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Over 1,000,000 Views…

I just wanted to pop a quick thank you post up here on Savidge Reads after I was given a notification very early this morning that this had happened…

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Believe it or not you guys have contributed to over 1,000,000 – yes that is right over a million – views of Savidge Reads since it moved to WordPress back in late 2009 – I am of course now wondering how many that is in total since 2006 in its various guises! Anyway, I am almost quite, quite speechless and also somewhat elated, whilst also thinking that it is completely bonkers. Anyway. I thought I would share it with you and say thank you all for stopping by, be you a lurker or a commenter on the blog, you are all ace! This has added to the other celebrations which have been going on here as I have got a new job, more on that in due course, still waiting for all the finer details to be sorted and signed. Excitement all round though!

Right now back for the seventh edit in a week of my review of Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which I am determined to try and do justice and encapsulate all it does. Big thank you again and sorry if this seems a smug self congratulatory post, I am just dead chuffed/thrilled.

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What Are You Reading Right Now?

So as this week has been bonkers, and because I always love seeing what everyone is reading as I am a right old nosey so and so, I thought we could quickly share what is going on in our reading worlds at the moment. Ever one to share I am just about to start reading Sacred Country by Rose Tremain, which is the next in the Trespassing with Tremain project which I am doing in honour of Granny Savidge. I am really looking forward to settling down with it over the weekend, especially as I have read pretty much nothing since last weekend and also as I am 99% sure I am going to love it as Rose Tremain is becoming one of my favourite writers.

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So what about you lovely lot? Which book or books have you got on at the moment? How are you finding them? What might you be thinking of reading over the weekend?

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It’s Autumn, Hooray…

Today is officially the first day of autumn. Knowing this fact may make me sound even more like a geek; I don’t actually know when winter, summer and spring start though. This is because, sorry to the other three, autumn is my very favourite season of the year by a mile. I have mentioned this before on the blog I am sure, I will mention it again though. I love the fact that the nights start to draw in, yet it isn’t stupidly dark (damn you winter). I love the fact that everything feels cosier, you don’t want to leave your bed in the morning; you don’t want to take your cardigan/jumper off when you go to bed at night. I love the tones and colours of the trees, mildly ignoring the fact that it is all nature decaying/dying. I love the fact that the cats love me more, even if it is just because they want to steal my heat. I love the atmosphere outside as the foggy mornings start and twilight seems to last longer.

This is not my street. I currently have neighbours who seem to have filled a skip and most of the street with their garbage, not that I am cross.

All in all I love autumn. It is also my favourite reading season. This is because of most of the factors above; equating to staying in bed all the time or sitting by the fire (that I don’t have) or spending hours in the bath (which I don’t have, I need to move) and just reading. There is also something about the atmosphere that matches my favourite reads. Now is the time I am most likely to dust of some sensation Victorian fiction, a great murder mystery or open some ghost stories – which are all of my favourite books. Why I don’t read these as much at other times of the year I am not sure, and maybe I do but maybe I just don’t notice them as much. I am now very excited about perusing my shelves and looking for some ideal autumnal reads.

So I am thrilled autumn is here, what about you? Do you have a favourite season be it for reading or whatever? What books, or type of books, have you got planned to read or are looking forward to getting this autumn?

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This Blog Is Changing (How I Plan to Avoid the Seven Year Itch)

So we have all had some fun and frolics in the last week, we even had some birthday cake yesterday, now it is time to get serious. Well as serious as it can get when this is being typed by a 32 year old man in a Hogwarts t-shirt. True story. Anyway, I have mentioned that I have been thinking (definitely not navel gazing or omphaloskepsis as I like to call it) about blogging and books and reading and all that stuff while I had a break. The verdict is in; I still want to keep Savidge Reads going, I just think some changes need to happen though that will make me happier even if it doesn’t make everyone else happier. So let me explain but be warned, a lot like Savidge Reads going forward, this post may contain swearing, snarkiness and some other things beginning with S which I can’t think of right now.

