The WoMentoring Project

Twitter can generate the best ideas. It probably has something to do with the rush of making the perfect 140-letters quip, but something about the short, fast paced messages creates a whirl-wind of interesting and awesome plans. One of these plans is The WoMentoring Project, a literary project aimed at helping lady authors who are just starting out. The idea was thrown out into the world on Twitter, asking professionals from the book-world to donate a couple of hours of their time on this mentoring project. The response was overwhelming and in just a couple of hours the project was staffed with over 60 volunteering mentors.


The founder of the project is author Kerry Hudson and together with a ton of other professional literary women she will donate some of her time to an author who catches her eye. The mission of the project is to introduce woman writers at the beginning of their careers to made-women so they can benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. Hopefully this will help to put new talent out into the world and put new awesome books on your bookshelf. And have I already mentioned this will all be completely free!

Unfortunately in many countries men still dominate the publishing world. Men get reviewed and paid more then their female counterparts which is just wrong. The WoMentoring Project however is not in the business of overthrowing a male-dominated field. They just want to equal the playing field, ensuring women get just as many chances as men.


So how does this work? What should you do as a budding author to get into the mentoring programme?
Each mentor will select their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. Unfortunately there has to be an application process to get in. There are simply not enough mentors for every possible new author. To applu you will have to submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about why they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be in application to a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time. This way the mentors know a little something about the writers and fit the perfect fit.

The WoMentoring project is so great because it’s all about giving back. Many of the now literary professionals have received help and advice when they were starting out. This is their way of paying it forward and helping a new generation of booky ladies step up. Every part of the project is free and made without a budget. Literary women have put in their

time and know-how to create everything from the programme to the website and awesome illustrations (the ones you see here are made by Sally Jane Thompson) . It’s all about exceptional women helping and supporting other exceptional women. Sounds pretty good to me!


If you want to know more about the project or apply to a mentee position go over to their website and find the info you need. And if you do, we would love to hear about your progress and support your writing here as well. Keep us in the loop by posting in the comments or send us an email at


The Best Bookstore Crowdfunding Rewards

There’s no more beating around the bush. Bookstores are dying and they need our help. But is asking people to donate money really the right way to go about this? The Polare stores throughout Holland aren’t the only ones turning to their customers for money to keep afloat. The English Bookshop in Amsterdam is in equal peril to try and keep their prime location. Through crowd funding they are appealing to their customers to donate their money to you, but luckily for us this doesn’t come without a reward. We’re not talking about stupid stuff like eternal gratitude or your name upon a website, but real world, physical goods. But the rewards offered by Donner moet blijven as well as The English Bookshop are remarkably tame. They offer some free books, first pick at sales and a book club, all things you  expect from a book shop. However, hasn’t it been made clear that bookstores need to do something new, something exciting and extraordinary to stay in business? Then why doesn’t this also apply to their crowd funding campaigns? Luckily not all book stores are taking the safe road to success and to showcase this we created a list of the best crowd funding rewards given by bookshops.

Right now we’re still bored with your offerings

Starting at the low low price of $20 The Book House in St. Louis offered a specialized out of print book search. For only 20 dollars these literary detectives will go out of their way to get you that first edition signed copy of Moby Dick or a real-life Gutenberg Bible. Of course the price of the book is not included in this deal, but o how I would love to follow these literary private eyes on the roller coaster ride of bookish treasures. I’m imagining their life as a combination of Noah Wyle’s the Librarian and Jonathan Ames, wacky adventures without all the bad special effects. Is it too late to change my career plans?

He can handle my books any day

For just 50 bucks Uncharted Books in Chicago offered to give you a lifetime 5% discount card. You will get books cheaper than most others for your entire life! No more student card fraud, pretending you are still in college while you’re almost 30 or bringing your grandma along to get a senior citizen discount. No more hassle, just 5% discount for ever, all the time! We did the ‘math’ and with buying only 20 books at €10,- a pop you will get the 21st for free. That might sound like you need to buy a lot of books, but why are you saying that like it’s a bad thing?

