Monthly Archives: May 2014

Other People’s Bookshelves #43; Seamus Duggan

Hello and welcome to the latest in Other People’s Bookshelves, a regular series of posts where you get to have a nosey at other book lovers bookshelves. This week we are heading of to the Irish Midlands to join Seamus Duggan who blogs at Vapour Trails, and who has kindly agreed to be the latest participant to share their shelves (thank you to all of you who have volunteered to share your shelves you will be getting emails from me very soon) with you all. So grab yourself a cup of tea, or maybe a pint of Guinness or Irish Cream, and lets have a look through his bookshelves and find out more about him.

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Do you keep all the books you read on your shelves or only your favourites, does a book have to be REALLY good to end up on your shelves or is there a system like one in one out, etc?

A book has to be pretty woeful for me to get rid of it. Mostly the ones I get rid of are ones that I never really wanted to read but which came into my possession as part of a box I bought in an auction. My wife and daughter keep coughing pointedly during the TV programme Hoarders which often seems to be on in the evening when I emerge into the TV room. Are they trying to say something? Perhaps.
Do you organize your shelves in a certain way? For example do you have them in alphabetical order of author, or colour coded? Do you have different bookshelves for different books (for example, I have all my read books on one shelf, crime on another and my TBR on even more shelves) or systems of separating them/spreading them out? Do you cull your bookshelves ever?
I have made many attempts at organising my books and there are areas like crime/Sci-fi /music/Irish/Spanish/German etc etc and have even got as far as alphabetising my collections of Short Stories but each area ends up being too small for the number of books as they grow and simultaneously the areas on each side become oversubscribed and the resulting hybrid is usually chaos.  This is even more exaggerated as the shelves progressively become two books deep. What lies beneath? Who knows. One problem I keep coming across is when a book is too large for the shelf it should go on, throwing everything into confusion. Having fitted out a room in my current house as a ‘library’ it is almost as if I am driven to fill every available inch of space. I am currently extending the shelves up to the ceiling and looking at the bare wall over my desk.
What was the first book you ever bought with your own money and does it reside on your shelves now?
Given my current habits I myself fund it hard to believe but I was really a library addict as a child. I cannot remember the first book I bought with my own money but my earliest memory is of the Ladybird reading series and my determination to make it to the final book in the series.
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Are there any guilty pleasures on your bookshelves you would be embarrassed people might see, or like me do you have a hidden shelf for those somewhere else in the house?
Not really, there are good and bad books on the shelves and they include my kids books I have bought by the box at auction in order to get a couple of books. Once I bought a whole pallet of books and I have made some profit from the few I sold but have had to get rid of a lot and will have to get rid of many more. They are mostly British history books. I have toyed with the idea of trying to sell books online but am not organised enough. 
Which book on the shelves is your most prized, mine would be a collection of Conan Doyle stories my Great Uncle Derrick memorised and retold me on long walks and then gave me when I was older? Which books would you try and save if (heaven forbid) there was a fire?
I think I would burn in the throes of indecision. Perhaps my copies of Ulysses, Riddley Walker and Carpenter’s Gothic, all of which I re-read regularly which has invested the actual books with memories, such as the time Carpenter’s Gothic got soaked in cider, retaining the scent for years afterwards. I also have some First Editions that I love. JR , again by William Gaddis and The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch stand out.
What is the first ‘grown up’, and I don’t mean in a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ way, that you remember on your parent’s shelves or at the library, you really wanted to read? Did you ever get around to it and are they on your shelves now?
I have a particular memory of Gone with the Wind which I read during a rainy holiday at my grandmother’s house. It was the first ‘adult’ book of that size that I’d read. I remember being determined to read Ulysses and although only partially successful at fourteen I have gone on to read it a number of times. However it is the copy I bought at college that I have on my shelves.
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If you love a book but have borrowed the copy, do you find you have to then buy the book and have it on your bookshelves or do you just buy every book you want to read?
I buy almost every book I want to read that I come across in Charity/second hand bookshops. How I’ll ever get to read them all is not clear. (I won’t). I love being able to browse through the hundreds of unread books when wondering what to read next. because of all these books I never borrow any more.
What was the last book that you added to your bookshelves?
Found A Handful of Dust yesterday. I couldn’t find my old copy and have been thinking it due a re-read. I feel a little indebted to Mr Waugh (see below).
Are there any books that you wish you had on your bookshelves that you don’t currently?
A first folio Shakespeare! It would be nice to pay off the mortgage and be able to afford to live a little more comfortably! I recently found a first edition of Waugh in Abyssinia which I put up for auction and sold for £1,500 which will help with the out of control credit card / overdraft situation. (http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21761/lot/180/) As a reader I am currently hoping to pick up some Cesar Aria and maybe Your Face Tomorrow by Javier Marias. These are the sort of books that very rarely show up in charity shops (although good things come to those that wait).
What do you think someone perusing your shelves would think of your reading taste, or what would you like them to think?
They would probably think that I’ve lost touch with reality and need to live more and read less. There is probably something for everyone. It’s got to the stage when I dig around a bit I find books which come as complete surprises to me. Eclectic is the word, I guess, or eccentric.
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A huge thanks to Seamus for taking part in Other People’s Bookshelves. If you would like to catch up with the other posts in the series of Other People’s Bookshelves have a gander here. Don’t forgot if you would like to participate (and I would love you to – hint, hint, hint) in the series then drop me an email to savidgereads@gmail.com with the subject Other People’s Bookshelves, thanks in advance. In the meantime… what do you think of Seamus’s responses and/or any of the books and authors that he mentions?

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The Summer of Shorts…

No, despite the title of this post I do not plan on spending this summer wearing or collecting lots of varieties of shorts from Speedo’s to Bermuda’s – heaven forbid. However I do have some sort of plan for my reading this summer, in the main it is going to be short.

Hopefully I won’t be short on reading time, but it will have significantly less time to read this summer in particular as I am working on some small two month festival called the International Festival of Business 2014, which only has about 300 events running over the two months with an expected attendance of over 70,000 people and an aim to make £100,000,000 for the UK through future international trade and export! Phew, no pressure then. You may now see why my posting has been rather sporadic so far this year, the madness has been hitting since January.

Anyway, I am going to be working on the marketing and social media, with some lovely people, and most scarily event managing ten large events (some lasting 3-5 days) in one of the city’s most prestigious listed buildings The Cunard – seriously it’s stunning, see below – and so time as you might imagine will be scant.

