Who is Book Snob?

Hello! Welcome to my blog. I’m Rachel, an (early!) thirty – something who lives in London, works as a secondary school teacher, dabbles in creative writing and gets up to lots of prematurely middle aged things that you can read all about – enjoy!

If you’d like to say hello, please do! You can email me at booksnob@hotmail.co.uk.

If just reading my thoughts about books isn’t enough for you, you can also hear me chatting about books with my good friend Simon on our podcast, Tea or Books, which is available on itunes here.


  1. Hi Rachel,
    Just to say I hope you picked up my reply to your post on my sleepy blog. It was good to hear from you and I like what you’re putting together about Yates. I submitted my Ph.D last week – and am exhausted – but no time to relax since I am delivering a paper on him at the Aldeburgh Literary Festival next week, Friday 5th March. I’m first on and feeling quite scared at the thought of speaking for an hour. Lots and lots of Power Point methinks. I’m used to speaking for twenty minutes at academic conferences but an hour is a lot.

    Also, just in case you are interested, there is a conference on Yates at Goldsmiths on Saturday 5th June. I think I am speaking there but it has to be confirmed. Entry is free.

    Maybe we’ll run into each other one day, clutching copies of RR.

    1. Thanks Kate – I did get your reply, thank you! Congratulations on submitting your PhD! How exciting for you! I hope the festival goes well and I will definitely try and get to the conference at Goldsmiths in June – if I do, I’ll come running up to you to introduce myself!

      I’m glad you like my musings on Yates…nothing compared to yours of course but I am enjoying exploring his work!


  2. Hello Rachel. I just want to ask, what happened? Suddenly, you had 12 new posts in my Google Reader in, like, 2 hours! Something up? It’s just really weird.

  3. I have just found your blog (and started my own) and I adore yours. I love finding other British-based ones! I look forward to reading more!

  4. I’ve just written a rather lengthy e-mail and used the address you give but it was refused!

    Has something changed since you wrote Who Is Book Snob?

    1. Oh no! No it is exactly the same – I just emailed you so then you will have the right address. Let me know if you didn’t get my email!

  5. Oh, you must think I’m nuts – I had left a comment before the above – saying the story was so familiar, but I knew I’d never heard of the book, or seen the Fred Astaire movie.

    I guess I didn’t properly submit it, and it disappeared! 🙂

  6. Hi Rachel,

    I am Sayantika, 23 years, from India. I came across your blog when I was looking for a review of Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Good Wives’. I am re-reading ‘Little Women’ now, which I had read ages ago. It’s very hard to come by such a blog like yours. It is so enriching that I have decided to launch a reviews page for my blog, if not a separate blog on reviews. Your lists are really great, and I have read a few of those books, being a student of literature. The lists have just given me an idea on what to read, and what to re-read too.
    I shall keep visiting your blog for your takes on the books and maybe, have some interesting conversations regarding books.

    Thanks, Sayantika.

    1. Hello Sayantika! What a lovely comment. I am glad you are enjoying my reviews and that we share our reading tastes! I hope to see you around often. Happy reading!

  7. Hello Rachel,
    Congratulations on a wonderful blog, it is informative and fun. Like you, I too love Persephone and Virago books. Currently I own three Persephone titles: Marianna, The Making Of A Marchioness and A London Child of the 1870’s.

    I would have loved to take part in the Virago Reading Week but unfortunately in Mumbai, Viragos are not easily found. You have to order them online but the shipping costs a bomb.

    Thanks so much for hosting a beautiful blog…you have found yourself a loyal follower from Mumbai!
    Mumbai, India

    1. Hello Anuja, thank you for your lovely comment!

      I am glad you love Persephone and Viragos too – always the sign of a wonderful person! I am sorry you can’t get hold of Viragos that easily, that’s a real shame. I feel for you!

      You are so welcome – thank you for reading! I look forward to talking with you in future!

  8. I’m so glad I found your blog. I’m currently backreading your posts, because I love your insights on the classics. Also, I love the pictures of New York. I want to go there someday. 🙂

    1. Hi Darlyn! I’m so glad you found me too, and that you’re enjoying reading. 🙂 New York is a wonderful city, I hope you make it here soon.

  9. Hi Rachel, this is my first visit in your blog and so far it’s amazing.
    I was looking for a review of Patricia Highsmith’s ‘Carol’ and I really liked yours. Congrats for the interesting blog.


  10. Hi Rachel, as I’m actually referencing a quote from your review for my English Coursework, I was wondering whether I could get your surname down? Just so you’re properly acknowledged. Would be much appreciated, thanks.

