Category Archives: Simon's Bookish Bits

Simon’s Bookish Bits #32

Today is the first day I actually seem to have stopped still for weeks and weeks and so I thought I would do a little ‘bookish bits’ post as I have been rubbish at commenting back to you all or even visiting other book blogs (though I have spotted Polly and Jessica are back, yippee) between going and seeing Gran in Derbyshire, reading for the Green Carnation longlist, helping change a magazine from print to online and then manically reading, re-reading and prepping for the Manchester Literature Festival events I had earlier this week. That said I did manage to fit in a dash to A&E in the small hours of Saturday morning as I thought I was having a heart attack, turned out to thankfully be a rather large panic attack resulting in an almost phantom angina attack, lovely.

I have to say the staff at the hospital were great, so good I don’t mind the fact I am covered in bruises from the blood tests, turns out though that I have to have some rest and calm down, too many projects (which I think keep me going) have ground me down. Bed rest was ordered and so I am spending the next few days chilling out. Lots of writing and reading to do ahead then, shame! Now speaking of reading and readers, tenuous link I know, but The Readers Podcast was actually one year old yesterday, the birthday blog should be going up shortly/be up now – the biggest episode of absolute rambling yet.

That deserves some cake really or maybe several Jaffa cakes, doesn’t it?

Since everything stopped the one thing I have noticed is that my TBR has gotten completely out of control, like really badly. There are piles of books in places you didn’t think books could accumulate. The Beard believes I have let them breed (he actually said like bacteria but we will over look that) and so the next big task, apart from catching up on your comments on here and other blogs is a full on TBR sort out. I am actually quite excited about this. Then I can have a good old rummage and decide what random whim reads I want to treat myself too for a week of no work based reading. Exciting.

Speaking of work based reading. I thought, as they have just happened and yet the festival is still in full flow, I would give you a quick round up of the two events I hosted at Manchester Literature Festival this week. The first was on Monday night when I had the pleasure of being in conversation with Patrick Gale and Catherine Hall about their latest books in front of a packed out audience in Waterstones…

I had met Catherine before and so got my ‘fanboy’ moment out of the way with her but I have to admit I was really nervous about meeting Patrick. Fortunately a) so was Catherine and b) Patrick was utterly lovely. We all had a lovely few drinks before the event looking over Piccadilly Gardens in his hotel cafe in the afternoon before wandering to the event chatting about utterly random nonsense (I admit I grilled him about Richard and Judy) before sitting and having more fun, if more structured, at the event. I felt a bit like the cat that had got the cream and was one a little bit of a bookish high, can you tell?

Isn’t that t-shirt fancy? Then yesterday, dragging The Beard along in tow, I had was in conversation about all things Victoriana with the lovely Jane Harris, who I have gotten to know and adore, and Essie Fox who I have interviewed before and had a hoot with too. It was actually Essie’s first visit to Manchester and the venue could not have been more apt as we had the banqueting hall at Manchester Town Hall (which they use in a lot of the Victorian period dramas as it looks just like Westminster on the outside and hasn’t been tampered with inside, perfect). It was a really enjoyable event that could have gone on for hours longer and had me weeping with laughter and dumbstruck with fascination all at once.

So that has all been lovely, and a big thanks to all of you who came and said hello afterwards, really nice to meet several of you at both events. Maybe if we start The Readers Retreats I will see even more of you, but that is for another time.

Finally, before I go and try and sort out lots of books, I just want to say a huge thanks for all your well wishes; however I have received them, for Gran. Whilst everything with her has been going on I am trying to carry on as normal as it’s a good focus and the supporting emails/comments etc you have sent for her, myself and the family has been lovely. She has gone home today and so we will all be looking after her for the time that is left, I will be off there again for her 71st birthday and will keep passing on your kind words. I will also be buying her the BIGGEST birthday cake ever. But seriously thank you.

Right, best go and root through all these books before anyone trips over them and seriously hurts themselves, or indeed before a certain teething kitten chews any more of them. Hope all is well with all of you?



Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits

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

Simon’s Bookish Bits #30

I thought whilst I am busy with ‘The Book Cull of the End of Reading Days’ today and various meetings with Waterstones and my co-host Adam for Mondays delights I would bring back my bookish bits (they haven’t been seen since January so needed a bit of dusting off and airing) which have as of today hit the big 3-0! So here are some links and the like that I have loved of late…

  • First up, which is probably old news but was new news to me, the Guardian’s First Book Award has caused some kerfuffle by sharing its submissions. I can’t decide if I like the idea, we have been debating it for The Green Carnation Prize (which extended its deadlines this week due to so many submissions), or not to be honest. I do like the fact you can vote for a title not on the list though, so maybe it’s a good thing? What do you think?
  • Speaking of awards (and indeed the Guardian again) what has become one of my favourite events of the year, the Not the Booker Prize, opened this week. You can vote for one title to be put forward (as long as it is eligible of course). I have cast my vote, which was for the wonderful ‘The Proof of Love’ by Catherine Hall – I know I haven’t shut up about it, but its that good – let me know if you vote, there has already been some, erm, disharmony and mass voting. Ha.
  • Speaking of disharmony that leads me to a little plea for people to come and join the Man Booker Forum. I don’t know how many of you are currently reading the longlist but you are a lovely lot and it would be nice to see some friendly faces, even if you are behind a nickname, on their as its all got a bit tetchy on there… I might have got a bit grumpy about it and said my piece.
  • The lovely Kimbofo has done a brilliant list of other literary links that you should have a look at. She has also had my bestest friend in the world, since the age of three, and book blogger Polly of Novel Insights on her Triple Choice Tuesday this week so do look at that too.
  • Remember tomorrow is the first in the ‘Reading With Authors 2011’ series. Belinda Bauer and I are ready to be live on the virtual sofa all day with tea and biscuits tomorrow so do pop by for a discussion on ‘The Man Who Fell From Earth’ by Walter Tevis.
  • Finally a reminder that on Monday in the heart of Manchester there is a new literary salon called Bookmarked starting. You might know one of the hosts, in fact their was an interview with him over on Nick Campbell’s A Pile of Leaves blog. This month is ‘Debut Night’ and will see Sarah Winman and SJ Watson on a very real sofa at Waterstones Deansgate AND you could win a chance to meet them for a private chat, and a glass of wine, before hand. I so hope to see some of you there.

Right off to cull books, good weekends ahead all of you, any plans or any special reading ahead?


Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits

1,000 Posts… 500,000 Visits

I didn’t know whether to mention this or not at first but this is in fact my 1000th post on Savidge Reads. Initially I wasn’t sure if this was worthy of a post all of its own, in fact if it hadn’t been for my new schedule of, well, scheduling posts I wouldn’t have noticed. Yet when I did spot this was coming I did think it worth a mini mention. So hurrah…

And if that wasn’t enough I also wanted to take this special post to say at least half a million thank you’s too, as when I spotted the fact I was on post 1000 I also had a look at my overall stats. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that incredibly there have now been (and these don’t include me clicking over and over myself when I am spell checking WordPress informs me) over 500,000 visitors on Savidge Reads which completely flummoxes me.

Who knew when I wrote and posted that first tentative review of a Susan Hill novel, before not doing anything again for another three months, that another year of no comments or traffic would make it to 1000 posts later? The fact this is the case and over 500,000 of you having visited since,be they one offs or repeat visits, almost seems too much. So thank you, thank you for reading and following. Savidge Reads wouldn’t be what it is without your comments, emails, discussions and the like. It’s been really, really lovely, so a big thank you all for dropping by, it means a lot to me indeed. Right, back to books I think…


Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits

I’m Off To The Hospital Again…

Yes, lucky old me, by the time you read this I shall be installed at the hospital for the fourth of five operations (though this could become six as I learnt via post rather than face to face yesterday, thanks NHS) today. It feels like it has been no time between visits… oh that’s because it hasn’t! If you are all as bored by my health antics as I am fear not there is a book post scheduled for later on, if you aren’t do read on…

Despite my small gripe above about the communication issues I am discovering with the NHS when you are out of hospital, I have to say the staff have been wonderful and I have even had a few chats about books here and there, oh and e-readers, eurgh! I have been told I am an excellent and rather undemanding (don’t please look shocked, rude) patient, except it appears when I come around from anaesthetic when apparently I am a swearing ranting horror. I thought they were pulling my leg but I keep getting the same comments each operation so it must be true, eek! Good luck to all the nurses today, please bear a thought for them.