Three Graces

So I had a thought and there were three options. One, I could just read what I would normally and get frustrated when it takes me ten times as long to read, snatching glances at it when I can. Two, I could just not read all summer, I know ‘as if’. Three, I could make it a positive and read shorter books, graphic novels, novella’s and short stories, expanding my reading of the sort of books I don’t read as often AND providing me with wonderful short but no less brilliant, and sometimes more condensed and masterful, works to devour when I can.

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I oddly thought that I didn’t own very much ‘shorter’ fiction but having only the quickest scans of some of my shelves (I have had some shelf drama over the last week which I will share with you all soon) I found I was wrong. I am already excited about these, plus I remembered I had picked all those ‘new to me’ books from the library which will give me short introductions to some new and fingers crossed utterly marvellous writers and writing.

So I thought I would ask for your thoughts on shorter fiction; novellas and short stories. Are you a fan of shorter works and if so why or why not? Do you agree shorter works are sometimes the most potent of tales? Which short stories, anthologies, novellas or graphic novels would you recommend I read over the summer? Who else fancies dipping into some shorter works?

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Suitably Swedish Suggestions…

Fingers crossed, in about nine weeks I will be heading off to Scandinavia, where I have never been before and always wanted to go. This has been a sudden and rather exciting development as a company is kindly sending me off to Sweden, in conjuncture with the Swedish Tourist Board, all thanks to this very blog. First I will be flying off to Gothenburg and then enjoying a ‘cold crime tour’ heading to Fjallbacka and spending some time on some of the remote islands out that way. To say I am thrilled or excited is an understatement, there has been much jumping up and down with joy, and now I am ready to start prepping… with books!


As I have mentioned many a time on this blog, not only do I like to read books set in the country and the place that I visit when I go away, I also like to reading authors from the area along with books set there before hand. So now I am going to start having some trips to Sweden through the joys of books and I wondered if you might help me with some recommendations…

I have already pulled some Camilla Lackberg and Lars Kepler from the shelves. I think I have a copy of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson somewhere and I really want to read Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg’s The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules admittedly partly because of the title. I have read the first and last of Henning Mankell’s Wallander series, I have a standalone or two of his. I don’t have any of the Stieg Larsson books as I tried and failed with the first one though I loved the films. Interestingly, speaking of that visual media, I have just been religiously watching the first two series of The Bridge (seriously how brilliant is that show and how amazing are Saga and Martin?) over the last few weeks with The Beard which I am now having withdrawal symptoms from. In fact if you can tell me of any books as brilliant to read as The Bridge was to watch I would be overjoyed.

Anyway, as you can see I could really do with some more recommendations, not just cold crime – though I love it so – but also any contemporary or classic literature which might take my fancy. Can you help? Get suggesting, the more the merrier…

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Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days – Jared Cade

A few days ago I reminisced about, and shared with you, a trip that I had back in March with some of my closest chums to Harrogate and York. I mentioned that we had headed to Harrogate because of its literary history and that, in what has become some kind of tradition, we had chosen to all read Jared Cade’s Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days as it has some of its setting in Harrogate as that is where Agatha reappeared after vanishing. Well I have to say it was a reading revelation as never before have I found a book so enthralling and fascinating and then been made so cross by it and the author themselves.

Peter Owen Publishing, paperback, 2011, non-fiction, 340 pages, borrowed from the library

In Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days Jared Cade, who is clearly a huge fan of Agatha Christie, tries to explain with the help of some testimonials and documents from some of her closest friends what really happened when she disappeared and, even more fascinating, why she disappeared. Something which has been a puzzle to many over the years, her own disappearance becoming as fascinating as some of the mysteries that she wrote. Theories have been rife, including one featured in an episode of Dr Who where she gets abducted by aliens.

I would have found all this fascinating enough as it was but what thrilled me all the more was that as I discovered as I read this was also really a biography of the author herself and the life she lived before and after the disappearance. I should here admit that when I first started the book I was thinking ‘oh blimey, we are getting her whole life her’ as all I wanted was the mystery but Jared Cade does quickly draw you in and as you learn more about her childhood, teens and first marriage you become more and more interested in her and also soon see why it is all relevant.

You also learn all about her books, which for someone who has read and enjoyed a fair few of them again I found really interesting to learn where life had inspired her work. I also came away with a list of books (not Poirot ones, I still don’t have any desire to read any he features in and find it hilarious how much she came to hate her own character) which I am going to have to get my mitts on.

So before Agatha (who I feel I am firm friends with now) even goes missing you have a really good read, and Cade does write it in a thrilling way, you find yourself getting to the end of each chapter and saying to yourself ‘just one more’. The book then takes it up a notch once Agatha disappears and you get completely carried away with it while Cade teases you for a while as to what might have happened as the police investigate and then soon the journalists and then the public become utterly fascinated, you doing so to.

Publicity seekers continued to contact the newspapers claiming to have seen Agatha in places as diverse as Torquay, Plymouth and Rhyl, and this had led to the police in these districts being drawn into the search. An omnibus driver and conductor were both adamant that Agatha had travelled on their vehicle between Haslemere and Hindhead, and the manager of the Royal Huts Hotel in Hindhead also insisted she had lunched at his establishment on the weekend. The confusion arising from the suspected sightings was made worse because none of the women involved came forward to correct the cases of mistaken identity.

I had no idea who much it has captured peoples attention. I also had no idea just how bonkers some of the theories that journalists, the public, amateur detectives and even the police came up with, nor how far and wide the search went to find her, which interestingly then looks at the cost of the search which then outraged everyone and which soon started to turn interest and intrigue into anger and resentment.

On Monday the 13th many of the tabloids now indulged in their most fanciful theory to date: that Agatha might be living in London disguised as a man. While it seems extraordinary that the press could have advanced such a ludicrous suggestion, the public was not inclined to dismiss it. After all, had not Ethel Le Neve been dressed as a man when Scotland Yard’s Chief Inspector Walter Dew has arrested Dr Crippen?

Even one of the greatest of crime writers got involved in his own way…

Meanwhile, having obtained a glove of Agatha’s, Sherlock Holmes’s creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave it to a medium called Horace Leaf. ‘I gave him no clue at all as to what I wanted or to whom the article belonged,’ the famous writer later recalled. ‘He never saw it until I laid it out on the tableat the moment of consultation, and there was nothing to connect it or me to the Christie case… He at once got the name Agatha. “There is trouble connected with this article. The person who owns it is half dazed and half purposeful. She is not dead as many think. She is alive. You will hear of her, I think, next Wednesday.”’