Gnu’s room, a non-profit bookshop in Alabama is taking the fancy pants route by offering to make you a hand-painted ivory scrimshaw bookmark for donating a $100.  This reward is not for squeamish readers and if you are looking forward to putting a dead elephant’s teeth in between your pages, this is the deal for you.

Scrimshaw ivory bookmark? Don’t worry, I had to Google it as well

We’re quickly moving up in the world of monetary rewards with Books & Brews. Not only have they stolen our business plan of serving books with beer, they are also willing to offer you your very own barstool for $250 so you can literally tell someone to get out of your seat. Just imagine coming into the shop and shooing someone away from the perfect spot because it does in fact have your name on it. If you are willing to upgrade, they also offer a table for $275, but you will have to buy the seats separately. Besides these rewards they also offer to make a custom batch of beer with your name on it, but as this is also taken straight of our business plan we won’t linger on it. Stupid Books & Brews, beating us at our own game…

The Big Idea is a cooperative shop specializing in radical and progressive literature. This fun bunch is also willing to cook for you in your own home if you donate $500 to their shop. This way you will be fed (ideas) and they don’t have to stay to clean up the mess! A win-win situation, only available to people living in Pittsburgh.

The more money you are willing to give, the more food you are offered. Ancestry’s Pop-up store will set up a private dinner with you for only $1000 and they promise to talk to you about their dreams for the bookstore. I would have thought that for a thousand dollars you at least got to talk about your own hopes and dreams.

Books of Wonder needed a revitalization and for that they offer to host you a birthday party in their shop for $1500. For some reason  this one is only for children’s birthdays. Why try to cater to kids? They don’t have $1500 lying around and grown-ups need parties just as badly, if not more. Although it might have something to do with this being a children’s bookstore, I still think they missed an opportunity.

You are never too old for a bookshop birthday bash

You might think giving away a 1000 dollars is a lot, but we haven’t stepped up to the big leagues yet. The final two rewards are for benefactors willing to spend $10.000 on their love of books.
Books and Boos (no I’m not misspelling booze), a horror specialized shop is offering you the original Revenge of the Jedi movie script, penned by none other than George Lucas. They claim that this was the original title, before Lucas changed it into Return of the Jedi, but all I smell is a set-up to get a fan-fiction manuscript sold for way more than it’s worth.

Is it me or does this actually sound better than the ‘original’ title?

And to turn back to Uncharted Books who not only offer large rewards for small prices, but also small rewards for large prices. I do have to say they are on to something though. For $10.000 they offer to help you move once, because that money can buy you more books than they can offer. Honestly, if you are willing to spend that much money on any kickstarter project, please come and find us. We will put your money to good use and give you the honorary title of Bored to Death $ugah daddy/mommy.

Some of these are pretty sweet rewards, but we still had the feeling something was missing. We would have loved to see a shop offering a take-over for a couple of hours, because it is every book lovers dream to own a bookshop. Another option we would love is the offering to lie for you on your resume. Nowadays it’s so hard to find a job in the book world and for the tiny price of several hundred euros we would totally be willing to lie for you. Who says employee of the year is not for sale?

There are probably many other great rewards we haven’t even thought off. Let us know which of these rewards you would totally pay for or what you would like to see in crowd funding campaigns for books!

What Do We Want From a Bookstore?

With the fate of Polare still uncertain, we started to wonder about what makes a good bookstore. Many reasons for the current downfall of the famous bookstore chain have been pointed out, but it often goes unmentioned what a bookstore does right. Just take a look at the Facebook page Donner moet blijven. It’s filled with nostalgia, not just for the bookstore we all used to know and love, but also for reading and books in general. People love bookstores, but then why is it so hard for them to keep existing? Is it necessary for a bookstore to be more than just a store and if so, which have what it takes? Let’s examine our wishes for bookstores and some bookstores that seem to have it going on.

Sorry, not an actual store, just a still from Hugo

Bookstore porn coming up!