It’s actually rather exciting today as I am at a different hospital from the norm (which I am hoping isn’t like the one pictured below, which would be a brilliant setting for a book) and a change of scene will be interesting. What books am I taking? Well as I have typed this up in advance I am not sure as I have decided I am going to read by whim. I am also taking my iPod and have a backlog of ABC’s ‘First Tuesday Book Club’ vodcasts and ‘The Bookshow’ podcasts, along with about two weeks of the BBC’s radio soap opera ‘The Archers’ and the wonderful Mariella Frostrup’s ‘Open Book’ so bar the small issue of pain its rather like a holiday trip… sort of.

Not the hospital I am going to... I hope!

Sorry I still haven’t replied to all your comments and emails, as you can imagine it’s a little manic in general at the moment, but do ‘bear with’ and I will get back on it once I am up and about. I think after today am going to need quite a lot of recuperation time. I’ll keep you all posted. I hope you are all well? Let me know what news is with you all as I do feel rather out of the loop, and often loop the loop all at once.


Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits

I’m Back… If Briefly…

I thought you would like a little update and so I wanted to say ‘hello, I am back’ but sadly its not for long as I have another two operations to go before things even start to get back to getting back to normal and other procedures and things start. Plus there are several appointments in and out of doctors and specialist consultants in the offing. Around all that I will be able to comment and get to have a wander around other book blogs and the like. I will of course pop a note on the top of the homepage when I go in for any length of time again (the next of which is the 7th of April) though did it stop you from noticing the posts below it out of interest? It does feel a little like my hospital bed is always waiting for my return at the moment…

I do have a big thanks to say to you all before for all your Birthday wishes. All your support, and in some cases cards/parcels, which I have seen and received since I came out the hospital has meant the world to me and I am really thankful just so you know. I didn’t have the best birthday it has to be said, for one I was unconscious for most of it (and not of my own causing which might have made it more bearable), two I then had to have an emergency procedure when I woke up without any sedation – ouch, thirdly I had a really weird reaction (both physically and emotionally) to everything fourthly, and most traumatically, I haven’t had any birthday cake as I haven’t been allowed on solids since, until today actually. You might think all that put me in the bad mood that could cause the negative review coming later today, not the case as I read the book before I went in! With all of that all your positivity and well wishes have done me the world of good.

Right I had better head to the doctors shortly (afterwards I am meeting up with a friend who is also a lovely blogger and is coming up especially to see me, which has really cheered me up no end and of course I will report back about) I look forward to catching up with you all on your blogs, in comments here or by email etc over the next few days. Thanks again!


Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits

Simon’s Bookish Bits #29

As a change is as good as a rest I thought I would do one of my recently more random ‘Bookish Bits’ posts. I’ve a few little asks of you, when don’t I, all based around book groups including ideas for a great book group read, the TV Book Group and possible return of the Not The TV Book Group, oh plus a little health update and to remind you to let me know your thoughts on some books that I must get my mitts on in 2011.

First up for discussion today is Book Group choices. I am sure I have mentioned ‘ideal book group books before’ but now I call upon you for recommendations. Tonight I will be meeting up with my new book group for the second time to discuss Sara Gruen’s ‘Water For Elephants’ (which I will be discussing on the blog tomorrow) and afterwards I think I have to come up with a novel that’s my suggestion for a future read. Eek! I mean it’s not like I don’t have enough choice, and ideally I will be nominating something which is currently languishing on Mount TBR, it’s just when you put forward your first choice it says a lot about you. Well, that’s what I think anyway. So what do you suggest, what will cause great discussion without being something too light or too heavy?

Last night saw the return of The TV Book Group who discussed ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue. I was very sad not to see Laila on the opening show as I do have a soft spot for her, I think she really thinks it all through and quietly gets her point across. I did think Meera Syal was an absolutely brilliant addition to the show, really down to earth and real and quite happy to argue the case. You can see all the choices on their website, let me know if you have read any of them already and what you thought, and next week they will be discussing another of my favourite reads from last year The Long Song’ by Andrea Levy.

Now along those lines… I have had a few emails and enquiries in the flesh wondering whether in 2011 we might be repeating ‘Not The TV Book Group’. I would love, love, love to do it again and so have sent the feelers out via email to my lovely co-judges from last year to see their thoughts. I am hoping they all say yes, no pressure of course ha, ha, ha! Would you like to see the ‘Not The TV Book Group’ return in 2011? What sort of titles would you like to see? Unknown new or older books, books from certain eras, debut novels? Let me know your thoughts.

Oh and a little note on my health while we are catching up, no real news because it seems all my records from London have gone walkies and so now I am going through the whole rigmarole again. Back to the tests and the hospital visits and all that palaver… eurgh, let’s go back to discussing books shall we?