It was the little facts like this which Cade weaves in and out of his biography, because that is what this is at its heart, that had me so enraptured throughout. That and the odd relationships Agatha had with her first husband and family, especially with her daughter. I was fascinated and didn’t want it to end, then things changed.

Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days was revised from its first edition from 2006 and updated in 2011. Well I wish I had picked up the unrevised issue, because I am assuming that left out the final few chapters where out of nowhere Cade suddenly twists the book to become a tale about the success of the book and himself and then how the Christie estate and other biographers (particularly Laura Thompson who wrote Agatha Christie: an English Mystery and who questioned his theory over a timetable and some other bits and bobs, and gets torn apart) turned against him. It suddenly becomes very personal and if I am honest really awkward to read. Yet, like all car crashes, I couldn’t help but look/read on as Cade goes into this huge defence of himself. Very, very odd. It seems a case of an author becoming too much a part of the work and airing their dirty laundry, but not in a good/intriguing/positive way. It very nearly ruined the book for me.

A shame really as overall I found Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days a thoroughly, and rather unexpectedly, fascinating biography which gives a wonderful insight into a truly fascinating woman, her life, her writing and her disappearance. I would suggest either find yourself a copy of the unrevised version of the book, or simply stop reading when you get past Agatha’s death. If I had this would have been one of my favourite non-fiction reads in some time.

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Sorting Out The Shelves, Sort Of

One of the joys of having a three day weekend is that there seems so much more time to potter, sort and mooch. As I was having a mooch between chapters, or it might have been between books, I suddenly noticed that things had possibly got a little out of hand (once again) with the amount of books that were starting to form small piles around the house, particularly in book corner…

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Yes it dawned on me that something needed to be done. There were two options. One was The Beard’s, simply for me to have a big bank holiday cull of books. Then there was my much more realistic, responsible and appropriate idea… Buy more shelves. Who do you think won in this battle of wills, erm yes, it was me!

This tale doesn’t end there though as once having decided to head to IKEA something awful happened upon heading to the Expedit collection section (via the food hall for lashings of meatballs for lunch, glass section, cacti, stationery and even mattress section – yes IKEA see me coming every time) where upon I have discovered that even though they should still be available until June all the 2×2 shelving units in white HAVE GONE… NEVER TO RETURN. Their replacement was in stock early and so I had to bite the bullet and get two Kallax (which sounds angry) 2×2’s, which are slightly smaller and playing havoc with my OCD…

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Can you tell they are smaller? Will it become less noticeable when I fill them with books? I do hope so. They are the same dimensions space wise, I am still furious they have changed them even if only slightly and yes even if it is saving the world and trees (book lovers can’t really be holier than though when it comes to trees making paper and wood can we?) noticeably even though you are getting less wood for your money (insert euphemistic snigger here) they haven’t dropped the prices. Funny that!

So tomorrow will be a book sort, the irony of this being that I may actually be left with enough space that I needn’t have bought new shelves at all, but then again at least I will have space for even more books which is no bad thing is it?

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Lend Me Your Bookshelves…

Just a quick post before the next in the Other People’s Bookshelves series of posts goes live next week, I am looking for some more wonderful guests to share their bookshelves with me. We all love having a nosey through people’s bookshelves when we pop round to other people’s houses don’t we? So don’t be shy and share your shelves…

…Just drop me an email titled ‘Other People’s Bookshelves’ to savidgereads@gmail.com and I will send you a questionnaire and some instructions. Thanks in advance.

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(Pre) Bank Holiday Bookshopping…

Apologies for the fact that I haven’t posted, or indeed finished, the review of Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days which I said I would. Work has been rather bonkers and I have also been spending the evenings watching the final episodes of the second series of The Bridge which I have been obsessed by. Anyway this weekend is a nice three day weekend thanks to the one of the many lovely Bank Holidays we have in the UK and fingers crossed I can catch up on some blogging but most importantly some READING!

This weekend is extra special and needs to be extra relaxing and fruitful because it is my last free one for the next two and a bit months as my job goes operational, eek. Speaking of work, after a particularly rubbish morning this morning I decided to cheer myself up and so stomped headed to my local bookshop to just breathe in the air of books and calm myself. There is nothing like it is there?

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And would you guess what happened when I was in there? Well, strangely I decided that I needed to treat myself to some books, just a few *coughs*. Yes, I know I mentioned I had lots but as I also mentioned we always want more…

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Now all these books had very valid reasons for coming home with me, well via the office, today. Dead Snow by Georges Simenon is a book I have been hunting for for ages and ages as I am possibly going to be on a book podcast that isn’t mine talking about it. It hasn’t been in stock until now, so that was snapped up, hoorahs. I have no idea how good or not this would be but as it is a NYRB edition I am assuming it will be amazing, I have always wanted to try him. The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim has just won the Indie Foreign Fiction prize, I need to read more translated fiction and short stories, in the basket it went.

Camila Lackberg is about to become part of a Swedish crime obsession I am about to have as I have been (through this very blog) invited to Sweden by its tourist board to go on a cold crime tour, starting in Fjallbacka where these are set. I am starting at the beginning. The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker was the book I mentioned the other day I have been wanting to gte for a few weeks as people either love it or hate it and it sounds different being described as Twin Peaks meets Atonement meets In Cold Blood… ok!!! Finally I blame Rob of Adeventures with Words for making me buy the filthy sounding Sex Criminals. He mentioned this on Hear Read This recently and the idea of a couple who have sex, stop time and rob banks to save a book shop (or a library) sounds too odd and bizarre to resist. Plus I could do with a laugh. I left the shop on a high.

So I am planning on spending a lot of the long weekend reading some of these and just escaping into the pages. What are your plans? What have you recently bought and will be spending the weekend devouring?

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A Trip to Harrogate and York…

This is a post a long time overdue as way back at the end of March I went off on a little holiday with three of my very best of chums Polly, Michelle and Dom. These three buddies also share my love of all things bookish and while we don’t see each other as often as we like when we meet up for mini breaks there is always a literary link or we all have a book that we read together and then discuss, most likely in a pub. This year we decided to kill to bookish birds with one stone and stay somewhere with a literary link and even found a book about it (thanks to some of the books you recommended earlier in the year) as we headed to Harrogate, the town where none other than Dame Agatha Christie turned up after she went missing! So I thought I would take you on a mini trip with me.

