The Kingdom of Hay, in Wales, is more than just a little unique. The entire “kingdom” is comprised of just 1,500 people but it boasts a whopping thirty second hand book stores… that’s one bookstore for every fifty people! Since 1960, the town has accepted used and discarded books and proudly calls itself “The Town of Books.” Kindles and their ilk, as you can see above, are not welcome.
The small hamlet lies on the border between England and Wales. Every year, to celebrate its love of books, Hay-on-Wye (its official name) hosts a literary festival dubbed “The Woodstock of the Mind.”
The town began its transformation to a book haven in the mid-1960s when one of its residents, Richard Booth, decided to start buying books from libraries that were closing, both in the United States and Europe, and shipping them back to Hay-on-Wye. It didn’t take long to amass thousands of used books. Soon, the town had a “booming secondhand book scene.”
In 1988, the town hosted its first festival. In the intervening twenty-five years, the festival has grown in size and regularly attracts names not only in literature but also from science, and, gasp! technology, although those technophiles had better beware. (This year, Google’s Eric Schmidt was in attendance.) The town’s “Prince” Derek Fitz-Pitt Booth Addyman warns, “People are smuggling e-readers into Hay-on-Wye, but I should make them aware that we are training poodle sniffer dogs to find them.” Probably a joke but…
If you are getting ready to pack your bags for this year’s ten day festival, better hold on. Unfortunately, the festival has just concluded. 2014’s Hay Festival runs from May 22 – June 1, 2014.
It’s award season, not just for movies, but for books as well. Yesterday, the National Book Critics Circle announced its finalists for the 2012 publishing year. Since 1976, the National Book Critics Circle has given the award in order “to promote the finest books and reviews published in English.” The American organization has selected thirty books eligible for a total of six prizes. Those six categories are autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
Two of the titles in contention have already received much critical and popular acclaim, Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.
and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
Other Fiction Finalists:
Laurent Binet’s HHhH, about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich
Zadie Smith’s London-set NW
Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son, a frightening look into Kim Jong Il’s North Korea. (Both Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Binet’s HHhH are first novels.)
Robert A. Caro’s The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
Tom Reiss’s The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo , about General Dumas, father of the famous novelist
Lisa Cohen’s All We Know: Three Lives about early 20th-century trend setters Esther Murphy, Mercedes de Acosta and Madge Garland
Lisa Jarnot’s Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography
My Poets by Maureen N. McLane
Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton
The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande
In the House of the Interpreter by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid
Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations by David Ferry
Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys by D. A. Powell
Olives: Poems (Triquarterly) by A.E. Stallings
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen
For a complete list of finalists, click here.
The winners will be announced on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.