Granny Savidge Reads

So Granny Savidge Reads (who it would appear is very popular and indeed in demand on this blog) has been staying and I know you have all been desperate to hear from the delightful Dorothy but we have been very busy hitting the museums, restaurants, galleries, cafes and of course bookshops of London town a city which my Gran ‘never tires of’ and still ‘gets excited by’.

Now I did ask Gran to write a blog but being such an upto date trend setter she has a mac and finds my computer a little bit daunting plus we didnt have much time and so until her next visit we decided she would do a top ten of her favourite books. This became a top twenty and I have been told to say that “at 67 years of age when you have been reading for almost 64 years having a top ten is impossible as you have read too many great books… well if you are lucky!” So here is Granny Savidge Reads (though if she ever heard me call her Granny she would be so unimpressed) top twenty books “in no particular order”…

  • Rabbit Run – John Updike
  • Emma – Jane Austen
  • Barchester Towers – Anthony Trollope
  • The Quiet American – Graham Greene
  • Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  • For Whom The Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
  • East of Eden – John Steinbeck
  • Snow Falling on Cedars – David Gutterson
  • A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  • English Passengers – Matthew Kneale
  • Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey
  • The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
  • A Month in the Country – J.L. Carr
  • Reading Tugenev – William Trevor
  • The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad
  • Small Island – Andrea Levy
  • The Naked and the Dead – Norman Mailer
  • All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

When I said I had only read one of those (I didn’t feel mentioning I had read half of Anna Karenina would count) which is of course Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ I could have sworn she muttered “call yourself a book blogger” hahaha, before realising “but I have bought you three of them… haven’t you read any of the books that I have bought you?” I was fortunately forgiven. Though I do think that ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ need to climb my TBR sharpish before Dorothy descends again. Have you read any of these?

We naturally, especially in the 5th floor cafe/bar of the huge Waterstones in Piccadilly, talked alot about books. In fact Gran is one of the few people I can talk to about books on and off for two days without either party getting bored. We don’t agree on all books at all. I loved ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife” (which we discussed because of the movie being advertised everywhere) Gran thought ‘it wasnt up to much… and a naked man meeting a young girl, no its not right’ which of course made me guffaw.

I had lots of authors to ask her about and she came out with some gems. On Angela Carter “well its all this surrealism, and then she just rewrote someone elses stories no, not for me”. On Anita Shrieve “well I read one or two but by the third she is much of a muchness”. On Diana Athill (who’s ‘Somewhere Towards The End’ she read and cracked the spine of – I was shell shocked) “you wouldnt warm to her would you, and I don’t like all this pretending that she is poor”.

We do of course love some of the same authors. I have only just started reading William Trevor but agree “his prose is absolutely stunning” and that Margaret Atwood “isn’t one to be missed, even when I don’t like her – which is rare – she is still very good” and Anne Tyler “oh I do like her, does she have a new one out, can you get me a preview copy?”.

She has already booked her next visit, and may indeed be here for one of my theme’s coming up, either the whole September theme (I am teasing you all with that one) or for the special fortnight I am now planning in October which is also her birthday month and we are going to do afternoon tea at The Ritz just before or just after. On that visit she has promised she will do a blog or two “and you can show me how to create and work one of these blogs… I wouldn’t mind having a go.” Which sounds interesting!



Filed under Book Thoughts

38 responses to “Granny Savidge Reads

  1. I am so jealous of “Granny| Savidge’s visit and the lovely things you did. I am equally jealous of the impending tea at The Ritz during her next visit. Have either of you visited Persephone Books? It is such a delightful shop.

    I have read five of her favourites and have a few more on the shelf; I haven’t read the three you enquire about although The Poisonwood Bible simply must be read by me too at some point soon.

    I like Granny Savidge’s love for books and her witticisms even if she is not a fan of Angela Carter, hmph. For the record: she did not just rewrite someone else’s stories but took classic fairy tales (in The Bloody Chamber) and made them even darker and with a Gothic and Feminist slant. /off my soapbox now

    I have a theme planned post-Booker that excites me – funny how we are always looking towards the next challenge/stack of books!

    • Well maybe we should organise a book group trip around London like that some time? Though I do think the time in the book shops would be very dangerous and possibly mean I would have no money by the end of it.

      The Poisonwood Bible and Small Island are the two I most want to read so far!

      I don’t think Gran meant to diss the Carter, and she certainly hasn’t put me off her, it just made me laugh the quote.

      Oh now you are teasing with your special themes!

  2. Harriet

    she has excellent taste — so get reading, simon!

  3. Your Gran is so young! I didn’t know she was only 67!

  4. I think your close relationship with your Gran is just precious. It makes me sad, because mine are both gone 😦 She is a real hoot though – she knows her mind and she speaks it! I love her list. Don’t feel bad, I’ve only read The Poisonwood Bible which was phenomenal. My friend John Cole, who provided his top ten a few weeks ago, recommended I read “The Naked and the Dead” and said it was the best book on WWII he’d ever read. So I have it, sitting on my shelf, waiting for me! Tell Gran thanks, and enjoy her!

    • Oh I do… though when we get into a heated debate about book facts its another matter.

      I do so, so, so want to read The Poisonwood Bible, its on the ‘after the man bookers’ pile.

  5. You are so lucky to have such an amazing Gran! I hope she does start a blog, that would be fun. I’m with her though, you MUST put Poisonwood Bible to the top of your list.