It started after a lovely train ride, one where I said I would read loads and loads but ended up looking out the window at the scenery instead as usual. Then on the second leg of my trip I was joined by Polly, who I have known since we were 4 years old and who you might have known as Polly of Novel Insights – a blog I still sadly miss.

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Once at the station we carried on gossiping at the station, and possibly buying some sweets, as we waited  for our friend Dom who was only one train behind. We then headed to our digs (found through the brilliant new website www.airbnb.com which found us a bargain apartment with a Jacuzzi bath and everything) had a little tea break before heading out into Harrogate to discover its delights, locate Betty’s infamous tearooms, have a gander, have some more tea and head to the infamous hotel, which has now changed its name, where Agatha Christie was discovered after her mystery disappearance.

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This was in fact the setting for a lot of the book we were all collectively reading Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade as it was, as I mentioned, the place where they found the author after she had gone missing mystifying and fascinating many. I will be discussing the book here on the blog tomorrow as I had interesting reactions to it. Anyways, after giving it much thought we decided not to go in and try and find the room, though we did go and nosey close up, or have any cocktails in the lounge as we had to meet Michelle at the station. (I am determined to stay in the room she had in the (now named) Old Swan Hotel at some point though.) After which we went for our other mutual love… food!

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If you are ever in Harrogate then you simply have to go to Damn Yankee. They do the most AMAZING burgers with pulled pork and all sorts of other utter joys in. We made it classy by having it all with Prosecco on the side. Classy.

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After a night of much late night gossip we decided that, after having a breakfast out (there is a food theme) in a venue I won’t as they threw our initial order down the stairs and then took a while to sort it all out and had the rudest staff, we would head for a day in York which is a mere 40 minute train ride which some of us used to gossip more and some to read. Guess who was gossiping and not reading? Once in York we all decided to head to the National Rail Museum for a brief look around as it was free and close by. This ended up being a three hour visit of joy.

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Who knew we all loved trains so much?

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No really, be they new, old, from Scotland or Japan, we were all smitten…

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I even saw a wonderful old poster that used to advertise my local seaside resort, which alas isn’t quite as glamourous as it used to be but is trying…

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Well after having seen all of these trains, watched some demonstrations of steam strains and then a turntable (seriously, if you think I am joking I swear I am not, I LOVED THIS PLACE, we all did – if you are ever in York you HAVE to go) we decided that really it was time for some tea and maybe some cake in the café, which is like waiting rooms from times past – amazing…

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Then there was some serious shopping before we walked outside to discover we could then get into York by guess what…

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A train!!!!! It was too much. After a swift and delightfully bumpy (I think people thought we were a bit odd as we were all beyond excitement, yes if you were there it was us that were giggling so much) ride into town we decided to hit York’s most famous of sights…

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The Cathedral. Now I am not religious personally but I do find chapels, churches and cathedrals wondrous places. I find them very calming. I also find graveyards really calming for the same reason, I think i’s the stillness. I miss my days guiding at Highgate Cemetery and the quite walks I would have between tours. Anyway, that said I object to paying to go into these places – sorry but I do – and so we popped in just to have a nosey at the grandeur and it was beautiful.

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After going to the most famous place in York we had a lovely long meander through the city to find the most haunted place in York. Regular readers of the blog will have at some point picked up my small obsession for a TV show called Most Haunted which sees a team headed by Yvette Fielding. One of my favourite episodes takes place in The Golden Fleece and we found it…

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And guess what we did when we were in there? Well, I spent about 20 minutes reading the menu which has all of the ghost stories and testimonials in, after which I joined in with the pints and more food. Highly recommend the chips, cheese and gravy. Lush. I have decided I also want to go back to the Golden Fleece at some point and stay the night, as it is also a hotel with haunted bedrooms. I will have to talk The Beard into it. After all that excitement we headed back, picking up some booze and snacks and then deciding to go out for dinner back in Harrogate. Now you may think we were food obsessed and that really the treats should have stopped there. Well, they didn’t and in reality we had been stretching our bellies for the joy that awaited us the next morning… breakfast at Betty’s Tearooms! Seriously we were so excited, can you tell?

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It is worth all the hype honestly! I ended up going for their Swedish breakfast which as you can see was a thing of wonder.

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All this while we were treated like Kings and Queens by the wonderful staff and serenaded by a piano player. It seriously felt like we had gone back in time to the 1920’s/1930’s. I couldn’t get enough of the atmosphere and along with Polly decided that this was a special occasion (and I would starve myself for the following week) would have a two course breakfast and followed up my gorgeous rosti with a gorgeous cake. With me and bakeries there is only one choice…

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The Vanilla Slice, the King of Cakes. It is my FAVOURITE dessert of all time, I will be your best friend for one, simple as that! It was the icing (see what I did there) on an utterly brilliant few days with my utterly brilliant bookish friends.

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Oh and as you are asking, did we talk about the book? No we didn’t, we were too busy giggling or eating – but I will be doing that with all of you tomorrow. In the meantime I was wondering if any of you have ‘literary based’ (even if loosely) holidays? Do you choose some where to go on a break based on its literary links? If you have where have you been and how was it? And do you do as I have to do and make sure you pack a book set where you are going to read in just the right place, literally, or is it just me? Also do you like the idea of ‘literary retreat’ posts in the future?

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Incomings and the Lure of the New…

How is it that no matter how many books we own, or borrow from the library, we always want more? You see initially some people might say greed, and in some cases it might just be that, yet the pull that books you don’t own and haven’t read is something more than that. It is the lure of a new voice, a new set of people to fall in love with, new experiences and adventure to have, places to escape to. All the things that makes books so amazing.

You can see I have spent some time thinking about this lately as The Beard once again mentioned the facts that ‘the piles of books on that bookshelf are getting crazy again’ and ‘one day they will topple and kill me or one of the cats’ and as I will illustrate The Beard wasn’t wrong – which doesn’t me he is quite right though, ha!

Incoming May

Yes there are some tettering piles of books on the already brimming bookshelves but this is who I am. Take me or leave me. Or throw me on the streets. Actually don’t as my books (and I) need a roof over our heads and might get dirty if they were thrown out on the street though I could arguably build a house out of them. Hmmm, ponders.