So, while I was away I contemplated it all. I decided it wasn’t necessary for a relaunch but a reassessment and restart. I should head back to where it all began and, as Julie Andrews put it so well in the Sound of Music which I have still never seen, ‘let’s start at the very beginning’ when things were simpler and everything was easier. I found an old copy of some guidelines I wrote way back when and so have tinkered with them and here are my new blogging guidelines…

  • Reading always comes before blogging as though I enjoy blogging it is reading that is my passion. Reading more may mean blogging less and that’s fine. Sometimes life is also allowed to come before reading, sometimes.
  • I started writing Savidge Reads as a personal journal of all things bookish and not for anyone else such as publishers/authors or blogger fame/hits (though it is lovely that you pop by) and that is what I always need to remember, or I could become a bit of a dickhead and no one likes an egotistical/self important blogger, nor do we need any more of them.
  • I also need to be myself so if that means being slightly snarky, tongue in cheek, giddy, downright cross or any of the spectrum of emotions that go on in my head – this is fine. There is no need to be offensive or uncouth, yet I don’t need to be polite for the sake of it either. Yes, some negative reviews might just be on the way when called for, not just to be an arse. After all we all read some stuff that we just think is a bit ‘meh’ or even complete bobbins.
  • I want to read older stuff, more of my favourite authors back catalogues of work.  That said…
  • I will still be reading new stuff but not every ‘big book’ that is hyped to ridiculous proportions, you know the ones I mean the ones people who don’t even really like it like because they should. At the same time there are authors who I love that are getting (from previous experience I have had) deserved hype like Ali Smith, Ian McEwan or Neil Mukherjee and so as I would be reading them anyway they don’t count. I also really want to discover lesser known/left of field stuff. I love Fiction Uncovered and would really like to uncover more fiction that might have been missed and that is quirky and should be read. I want to go off and be a bit rogue basically, hopefully introducing you to new books and not just be one of the hundred people reading and then writing about the same book.
  • I am happy for publishers to still send me books, I love a new book and it still feels like Christmas every time, yet things need to change. I was sent a autobiography of a jockey last week and I hate horses, we all know this what is the world coming to? Also, I won’t be reading e-book copies, I won’t be doing any blog tours and I don’t want to feature author videos when I haven’t read the book just to earn brownie points. I have created a more in depth Review Policy here.
  • Reviews will probably get a bit longer, chatty posts a little bit shorter or longer or stay the same. Though I may again break this rule when I have read a few duds or books I don’t have much to say about by creating bulk mini reviews. Reviews with spoilers in will say so.
  • Blogging doesn’t have to be daily. It doesn’t even have to be every other day! I know, who knew?
  • Over all, I want to read by ‘whim’ I don’t want to be reading to deadline unless I set one myself. This is of course instantly hypocritical with projects I have going at the moment like Trespassing with Tremain and the ‘on pause but back soon’ Persephone Projects. Yet these are based around personal little reading goals or pacts I have with myself. If you crazy kids want to join in that’s lovely, I might just not jump on board anyone else’s challenges, no offence.
  • I will comment back more. I kinda like you lot you see.

So basically what I am saying in a long winded and more grown up way above is that it is my blog, my rules… so nurr, nurney, nurr nurr. Ha! Seriously though the most important three things (which I could have said much quicker but where is the fun in that?) for me are that it is all about whims, it is all about going off and finding different books/being a bit rogue/uncovering some wayward gems and it is all about fun and me injecting my personality into it. I recently wrote a piece for The Writing Platform which I enjoyed immensely as it mixed my honest opinion with my tongue in my snarky fat cheeks. That along with my favourite of my own posts (vain I know) is where I want this blog to go. I also want it to be brimming with good quality reviews, after all Gran said ‘you’re reviews are getting much better you know’ before she died, from her that was quite something to be proud of. Hopefully you will all be along from the ride, be it bonkers, bumpy or something else beginning with B that I can’t think of right now! Oh BOOKISH, how could I forget that?

