Simon’s Bookish Bits #31

Though it’s all still a bit shiny and new on Savidge Reads 3.0, I didn’t want to get rid of all the old features and so, as a special little treat today, I thought I would dust off my ‘bookish bits’ and bring them out for an airing. If you are new to the site this is a feature I would do occasionally, read as totally randomly, when I had a few bits and bobs that I wanted to talk about and yet didn’t really warrant/deserve their own post all to themselves. So what bookish bits and bobs do I have for you today?

Well first up is the joyous news that I have my World Book Night (which seemed ages away and now is suddenly upon us next Monday) books. The thrill of being able to pass on books is always one I love, but when you are giving lots and lots of your favourite EVER book away it takes it to a whole new level. Yes, that’s right; I am giving away Rebecca by good old Daphers.

That isn’t all I am doing. On World Book Night itself I will be part of a big event at Waterstones Deansgate in the heart of Manchester where I will be reading ‘Rebecca’ to any poor passing soul lucky person who pops in. I am alongside some great local authors such as Sam Mills, Rodge Glass, Chris Killen, Joe Stretch, Socrates Adams and many more. Do come along, details below, apologies it’s a little grainy but it’s a picture from the tinterweb.

Oh and speaking of World Book Night, if you are giving books away (wherever in the world you may be) and would like to record an mp3 about the title you have chosen and how you are giving it away we are doing a special episode of The Readers next week so email them to or you can now leave a voicemail by calling ‘bookbasedbanter’ on Skype. So techno!

In other news I am having a major book sulk. I feel a bit bad doing this (sorry Lucy) but I am reading ‘Mary Barton’ by Elizabeth Gaskell for The Manchester Book Club and I am really, really struggling. I am almost halfway (Lucy text me and said ‘it gets better after about 250 pages’, 250 pages!!!) So I was wondering if any of you had any tips on getting through it, and could at least agree with Lucy and say that yes, indeed it does get better. I like the story, though it’s like every other story of its time in the mid 1800’s to be honest, but all the politics and the trade unions rubbish is getting me down. There is about to be a murder though and you know how I like those, so maybe things will pick up and the book will get some pace. Is this just not her finest work? Or are all Gaskell’s books this bogged down in death and misery and too much intricate detail (something I never normally complain about)?

Finally, do you know of any good second hand book shops in Liverpool, the Wirral and around that sort of area? I am off there all weekend (rumours I am moving to Liverpool can neither be confirmed or denied) this weekend and would like to find some. I did discover the wonderful Reid of Liverpool as you can see here, but more would be a jolly lovely find, the centre of town would be lovely but so would the outskirts and further afield, so if you know of any let me know! Lovely!

Right that is all from me today, I will play comment catch up tomorrow I promise (rude of me to have not done sooner). What is going on in your bookish worlds? Don’t tell me what you are reading right now, I want to hear all about that on Saturday!


Filed under Book Thoughts, Simon's Bookish Bits

26 responses to “Simon’s Bookish Bits #31

  1. Hi, hope to make it on monday!

    • Did you come Mark. I didn’t spot you but was a bag of nerves!

      • Sorry, I had a disaster, otherwise I would have come. I’ll be along to the next one. Meanwhile, Armistead Maupin visited my blog last week and left a comment under my review for the Tales of the City series! Couldn’t believe it! Very honoured and it also gave me a few thousand extra hits.

      • Ha that’s cool indeed! I believe Mr Maupin is coming on The Readers at some point.

  2. Henry Bohn’s books is worth a browse on the London Road. I’ve only spent a short time there on my last visit, but it looked like it could contain a few treasures. And it’s not a second hand shop, but I really like visiting News From Nowhere, a lovely independent on Bold Street. I always find something intriguing that I haven’t seen in other bookstores.
    Have fun in the city – I would love to be there this weekend with those giant puppets wandering the streets.

    • I saw the puppets, in fact I have done a post on it since. I haven’t been to Henry Bohn but it’s definitely on my hit list. I was gutted that The Amorous Cat had closed.

  3. Orla

    Hmmm…. Mary Barton is one my planned reads for next month…you have me a bit worried now. Having said (Written) that, I loved North and South (which I read last month) and that has lots of union-y type of stuff. So I suspect Gaskell just isn’t for you.

    Also, I read ‘Every Man for Himself’ (my first Bainbridge) after reading your review the other day Simon – I loved it! Thanks!

    • So glad to know you loved Every Man for Himself, always lovely to hear someone likes a book you’ve recommended.

      I don’t think Gaskell is for me, that said no one in the book group liked it. You must report back on that one!

  4. jennakathepickygirl

    Yippee! I got my WBN box this week, too. Originally, I mistakenly signed up for the UK site and was so excited to choose Rebecca. Then I realized my mistake and was so disappointed that it wasn’t on the US list. However, I got my first choice – The Book Thief – and I couldn’t be happier. My town is relatively small, and when I picked up my books at Barnes & Noble, they said there were only 6 other givers, so no activities.

    Still, I cannot wait for Monday! Hope you enjoy it, too.

  5. Mary Barton is not the best Gaskell, not at all. And I agree that it is slow for a long part of the novel. But in the end I enjoyed it. I always imagined the setting in Manchester (it is set there, right?) must be nice for anyone who lived there.

    How wonderful that you get to give away Rebecca! Enjoy 🙂

  6. I am a great fan of Elizabeth Gaskell, but personally I wouldn’t recommend Mary Barton as an introduction, especially if politics and unions get you down. She was very concerned with the social conditions of the working classes in northern mill towns, so unions, politics, death and misery do feature large in some of her work. Cranford is excellent, very shot, easy to read, and not a bit like that dreadful TV series, while in North and South the characters and story are far stronger than in Mary Barton, and are not overwhelmed by the political message. Best of all, I think, is Wives and Daughters, which is very light-hearted, and pokes gentle fun at the social conventions of her day – it’s one of those books which I have read so many times over the years that I was forced to buy another copy because it shed so many pages.

    • I know this is going to sound awful, and please don’t judge me for it, but I was glad I loathed it so much. Firstly because I think you need extremes like that in your personal reading history. Secondly as I can write an author off, isn’t that awful of me!

  7. Jenni

    I couldn’t agree more with Chris. Please don’t give up on Gaskell altogether, Simon!

  8. I love the picture of all your giveaway copies of ‘Rebecca’! Have you figured out where you’re going to pass them out? Enjoy!

  9. Kate G

    I am not so “techno” and haven’t completely figured out Skype, but am giving out The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot for World Book Night. I am giving to fellow staff at the hospital where I work in New York City as the story is very relevant to all of us in the medical field. Some of the nurses and physicians are book people, but sadly, some have not read anything other than professional journals and People magazine since they left school.

  10. Wonderful that you’re able to give away your favourite book!

    I haven’t read Mary Barton, but your description does sound similar to North And South, which I’m not fond of. A lot about the industrial revolution and the social and economic issues with the factories. And yes it was pretty miserable to boot. That said, Cranford sounds good.

  11. Ha! What’s wrong? Goin’ tet mill gettin thine wench down some? ….
    *SIGH* I am really going to have to open our next meet by apologising to everyone – those who haven’t crumbled to pieces with boredom that is?

    Bit more palatable once someone gets killed I think but all I can really say right now is THANK GOD for Margaret Atwood 🙂

  12. hope you nhad a great night simon ,all the best stu

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