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?

20 Comments

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 bookbasedbanter@gmail.com 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!

26 Comments

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?

6 Comments

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…

22 Comments

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.

15 Comments

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!

19 Comments

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!

13 Comments

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