Simon’s Bookish Bits #7

Unfortunately as it has been somewhat of a manic week I have been rather rubbish in visiting blogs or indeed in responding to people’s comments on here, I am going to be playing catch up with all things bloggish today. I do still have some things to cover though such as literature letter loving penpals, questions, questions, questions and a reminder about the morrow.

Penpals are something I have wanted to talk on the blog about for quite a while. I don’t know when the initial thought bubbled through my brain yet an idea’s been on my mind for a week or two. I think Simon T’s wonderful idea of getting UK Book Bloggers together started something which then reading ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ over the past week or so for book group completed. The book reminded me how much I love to write and indeed receive letters. I do wonder if its also the fact when I was at school in the 80’s penpals were all the rage so its nostalgia or its simply my inner Mitford! 

Also while a delight if you can get there, a face to face meet up is down to who can get where. Letter writing however can be worldwide and so I wondered if there were any of you out there, be you a book bloggers or not, who would like to start writing to one another, I know Savidge Reads gets readers from all parts of the world so it could be an idea? I have created a new page especially (which also has more details of the whole thing) so do pop and have a look at ‘Penpals of Plots & Prose’ and hopefully soon your doormat might look like this…

As you may have seen I do a series every now and again called Savidge Reads Grills and the latest one this week was ioe of my favourite modern authors Mr Dan Rhodes. A post last week by Jackie on author interviews intrigued me, as she would like to do some but feels all author interviews are generally a bit boring and don’t get blog hits. I personally love an author interview and will then want a book by an author I find intriguing, I also get the same hits when I do mine on here. It did make me wonder about Savidge Reads Grills though and so I wondered if you would like to give some feedback. Do you like author interviews? Are the questions I ask ok? Are there any authors you would really like to see popped on the blog? Would you like to be given advance warning of any coming you might want to send additional questions into? Do let me know as I do want to provide posts that you all enjoy and that you can become involved in. I also have a great one I chuffed about coming up and would like your feedback before that!

Finally a reminder about tomorrow as it is of course the very first Not The TV Book Group meeting discussing Brodeck’s Report by Philippe Claudel over on Dovegreyreader, we have a new lovely picture of the whole selection thanks to Kimbofo

I am both very excited and very nervous about tomorrow (I also need to finish the book today – I am saying nothing about it now) as it’s a project I am passionate about so I hope you will all be there and nattering away. It was very exciting to see that it has had its own feature in The Guardian where Alison Flood has said some lovely things which you can see here. I only hope we can live up to it! Eek… see you there tomorrow! (And don’t forget to answer all my questions today in the meantime, I will be popping back lots whilst catching up on all things bloggish.)


Filed under Book Thoughts, Simon's Bookish Bits

40 responses to “Simon’s Bookish Bits #7

  1. I am definitely looking forward to Not The TV Book Club! It is the perfect way for me to read interesting discussion and find new books to read. Having watched The TV Book Club and been incredibly disappointed, this will be a breath of fresh air.

    In regards to author interviews, for me it depends on the questions. I enjoy reading about how their lives have affected their work, and how they come up with ideas etc…. Questions about specific books tend to wash over me, especially if I haven’t read the book. I’ve not read one of your author interviews so cannot comment on the questions you ask but those are my general preferences. I think author interviews are important on a book blog, it’s nice to know where the creativity comes from.

    • Oh am pleased you are looking forward to it. I am (though have a few pages of the book left) and at the same time am a bit nervous to see how it goes. Hope its a lovely breath of fresh air for you!

      I will bear your interview thoughts in mind in the futur, thanks for taking the time to pop by.

  2. gaskella

    – UK Book Bloggers Get-together – I’ll be there if I can, but not sure if I’m free at present (Grr!) – it would be lovely to meet you and all the others.
    – Author Interviews – I think it probably helps if the blogger hosting reviews their book(s) before the interview so that we have more information to go on. Author interviews of authors whom I know nothing about are less likely to interest me.
    – Looking forward to NTTVBG tomorrow – that was a nice piece in the Guardian.

    • Oh I do hope you are there Annabel as it would be lovely to see you face to face and have a good old natter.

      Definitley always planning to read a book (or two) of an authors before I do a Grills so will keep that in mind.

      I was really chuffed about the NTTVBG post, its nice to know they are behind it!

  3. Merenia

    Hello Simon, Feedback about author interviews/grills etc. For some reason I just I LOVED Granny Savage Grills. Theres something about knowing what an everyday person likes to read. That appeals to me more than an author to be honest.
    Also you having a personal connection to that person ie your Granny, made it more unique and intimate and good humoured – perhaps thats why it worked so very well.

    • Hi Merenia! Granny Savidge is definitley a highlight of a lot of peoples that I did. I might have some more readers lives coming up very soon too so thats a good sign for those. I do think you have to ask readers and writers very different things though.

