Category Archives: 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!



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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!


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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!


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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!


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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!!!!


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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?


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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?


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