Anyway, yes the piles are a bit mad, though to clarify once upon a time this would be a months’ worth of incomings where as in actual fact this is almost four months AND whilst yes the first two piles are from publishers only six were asked for and the final pile were ones I have bought myself within the last month. Because, as I mentioned earlier, no matter how many you have if you are a true book lover you want more and I already want some more. It’s a sickness!!

My current obsessions, because when I want a new book I become slightly obsessed. That said I do have a rule that I have to want a book for about two or three weeks before I buy it to make sure it isn’t a phase – if you think that means I don’t buy often you would be wrong, there is a rota of this books or should I say a backlog? Anyhoo, I am off on another tangent. The current one I am obsessing over, and have been for a while are The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker (which caused a real marmite reaction when I mentioned it on Twitter) which if you have read do let me know your thoughts on as it might be my big bank holiday read (The Beard is working all weekend) this weekend.

So why is it the books we have are never enough, because as I said it isn’t just greed or hoarding after all what is the point in having books in your life you have no intention to read one day, at some point, eventually? What is it that makes you unable to help yourself get a new book, be it from the bookshop or from the library? Is it the sense of possibility between the pages? Is it just the way books make you feel and the whole point of them? Do you ever get slightly obsessed by a new book that you really want and if so what is it? Oh and what are your thoughts on bloggers sharing posts on incoming books, enthusiastic or just showing off?

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

The Cook – Wayne Macauley

Living with a trained chef, it seems that an interest in all things foodie has become part of my life through osmosis. Actually, let’s rephrase that. Living with a trained chef the technical side of cooking, flavours and presentation has become part of my life through osmosis. I have always taken a possibly slightly beyond healthy interest in food and experience fine dining when I can. Note – living with a chef means I am never allowed to cook, or if I do it is always wrong (yes you can even stir a stir fry wrong, apparently). So books with a foodie slant have an interest to this household and having not read one for a while and it being Kimbofo’s ANZ Literature Month it seemed the perfect time to read Wayne Macauley’s The Cook.

Quercus Books, paperback, 2013, fiction, 256 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

Zac is a young offender who, after having committed an act of violence, is given the option of either going into a young offenders institute or of joining Cook School, an initiative set up by a celebrity Head Chef who wants to do good for the community and also quite possibly for his own PR. Here Zac learns all the trick of the trade, from slaughtering to sautéing, of cooking under the eyes of Sous Chef Fabian and occasionally the Head Chef himself. Zac soon gets a taste (sorry) for the world of cooking and as he watches the life the Head Chef lives, and the delights celebrity can bring, Zac decides that is the life for him and he will do anything to achieve it.

Head Chef stopped stalking the bench. It was a bit religious he had his arms out palms up his wedding ring was huge. You have been chosen he said each and every one of you it could have been anyone but of all the young people wandering the suburbs wasting their lives you and only you have been chosen. Do not waste this opportunity. You have a kitchen the envy of a Michelin-star restaurant the best teaching talent in the country fresh produce at your door it is up to you to use these resources and not waste them. Remember you are flying the flag for good taste gentlemen. If you are not prepared to aim higher and higher again I suggest you take your supermarket chops and go and eat them with the dogs.

Initially you could be fooled into thinking that The Cook is simply a satire on the cooking world and all the cookery shows, from Masterchef to the recent show Taste with Nigella and co, and at first glance it is. As we learn, grimly fascinated as the descriptions are quite full on, how you slaughter various animals after having reared them in fancy ways to make the most of your meat. We also learn how the finest chefs make everything top line with basic ingredients and maximum price, you know what I mean; mushroom foam, a piece of pork the size of an iPod mini with the tiniest stokes of sauce surrounding it. And also how the upper classes will happily pay through their noses for it. Highlighted all the more when Zac becomes an ‘in house’ chef.

Yet The Cook is actually so much more than that. At it’s very (cold, dark) heart this is a book about class, something I am learning Australian authors are very interested in. We watch as Zac watches the upper classes and all the while Macauley is saying ‘look how outrageous this is’. What I think Macauley then does which is very clever is break this, possibly subliminally, is then have it running into three strands. Firstly we see how the upper classes are not always based on the money people actually have and also the fall from grace when recession hits both at the Head Chef’s idyllic school and then in the rich suburbs of the cities.

Secondly, through Zac, we look at how this affects the younger people of today who are striving to find (let alone make) a place in this world when even the most privileged are struggling, even if it is behind closed doors. Zac was from the wrong streets before he became a wrong’en and therefore he has to work harder and harder and harder in order work against the preconceptions people will have of him, even the preconception of himself. Macauley creates a fascinating psychology being Zac as a boy who believes himself lower than the low and who may want the trappings of fame if he can’t become part of the elite then he can at least aim to be the highest of the lowest of the low, if that makes sense.

I don’t want to work for a boss who props me up just above drowning I want to work for a customer who knows I am below them and who knows that I know. This is my shame it is a shame I want to be proud of. The money is elsewhere it’s always been elsewhere that is the truth of our lives someone else is holding the string dangling it in front of our eyes do we jump like dogs for a treat or do we flatten our ears say I’m your dog you’re my master give him shame out of every pour make him feel so big and special that he can’t help dropping something down for you. It’s not up to us to change them our job is to lick their boots kiss their arses let them make the money they’re the ones who know how to and let’s be thankful for what trickles down.

This means that thirdly we look at the question ‘is there actually power in servitude?’ This is not something that is answered in The Cook instead it is a question that hangs in the air, or just behind the dining room doors. We are to go away and think about it and with the sudden dark twist, which should not be given away because when it happens its brilliant, at the end there is no doubt you will be thinking about it long after you have read it.

However, some of you may not get there because I occasionally struggled. You see Macauley’s cleverest trick with The Cook is also something that I occasionally found hard to work with and that was Zac himself as our narrator. Let me explain. Zac’s narration is initially very monotone whilst having the verbals. Everything comes out at once, Macauley doing this by having not a single comma (no not a one) in the book at all. He is also slightly cold, I couldn’t decide if this was some condition, lack of education or just his personality. This occasionally becomes slightly overbearing and so I needed to have a bit of space with him now and again. Yet his voice does change slowly over time and having continued I was fascinated as he goes from determined to delude to desperate. I was very glad I persevered.