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Now We Are Seven…

Today is the day where I get to eat lots of cake, have a small childish party at lunchtime and go on a book shopping spree because… Savidge Reads turns seven today! Happy Blog Birthday to me! It is a time when I get to feel like a/the queen with two birthdays sort of. I am sure the cards and presents are on the way! Weirdly I both cannot believe that I have been actually stuck at something this long (this blog has lasted longer than some of my previous relationships) and yet at the same time it seems like I have been doing this for sooooo much longer!

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Maybe that is where the idea of the seven year itch comes from? You feel like you have ‘stuck at something’, you wonder if it has all gotten a bit samey and therefore you start looking around and assessing and wondering if maybe you need to change it all up, or give it all up and move onto something new. I know I have been going through all those feelings about blogging of late. Hopefully  I have come up with a plan that will see me ride it out though, which I will be sharing with you tomorrow. In the meantime let’s celebrate… Who fancies some of this amazing chocolate bar, but not actually a chocolate cake which you know I don’t like, cake then?

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Ask Simon Anything – Part III

And so we come to the final set of your questions, which The Beard says I should never do again because it makes me look egotistical and attention seeking – even though I didn’t come up with the idea but let’s not have a domestic via the medium of blogging. These are probably the most eclectic we have had so far mixing the bookish tone of Magdalena’s and the frankly whimsical ones of Thomas. Right let’s get on with it…

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Do you ever experience emotional transference – from the character to yourself – when you are reading? For example, did you feel the protagonist’s anxiety, or Mrs Danvers rage, while reading Rebecca? – Alice

Wow Alice, that is quite a question. I can definitely feel Danvers rage when reading Rebecca  and am known to cry at the odd book, and also guffaw very loudly, so I think that I must experience emotional transference but have never thought about it in the context and now feel I should add it as a skill on my CV, ha! Before I move on I must say something about the protagonist unnamed second Mrs De Winter in Rebecca, she really needs a bit of a slap. No, I am not a misogynist but she is so ineffectual and drippy. I only got that on the second or third re-read.

Who would play you in the film of your life – and what would the film be called? Also who would you like to write the film tie-in book? – Annabel, Gaskella

Well I would like to write the book/memoir and then be the executive producer. I think it would have to have a really corny title so let us make it be called Taming The Savidge and I would have Seth Rogan as me, though he would have to straighten his hair a bit!

If you could change your name, what would you change it to? As ‘male’ and ‘female’ – Quinn

Ooh, as a youth I was desperate to be called Rex. No idea why. If I was going to be a girl then I would have been called Laura or Lucy I believe. In the book of babies names my mother had at the time there is a list and Graham was up there, as was Fattyarbuckle – rude. I wouldn’t change my name though, when I got married the first time I refused, because Simon Savidge has quite a ring to it.

Bengal or Egyptian Mau? – Dark Puss

Definitely Bengal. I am very lucky though as Oscar is half Bengal and Millie is half Maine Coon which are the two types of cats I have always most wanted to have, the added bonus is that the tabby in them keeps them grounded hahaha. Pedigree cats are really haughty.

Would you rather fight a horse-sized duck or a hundred duck-sized horses? And could you please explain your decision… – Rob

I wouldn’t fight any ducks, I love ducks and as you know had a pet duck called Rapunzel. I would get rid of the duck sized horses, I hate horses. The horse sized duck would make the best pet ever. I would call her Olga and fly her.

Favourite book and author, and the reason why! – Kaggsy

Favourite book, as if you needed to ask, is Rebecca because its amazing, gothic and made me read again. Interestingly though Daphne isn’t my favourite author. Shock, horror! That changes daily. I still don’t know who my favourite author is an that is one of the things that keeps me reading I guess. Atwood is up there, Atkinson and Susan Hill too. It changes. McEwan always was but his last two, I haven’t read The Children’s Act yet, did very little for me. Ali Smith is creeping up there actually. See, no idea – will just keep having fun reading and trying to find out.