  11. I’ve just found your blog and I love reading your reviews! I’m backtracking at the moment and adding to my TBR pile which is huge already but good books need to be read! Keep up the good work!

  12. I just found your blog and wanted to say I am also a fan of the pioneer story in America. Can you recommend other adult fiction besides Willa Cather? Are there any from a man’s point of view?
    I am a student getting my MLS and am writing a paper on collection building focused on the pioneer movement and would like to have a broad focus for the similarly-obsessed.
    Following the Laura Ingalls Wilder trail is also one of my dreams and I intend to do it one day soon, bringing my two daughters (Caroline and Laura!) with me.

    1. Hello Nancy! Thanks so much for reading!

      What a wonderful paper to be writing! I am jealous! I know there are a fair few modern novels that refer back to the pioneer movement – I can’t think of any specific ones off the top of my head but I’ll try and do some research and get back to you. What I have found interesting about reading so many American novels this year is just how many reference pioneer backgrounds, family history, pioneer towns, etc – pioneering is a foundation to so many American stories even if it is not explicitly explored. For example, Louis Bromfield’s novels, William Maxwell’s novels – set in old pioneer towns – as are Marilynne Robinson’s Home and Gilead…it’s surprising how much mention of pioneering you can find.

      How amazing that would be! I would love to do that. And Caroline and Laura! Beautiful!

  13. Hello Rachel, Thanks for your reply, you said that you are “in the country” and recommended a library….well, I’m in the Middle East and so any library here would have books primarily reading from right to left….but libraries, recent ones, are few and far between.
    If I can every get a copy of Hayward and Harari’s Translators Note at teh beginning of the book, and I write up my short story [fact not fiction], I’ll send it to you, it’s all about the smuggling out of Russia of the manuscript. Thanks,
    CaroL Ann

  14. Greetings from Sydney, Australia. A wonderful blog and a source of much information in the Reading America section. Thank you.

  15. Hi Rachel – I’m not sure if you’ve checked your other e-mail account, but I sent you a reply to that address. I hope you’re keeping safe and are out of harm’s (read: Irene’s) way. You’re in my thoughts, as is my beloved New York City. Lots of love to you from Ireland, June

  16. I just found your blog and I’m so excited I did because I consider myself a bit of a book snob, if not a book lover myself. I’m coming to London to study abroad for the year in two weeks and I’m so excited to go book hunting! I’ll surely be reading all your old posts and catching up on your “reads” of all the books in them, if you will.
    Looking forward to more,

    1. Hi Hannah, thanks for coming by and commenting! Book Snobs are always welcome here! How exciting – I bet you are going to have an absolutely wonderful time! You will find plenty of magnificent book shops to enjoy, I can promise you that! I look forward to seeing you around!

  17. I’ve been following your blog for sometime now, and I absolutely love reading your reviews! I hope it’s ok with you that I linked your blog to mine.

  18. Hi Racheal and others

    I’m delighted to discover this line of thought and conversation. I’m Nandy, a South African living in Leiden holland for 10years. I love books, reading and an aspiring writer. Life at the moment has gotten the better of me, i have all sorts of projects opened and unfinished. This, I promise myself will change and should change.
    I’m inspired by all of your notes and thank you for sharing your passions.
    I will continue to be part of the conversation, I belon to a bookclub so, great reads are always welcomed.
    Soo long

  19. Just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to chime in and say how enjoyable it is to read your reviews. I’m always looking for good books, and many of the titles you have discussed here sound interesting! 🙂 I also belong to a book club; being exposed to different genres/styles is something I love when it comes to literature. Definitely will be checking out the selections here for future book club discussions!

    Keep up the great work!


  20. Dear Rachel, I do like your blog, I find 19th cent novels a bit heavy going but your blog inspires me to give them another go. On a different tack may I recommend –
    The Feminine Middlebrow Novel, 1920s to 1950s: Class, Domesticity and Bohemianism, Oxford University Press, 2001 by Nicki Humble, she is a Professor and senior lecturer at Roehampton. Its a good read, all the writers you will have heard of or read. The actual book gives a curious feeling of deja vu, though published in 2001 it has an old fashioned typeface and plain black cover so you have to keep reminding yourself you are not reading something published in the 1950’s. I emailed Prof Humble about her book and tentatively offered up a theory on a very minor historical event and got a lovely, polite, considered reply and I am only a very ordinary, non graduate member of the public.