So to recap… which books on Mount TBR do you think would make great book group reads and why? Or what other books would you recommend from your own book group experience? What were your thoughts on the new series of The TV Book Club and would you like to see Not The TV Book Group return and with what? Oh and I almost forgot… any thoughts as to books I simply must try and devour in 2011, pop here if so!


Filed under Book Group, Not The TV Book Group, Simon's Bookish Bits

My Favourite Day of the Year?!?

I have to say that I think Boxing Day could be my favourite
day of the year! I love Christmas Day, but it always becomes a
frenzy and a little fraught and fretful – or is that just me? I
quite like my birthday but it tends to be an anti-climax, I always
get a bit too excited it’s lethal! Boxing Day is another thing all
together… You see it’s a day where you nibble (lots), drink and
be merry (some more and as hair of the dog), and enjoy your
presents! Such as nice new books in front of the log fire with lots
of chocolate, well thats what I have been doing so far!

So what are you
all doing on Boxing Day? Did you get lots of lovely pressies? I’ll
be reporting back on mine in the New Year as I’ve got a second
Christmas Day at my Mum’s on New Years Eve and have a feeling have
a few more delights await me! So what did you all get?

Please note: that’s not the lounge I am currently in!


Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits

Wishing You A Very…

… Merry Christmas from Savidge Reads. (I hope this image moves like it should because it will hopefully make you laugh like it did me, its the small things in life!)

I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing (which must involve reading – or else) and that you get all the books presents that you want and have a wonderful, wonderful day!

Happy Christmas to you all!!!!

I think people already think I am one of those crazy cat people, so to make sure there is no question of it I had to use this image!


Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits

I’m Moving To Manchester… Today

I feel a bit bad that I haven’t told you all this before, however as you read this I will be in a van with all my books and other bumph (mainly books) and heading up north. As you all know my health has been on the blink of late and so while that gets sorted and various other factors are going on I decided the northern lights of home and family were just what Dr Savidge would order. In fact my aunty is a Dr Savidge and she definitely thinks that I am doing the right thing, so there you have it – it must be true.

London and I have had a wonderful decade and a bit together (11 and a half years) but I think anyone who knows me has guessed that the love has started to fade and I have been getting bored of spending ridiculous amounts of money getting from a to b, let alone paying rent and all that gubbins. It leaves little time to stop and think and that’s what I intend, and quite possibly need, to do over the next few weeks/months.

While I sort out my new abode and get settled the blog is probably going to be a little quieter than usual, which might also be another thing I need (he says now and yet will probably blog just as much, ha). I fancy some sporadic posts rather than the daily ones though with lots of books to read over the festive period and other goings on I am sure I will have a lot to report back to you all regularly.

Those of you who see me in the flesh and haven’t known, though some of you have, I am sorry I just didn’t really want to make a big fuss. There is also the fact that I may just be back (to London I mean not the blog – that’s going nowhere) … you have been warned!!!

Talk to you, probably with a broader northern accent, soon!


Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits

Simon’s Bookish Bits #28

Firstly a big thank you again for all your well wishing after my health update and also for your recommendations for poor Granny Savidge Reads who is currently snowed in and getting a dose of cabin fever in the peaks. Your comments and thoughts are always much appreciated. Right back to bookish business with a Savidge quote, some Agatha Raisin winners, another book giveaway, and your help with the dreaded return of reader’s block, which seems to have made a rather annoying return here at Savidge Reads HQ!

You may remember that earlier in the year I got rather excited about Justin Cronin’s ‘The Passage’ and thoroughly enjoyed this escapist, and also very well written, novel. I have to say I wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea but I was completely lost in it, it’s a recommendation if you’re puzzling over a Christmas present for someone this year. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I had an email from the novels publicist saying ‘you need to pop to a bookshop and check the inside pages of the trade paperback of The Passage’. So of course I had to go and have a peek and look what I discovered…

… There was little old me quoted alongside blinking Stephen King!!! I might possibly have let out a little squeal in said book shop but I couldn’t possibly confirm this. Ha!

Now then last week I offered two of you the entire collection of one of my favourite series the wonderful ‘Agatha Raisin’ mysteries. It was only to UK readers but if you scroll down I have another one that’s open worldwide. The lucky two winners picked at random for this perfect pre-Christmas parcel are… Gavreads and Christine C so if you could email your addresses to I can get these out to you pronto!!