What is your wallpaper on your computer? – Quinn

How vain is this? It is my own tattoo…

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Which character would you be/do you have an affinity with the most? – Impossible Alice

I tried to answer this in a blog post the other day and couldn’t. I am quite happy being me and I meet characters I like but not ones I would want to be. I would love to hang out with Sherlock Holmes. Just for fun I will say I have the affinity most with The Woman in Black – sheer rage and a need for revenge. Ha!

I would like to know if you review all the books you read and if not, how do you choose which ones you review.  – Sharkell

Good question! I don’t know how I choose, it tends to be books that I have loved and am happy to rave about because any author takes a long time to write a novel and I don’t want to trample all over that. Also, I have no desire to put people off books. That said I have been doing some round up posts recently of books I liked but haven’t masses to tell you about or the ones I have disliked, even loathed. I have actually found it quite good fun and liberating, plus if you only see the books I love how will you know what I don’t?

Which writer(s) of fiction do you think are most successful in describing animals and their interactions with the protagonists (if relevant) and which are the least? – Dark Puss

This sounds a cop out but none. I don’t like books with animals in as a rule. Woolf’s best book is the one about the dog – that says it all ;)

I’d like to add which of the above questions do you consider silly, answer honestly! And additional query: your opinion and experience of book festivals? – Carol S

Book festivals is too long an answer. I think if you go through my blog you will see I am a fan of them, though I think some could be better. I want to run Liverpool’s next one so I need to stay a little quiet on all that for now though. No question is ever silly, even the silliest ones. My mum always said that.

Are you going to bring back the Persephone Project, as this was something I enjoyed. – Victoria

Definitely, and sooner than you think. That pesky thing called work got in the way and I was reading a mammoth one I couldn’t get into. I have several weeks of now so can get back into it! Hoorah.

Do you ever find yourself thinking “Written by a woman–it would be!” I ask because being female I do sometimes think “Typical male author!” I know I should ‘t but it happens… Erica W

Honestly… No. I tend to roll my eyes at male authors much more. I always thought I read predominantly women, but every year when I look it is pretty much fifty/fifty which isn’t what I would expect as I think, in my own head, that I like women more.

What will you tell us about chemistry, biology or physics? – Dark Puss

I hate them all. I was rubbish at all of them. I don’t get science.

I would like to know who is your favourite French author(s) or what is your favourite French book(s), if you have any? – Caro

I have three favourite books. HHhH by Laurent Binet. Alex by Pierre Lemaitre. The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule. All quite dark, all brilliant. I need to read some French classics so do please recommend me some.

If Rebecca hadn’t brought u back to reading….what other book would have? – Quinn

Ooh. The last question is the most impossible. I can’t really say because I can’t, now, imagine any other book that would and at the time didn’t expect it to. Something would have but what I can’t even hazard a guess at and am not sure I want to as Rebecca has such a place in my heart now.

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Thank you all very much for thinking of the questions and indeed asking them. I have really enjoyed that, and not just the egotistical, attention seeking and tongue-firmly-in-cheek, side of me. As someone who is always asking (too many) questions it was nice to go away and think about all the bookish and not so bookish things you brought up. So cheers!

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Ask Simon Anything – Part II

Now I knew, and secretly hoped, that if I asked you guys to ask me anything that not only would you come up with some lovely bookish questions, you would hopefully come up with some bonkers ones too. After the bookfest of questions that Magdalena asked it was my friend and cohost Thomas who came up with some of the more, erm, unusual ones and like Magdalena he had quite a lot of them so I thought I would go through those today. Interestingly he didn’t ask me any quite so bonkers questions when I went to stay with him a few weeks ago in Washington DC, more on which soon. So here we go…

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Which country do you most want to visit?

I have a real desire to go to India or China. Two completely different countries but two which are jointly top of my list. I think both would be fascinating, provide a culture shock and change me in some way. I have no plans, or indeed budget, to go at present though so instead I will have to read more fiction set in them, as that is the cheapest way to experience the world – through a book, sorry I couldn’t help it.

Where have you travelled that you liked the least?