  6. Your gran is very young, Simon!!! I was imagining a decrepit old woman, and heavens, she’s only got a year or two on my mother and she’s several years younger than my MIL.

    She’s got great taste, by the sounds of things. I’ve read six on her list.

    Don’t agree with her view on Anita Shreve, though! No two books of Ms Shreve’s are alike – she tends to experiment with style etc. which is why I like her.

    I have the new Tyler — picked it up in Dublin Airport — and am looking forward to reading it, as she’s one of my faves.

    • Oh which six have you read?

      I don’t by any means think she is right on everything so Shreve is someone will try myself though have no idea where to start. She hated The Time Travellers Wife and I completely loved it so I think she gets it wrong on occasion.

      So envious of the new Tyler, I want it I just can’t justify the spending.

      • I’ve read East of Eden, Snow Falling on Cedars, English Passengers (reviewed on my blog), Oscar and Lucinda (one of my all-time faves), The Poisonwood Bible (wonderful, but it gets a bit waffly in places) and All Quiet on the Western Front (reviewed on my blog).

  7. Simon S! Go away and read Emma RIGHT now.
    I’ve only read 3 of her list, though. Emma, Handmaid’s Tale (which I didn’t think much of, actually) and A Month In The Country, which is great.

    • Do you think Emma is that good? If so then it appears I must as you are always on form with your book calling.

      • Thanks Simon!
        I do think it’s rather wonderful – probably my third favourite JA after P&P and S&S. And then you can watch Clueless – even if you’ve seen it before, it’s so much funnier once you’ve read Emma! Have you read any Austen?

  8. Great list! I love some of the books from her list, but didn’t get on with Month in the Country. It is so nice to have a book loving family. Enjoy sharing books with her.

  9. Your Gran sounds lovely. I especially liked what she said about Atwood being one not to miss even when you don’t like her.

    I have read 7 on her list including All Quiet on the Western Front. It was some years ago, and I don’t remember the details, other than the trenches of WWI, but I do remember liking it and finding it a pretty quick read.

    • Yes I thought that Atwood comment was very interesting. I was worried she might have taken Year of The Flood away in her bag but she hadnt.

      All Quiet is the one, bar Normal Mailer, I am the most unsure about, so praise from you is good.

  10. I love your bookish granny! I’ve read four from her list (Rabbit Run, Emma, A Suitable Boy, and The Poisonwood Bible). All very good, but A Suitable Boy is one of my most favourite novels of all time, it’s wonderful.

  11. Your Gran has excellent taste – in both books and computers! I’ve read 8 from her list. East of Eden is one of my all-time favorites, and A Suitable Boy and Anna Karenina are up there, too. Rabbit Run and three others are in my tbr pile. Perhaps I should bump them all up a little higher. Loved this post!

  12. Wow! Your gran seems really cool. Plus, it’s a smart woman who uses a mac 🙂

    I’ve only read two on the list: The Handmaid’s Tale, and A Suitable Boy. Maybe it’s because I attempted reading A Suitable Boy when I was really young (I was sixteen), but I couldn’t get into it. I found that unfortunate as I had just finished Seth’s An Equal Music, and absolutely loved it.

    I really need to give A Suitable Boy another go.

    Looking forward to hearing more from her – and hopefully, I’d’ve read more books on the above list by then (I have about six of them on my TBR).

    • Shes very techno savvy, her house has all the latest gadgets bar freeview as where she lives the valleys make it a nightmare. She isnt impressed.

      I think A Suitable Boy looks a bit hardcore! I will definately get it one day but am going to read the ones of hers she recommends that I own first.

  13. Mae

    How gran sounds lovely. 🙂 The list is great too, and being her age, she should know if a book is worth the read although I do beg to differ on Angela Carter… Sadly, I’ve only read one (Atwood) from the list but the majority are lost somewhere in my TBR.

    • I dont think she was slagging Carter off, oh dear she is going to be deemed a Carter hater, I just don’t think it stuck with her and as she said the other day ‘a book needs to really impress me after all the ones I have read’. I guess the one she read just fell flat.

  14. What a fantastic list! I have been meaning to read A Suitable Boy for years now and I have decided that 2009 is the year – just waiting to get back from our trip in Oct and then I will get stuck into it.

  15. lizzysiddal

    I love your Granny’s taste. I’ve read 10 of those – they’re all very good with 4 of them making it to my reader’s table. One day I’ll get round to writing that up. In the meantime imagine it contains Small Island, The Secret Agent, The Poisonwood Bible and East of Eden.

    • Wowsers thats half the list, I am thinking my one and a half is now officially quite rubbish… and I call myself a book lover! Small Island and The Poisonwood Bible have shot up my TBR for after man booker longlists and sensation novels in September

  16. novelinsights

    Mac indeed. Get her! Another list to look at 🙂 No I haven’t read many of them either – just Anna Karenina and The Handmaid’s Tale. Some more fodder for Copperfields perhaps…

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  20. Looks like you still haven’t given Seth’s A Suitable Boy a try! I’m ploughing through it right now (Around 500 pages but the end is nowhere in sight!) and it’s wonderful except that it is a tad meandering and bloated at places.But do it give it a try.It’s a very accomplished effort. By the way have you chanced upon Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate? It’s the first novel in verse and seems incredibly interesting!

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