A great selection, helpful staff and recommendations
What most of us love about bookstores is the browsing. Bookstores have this calmness that allows you to walk amongst rows and rows of books for hours without feeling guilty for wasting your time. The staff is stocking books and alphabetizing shelves. They smile knowingly at you when you walk by with a stack of books in your hands, too heavy to carry. They’ve done it themselves many times. If you have any questions or you’re looking for a new book, they’ll always be able to give you something you didn’t even know you liked. The bookstore is filled with books you want to read, books that you are drawn to immediately and you are unable to leave the store without at least one new paperback in your bag. If the bookstore is not like this at its core, I’m not sure it even is a bookstore.

Livraria Lello

Are we in heaven yet?

With attitude i’m not talking about a sassy bookstore that will tell you what’s on her mind no matter who she hurts. It means that the bookstore needs to have a character, a brand of some kind. A bookstore needs to give you this feeling of being welcome and accepted. It needs to be a place that you can go to and relax. You can just take a book off the shelves, sit down and feel right at home. This doesn’t mean that we’re just looking for homey bookstores with comfy sofa’s and smooth jazz, although that does sound pretty awesome. The bookstore can be colorful and vibrant, or calm and quiet. It can be aimed at a specific genre or a general selection, but the store needs to have its own personality. A bookstore is almost like a person and this person should be everyone’s best inanimate friend.


Bookstores don’t need to be sweet! They can be rugged and manly.

Second hand books / low prices
No matter how much we love a bookstore and how awesome a place it may be, not all of us have enough expendable income to spend it on books that are 20 euros apiece. This is one of the foremost reasons we read in English. High prices, especially on Dutch books under the fixed book price, hurt bookstores. We all know that we buy much more online than we buy in actual stores, just because it is cheaper. Selling second hand books already helps with this problem, as these books are often much cheaper and, if in good condition, totally worth it. But second hand books are not always what we’re looking for and nothing beats the feel of a new, pristine book in your hands. Sometimes you just need a new book! Bookstores often can’t help the high prices, so don’t take it out on them, but maybe publishers should look into the idea of Mark Laframboise who thinks bookstores should get a discount for showcasing books to readers. Sound good to me!

Adobe Bookstore in San Francisco

So now that we have covered the basics, let’s move on to some additional things that seem to keep bookstores afloat.

Booze and coffee
We all love to drink coffee or tea while being surrounded by books. I have no idea how this works, but the combination of hot beverages and books is a soothing one. However, another side of the bookstore is starting to show itself. Drinking coffee while reading is very French new wave, but alcohol and reading is much more awesome. Examples of this are Books & Bubbles in Amsterdam where champagne reigns, but also the Denver BookBar: a wine lovers literary dream. Too bad there isn’t a beer & books shop yet, but that might just be where we step in.


Even if you don’t like champagne, this interior just ‘bubbles’ right off the page!

Literary events sometimes feel like the lifeline of bookstores. It’s a great way of getting people into your store, drawing them in with big names, the promise of an autograph and meeting the literary elite. Hosting events like readings, book clubs (our favourite!) and writing groups can do wonders for any bookshop and can be a great incentive to get new people over your threshold and their cash into your register.

Book events are as fabulous as Bette Davis'hat

Book events are as fabulous as Bette Davis’ hat

Rare books, signed books, special editions
This is a personal favorite, but while visiting Powell’s in Portland they had this amazing hall filled with second hand books. An entire wall filled with really old special editions and special first edition signed copies of new books. It was a blissful afternoon when I spent several hours browsing the shelves. Adding this to your bookstore is something that might not keep you afloat, but it definitely gives you an edge, something special for serious book lovers who want more than just a cheap version of a great book. It’s for those people who have their walls lined with books instead of wallpaper, who’s favorite celebrities are authors and who dream of owning one of those stores someday in the future.

