Three Things…

I have decided to do a very speedy post with a few updates today as I am in the middle of some serious first reads shortly to be followed by a bout of re-reads. So here goes…

First thing. Some very, very exciting news this week as I have been announced as one of the judges on the inaugural panel for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize. I am beyond thrilled about this (I have also been very good as have known about this a little while and not told a soul) and am really looking forward to re-reading the shortlisted books below which are…


  • Life After Life – Kate Atkinson (Transworld)
  • The Trader of Saigon – Lucy Cruickshanks (Heron)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman (Headline)
  • Little White Lies and Butterflies – Suzie Tullett (Safkhet Soul)
  • Anywhere’s Better Than Here – Zoe Venditozzi  (Sandstone)
  • Magda – Meike Ziervogel (Salt)

I will report back on these in more detail once we have a winner of the prestigious Guardian mug, unless I steal it for myself, for the first time ever, I think for a book prize, the judging will all be live on the Guardian website (so best make sure I am at my snazziest) there is also an event as part of the Wood Green Literary Festival this weekend on Saturday which I might just be showing my face at and you can find out more about here.

Second thing. I am in my old haunt of London for an extended weekend (working and playing) from Thursday morning until late Sunday. This means I need to pack some books though I am not planning on taking too many as I never read as much as I think, especially with a bonkers schedule whoring myself seeing some publishers, catching up with friends and pottering around bookshops. That said I would love to know if any of you are about, any of you have recommendations of bookshops I should head to (I am going to go to the London Review Bookshop for the first time ever which is truly shocking considering I lived in London for 12 years) and if there are any exhibitions that I should be heading too.

Third and final thing. Sadly after giving it a lot of thought Gavin and I have decided to call time on The Readers Book Club. We were finding having an author on a show was lovely but if they suddenly couldn’t come on (or the publisher forgot to liaise) it meant the show wasn’t quite working and if they wouldn’t come on it was limiting our choices. So we have decided to start something new, with the help of the lovely Kate and Rob of Adventures With Words, to host an all new monthly book club show called…

Hear Read This

The premise is simply four hosts, two books, one hour per month. The first two titles we are discussing are ‘HHhH’ by Laurent Binet and ‘Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore’ by Robin Sloan, which I am bingeing on now. We are very excited as, as Gavin so eloquently put it, we can have dead authors on now! Plus authors who might not have come on or speak English as a first second or third language. I also think it might mean you all see a much darker side to my thoughts as without the author coming on there is no need to hold back. We have loved the Readers Book Club but sometimes you need a change. Tune in on Friday when the podcast goes live here.

So that is my latest, what is going on with all of you? Have you read any of the Not The Booker short list and if so what did you think? Have you read either of the ‘Hear… Read This!’ selections for October? Any recommendations for what to do or what to see when I head to London in two days?


Filed under Random Savidgeness

14 responses to “Three Things…

  1. Had I known you were going to be in London I would have made a detour on my way back to Paris from Edinburgh. 🙂

    I love the new bookclub idea, even more because I’ve actually already read both of the first titles (more than once actually, as I read HHhH in French but then listened to the translated audiobook). Looking forward to hearing everyone’s opinion.

  2. LauraC

    The only book of the Not the Booker Prize that I have read was Life After Life which I adored! I think the new book club sounds great-the author part was always my least favorite part. As for those two books, I read Mr. Penumbra’s a while ago and enjoyed it. I just tried HHhH, and although I enjoyed the beginning, I just lost interest a ways in. Great idea but I just couldn’t stay focused. WWII is not my favorite subject. I still have it out from the library, maybe after hearing your podcast I’ll return to it?

    • Interesting thoughts on the two books Laura. I haven’t reviewed either of them yet but one is one of my favourite books of the year and the other is one of my least favourite books of the year, so was an interesting show.

      Life After Life is just incredible isn’t it? If you like WWII then you should definitely give Magda, which was another of the Not The Booker shortlisted titles, a read.

  3. Congratulations, how very exciting! You’ve got quite a hard choice there…

  4. have fun in london Simon ,all the best stu

  5. gaskella

    You are just soooo busy Simon. Sounds like you’re loving it though. Congrats on the Not the Booker! I’ve voted.

    • I think I needed the business after everything Gran related, it kept me going. I am much better as doing than being quiet, much better.

      Sorry your favourite didn’t win the NTB, interestingly since the judging decision Magda has grown and grown and grown on me.

  6. I have read Mr. Prumembra’s 24 Book Store, I give it a three star rating, happy to read it, but no wish to re- visit it. Love the new podcast with Thomas

  7. I enjoyed a lot of things about Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store – a great book for discussion I think as it has a few layers hidden amidst all the fun.

    My review started like this… “Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore reminds me of a cult movie classic combo – Hackers meets The Goonies – with a helping of Gen Y style thrown in.” Enjoy!

    • Alas I didn’t like that book at all Jo, in fact I verged on loathing it. I thought all the google stuff was so irritating. And where was the adventure really? And how were the customers in the shop ever going to realise that the books they borrowed made a head shape on a computer? I could go on… 😉

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