Simon’s Bookish Bits #1

So it’s already Saturday once more and I thought I would do another Simon’s Bookish Bits (thanks for all your votes and comments last week) featuring all things bookish that has caught my eye this week. I have to admit I haven’t really been whizzing around the blogs too much over the last week and I blame Gran for that completely, ha, that will get me in trouble.

I have created a new blog though! After having a chat with Kimbofo, who I founded a book group with, we decided that a separate site for The Riverside Readers would be good (my page is looking a bit barer now) and you can pop here and check it out, do feel free to leave feedback over there. I think its nice giving it its own space as it’s out there for everyone in its own right rather than a page on Savidge Reads.

What I have seen on the blogs that have caught my eye are delights such as the link which Thomas at My Porch put up so you can create your own blue plaque and waste a good few hours, lovely! I also thoroughly enjoyed Simon Stuck-in-a-Book’s post on children’s books which I will be doing my own special post about on Tuesday. That doesn’t seem much to report but I do have some serious blog reading catching up today.

I have once more managed to go to a book shop and spend absolutely no money at all. This week it was quite worrying and also shameful as it was at Persephone Books on Lambs Conduit Street. I think I was overwhelmed by all the titles and just being there. I wish I had known of this shop when I worked on Gray’s Inn Road even though it would have meant I would never have had any money. I did manage to get a couple of pics though I didn’t introduce myself as they seemed to be in the middle of a huge mail out or something exciting. Gran loved it; she is now an official Persephone convert.


Podcast of the week has to be The Dog Who Came in from the Cold which is the serialised sequel to Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith. I save them for a binge of six in one long listen over the weekend. There’s only ten episodes to go so if you want to download the series you don’t have long left, you can pop here and it’s easy as pie.

Finally, though I have still not bought a book since November (which I will have to break for the next book group choice) somehow several have arrived in the post from lovely publishers. Parcels from Profile, Canongate, Hodder and Headline brought some joys.

  • A Life Like Other Peoples – Alan Bennett
  • Perfumes: The A-Z – Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez
  • The Bird Room – Chris Killen
  • Shades of Grey – Jasper Fforde
  • The Gates – John Connolly
  • Hell’s Belles – Paul Magrs

However Random House seemed to go crazy, in a good way, with all there imprints (Vintage etc) sending me joys in the post. Some of these parcels did date from the 11th of November though, so it seems all is not well in my sorting office, not impressed at least they are arriving now though. Sorry I digressed…

  • Sunday Daffodil & Other Happy Endings – P. Robert Smith (what a fab title)
  • Once on a Moonless Night – Dai Sijie
  • The Mayor’s Tongue – Nathaniel Rich
  • Voluntary Madness – Norah Vincent
  • The Last Dickens – Matthew Pearl
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
  • Get Me Out of Here – Henry Sutton
  • February – Lisa Moore
  • The Convent – Panos Karnezis

Have you read any of these books or authors? What has been going on for you that’s bookish this week?


Filed under Alan Bennett, Canongate Publishing, Headline Review, Hodder & Stoughton, Jasper Fforde, John Connolly, Paul Magrs, Persephone Books, Profile Books, Random House Publishing, Simon's Bookish Bits, Vintage Books, Vintage Classics

28 responses to “Simon’s Bookish Bits #1

  1. Hmph, very jealous of your advance copy of Shades of Grey. *Sobs into hankie*

    I admire your restraint in the Persephone shop; I’m possibly going to pop in on Tuesday for their open house and will try not to buy anything…

    • I am going to give Shades of Grey a whirl in the next week or as wont review it, or put ‘my book thoughts’ out, until the book is released. Am wondering if might fit in one of the Tuesday Next one.

      I would love to do their open house sadly am freelancing for a big magazine and so am not able, selfish frankly hahaha.

  2. Thanks for the mention!
    You do really need to know what you want before you go to the Persephone shop – it’s not really a browsing shop, I suppose. But at least you got a chance to visit 🙂

    Out of all those authors, I’ve only read Alan Bennett…

    • I knew what I wanted but it was reprinting so that was part of it. I was also wanting to see some of the books in the flesh so that I can choose a few to send The Converted One to get me some Christmas treats.

      I am looking forward to the Bennett memoir I like his stuff. A lot of the new stuff in is debuts and the like so am excited about all the new voices.

  3. Curzon Tussaud

    Perfumes: The A-Z – Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez: I was alerted to this book by Desperate Reader; picked a copy up in the local indie shop, and came to about 15 minutes later, flipping from entry to entry and still quite entranced. Entries like
    “this smells like the sound of the dentist’s drill, and hurts just as much” might give you an idea of the writing style. You will also learn a lot about the perfume industry and how scent is made. It just might be this year’s ‘killer’ present: the one which I can get for about half those on my present list!

  4. Just subscribed to your Riverside Readers blog!

    Anyway, I’ve read Panos Karnezis (his first book, a collection of interconnected short stories, Little Infamies). He writes really, really well. Black humour, if you like that sort of thing.

    • Oh thank you Claire, it wont get updated very much, well maybe now and again but probably only around the time of the book group each month.

      Oh I like black humour so sounds like Panos might be up my street, the picture doesnt show it but the cover is marvellous.

  5. henrietta

    I read the Tom Wofe “Bonfire of the Vanities” when it came out, I think in the 1980’s. I did enjoy it, and there were some memorable characters. I wonder how much it is a book of the 80’s though. There is a wonderful daschund in it. A film was made ot it, which I didn’t see.