  21. Hello! just found your blog via a link posted by a twitter friend. Love it already. I am sitting at work and reading your posts. Its awesome to have found your blog! I will be back to check it everyday now 🙂

    1. Hi PV, lovely to have you come by! I’m so glad you’re enjoying what you’ve read so far – I look forward to seeing more of you around and hearing your opinions! 🙂

  22. I love your blog and plan to return. Like many Americans, I’m a complete fool for Downton Abbey and even picked up the book The World of Downton Abbey recently because I couldn’t get enough of that world. It’s not exactly literature, but it is beautifully done and quite informative.

    1. Hi Ruth, lovely to hear from you! I’m so glad you enjoyed Downton Abbey too – I must get hold of that book, thanks for the recommendation! 🙂

  23. Hi Rachel, I met you briefly at the Penguin Bloggers Night on Thursday, was lovely to meet you! And Bloomsbury Bell also (terribly embarrassed that I cannot remember her name…) Are you on Twitter? Lizzi (littlewordsreview.wordpress.com) xx

    1. Hi Lizzi, lovely to hear from you! It was a pleasure to meet you too – Bloomsbury Bell’s name is Naomi! No I’m not on twitter – too much technology for me to handle! I’ll definitely come and visit your blog though! 🙂

  24. After a long hiatus, moving house, etc. I am back to the blogs. With time so short, I had to edit my long list of blogs to follow and one of the few blogs that made the cut was of course, Rachel’s Book Snob. I list it, on both my blogs, as a “favorite”.

  25. Hello! I’ve just discovered your blog and I can’t help but think that I’ve found what I’ve been looking for. Looking forward to reading through your previous posts.

  26. Hi Rachel, yay, it makes my day when I find a blog like this. I was so excited to stumble upon it when I was taking a peek at Jane Brocket’s inspiring blog. I have been lost in your posts for the past 1/2 hour!!!! I’ll be back to take a look again soon. x Library Girl.

    1. Hi Kura, how lovely of you! So glad you like what you’ve found and I will be over to check you out too – look forward to seeing more of you here! 🙂 x

  27. Hey Rachel! Thanks for replying to my email quickly and for the book suggestions which i am going to try. Its not easy trying to find something comparable to Mapp and Lucia but im determined to try – surely finding other gems along the way!

  28. Dear Rachel,

    I wanted to drop you a line but my gmail does not recognise your e-mail address. Has it been modified?

    Kind regards,


  29. Rachel, I found your log through scoping out The Optimist’s Daughter on Google. This book is the topic for our book group this coming Thursday. The discussion leader has an audio of Eudora Welty herself reading parts of the book – should be a treat for the group. I’ll let you know what she sounded like.
    What’s so appealing about her to me is the total accuracy of her depiction of the redneck family of Fay’s, the dialogue of the bridesmaids, and the loyalty of the friends of her mother – a lot like The Help in its keen ear for conversations – have you read that?
    Best wishes to you, Jeanne

    1. Hi Jeanne, what a great book for a book club! I wish I’d read it with other people. I would love to hear about what Welty sounded like, thank you!

      I haven’t read The Help, no, but I might get around to it soon…I do have a copy somewhere!

  30. Hello there Rachel,
    came across your site from Random Jottings..
    love the whole concept and major book lover.
    Sending you an email shortly.
    Kind regards,
    Lady M.

  31. Hi Rachel, have you heard of ‘Artwork’ by Peter Campbell? I think it might interest you seeing as you’re a fan of Ravilious (whom you introduced to me).

    ‘A sick boy having breakfast in bed; a dog in a pram; the inside of a kitchen cupboard; a clothes rail with one lonely frock; a fox passing the (dying) artist’s home – all images from the world and work of Peter Campbell, genial, domestic and affectionate and which, collected here for the first time, make him an heir to Ardizzone, Bawden and Ravilious.’

    – Alan Bennett via LRB email

  32. Hello! I’m a book loving and tea drinking 21 y-o from Sydney Australia 😉
    Lovely blog! Really liked your thoughts on Night and Day, Woolf is one my favourites, but I haven’t gotten around to reading that particular one yet.

  33. Hello Rachel– I found you in a roundabout way– a Pinterest board, a Google for Miss Bunkle, and there you were… Add the tea-drinking quilt- making, and above all, living in England, and I was sold! Can’t wait to dig around more!
    Melinda/Auntie Em

  34. Hi, I came across your blog by mistake, but what a fabulous mistake it was. It is so wonderful to find others who have the tastes when it comes to books. Looking forward to chatting about my fave novels with you. I am currently reading Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky by Patrick Hamilton. A love triangle set in 1930s London in a bar. So far so good. Really enjoying it. Its long, but I do love a big tome to get stuck into.

