As this is my 100th edition of Notes from a Book Addict, I thought my many readers might be interested in how it all began.
For many years I had friends ask me for book recommendations, or ask me to let them know when my various talks were coming up. And so, one day, it occurred to me that a simple newsletter might be well received.
On 1st July 2015, I sent out my first newsletter to about twenty friends who I knew shared my love of books. That first edition stated that I hoped my friends would enjoy my reading suggestions, would like information about my literary events and tours, and to learn of important literary anniversaries. I mentioned a literary tour of the Deep South of the USA that I had just done, raved about Anthony Trollope (whose 200th birthday was that year), described how Georgette Heyer’s Wimbledon home had got a blue plaque (unveiled by Stephen Fry) and recommended a movie of Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. I concluded it with a literary quote.
A few editions later, I introduced the ‘Poem of the Month’ segment, which has proved consistently popular. Over the years I have run regular themed segments – this year it is seeing a literary statue, but I’ve also covered favourite libraries around the world and serious book addicts from history. You will have to wait until January to learn what the 2024 theme will be.
The friends who received the first newsletter passed it on to other friends, who asked to be added to the list. Members of the Jane Austen Society of Australia asked to be added once they heard about the free newsletter, and I started giving attendees at my talks the chance to sign up. It is impossible to know today just how many people the newsletter goes to, as it gets passed on to relatives and friends, shared with book groups, and distributed widely. That thrills me – the more people reading books and reading about books the better!
Before long, my fabulous technical assistant Cheryl came to help. Sending it out to so many people was beyond me, but Cheryl knew exactly what to do. Today I could not manage without her assistance, but there are costs involved in sending it every month, as I need to pay for software, and Cheryl for her skills and time. This is why I hope you will support the changes I must make to remain viable and continue offering all the things you love about my newsletter. Thanks, Cheryl, for all your help.
At the start of every month, I do wonder how I will fill yet another edition, but somehow ideas always come along. I have written about movies of classic novels, beloved classic authors, crime novels, literary biographies and forthcoming literary events. I have mused on some of the challenges of being a book addict – arranging books, lending books, using bookmarks, to finish or not to finish a book you don’t much like, how and where to read, books for long journeys, and much, much more.
I will keep producing the newsletter every month and sending it out on the first day, in the hopes that you will continue to enjoy what started as a perhaps whimsical idea, and turned into something that goes around the world to thousands of readers twelve times a year.