I think that The Cook is a rather fascinating book, relatively small, utterly brimming full of themes and ideas. Macauley’s creation of Zac and his ways of narration are a risk that pays off with an ending that I will be left thinking about for quite some time. Less a satire for me and more an unabashed and often confronting look at society, the class divide and the future for those who are young and sometimes make mistakes and the messages of aspiration that we are sending them. Well worth a read.

ANZ-LitMonth-200pixWho else has read this and what did you think of it? Have you read any of Macauley’s other books, which I don’t think have crossed the water here yet, and if so what did you make of them? You can see other reviews of the book from ANZ Lit Lovers, FarmlaneBooks, The First Tuesday Book Club and Kim of Reading Matters. Kim has recommended the book to me many a time and so it only seemed right that I read it for her ANZ Literature Month this May. For more info on that head here. Back to The Cook… I do like a book with a dark little heart and one that builds and builds giving a final twist, can you recommend any others in that sort of style?

 

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Filed under Maclehose Publishing, Quercus Publishing, Review, Wayne Macauley

Other People’s Bookshelves #42; Victoria Hoyle

Hello and welcome to the latest in Other People’s Bookshelves, a regular series of posts where you get to have a nosey at other book lovers bookshelves. This week we are back in the UK and heading to the delights of York, which you will be hearing more about next week, as we join blogger extraordinaire Victoria Hoyle to have a nosey through her books. So grab yourself a good strong cuppa Yorkshire Tea (the best kind) and have a nosey through her bookshelves and find out more about her.

I’m Victoria and I’ve been blogging about books at Eve’s Alexandria for just over 8 years.   I live in York with my partner in a little house completely overwhelmed by books.  Books doubled up on shelves, books on the floor, books in boxes, books stacked in piles on tables… I have always been an avid reader.  When I was a child my mum took me to the library every Monday evening and I borrowed armfuls of fiction.  Apart from my family the adult I looked up to most was Pam the librarian, who introduced me to some of my favourite authors as I got older.  When I went off to university I still rang her up for a chat about the latest paperbacks.   At university I was bitten by the book buying bug and met the friends I founded Eve’s Alexandria with.  These days I work for York Libraries and Archives.

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Do you keep all the books you read on your shelves or only your favourites, does a book have to be REALLY good to end up on your shelves or is there a system like one in one out, etc?

I don’t keep all the books I read – it would be chaos if I did. We would literally drown under the sea of them. When I’ve finished something I give it a week or two for my impressions to settle and if I really loved it and think I’ll want to read it again (or stroke it lovingly sometimes) then I keep it. If it doesn’t pass the test I donate it to the library (if it’s not a review copy) or to charity. Every year or so I do a full sweep of the shelves and give away some books that I initially decided to keep but which don’t seem worth the shelf space in hindsight. I’d rather someone else was reading and enjoying them. I’d say about 1 in 5 books stays permanently, maybe less. The only exception I make is for favourite authors where I want to keep all their books even if one or two didn’t work for me.

Occasionally I make the wrong decision and give away a book I want to go back to – this sometimes happens with series, where I want to check something or re-read it before the next book comes out – but the rate at which the books are coming in means a lot have to be going out. What this means in reality is that the unread books vastly outnumber the read in our house. When people come to visit us and browse the bookshelves I’m always ashamed to admit that, no, I haven’t read that one, or that one, or that one…

Do you organise your shelves in a certain way? For example do you have them in alphabetical order of author, or colour coded? Do you have different bookshelves for different books (for example, I have all my read books on one shelf, crime on another and my TBR on even more shelves) or systems of separating them/spreading them out? Do you cull your bookshelves ever?

Yes and no. The books in the main ‘library’ (aka the dining room) are split into fiction and non-fiction but otherwise are completely random and higgledy-piggledy. Basically I put things where there is a space, which means that books I’ve read and books I haven’t are side by side, and things by the same writer are in seven different places. It’s not a very efficient system; I’m always hunting for something or wondering where a particular book has disappeared to. Most days I think to myself ‘You should really sort this mess out’ and decide to alphabetise them but somehow is never happens. I think because I know it would be hard to maintain with all the books coming and going. And there is something to be said for having to look through your whole collection just to find one thing. I’m always rediscovering books I forgot I had.

Different story in the living room. I suppose because the books in there are more ‘on show’. We have two shelves in there: one for classics and the other for favourite authors. Both are alphabetised, and I try to maintain order (although I’m rapidly running out of space). I like to see the black, red and cream spines of the Penguin and Oxford classics in neat rows, and love to have all our books by Ali Smith or Sarah Waters together – it pleases the completist in me. The top shelf of our ‘favourites’ bookcase is entirely books by or about Virginia Woolf. Both Esther and I studied her at university, and one of the reasons we first started seeing each other was a shared love of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. Twelve years later we are still together and Woolf has pride of place.

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What was the first book you ever bought with your own money and does it reside on your shelves now?

My parents didn’t buy many books when I was younger – why would you when you can get as many as you like for free at the library? So apart from the occasional present at Christmas and birthdays all my books were borrowed. When I was about thirteen Pam (the librarian) introduced me to the Outlander series of time-travel romance-adventure books by Diana Gabaldon. I was really into multi-volume epic fantasy at the time and the Outlander books were like heaven. I was in *love* with the two main characters Jamie and Claire and literally read the first three books to pieces. When the fourth book – Drums of Autumn – came out in hardback I joined the incredibly long library request list and waited and waited and waited. It seemed to take forever to be my turn.

Then, during a day trip with my parents (to York, of all places), I spotted it in the window of Waterstones. I had some birthday money left over and my mum suggested that I could buy Drums of Autumn with it. It was a revelation – I didn’t have to wait any more, I could buy it! I was almost hyperventilating carrying it to the counter to pay, and think I gabbled something embarrassing to the shop assistant about it (who was probably wandering what a teenager was doing buying the fourth book in a series mostly read by middle aged women). I can still remember the extraordinary sense of happiness and wellbeing I felt sitting in the car on the drive home with it next to me on the seat. I hardly dared open it. I’ve bought hundreds of books since then, probably searching for that same feeling of contentment, but never quite attained it.

And yes, Drums of Autumn is still on my shelves, along with all the other Outlander books. The series is still going and the eighth book Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is due out in the US this June. Oh, and they are currently making it into a TV series. I am very, very excited and also terrified that it won’t live up to my expectations.

Are there any guilty pleasures on your bookshelves you would be embarrassed people might see, or like me do you have a hidden shelf for those somewhere else in the house?