    1. Hi Jules, how lovely to ‘meet’ you and thanks for leaving such a lovely comment. I haven’t heard of that book before – you’ve intrigued me! I can’t wait to hear more!

  35. Hello, I’ve only just discovered Bookssnob and I love it! I found you when googling Dorothy Wipple. A friend told me about her and now I’m hooked, and it’s just great to read other people’s opinions of her. I’m looking forward to working my way through all the other posts, it all looks great!

  36. I just wanted to say thank you for the post over on “Old Fashioned Girls” on Anne Chisholm’s cento. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t know what a cento was until I read this (a rather embarrassing admission from an English teacher…) and who would have thought that combining such disparate lines of poetry could create a distinct thing of such beauty? Like you, I find teaching poetry to be the most rewarding aspect of my job. Peeling away the layers with a class often yields new perspectives on old loves. I thought you might like this blog that I occasionally dip into, I have made many new discoveries through it and it has the most stunning images – firstknownwhenlost.blogspot.co.uk/

  37. Hello Rachel –
    I have been following your blog for a year or so and my greatest hobby is collecting “quotes” – I just added this one of yours to my Commonplace Book.
    “What greater markers are there of the stages of life we pass through than the books that we read?” – loved that!!!!

    Judy from Canada

  38. Hello. Same careful blog!! Man .. Outstanding .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your web situate and engage the feeds additionally…I’m contented to attain many of use in sequence right here surrounded by the send. Recognition for sharing.

  39. Really enjoyed looking around your blog and have taken some recommendations to get out of my current reading stupor! Thanks so much for writing it and happy reading.

  40. I enjoyed your post on The Hare with the Amber Eyes. I loved the book too. A rich and vibrant tale that you can hardly believe is true and what a journey for those netsuke. Also great to see someone champion literary fiction. Don’t want to see this die out.

  41. It is refreshing to see an old head on young shoulders. May your ink never run dry.

  42. Hi Rachel,
    How nice to find your blog on the Persephone page.
    I am a great fan of theirs and know the lovely proprietor, Nicola Bauman.
    Just saw your comments about the wonderful H.E. Bates book, “Fair Stood the Wind From France,” one of my great favorites.
    After reading it I kept wondering why the downed pilot kept repeating his hope to have been shot down in Occupied France rather than Vichy. I asked quite a few friends here in New York and my British friends as well, but no one was quite sure. Then I did some research and learned about the French Milice, a paramilitary force formed to fight the Resistance.
    “They used torture to extract information and confessions. The French Resistance considered the Milice more dangerous than the Gestapo and SS because they were native Frenchmen who understood local dialects fluently, had extensive knowledge of the towns and countryside, and knew local people and informants.”
    It was said that the Germans would place a British pilot in a POW camp, the Milice would torture and then kill him.

    1. Thanks Mara – it’s lovely to have you reading my blog! I had actually been a bit confused by that myself, as I couldn’t quite work out why he’d said that, so thank you for that information – it all makes much more sense now!

  43. Thanks Rachel. Pleased to have found your well written and thoughtful blog. I’ll be back to read more. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox.

  44. Thank you too for that Book Snob and Mara. I had always wondered that. Now off to read ‘Through the Woods’ which is my annual late Autumn ritual. Does anybody else have book rituals?

  45. Hello Rachel!
    I’m glad to find this page of yours. Especially because of its title “for discerning readers” for I’m counting myself to this category as well. Unfortunately, looking through the books you’ve read, I could find very few authors and titles which I familiar with. Maybe explanation is you’re native english-speaker (which I’m not) and choose mostly english and american writers to read. I wonder if you fond of non-english authors like french, russian, latin american an so on. Anyway, I enjoy reading your travelling posts as well. Wish you a Happy New Year!

  46. Hello, Rachel: I happened to have come across your site when I accessed the link on the 100 Best Novels and came across the title “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.” I am from Chicago and have lived here all my life. I love accessing the Guardian and connecting with British culture.
    I love reading and going to see British movies. British culture intrigues and captivates me.
    Thank you for your comments about “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.” The movie is one of my favorites, for its gentleness. Now I see it is deeper. My Mom is now 82 years old and I think of her mortality. I appreciate coming across someone who loves reading and traveling. I hope your life is full of good things and good people.

  47. A friend has just passed your post on Ypres on to me as I am very interested in the history of WWI and WWII – especially as it played out in Europe. What a lovely post. Following now….books and travel are great hook!

  48. I am not 100% certain that 1940s model girl type photo is Mary Hocking.How do we check?
    HeavanAli has also borrowed the photo thinking it is Mary.