What an odd question, I would have thought you would have said the most. Negative Nelly. If it was most I would say Tel Aviv or Kenya. See I can’t choose one thing ever. Where have I liked least…I had a pretty shit holiday on the Isle of Wight? The best thing about it was the rock factory. Note it was a school trip and back in about 1994. I haven’t been back though.

How many countries have you been to?

18. It took me a while to count. 20 if you separate Scotland and Wales. Topical!

Would you prefer an evening at the opera or an evening at the ballet?

Ooh, depends on what you are seeing. I would like to see more opera as I have only been two or three times. However if it was anything by Matthew Bourne then that would beat opera hands down, I think that man is a genius.

What would be your request for your last meal?

Prawn cocktail to start, no thought needed there; it is my favourite even if so passé. Then a huge selection of my favourite dim sum and sushi, followed by The Beard’s (well he is a trained chef) amazing Lemon Meringue Cheesecake which he made as it combines cheesecake, meringue and lemon curd which are three of my favourite things. All washed down with a Snowy’s Snowball which is a pineapple, lemonade and grenadine alcohol free cocktail that I always used to get when on holidays staying in Trust House Forte hotels with Gran and Bong as a kid. Do I get a cheeseboard and coffee after?

If you could (had to) have dinner with one Spice Girl, who would you choose?

I am quite upset that I can only choose one because I was the biggest Spice Girl fan. I am a big fan of pop music anyway, as it just makes you happy all over, yet I was doing my GCSE’s when Wannabe came out and everyone loved them. I had pencil cases, the crisp packets and in fact still have the Chupa Chup tin with them all on which The Beard once dared to put in the recycling bin. It was nearly all over when that happened. But only one… I would have to say Victoria Beckham. Partly because I think we have a very similar dry sense of humour and also because she is the one Spice Girl I didn’t get to interview when I was a showbiz reporter, I have interviewed Melanie C two or three times, she is lovely. Please see below, I am feeling very smug at the time.

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Do you prefer chocolate- or fruit-based desserts?

If we are talking cakes and pastries fruit easily. No one believes me but I actually HATE chocolate cake, ugh! Otherwise its chocolate goodness all the way, just don’t bake it. I have recently discovered Chocolate and Peanut Butter gelato which is the best thing ever.

Which (dead) figure from history would you most like to meet?

You all think I am going to say Daphne Du Maurier don’t you, but no! It would be Bess of Hardwick a woman who fascinates me.

If you had to choose, with which member of the Royal family would you want to chat?

Do I have to choose one at all? Can I choose a corgi? If pushed, because while I don’t mind the monarchy and all they do tourism wise for our country I am not a huge fan, then I would say good old Camilla. She’s been on The Archers so we could talk about that and I hear she loves a good book.

What is one thing you are embarrassed to admit you like?

I don’t think there is anything I am embarrassed to admit I like. The Beard would say I should be embarrassed to admit I like sweets, clothes and music for nine year olds but I just think that makes me fun.

Where do you want to live when you retire?

Now I have thought about this quite a lot. I would really, really like to retire to some of the quieter parts of the Peak District on a farm. Not a working one, though I would have pet sheep and cows and pigs – no horses. I would just like a nice view over the valleys where I can sit and read the days away. I only have me in mind as The Beard is certain I will outlive him by a few decades, I am not sure if this is wishful thinking on his part. Basically I want what Gran had but with more animals and further away from other humans.

Provided you had a job, flat, significant other willing to move, etc., would you want to live in London?

Been there done that. No. I love going back to London now, I didn’t for a while, and am indeed off their tomorrow but have no desire at all to live there again. I was there twelve years and I think that was enough. Now somewhere like New York… I might reconsider.

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So there we have my penultimate answers. Hope you enjoyed them? I am sorry I didn’t have more embarrassing things to add, I think Thomas was hoping to catch me out. If you have any questions you would like to ask now is your last chance, you have until midnight as I am off away tomorrow so scheduling posts but can sneak a few more in!

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