Category Archives: Fiction

Posts about novels and other fiction titles

Best Books for Aspiring Playwrights

Playwriting is a special kind of storytelling that requires different skills to other forms of writing.  When you are just starting out, it might seem hard to find advice and support, compared to the bigger and more visible communities of prose and poetry writers.    Here’s how Team Booko can help: if you have stories to tell, and want to tell them within the visual, visceral medium of performance, here are some resources to inspire and support your efforts.


Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman is fundamentally important to American culture because it is a gritty, poignant tragedy about the failure to attain the American Dream. During the final day of his life, Willy Loman (the Salesman of the title) came to the despairing conclusion that he will never achieve the success and recognition he desires.
Death of a Salesman explores themes of mental health, anti-capitalism, expectations  and self-worth – themes that are as relevant and relatable as ever, in our world with its ever-growing wealth gap, and impending economic turmoil.


A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun has special significance in the canon of American plays – it was the first play written by an African-American (and a young woman to boot) to appear on Broadway; and it depicted the emotional life of an African-American family in a gritty, realistic way.  It is often considered one of the best American plays ever.  It paved the way for more African-Americans to participate in Broadway, as playwrights, directors and even simply as audience members.  This story of the aspirations and struggles of an African-American family foretold the civil rights and feminist movements of the ‘60s, and in the shadow of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, A Raisin in the Sun still feels immediate  and relevant today. 


The RSC William Shakespeare: the Complete Works by William Shakespeare, and edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the most important writer and dramatist in the history of the English language. Remarkably, his plays are still performed regularly, and the influence of his work is still evident in contemporary writing. He broke new ground in terms of characterisation, plot development and language use, and he was highly skilful in the mixing of genres – for example, inserting comic characters into tragic plots.  The emotions and behaviours explored in his work are still considered relevant, and indeed timeless.  Let Shakespeare be an ongoing source of inspiration, by investing in this beautiful edition of the complete works of Shakespeare, which includes notes and photographs from performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company.   


Comedy Writing Secrets: the Best-selling Guide to Writing Funny and Getting Paid for It (3rd Edition) by Mark Shatz with Mel Helitzer

Funny Fact 1: neither Mark Shatz nor Mel Helitzer are comedians.  Instead they are both academics  – one in psychology, the other in journalism – who have both used, and successfully taught, humour writing for decades. 
Funny Fact 2: this is literally the textbook in comedy writing, having been the set text for many university-level humour writing courses in America.
Comedy Writing Secrets shows you that humour is a communication skill that can be learnt – that people who are not Born Funny can still develop the skills to become a professional humourist.  It offers a comprehensive survey on comedy and humour-writing, from theory, to the major techniques, to how to apply them to different situations.  Throughout the book there are plenty of tips and examples, as well as writing prompts to help you practise. This may be the only comedy handbook you will need!


Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways to Make it Great by William M. Akers

Let’s face it – professional Readers (editors, agents, producers) usually have too many unsolicited scripts, and not enough time to read through them all.  They are really just reading until they see a convenient excuse to stop… it can be a small thing like spelling mistakes, or a bigger issue like an unappealing character.  William M. Akers – respected screenwriter, professional critic, and teacher of screenwriting – is here to help you avoid those mistakes and keep your readers interested.  What started as a simple checklist has grown into this guidebook with 100 tips to perfect your screenplay.  There are many funny examples and anecdotes to make the book more engaging. Even experienced writers will learn from this book.  Use it to help you start that next draft (and William M. Akers is sure that it needs another draft).  


The Idea: the Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction by Erik Bork

The Idea refers to the core of your story – “a great idea [is] well executed, that grabs [the audience] emotionally, holds their attention, and entertains them”.  Unlike other writing manuals that often focus on the structure and mechanics of writing, Erik focusses on how to develop and polish that Idea, so that it will succeed with your customers (agents, producers or readers). He argues that an idea will success if it contains seven essential elements: punishing, relatable, original, believable, life-altering, entertaining, and meaningful.  As a winner of multiple Emmys and Golden Globe awards, Erik Bork is an experienced screenwriter who has worked with and for some of the biggest names in the industry.  His advice goes to the heart of effective storytelling, and will apply equally powerfully across many types of writing.

Download of the Day: David Walliams free audio books.

We have found a hilarious way to spend the evening with your children: listening and laughing along while David Walliams reads Bad Dad for free! If you want your own copy to read along with you can find it here.


Book of the Alphabet: T (and U, V, W, X, Y and Z)

On Monday we start a new daily book post (hint: they’ll help you in the kitchen) so today’s your chance to share your favourite book beginning with either T, U, V, W, X, Y or Z.

We have one that starts with T? It’s Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino.

We hope you have enjoyed playing along. Let us know what you’d like us to showcase next in the comments below.


Our newest favourites: science fiction and fantasy novels

Well, 2020 has turned out to be quite the year and we are only in March! The growing interest in Fantasy and Science Fiction books tells us that you’re all looking to escape these crazy times. And you’re in luck. It happens to be Dan’s favourite genre so on top of his list of all time favourites, we have also had a poke around the internet and have found a number of magical books that will transport you and your imagination into another world. The great news is that many of them form a series of books!

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilisation on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision. 

You can view the entires series here.

Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

Dune is considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, and Frank Herbert left a lasting legacy to fans and family alike. Brian Herbert – Frank Herbert’s son – and coauthor Kevin J. Anderson have continued the series, keeping the original author’s vision alive and bringing the saga to millions of new readers. 

Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis. Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe. When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis’ second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands. In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them. And his journey will change the universe. 

You can view the series here.

The Expanse by James S A Covey

Humanity has colonised the planets – interstellar travel is still beyond our reach, but the solar system has become a dense network of colonies. But there are tensions – the mineral-rich outer planets resent their dependence on Earth and Mars and the political and military clout they wield over the Belt and beyond.

Now, when Captain Jim Holden’s ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motives behind the attack, stop a war and find the truth behind a vast conspiracy that threatens the entire human race. 

You can also watch the series on DVD, Blu-Ray or on Prime.

Culture Series by Iain M Banks

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender. Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction. 

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

The future is small. The future is nano. Poor little Nell – orphan girl alone and adrift in a future world of Confucian law and neo-Victorian values, nano-machines and walk-in body alteration. Well, not quite alone. Because Nell has a friend, of sorts. A guide, a teacher, an armed and unarmed combat instructor, a book and a computer and a matter compiler: the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer is all these and much much more. 

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead. For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them -and an ultra-violent militia threatening to exterminate them- the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart-or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

Enjoy!