  4. Generally, I agree with Jackie. I find author interviews to be maybe not boring but often predictable. I have to really force myself to read them, unless it is an author I already know and love. I do believe you put alot of effort into research and ask informed questions above and beyond the typical ones though.

  5. My post revealed that there is a big divide between people who love author interviews and those that find them a bit dull. The comments on that post gave me a lot of fantastic ideas about how to make author interviews more interesting, so I am tempted to give it a try one day. First I need to find an author I love and then spend a lot of time researching them.

    I have to agree with Merenia though – Granny Savage is the most interesting person you’ve interviewed so far!

    Congratulations on the Guardian post! I hope to get hold of a copy of the Girl with the Glass Feet for next week. I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.

    • I liked all the responses on your post and have kept my eyes on it. If you liked Granny Savidge Reads then you might like someone else who is coming soon… my mother. Though she doesnt believe anyone would be interested in ‘a 43 year old teachers thoughts’ she is soooo wrong. She teaches english literature too so could be insightful.

  6. I have to admit to being intrigued by the whole pen pal thing. I am a child of the era of letter writing. As a teen I had about 60 pen pals from all over the world and spent hours making friendship books and slams. So, yeah, I think I’ll sign up!

    • I do miss getting lengthly letters (am not talking endless reams of stuff) the only ones I get are from my Dad’s parents who write as we dont know each other well and so phoning is a bit strange. So it would be nice to get more letters, plus gives me an excuse to have a stationery spree.

  7. Reading Dangerous Liaisons reminded me how much I love the art of letter writing and mourn a lost art form. I do have to send more post and have tons of postcards to use.

    Congratulations on the Guardian article; I linked to it on both Twitter and Facebook. I won’t be able to read along myself until week three but will be joining in the discussion.

    Author interviews are a little hit or miss with me as it depends on who the author is and how much I like them. The bottom line is that some people are more interesting than others and of course that pertains to writers too. I loved Granny Savidge’s interview too so perhaps you could ask her a question or two every so often or interview bloggers?

    • I only send postcards to my siblings (aged 8 and 11) and my cousins (aged 1 – 8) when I go places as I remember as a kid the thrill you get whena postcard pops through the letter box addressed not to your parents but to you! It would be nice to do that and make some life long friendships possibly.

      Thanks for the link love am chuffed about the Guardian piece.

      My mother might be doing an interview on here though she doesnt think you will be interested in a “43 year old english teaching book lovers thoughts” how wrong she is!

  8. Danica Rice

    I would loooooooooooooooooooooove to gain some penpals.. I’ve always liked mail, and communicating via penpal would be amazing, especially with other writers like myself 🙂

    As for the authors.. I like them IF they sound “up my alley” so to speak…The few I’ve read in the time since I’ve started reading your blog have been a bit dull, mostly because I’d never heard of them before.. You might want to consider branching out a bit… Though I have no idea how you select the authors.. no offense intended!

    I can’t wait to read about Brodeck’s Report… but I STILL haven’t received my copy that i ordered 😦 😦 I’m hoping to get it today and speedread it tonight, but we shall see…

    • Did Brodeck’s Report turn up in the end Danica? I do hope so, I havent popped back on the blog for a while but think the discussion will be going on for some time! I have to nip to the gym and library in between commenting and do some more reading and try and spend a little time with The Converted One hahaha.

      • Danica Rice

        Unfortunately no…. 😦 I’m very disappointed. But I hope to be able to pop back and post my own thoughts, as I do hate spoilers, so when I’ve finally gotten it (by Tuesday, according to Alibris) I’ll definitely make sure to post..

        Hope I didn’t offend you with my comment on your last two authors… I need to seriously widen my horizons.. hence why I want to join NTTVBG!

        (Oh and I “fanned” it on FB!)

      • No offense taken at all. I tend to choose authors that I really love and hope people will come to love and find out more about. I do think they might be slightly formulaic and thats why I wanted honest feedback. I have something a bit different planned for the next one!!!

  9. I was an avid letter writer, with some 60+ penpals, during the ten-year period 1988-1998. I loved letter writing, and it wasn’t unusual to compose letters that were a dozen A4 pages long! I would be upset if the postman did not drop off at least two letters a day! I acquired most of my penpals via International pen pals (I think that’s what it was called), where you paid a fee and they would send you a list of 20 or so potential pals. I was also an avid U2 fan and had my details published in a fanzine… More than 20 years later I still keep in contact with two of those people!

    I had a Scottish penpal who I actually visited for the first time when I came to these shores — I stayed with her for 3 weeks and we are still the best of friends now. Our communication these days, however, is usually by email every two weeks or so, and the occasional text message. I wouldn’t have the time, inclination or energy to write such extensive letters these days.

    • Its nice to see you still have contact with some of the people from your pen pal days. My elder sister does but she is good on stuff like that, I lost touch with lots of them as I went through my ‘teenager’ phase.