I don’t have a hidden shelf but I’ve sometimes been guilty of ‘hiding’ books at the back of others, epic fantasy instalments behind the latest contemporary fiction for example. I still love reading fantasy, which is definitely an acquired taste and some of the covers can be difficult to explain in polite company. Dragons, half naked ladies, you get the picture. They are much better than they used to be – Game of Thrones has ushered in a new era of pretty classy covers – but still can be a bit weird. They also come in a lot of non-standard shapes and sizes, from dumpy little paperbacks to enormous trade and fat hardcovers, so they can dominate a shelf and draw the eye. That said if you look at the library shelves at the moment you will see all sorts jumbled together – fantasy and historical fiction and Booker and Nobel prize winners jostling for space. I quite like it that way.

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Which book on the shelves is your most prized, mine would be a collection of Conan Doyle stories my Great Uncle Derrick memorised and retold me on long walks and then gave me when I was older? Which books would you try and save if (heaven forbid) there was a fire?

This is a really hard question because I’m sentimental about quite a lot of books. But I think I’m going to have to tell another anecdote about Pam and beloved library finds. Around the same time that Pam was feeding me Diana Gabaldon she also introduced me to Guy Gavriel Kay, a Canadian writer who specialises in alternate historical fantasy. He has written lots of incredible books and I urge everyone to try him, even if you’re not a fantasy fan. I started with his Fionavar Tapestry trilogy: The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire and The Darkest Road. I *loved* those books and when I was at university I tracked down hardback editions of the second and third books online and bought them. I couldn’t seem to find an affordable copy of the first one in good condition though so my collection was incomplete. Later, via the power of the internet and a friend, I got to know Guy a little through email as well as the illustrator who drew the Fionavar covers, Martin Springett. When Martin came to London 6 or 7 years ago I went down to meet up with him and he gave me a copy of that wonderful first book, which he signed. The powerful memory of reading it for the first time, along with Martin’s kindness, make it one of my most prized possessions.

What is the first ‘grown up’, and I don’t mean in a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ way, that you remember on your parent’s shelves or at the library, you really wanted to read? Did you ever get around to it and are they on your shelves now?

I segued pretty early from the children’s section of the library to the adult one, via Terry Pratchett and the fantasy shelves. I just read whatever I wanted; I’m pretty sure Pam let me take books out on my children’s ticket that I shouldn’t have.  I don’t remember there ever being a book that I wanted to read that I didn’t feel allowed to or was discouraged from. That said, there were definitely books I read that I probably shouldn’t have or that I was too young for. I think if my mum had known how much sex there was in the Outlander books for example she wouldn’t have let me read them so young, and the same goes for quite a lot of the fantasy series I gobbled up. And there were definitely books that I tried to read and failed at because I was too young, like Far From the Madding Crowd and To the Lighthouse. I’ve re-read them as an adult and loved them though, and they are still on my shelves now.

If you love a book but have borrowed the copy do you find you have to then buy the book and have it on your bookshelves or do you just buy every book you want to read?

I buy about 2/3 of my books and borrow the other 1/3, and usually I will buy a copy of a book that I’ve had from the library and loved. I use the same criteria as I would use to keep a book I suppose: will I re-read it, and do I need to have it in my line of sight. In the last couple of years I’ve borrowed and then bought Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Accidental by Ali Smith.

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What was the last book that you added to your bookshelves?

I’ve bought quite a lot of books this month – it’s a bit embarrassing how many, so I won’t say – but the absolutely most recent is J.L. Carr’s A Month in Country which I bought after reading Lynne’s recent post about it at Dovegreyreader. She made me want to read it immediately. This is how quite a lot of my books get bought – blogging has made me very impulsive.

Are there any books that you wish you had on your bookshelves that you don’t currently?

I am in a constant state of wanting books. Every day it seems like I have a new fascination to feed. At the moment I would like to grow my collection of Doris Lessing. In fact, a book that I would love that hasn’t even been announced or written yet is a biography of her; I live in hope that my favourite literary biographer Hermione Lee is working on it already. She has done such masterly lives of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton and Penelope Fitzgerald. Surely someone has asked her to do one of Doris?

What do you think someone perusing your shelves would think of your reading taste, or what would you like them to think?

This is such an interesting question and I’m really not sure. It depends so much on where they are looking. They would probably think I have an eclectic taste in books, which I do. I hope it would make them think I was a curious person with wide interests rather than someone who just flitted from one thing to another. They would probably think I was a feminist or interested in women’s fiction, because books by women probably outnumber books by men 2 to 1 or more.   They would probably think I was disorganised because of the chaotic ordering system! They would probably think I was a bit of an escapist because of all the historical and fantasy fiction. I’d like to think they were interpret my willingness to suspend my disbelief as openness.

Sometimes I wonder if most ‘ordinary’ people wouldn’t think I was a bit weird for having so many. The last time we moved house we had to pack our books using library book crates, 40 of them in total. They were just too heavy for cardboard boxes. The removal men were honestly confused about why we had so many – did we own a second hand bookshop? Had we inherited them? Had we not heard of a Kindle? They were very solicitous in suggesting ways we could unburden ourselves of them, by giving them to charity or taking them to a car boot sale. They just couldn’t believe we really *wanted* them. We are about to move again and the crates are coming back again. It will be interesting to see what the next removal team think!

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A huge thanks to Victoria for taking part in Other People’s Bookshelves. If you would like to find out more about her and the books she loves make sure you head to her blog Eve’s Alexandria. If you would like to catch up with the other posts in the series of Other People’s Bookshelves have a gander here. Don’t forgot if you would like to participate (and I would love you to – hint, hint, hint) in the series then drop me an email to savidgereads@gmail.com with the subject Other People’s Bookshelves, thanks in advance. In the meantime… what do you think of Victoria’s responses and/or any of the books and authors that she mentions?

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Savidge Reads Books, My Independent Bookshop

It has always been a dream of mine to have a bookshop that one day I could call my own. I think it is most bibliophiles dreams if we are honest, an excuse to fill up pretty much every space in a building we can with books before passing the right ones on to other lovely readers. Well now I do have my own bookshop of sorts Savidge Reads Books.