Now as you might just be aware The Green Carnation Prize Winner 2010 was announced on Wednesday. You have the chance, worldwide, to win a copy of the book by helping out the judging panel for the prize in 2011. I am going to be Chair of the Judges which is very exciting and am really keen to get as much feedback from you all as is possible. So get suggesting! You have until the day the new judging panel for 2011 is announced next week, I can tell you I am very excited by the line up, we have some familiar faces and some new… oooh I mustn’t say anymore.

Finally a bit of annoyance is going on at Savidge Reads HQ as once again I have readers block. I am meant to be discussing ‘Middlesex’ at book group on Monday (dependent on hospital visit date and time) and as yet I haven’t read a word of it despite how good I have heard it is. In fact any reading seems like a no go at the moment. It might be all the mad reading we did for this year’s Green Carnation (we have six months next year to longlist as opposed to this years one) or it might be the whole health thing – either way it’s annoying. I have asked for your help with this one before but like a stuck record I am asking yet again! Help!


Filed under Book Thoughts, Simon's Bookish Bits

How’s The Health?

I’ve had lots of comments and emails after a previous post about how my health is and so thought I would do a brief post today to keep you all updated. It’s a funny one though as I do worry about over sharing on Savidge Reads, I do hope I don’t share too much and bore you all silly!

So just what the heck is going on with my health? Well after seven (!!) biopsies and after having given more blood than I thought I had in my body (and ending up looking like a human pin cushion – well my arm does) Wednesday was the big day for results adding a slight nervous edge to what was a wonderful day in terms of a certain book prize. So I arrived at the doctors and waited and waited and waited, and waiting rooms are not the nicest place to wait despite the name, for what felt like seven years but was probably seven minutes and was ushered in for the news.

There is good news and there is some not so good. The not so good was that I have ‘abnormal cells’ in my intestines.  This means I am off to see a specialist on Monday or Tuesday (awaiting a call) and then there is going to be some more probing down there which considering how big your intestines are, around 7 meters – who knew, isn’t going to be much fun when I have it done next week. My red blood cells are lacking the oxygen they would like and my white blood cells are low but as to whether that’s symptomatic of anything  is something else they will be looking at. I also have to get another MRI scan done as the hospital sent my first scans to the wrong doctors (don’t ask) and it looks like having it done again will take less time than transferring the originals a mile down the road from one doctors to the others. I am not criticising the NHS at all by the way as they have been lovely, really helpful, kind and most important speedy. There looks like there will be an operation in the next few months, but me being me I am just seeing that as more time to do more reading really. I will know more next week so am currently being cautiously vague.

The good news is that my kidney’s, stomach and liver are all fine nothing weird going on there. I like to look on the positive and so am trying not to get too freaked out but I will admit there have been a few wobbles. I am just thinking of the reading time I will have whilst recuperating, every cloud has a silver lining and all that.

So that’s that. I hope I haven’t over shared? I am not writing this post for sympathy and so won’t be whinging about this on here again, maybe just the odd update every now and then instead. Thank you all for your support so far it’s meant a lot to me. You are a lovely bunch as I seem to be saying lots and lots at the moment.

Right let’s move on… what bookish things can we discuss instead? Actually I have another post popping up shortly so hold those thoughts!!!!


Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits

Simon’s Bookish Bits #27

I can’t actually believe that I haven’t done a ‘Bookish Bits’ post since the start of August. However there are occasionally times when you are writing a post filled with little bookish bits this is just what you need and today is such a post. I have a few different things I want to natter with you about such as the Costa Prize, a lovely publisher loot when I had a meeting about the reading guides I am going to be writing and The Green Carnation event.

I do really like the Costa Book Awards, as I commented on Kirsty of Other Stories blog earlier in the week, I’m never sure why this is though because I don’t think I have read that many of the winners but I have read and really enjoyed many of the books which have been shortlisted, without knowing they have been shortlisted. I don’t read children’s books, on the whole, and I don’t really go for poetry (though I wish I did) and can be funny with non-fiction so in some ways you would think that the prize would maybe not be so much for me but I love the fact it doesn’t seem so snobbish and the lists are always eclectic as you can see from The First Novel and Novel Award short lists…

Costa First Novel Award

  • Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai
  • Coconut Unlimited by Nikesh Shukla
  • The Temple-Goers by Aatish Taseer
  • Not Quite White by Simon Thirsk

Costa Novel Award

  • Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
  • The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale
  • The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
  • Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

I have already read two of the novels of the years and loved Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘The Hand That First Held Mine’ and would recommend everyone on the face of this planet gives it a read. I am slightly surprised that Nigel Farndale’s ‘The Blasphemer’ is on the list as I didn’t love this book, not that I think I am any authority on what should be short listed on this prize. I am wondering f I should return to it as it’s been nestling on my ‘possibly give to charity or my family’ pile. Hmmm! I have been sent some of the other books listed and I think I might pick some of them up in the not too distant future.