  10. PS> Forgot to say I’ve been in touch with Simon T about the book bloggers meet-up and offered to help organise… Have also given him an idea about potential meeting place.

  11. I personally love getting letters, but interestingly enough, I’m just really bad at writing them. I’ve never had penpals before, maybe because I’m a little nervous about writing about myself to someone I barely know. I can get very spontaneous when I’m writing, so it scares me a little that I might say too much about myself in a letter to someone.. a little too personal?

    I think author interviews are cool. I don’t read a whole lot of them, and I tend to gravitate to those authors I already know, or have heard of. But I think one thing that always interests me is what an author is reading., or reads during their free time. And if we share the same taste in books, I tend to read the interview a little more thoroughly, and maybe even pick up a couple of their books on my next library trip.

    Sadly, I won’t be joining the book group this time around, couldn’t get the book from the library quick enough. But maybe the next one?

    • Oooh do join in Michelle, part of the fun is getting to know people slowly but surely and you can never have too many friends I always say!! However if its not for you then no worries.

      If you could make the next NTTVBG then do pop along, I am hosting ‘The Girl With The Glass Feet’ next in two weeks!!!

  12. Mae

    The penpal thing is a really great idea. I had two penpals when I was a teen (back in the days…), each in a different part of the world, and we’re still in touch thanks to facebook which as revolutionised the idea of penpals. I still love letter writing and receiving posts in the mail (that aren’t bills) and having somebody to rant about books to on the other side of the world would be great fun. 🙂

    I’m not all too interested in author interviews unless they’re authors I’ve read and are intrigued by. I prefer to read their work because I think that knowing too much about author’s personal lives can affect the way I read their fiction. I agree with some of the comments above though – I did love the interview with Granny Savidge. Like Polly said – perhaps everyday bloggers would be more fun?

  13. I love writing and getting letters – I think it’s such a shame people don’t do letters these days, because it’s always such a treat to get home from work and find I’ve gotten post. I’d definitely participate!

    • It is sad that letter writing is something that isnt done so much, though having said that at my little siblings and cousins schools they are starting to look at penpals and so hopefully this retro delight is coming back.

  14. How cool that you have gotten press on your bookclub. I am planning on reading along, but I have had to order the Claudel as the library still hasn’t processed their copies yet. I will read it after the fact I’m afraid–but good luck on the discussion–I’ll have to drop in and see how it goes. As for penpals–I also used to have oodles of them when I was in high school and even college. I met a handful of them–British and Irish, a Finnish guy, a woman from Berlin and visited one in then Czechoslovakia. I was totally addicted and had every intention of traveling and living abroad when I was older. How things change. Sadly I’ve lost contact with all but one. I still trade Christmas cards with a friend in Germany. All the letters I collected are in a box (I hope) at my parent’s house still. I may have to keep in mind your penpals of plots and prose! It would be nice to get real mail occasionally!

    • It was very cool indeed Danielle, we were all most pleased about it! The great thing about discussing these books on the blogs is that you can read it a week, a month, or even a year later and come back and comment so there is no pressure.

  15. I would be very keen to be involved in the penpal project. I love writing and receiving letters and through my childhood and adolescent years I had many penpals from all over the world – I do miss having that contact. I think a focus on books and literature would make a great basis for a penpal relationship!

    • Ooh do get involved Karen it is definitley a case of the more the merrier. Though I might have to think about how to share the contacts about or you could end up writing so much you might not have the time to read your replies or any books hahaha.

  16. I love writing letters! I was always writing letters at Uni to all my family and now I’m back home I really miss it. I will definitely be taking part what a great idea to be penpals with other book lovers.

    • Thanks Jessica, am just putting the final touches to a little Penpals of Prose questionaire at this very moment that I will send out to everyone who is interested! I am looking forward to getting back into pen and paper once more.

  17. Ooooh I totally missed out on the whole penpal craze but I do know that my older brother enjoyed it very much a long time ago. But yes, of course, I love receiving letters, though most letter I receive are only electronic. These days I keep a sort of daily chat with a few bookish friends through email. I’m not so good with opening topics, but I do enjoy responding to emails. If you ever have a something you’d like to discuss, always feel free to email me.

    About author interviews, well I have to admit that I rarely read them because I’m normally only interested in reading interviews with writers I’ve already read (and there are not a lot of them yet).

    • I do like the idea of having a bookish group of people to email but then again I have my Gran, Mum, members of a face to face book group and I would love more world wide and love the idea of doing it all by pen as writing is a skill that seems to be disappearing so do have a think about the ink option Mark, ha!

      • Oh I can’t believe how silly I was for thinking you were talking about emails. Of course you were talking about doing it ink! (how else would you get it on your doorstep, hehe).

        Yes, there is a classic grace in receiving handwritten letters and they of course bear the feeling of being more special. Hmm, that’s a good idea and I’ll think about it 🙂

  18. Pingback: Grilling Grenville… « Savidge Reads

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