Savidge Reads Books

Apparently it lies in some unnamed city on a road called Fiction Street. No, I haven’t gone mad or all Second Life (is that what it’s called?) on you, fear not. I am just one of the many, many book lovers who has joined the initiative that Penguin Random House and Hive.co.uk have set up to encourage people to shop locally and support local books from local book lovers. I can hear you asking the question that I was asking when I heard about it ‘how on earth does it work and how on earth does another online retail site benefit local bookshops?’ Well check out this video here to see…

Basically, if you couldn’t watch the video, book lovers open a shop, choose some books to recommend, people buy them and Hive donate money from that purchase to a local bookshop of the sellers choice. Alas Scarthin Books (I was thinking of me and Gran’s joint favourite bookshop) aren’t listed but the wonderful Oxton Village Books down the road, now housed in the local museum and art gallery – cultural perfection, are and so I have nominated them.

My plan is that on the first of every month my bookshop window will change. I am going to recommend three different favourites (can you guess what they currently are?), three recent reads I have loved and reviewed in the last month and three books you might not have heard of or tried (despite my best efforts) and really, really should. I am hoping My Independent Bookshop will start allowing you to label shelves as that would show them off really nicely.

I am also thinking of a fourth shelf to use for some other books but am not sure what, contemporary favourites and then have a classic favs? A crime shelf? What do you think? I would (as always) love to know your thoughts, you may inspire me. So do go and have a gander, feel free to buy some of my wares and join (let me know if you have joined or do join please) and I will let you know in a month’s time when the new stock is in, as it were. This is going to be so much fun, and hopefully good for local bookshops!

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Animals – Emma Jane Unsworth

What do we want to do when we grow up? When should we really grow up and become, erm, grown-ups and settle down? Who makes us choose either way and should we conform to any of this? Do our friends change as we do, can the best and truest of friendships last the test of time and these changes? Do we ever really know who we want? Emma Jane Unsworth’s second novel, Animals, looks at all these questions and gives a current, eye opening, honest and often very funny insight into women in their late twenties and early thirties.

Canongate Books, trade paperback, 2014, fiction, 256 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

Laura and Tyler are best friends who live together and spend most of that time living together, apart from when they have to go to that pesky place called work (though Tyler doesn’t really need to unlike Laura who is while she writes her debut novelBacon), getting off their faces together – be it drink, drugs or preferably a bit of both – and having a rather wild time. However change is in the air. No, not since Tyler went and got a cat called Zuzu who hates Laura, since Laura got engaged and then worse still her fiancé, Jim, went and performed the cardinal sin of becoming a teetotaller. Now to add to the many hangovers, after the many crazy nights out, Laura has a headache hanging over her life as she must decide whether she really still wants to be an ‘any time and all night party girl’, or head for domesticity and listen to that ticking biological clock. Before any of you go making the mistake of thinking this sounds like a noughties Bridget Jones or chick-lit it is far from either, in fact Caitlin Moran has described it as ‘Withnail with girls’ as we are given a frank and no holds barred insight into what single, and engaged, ladies like to get up to before someone puts a ring on it.

You know how it is. Saturday afternoon. You wake up and you can’t move. I blinked and the floaters on my eyeballs shifted to reveal Tyler in her ratty old kimono over in the doorway. ‘Way I see it,’ she said, glass in one hand, lit cigarette in the other, ‘girls are tied to beds for two reasons: sex and exorcisms. So, which one was it with you?’

If we happen to be in, or over, our thirties then we all go through this stage at some point in our lives whatever gender or sexuality we are. It’s that eternal question we seem to be asked from a young age that we rebel against, the ‘what do you want to be when you’re a grown up?’ question that may possibly make us wince, which fortunately gets mistaken for a tight smile, or want to kill the person asking, covering those thoughts up with a false smile. Yet it is the question we are asked most as youths and then find ourselves annoyingly asking when we get older. Unsworth gives us three (Laura, Jim and Tyler) people’s reactions to that process with much insight and from all angles. Marvellous.

One of the other things that is marvellous is Unsworth’s writing. In Animals she manages to tread the thin lines of laugh out loud funny and incredibly dark. She also manages to do something quite a lot of writers fail at which is to make a book very funny without ever falling into the territory of a farce. These girls are having fun, even if they regret it the next morning sometimes, and that comes through in the writing. They are also firmly centred in reality, you have seen these girls on the streets of an evening, heard them laughing, seen them swaying drunkenly and sometimes making a tit, possibly literally, out of themselves.

She also, most importantly, writes some truly brilliant sentences such as… Oh. Give me a glance between two lovers on any day and I will show you a hundred heartbreaks and reconciliations, a thousand tallies and trump cards. Or… I felt it, then: a tremor down my spine; a cold spot at the back of the courtyard. A cat lying in the shade, flicking a caught bird with its claw over and over and over.

Unsworth also uses the darkly humorous to highlight some themes which also make the book all the more realistic and layered. I have mentioned the theme of friendship and the sense of needing to decide when to be a grown-up which we all face. With Laura and Tyler though she is also looking at how the modern world is for women and what the deal with feminism is right now. Is it to not have children and do what you like regardless of the labels of ‘crazy cat lady’ or ‘spinster’? Is it to be a wife and mother? Do you have to choose? Can you have it all? Does it matter either way? All big questions, all looked out without any feeling that Unsworth wanting to impart which is right or which is wrong, exploring all angles with two strong female leads, who may happen to be a tiny bit messed up, but aren’t we all?

Jeannie Johnson. Who’d once accidentally set her own pubes ablaze standing naked on a candlelit dinner table. She’d out spectacled us all. Now where is she? Spouting clichés, in stirrups.

Animals is a very clever book. It is an entertaining, occasionally frankly filthy, giggle and smirk inducing romp which also raises an eye to what life is like for women (though actually for all of us) as we grow up, try to become grown-ups (or try not to) and the choices and decisions we have to make as we evolve. It is a book which never takes itself too seriously, whilst being written brilliantly, yet by its very nature highlights some serious modern conundrums we all go through. As I said, clever, deftly done, wonderfully written and immensely readable.

If you want to know more about Animals you can hear Emma and I having a chat about the book (Emma even telling me off a bit) over a pint on the latest episode of You Wrote The Book here. Who else has read Animals and what did you make of it?

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Filed under Canongate Publishing, Emma Jane Unsworth, Review

So… What Are You Lovely Lot Reading Right Now?

I would love to know, just out of interest. I am between books and shall be slightly less bonkersly busy over the next week or two so you never
know a rave review from one of you might prove to be my next read. I wonder if any of you happen to be reading the same thing?

Come on, share and recommend away!

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