Yes, Powell's really is that awesome and no, I won't stop talking about it

Yes, Powell’s really is that awesome and no, I won’t stop talking about it

It can be easy to judge bookstores on their merit, but we should not forget how important we as the customer are in ensuring the existence of our beloved shops. There are a myriad of campaigns to keep bookstores from extinction, but the best thing you can do is visit the store, buy a book sometimes and promote it among your friends, loved ones and anyone you might not super care about. Anyone will do! Because keep in mind that with every book you buy online, one bookstore kitten is killed and only you are to blame for that.

Please don't let me die

Please don’t let me die

Bookish Guide to IFFR 2014

Rotterdam is completely taken over by the International Film Festival Rotterdam, just like it is every year. And every year you will somehow see the long list of movies available between the 22nd of January and the 2nd of February and it is just overwhelming. The list seems endless, completely unreadable and as big an obstacle as the Mount Everest. So to help you figure out what to watch, we made a list of the bookish movies being shown during the festival. If you like books and movies that have something to do with books, this is the list for you. No need to thank us for making your life easier.


Back to the Temple of the Sun
This road movie is based on the adventures of Tin Tin in Peru during The Temple of the Sun. Trying to mimic the comic, the brother of the filmmaker takes a Peruvian hairless dog as company instead of Snowy and follows in the footsteps on the Belgian hero.
Director: Marco Pando
Screenings: Saturday 25th at 16:45, Friday 31st at 22:00 and Saturday 1st at 10:00

L’ amour est un crime parfait (Love Is the Perfect Crime)
The life of a hot-shot literary professor gets more complicated when one of his victories, a young student, disappears. The girl’s stepmother, the professors sister and a crazy fan all put pressure on him to find out what happened in this Hitchchock like thriller.
Director: Arnaud Larrieu & Jean-Marie Larrieu
Screenings: Saturday 25th at 09:00, Sunday 26th at 16:15 and Thursday 30th at 16:45

L’ armée du salut (Salvation Army)
This adaptation is made by the author of the book, a young Moroccan writer. The movie tells the story of two people, one a young boy in Casablanca who finds out he can make money through a homosexual lifestyle and a lonely student who looks for shelter at the Salvation Army in Geneva.
Director: Abdellah Taïa
Screenings:  Tuesday 28th at 19:00, Wednesday 29th at 21:45, Thursday 30th at 12:45 and Friday 31st at 21:45



Le 5 avril je me tue (On the 5th April I’ll Kill Myself)
A thoughtful man picks out a date for his death just like he picks a date for dinner or a date. Because that’s how thoughtful men do. The movie uses the absurd reality of life found in the work of Cesare Pavese and Albert Camus.
Director: Sergio Canneto
Screenings: Friday 24th at 20:15 and Sunday 26th at 12:15

The Joycean Society
A group of people dissect the work of James Joyce by reading it word for word, again and again for 30 years while constantly finding new meaning in them. That is dedicated reading for you.
Director: Dora García
Screenings: Sunday 26th at 14:15 and Mon



The Great Passage (Fune wo amu)
The Japanese submission for the Oscar’s sounds like the sweetest bookish dream. When the editor at a large publishing house wants to leave, he needs to find a successor for his latest project: creating a new dictionary which contains the living language. Of course there is a love story and the young successor Majime and his sweetheart, the shy chef Kaguya work together to create ‘The Great Passage’.
Director: Ishii Yuya
Screenings:  Friday 24th at 18:30, Tuesday 28th at 09:45, Thursday 30th at 18:45 and Friday 31st at 21:45

Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Dast-neveshtehaa nemisoozand)
This movie was made under some strange circumstances. The Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof  has been under a twenty year ban for making film since 2011, but went ahead and made a movie anyway. Manuscripts don’t burn is about a rebellious author who is being hunted by two government agents for writing a thriller that got too political. The anger of the director is very visible in the movie of which the title is based on a passage from The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.
This film only has Dutch subtitles and non-English dialogue so be aware if your Dutch or your Persian isn’t up to scratch.
Director:  Mohammad Rasoulof
Screenings:  Tuesday 28th at 09:15, Saturday 1st at 19:45