I was kindly sent ‘Witness of the Night’ by Kishwar Desai from Beautiful Books which I had heard nothing about but sounds great, ‘Coconut Unlimited’ by Nikesh Shukla which I have heard lots and lots of good things about from Quartet Books, ‘Skippy Dies’ has been languishing on my TBR for ages (oops), I managed to grab Aatish Taseer’s ‘The Temple-Goers’ in the library when I took some books back finally, and I managed to sneak a copy of Louise Doughty’s ‘Whatever You Love’ from Faber & Faber’s HQ when I went in this week, which nicely leads me to the next part of my post…

I mentioned a while ago that I am going to be writing some Reading Guides for a publisher. I can now tell you that the publisher is Faber & Faber and thanks to the comments we are coming up with something very new and different with how these reading guides are going to work. I have lots of brainstorming to do, lots. I stupidly forgot to take a picture of Faber HQ but I did spot this amazing house filled with books which I wanted to move into on the spot.

I did manage to leave with some lovely loot from Faber though in a rather delightful bag. Top priority was ‘Gillespie & I’ by Jane Harris (I adored ‘The Observations’ and am begging Faber to let me write the reading guide for that one next) which isn’t out until May so am soooo chuffed managed to get my mitts on it. I also got all the Ishiguro novels I don’t own which was great (and some double copies which I have passed on) as I want to get to know Ishiguro better as the first book I am going to be writing the reading guide for is ‘Never Let Me Go’ my review of which got me the job unbeknown to me at the time.

Straight after Faber I ran to The Green Carnation Event which was a huge success, so much so I got stuck at the back with the other judges as it was so busy we could barely move and lots of people couldn’t even get in…

It was a great night for those of us who did get in with the readings from the authors and then lots of drinking afterwards in the local pub which I will report back on in due course, I am awaiting some pictures from one of my lovely friends.

So what bookish goings on have you been up to lately? Any great recent reads or new book arrivals? What are your thoughts on how reading guides could be made more modern (for my brainstorming)? Any thoughts on the Costa Book Award Shortlists, have you read any of them at all, any recommendations?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Simon's Bookish Bits

South West London (A Holiday At Home)

Sometimes when you are really busy you need a holiday don’t you? Where can be better than in your back yard? Well unless of course you don’t have a back yard, however deep in South West London we have something a bit better and so I thought I would take you on a stroll of an area of Stately Homes, farms, nature reserves and kitsch markets. Who says South London has nothing to offer?

So the other weekend rather than go into the big bright lights of the city centre it was time to spend a day enjoying what is a mere ten minute bus journey away for a day out filled with lots of adventure and all for free. We started off with the lovely Merton Abbey Mills which is the only remaining part of what was an abbey bigger than Westminster (the remains sadly now being covered by a big supermarket) it’s a lovely place where my cats ashes are…

It has some wonderful market stalls which sell all types of things…

I had to rush past the books for 10p stall of course…

It is also a place that is now the host of events, that particular day randomly a Goth festival which was unusual and quite brilliant all in one…

We then followed the first part of The Wandle Trail…

Which leads us to the Dean City Farm where you can make friends with sheep…

And goats…

Back on the Wandle Trail you soon pass Wandle Manor which is where they film some of the lovely TV adaptations of big classics…

Then the real walk starts and you are suddenly not in London anymore…

You enter the land of National Trust…

And come upon the old Morden Hall…

On down the old carriage way…

Ending up in the middle of the most beautiful nature reserve home to some wonderful wildlife (I didn’t manage to get a photo of the Kingfisher we saw, sorry)

After which you find you really need a nice cup of tea and some cake in the National Trust café…

Strange then that this is where a decision was made that maybe it’s soon time to leave London and head back up north (partly why I am there this weekend and not catching up with responding to comments, sorry)… But more on that some other time! So when was the last time you had a holiday at home? What did you end up doing? What are you up to this weekend?


Filed under Simon's Bookish Bits