    • My Gran loves Bonfire of the Vanities, in fact she loves Tom Wolfe full stop as another doorstop she read which he wrote is one she raved about for weeks. I am planning on reading this in the new year so will be able to tell you more then!

      I havent seen the film and have never fancied it, maybe I will after reading the book?

  6. Mae

    Oh lucky you! You got a copy of ‘Shade of Grey’ sent to you! I’m so jealous right now.

  7. I’m amazed that you could walk into that lovely bookstore and not buy anything! Your self control is much better than mine! I’m looking forward to reading The Last Dickens in the near future. I’ve heard so many good things about it in the blogosphere.

    • My self control is more like mental spending. I didnt buy anything but someone else will be going there buying me three things fingers crossed hehehe. Oh I have heard nothing bout The Last Dickens so that is very promising.

  8. Bellezza

    You did NOT get the book Perfumes A-Z by Luca Turin! Shut up!! That is my favorite perfume book ever, and I only have the old one, not the new, gorgeous, freshly published one. Did you know I’m a perfume addict, as well as a book addict? It’s probably good that book didn’t come to my door; even if you’re not addicted to fragrance, the writing is a riot! So, I’m very jealous of that bit of serendipity for you, in a good way, and I’m also jealous you get to step into real Persephone bookstores.

    Well, I’ll just enjoy Illinois over here, with not much going on today. 😉

    By the way, I thought Bonfire of The Vanities quite fascinating.

    • I totally DID get the Perfumes book and will be discussing it on Monday!!! I love the cover it has its very understated and simple yet it is absolutely stunning!

      I am jealous you are in Illinois and I am here so you know its fair in some ways hahaha.

      Bonfire of the Vanities I am looking forward too, its just so big!!!!

  9. So glad that you discovered the link for creating your own blue plaque as well! I made one for my locker at work and stuck it in one of the magnetic frames…now my co-workers want their own.

    I completely understand your being overwhelmed at Persephone. During my first visit to the shop I just stood there gazing while a friend pulled my book choices for me. I think it was bibliophile shock!

    • I like the Blue Plaques, I have one above my desk now saying ‘Simon Savidge Worked Here 2009 – ????’ I have Thomas to thank for that little bit of joy.

      Persephone is quite overwhelming, especially when they had a big delivery it all got a bit much.

  10. I am amazed that you bought NADA at Persephone. I love that shop. I also like the name, Lamb Conduit. Sound pastoral, but I found out later that the name means:

    it was named after a Mr. W. Lamb; of the time of Henry Viii. , who, at his own expense, drew several springs into a conduit in this street. (From

  11. novelinsights

    I am very impressed that you didn’t buy anything in Persephone. Perhaps when you’ve completed your year of not buying books we can go on a binge together?

    I am loving the new RR’s site although I didn’t want to comment on it as I thought it might spoil it’s freshly minted look.

    I haven’t read any of these books or authors this week but wondering if that Last Dickens book is about his final unfinished mystery that I just read about in Mr. Whicher?

    • Hahahaha, its a bit far ahead to make any promises, naturally I like the idea very much.

      You mean the Dickens book The Mystery of Edwin Drood? I have always been intrigued by that book though having never read any Dickens yet I dont think his unfinished work would be the best place to start ha!

  12. Simon – What a fantastic haul of books – I’m deadly jealous – I’m desperate to read the A-Z of perfumes, and can’t wait to get my hands on new Fforde & Magrs & Connolly. I remember reading a book by Henry Sutton quite some years ago, called ‘Gorleston’ – which is on the mainland side of the peninsula that is Great Yarmouth. I lived in Gorleston and this book’s observations were very true of the area – and it was full of old folks having fun so could be interesting…

    • Thanks Annabel. I am intrigued by Fforde, he certainly has a big following in the blogging world from what I can gather and am looking forward to reading this. I am also hoping he will do a Savidge Reads Grills which would be ace!

      Old people having fun sounds very much my cup of tea, so Sutton should be one to look forward to.

  13. Eva

    What fun piles! I’m a fan of Fforde’s Thursday Next series, although I think I’m one or two books behind now. 🙂 Love the cover on Sunday Daffodil & Other Happy Endings! The only other author I’ve read is Dai Sijie-I’m not a big fan of him (in fact, I abandoned Mr. Muo’s Travelling Couch) for the same reason I’m not a fan of any of the male Chinese authors I’ve read: they all feel pretty misogynistic to me. But I know a lot of people who enjoyed Balzac and the Little Chinese Seasomstress, and I will say he always has wonderful titles and covers!

  14. Hey, Simon! I am so envious at all the books that seem to just reach you by mail! I’ve read The Bonfire of the Vanities, although I think, if you read it now, it would appear to be dated. Still, it’s a good novel though — very entertaining.

    I have always wanted to read a novel by Panos Karnezis and Matthew Pearl. I’ve heard that Karnezis writes very funny narratives, whereas Pearl’s novels are “literary thrillers” whatever that may mean.

    • I have been very lucky of late with the arrival of some wonderful wonderful books. Some of them did get posted in November, but we have had post issues in London, and everything came at once its not normally like this. Karnezis is intriguing and has a fabulous cover which always helps.

      A literary thriller sounds intriguing!!

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