Hard to Be a God (Trudno byt’ Bogom)
Based on the book of the same name by the Strugatski Brothers, Hard to Be a God shows us the planet Arkanar, a medieval hell-hole ruled by a totalitarian unspeakable evil. Unlike the IFFR-description, this is not a movie based on the same book used for Stalker, but the minimalist approach to Strugatski’s story sounds comparable enough. Watch this if you like beautiful, but intentionally vague and weird sci-fi.
Director: Alexei German
Screenings: Monday 27th at 16:15, Tuesday 28th 11:45, Friday 31st at 18:45 and Saturday 1st at 09:00

On the Edge (Lev stærkt)
Described by IFFR as Fast & The Furious meets Crime and Punishment, this action-drama from Denmark sounds rather interesting. Two friends with a love for street racing and it’s seedy culture have to live with the consequences after hitting and killing a young girl. After one of the friends is sentenced with manslaughter, the other seeks solace with his girlfriend, trying to drown out the grief
Director: Christian E. Christiansen
Screenings: Sunday 26th at 20:00, Monday 27th at 15:15 and Thursday 30th at 22:00.

Short Film


To What Do I Owe the Honor of This Illustrious Visit? (A que deve a honra da ilustre visita este simples marquês?)
This movie sounds like Book porn turned into a short film. Brazilian collector Max Conradt Jr. shows us his collection of books, magazines and paintings while telling their stories and how they fit in with the history of his country and his family. The title itself is interesting enough but the only available still promises pretty pictures alongside funny and sweet stories.
Directors: Rafael Ubran & Terence Keller
Screenings: Thursday 23rd at 19:45, Saturday 25th at 14:30

We Had the Experience But Missed the Meaning
This short film is based on a line from the poem The Dry Salvages (1941) by T.S. Elliot. The description of the film is scarce, but it combines images with poetry, trying to create a personal and meaningful cinematic experience. A bit vague but the film is only 8 minutes and part of the Resonating Spaces programme, so if you don’t like this one, there’s still 5 other shorts to watch.
Director: Laida Lertxundi
Screenings: Saturday 25th at 14:45 and Sunday 26th at 19:45

New Fancy Foils
A movie about literal books! This short about paper sample books looks like it could be a delight for the eyes. The film shows long forgotten paper samples used in combination with experiments in pattern, rhythm, colour and text(ure).
Director: Jodie Mack
Screenings: Sunday 26th at 17:00



Le Jour Nous Écoute (The Day is Listening)
This short film is showed before a long-length feature, but seeing two movies for the price of one doesn’t seem like a bad idea. The animated short Le Jour Nous Écoute about the love between two people that persists because of a shared affection for literature. Drawings, collages and poems by the Canadian author Hélène Dorion were used as the basis of the film.
Director: Félix Dufour-Laperrière
Screenings: Thursday 23rd at 17:00, Saturday 25th at 10:00. Sunday 26th at 11:45 and Friday 31st at 19:15

Ein Gleiches
This 3 minute film was shot on the exact same mountain that Goethe wrote his poem ‘Ein Gleiches’. The poem is set to music and accompanied by images from the backdrop of his hunting lodge. The short is part of the Survival Strategies programme.
Director: Riki Kalbe & Barbara Kasper
Screenings: Sunday 26th at 14:45

Christmas Audit

Now that we’ve all taken off our Holiday-goggles and are back in our normal lives, we can look back with honesty and appraise how well our loved ones did picking out our bookish gifts. So get those presents together, try to remember who gave them to you and start rating!

1. The books you asked for on your Christmas wishlist
Sure it’s nice to get what you asked for, but it’s also OH-SO boring. Getting presents from your actual Christmas list only shows that your loved ones did not care enough about you to think for themselves. It shows a lazy attitude, a nonchalant disposition and I don’t like it. Zero points!

Even wrapping yourself would be a more original gift

2. You got books from your [enter store name here]– wishlist

Although it’s not very imaginative and not a great approach for the reasons named above, the value of the present could be redeemed. If you did not send them your wishlist and they actually looked for it and picked one or two books out of the hundreds you have wish-listed, they actually did some detective work. They went around searching for your account and browsed through the heap of books you might not even want anymore and picked out the ones they thought were best. They might not be the best, they might have gotten you books you wish-listed years ago on a whim and wouldn’t want to read with ten inch glasses on, but at least they put themselves out there! So extra points for the legwork, 1 point for each book.

