little and I was completely blown away. Over the next few years I must have read it myself at least ten more times. Because I was a camp, girly boy living in a rough northern town I never really fit in and had a horrible time at school. There were times I was so unhappy I would have loved nothing better than being whisked away to a fantasy world like Narnia, where I was a king and everyone loved me. I think that’s why the book made such an impact on me.
La Gloire de Mon Père by Marcel Pagnol
When I was a teenager I fell in love with learning different languages; I think that again part of the appeal here was escaping reality and transforming myself into a slightly different person. The first novels I read in French were by Marcel Pagnol and I loved them all, although this, the story of a young boy who bonds with his dad on hunting trips around their holiday home in Provence, is the first one that really drew me in. The films are lovely too.
Sex by Madonna
I was at sixth-form college when Sex was released in 1992 and my obsession with Madonna was at its height; as an outspoken ally of the LGBT community and a sexually confident woman whose insistence on expressing her desires labelled her a fellow outsider, I elected her as my spirit guide. Sex was a coffee-table book of explicit images exploring Madonna’s sexual fantasies that was shot by photographer Steven Meisel. The project represented the most transgressive move of Madonna’s career and saw most mainstream media outlets align against her for the first time. But this didn’t stop the limited edition of 150,000 sealed, aluminium-backed copies from selling out on the first day. I was struck by Madonna’s bravery as a feminist and the defiantly queer tone of much of the book, as well as the beauty and power of some of the imagery.
Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós
When I went to Cambridge to study French and Spanish literature, I found myself forced to read countless novels that I found really hard going. But I did fall in love with the work of Flaubert, Balzac, Zola and Gide in French, and Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa and Manuel Puig in Spanish. One of my favourite novels on the reading list was Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós, which was written in 1887 and tells the interlinking stories of two women of different classes living in Madrid. The book is bitingly critical of the class snobbery and sexism of the time and I loved it. When I spent a year living in Madrid between 1996 and 1997, I re-read it and would often stroll around the streets where it’s set bringing the characters to life in my mind.
By the time I left Cambridge, being forced to read and analyse so many worthy, academic books had pretty much killed all the joy I used to find in reading. That summer I went on holiday with two girlfriends and we each read a Jackie Collins. I picked up Hollywood Wives and within minutes I was drooling, gasping and giggling out loud on the beach. After years of feeling like my batteries had run out, it was as if somebody had switched me back on again. I’ve since read several of Jackie’s books and love her colourful characters, energetic plotting, and the intoxicating cocktail of humour, glamour and sex that she serves up every time.
When I started my career in TV arts programming, Jackie Collins was one of the writers I was lucky enough to interview – and over the years I’ve also had the opportunity to interview or work with David Mitchell, Alan Hollinghurst, Ian McEwan, Rose Tremain, Jonathan Harvey and Barbara Kingsolver. But one of the first authors I interviewed for TV was Sebastian Faulks, whose World War 1 epic Birdsong is one of my favourite books of all time and was the first to reduce me to tears. Meeting its author made me see writers as real people and writing itself as something that maybe I too could do one day.
During the eight years I spent making documentaries for The South Bank Show, I worked with several amazing artists, including Carol Ann Duffy, Ewan McGregor, Darcey Bussell and Ian McKellen, each of whom inspired me in different ways to draw on my own creativity. But my early attempts at writing fiction were rejected by countless agents and publishers, something which left me feeling devastated. Then, in 2006, I made a documentary with Claire Tomalin about her biography of Thomas Hardy. I’d always loved Claire Tomalin’s work; although her biographies are impeccably researched, they read like freely-imagined fiction. And I was hooked on her latest when I discovered that, like me, Hardy was devastated when his first novel had been rejected for publication – and even when he’d achieved success, his work was often derided by critics. I went on to devour all of Hardy’s novels before setting off to shoot the documentary on location in Dorset and Cornwall, where I spent a wonderful few weeks that inspired me to keep writing and not to give up on my dream.
I love this book so much that I don’t think I could ever be friends with someone, and I certainly couldn’t fall in love with someone, if they didn’t feel the same way about it. If you’re one of the few people who hasn’t read it, it tells a twenty-year love story through a series of set-piece scenes taking place on the same day at yearly intervals. I read it when I was writing my first novel Shot Through the Heart, when I’d been single for ages and needed switching back on to romance so I could make my own fictional love story come alive. One Day delivered exactly what I was looking for – and a whole lot more besides. It’s a book that has been written with such sensitivity and humanity I think it has the power to make everyone who reads it a better person.
Between 2010 and 2013 I worked as Culture Editor on Channel 4 News, reporting on all areas of the arts. During my time in the role I was lucky enough to meet even more amazing artists working in various fields, such as Grayson Perry, Pedro Almodóvar and the Spice Girls, but I made sure I devoted a lot of attention to stories about writers and the publishing industry as I was trying to use my position to finally secure a book deal for my own fiction. While covering the Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize) I interviewed the author Madeline Miller, who’d just re-worked the Greek mythology in Homer’s The Iliad to create the gay love story at the heart of that year’s winning novel, The Song of Achilles. I don’t think you’ll ever read a more beautiful account of romantic, lustful and intimate love – gay or straight. I felt stunned after I’d read it – and was relieved to find that its author wasn’t just clever and talented but adorable and friendly too.
This series of novels set in San Francisco burst into life in the mid-1970s and they’re a riotous romp through the interlinking stories of several ‘gay, straight and travelling’ characters from different backgrounds, many of them tenants of 28 Barbary Lane, a boarding house run by transgender landlady Mrs Madrigal. It was while working as Editor-in-Chief of Attitude, the UK’s biggest-selling magazine for gay men, that I went to San Francisco to shoot and interview author Armistead Maupin. The experience was one of the things that inspired me to dig out my manuscript for The Madonna of Bolton, a novel I’d written that had been rejected by over thirty publishers who considered its gay content and central character ‘uncommercial’. I wanted to prove them wrong – and that’s when I decided to crowdfund the novel through Unbound and attempt to raise the funds in record time. I succeeded in seven days and this helped secure a mainstream release for the novel. It became a bestseller in hardback last year and attracted some very positive reviews – and now I can’t wait for it to be released in paperback!
The Madonna of Bolton is available in paperback from Thursday 16th May