  49. These days I’m loathe to follow blogs because it cuts too much into my reading / knitting time but this was meant to be. I found BookSnob whilst looking for another viewpoint on Bowen’s The Hotel, having just read it. In your three “related reviews” on the The Hotel post it listed Hotel Du Lac and Heat of the Day. They’re the next 2 books in my TBR pile. LOL.
    Looking forward to reading together.

  50. Hi Rachel!
    I’ve been really enjoying your blog lately: it’s great that you’re making the most of your school holidays. I’m trying to do tis too and am off to Copenhagen in a couple of weeks.
    I’ve also been enjoying ‘Tea or Books’ a lot and I had a suggestion for a topic… War Years or Inter-War Literature? I know that, like me, you’re a fan of ww1 literature, but there was loads of great stuff written between the wars! What a dilemma!
    Anyway, hope you’re well!

  51. Just re-read the wonderful and horrible Keep Her Safe at Home. I was pleased to stumble across your blog post the next day. A very incisive analysis- thank you. I must get back to burrowing through the NYRB list.

  52. I see you are reading Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Light Years. I discovered the Cazalet chronicles last year and have been entranced ever since. Coming to the end of volume three and am so engrossed I will be sad when it finishes. So glad I discovered this wonderful family saga. Reading the Forssyte Saga in between!

  53. Hi Rachel. Great blog! I found it via ‘Reading 1900-1950’. After enjoying a few of your reviews (and adding some titles to me tbr list), I thought it would be easier to just follow you! Keep up the great writing! 🙂

  54. Hello Rachel,
    I have the same first edition of “Lucy Gayheart”, given on a birthday by a friend years ago, “on the intentions and frailties of affections.” I read it every three, four years, as I’ve done again, and looking online, found your blog. Your writing is concise and thoughtful, a wonderful tribute to this book. I am now 60 years living. Every time I read it, I get something new, undiscovered; complicated men and women, small towns, Chicago. I’m from Indiana, so I’m familiar with both. Thank you for your comments.

  55. Hi Rachel!

    My name is Victoria and I am 18 years old and I am in desperate need of book recommendations! I have a keen eye for Atwood’s work, where I have read your review on Lady Oracle. What struck me is the age at which you read The Edible Woman, 17 and I wanted to know your thoughts and philosophies regarding reading the book within your teenage years. Therefore, I was wondering if you had any recommendations for any books regarding the complexities of adolescence from a teenage girl’s perspective (similar to Atwood’s), if you know of any other books by Atwood which discusses this, please do reply!

    Kind Regards,

    Victoria Chunilal

    1. Hi Victoria, thanks for your message! I think The Edible Woman would be an excellent book to read during your teenage years, and I’m sure you’d enjoy it very much. Some other books you might like are The Far Cry by Emma Smith, Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamund Lehmann and Frost in May by Antonia White. Also, Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather is wonderful. Hopefully one of those will suit you!

  56. Please reactivate my subscription to your blog. I lost you when I switched to Androids!
    Ros Goodman from Cape Town, retired University lecturer in English and French literature, especially drama and poetry.

  57. I’m so happy to have found your blog and podcast! I clicked on a link in order to answer a question about a book I just finished and here I am many rabbit holes later! I look forward to reading and listening to all of your good bookish conversation!

  58. Hi Rachel, I just discovered your blog while doing some online searching on VSW’s All Passion Spent. Loved your comments on the book from years back! It’s a rainy, grey day here in New Jersey and, of course, we’re all sheltering in place. I was looking at my bookshelf and suddenly picked up All Passion Spent – I’ve been meaning to re-read it for over 20 years! I thought I might find it dated but was absolutely taken aback by it’s continued relevance, it’s sheer beauty and poignancy – I actually read it in one sitting. I plan to listen to your podcasts as well. Thanks!

  59. Hi Rachel
    An odd question. I’m trying to look through your posts. Ages ago you posted on taking something like an art appreciation course. Was it on British Modernism? Or was it something about the Vicotoria and Albert Museum? They were a series of lectures you went to?

    1. Hello! I’m afraid I’m not sure what you mean…I did an MA in Victorian Studies a couple of years ago, which included an element of Art History, but I’ve never taken an art appreciation course beyond that. I used to work at the Victoria and Albert Museum…maybe you’re thinking of that?

      1. Thanks Racheal for answering.
        Mmm – I must have got confused. i thought you mentioned some lectures or seminars about Ravilious or someone once. Maybe it was for your MA. Did you ever mention any of your lectures which you took for your MA?

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