I’m imagining wacky adventures for our book detectives to make it more interesting

3. You received a book related subscription
Subscriptions are the gifts that keep on giving. With this you won’t get a present just once, but a bunch of times and when you’re really lucky the whole year round. Every single time when that magazine issue, book or podcast comes into your mailbox you will feel a little bit of joy and love for the person who gave it to you. Getting just one present is no longer good enough. 2 points for magazine subscriptions and podcasts, but we will award five points to awesome subscription services like Indiespensable or Book Riot’s Quarterly Co. I’m still feeling the holiday blues for not getting any of these…

The wide-eyed stare of someone who is drunk on gift-subscriptions

4. The PERFECT book you didn’t even know existed
This is a rare one, so rare that we will award a 100 points and eternal love and gratitude to whomever managed to give it to you. This type of present is often limited to the book-lovers and knowledgeable, so try to surround yourself with as many of these people as possible during the holidays. Getting that rare gift is the best feeling you will get all Christmas. You open up the present, ripping the paper to shreds and when you see the cover you immediately fall in love without even knowing what the book is about. The title and the artwork just speak to you. You slowly turn it around and read the description on the back. The author photograph smiles kindly at you, encouraging you to read and revel in your happiness. The description is just perfect and without having read it you just know that this book is going to be your next favourite book. If you’ve had this experience then please tell everyone, because they deserve to be jealous of you.
If you got a book you had never heard of and it sounds rubbish, then we award that gift no points and we’ll take back any points awarded to you before. Just throw it out and avoid that person until he or she can prove they can do better. We won’t stand for sucky books.

This is the only accurate response to getting a gift of this magnitude

So tell us how you did! How many points were your presents worth and what books did you get? Was it a good Christmas haul or do you need to recover with some book-buying therapy?

Written by Esmée de Heer

The Murakami Club

The first book I ever read by Haruki Murakami was called Kafka on the Shore. Only recently translated in Dutch at that time, it was a long novel featuring talking cats, raining fish and lots of weird American pop culture references. It had two intertwining plots and blew me away. It was, as for many people, the beginning of an obsession. Reading Murakami used to feel like you were part of a secret club. Whenever you saw someone on the train reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, you would smile in silence, showing respect for the fellow fan.

After the obscure cult success of Norwegian Wood, many translations in English and other languages followed. I read everything I could get my hands on. The great thing about discovering a new author that has been active since the eighties is the amount of work suddenly available to you. Murakami is probably the only author with a large oeuvre that I have read completely; ranging from the trilogy of the rat to little gems like Sleep. Fans can be put in several divisions: you have the sensitive, melancholic fans, that adore Norwegian Wood and Sputnik Sweetheart for their heartbreaking love stories. You have fans that prefer the weird science fiction side of Murakami, those who like Hard Boiled Wonderland and the brilliant trilogy 1Q84. Lastly you have fans of, well, everything basically, that devour the trilogies, short stories and novels with unsatisfiable greed. I probably belong in the last category. Being master of ingeniously intertwined plots and suspense, but at the same time being able to describe characters and love affairs in the most tender way, is a very rare combination in a writer. But what makes his work so attractive to readers here is the combination of Eastern mythologies and familiar Western pop culture. No European writer would dare to write such fantastical things as Murakami and still be taken seriously. The writer himself is very private and does not like to associate himself with other writers. His interest is mostly in music and crime novels. Murakami once owned a jazz bar called the Peter Cat. Some years ago I walked into a small second hand bookshop in Angel, London. As usual, buying a scruffy paperback of Sputnik Sweetheart started a conversation. “I always think that some day when I walk into a jazz place he will be sitting at the bar,” said the bookseller. “Just sitting there, listening to the music.” Written by Rianne Groen Owner of Galerie Rianne Groen