Tag Archives: Anne Garreta

Some LGBT Reading This Summer

It has been the start of the Pride season around the world this weekend. After verbalising my lack of pride in my country on Friday (I have left some of the tame responses up but deleted the ones about encouraging rapists into the country and other racist hate filled bile which have appeared on and off over the last few days) I was unsure if I wanted to talk about Pride, could I really face any homophobia when I was already feeling saddened by it all. Then I thought fuck it this is my blog and I will write what the bloody hell I want. So I am, well I will be speaking it mainly as there is a video coming up.

As many of you will be aware I am part of the LGBT community. I am a gay man, to me it is just a part of my life, nothing special nothing dreadful – though in the past it has felt like the latter on occasions. Who I love shouldn’t really matter, to me it is just who I am, I don’t feel the need to shout about it but maybe it should. As we have seen in the news in America not long ago in Orlando we haven’t come as far as we like to think we have, it does still scare/anger people, difference still breeds fear and contempt. Which means we need to be talking about it and making a stand for it all, be it in the bigger ways like Pride or something smaller. I will be taking part in some Pride’s this summer,I also thought I could do something smaller this summer, something that I could get all of you involved with if you fancied it? I thought it would be good to read some LGBT themed fiction over the summer months and I would love it if you wanted to join in with me. You can watch a video below to hear me talking about the choices, I will also list the titles below too.

The Bells – Richard Harvell
We Are The Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson
Beijing Comrades – Bei Tong
Sphinx – Anne Garreta
The Narrow Door – Paul Lisicky
Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta
The Art of Being Normal  – Lisa Williamson
Boy Erased – Garrard Conley

This list is by no means exhaustive, I actually had another 5 I wanted to talk about but I don’t like the number 13 and I would have ended up talking on the channel for ages. So if you fancy reading any of these then do let me know. Boy Erased, Sphinx and The Art of Being Normal are whizzing up the TBR the more I think of them, so I may read them quite soon. If you just fancy reading some LGBT literature of your own choice over the summer let me know which books you’ll be heading to AND as always do recommend me some LGBT titles new and old that you think I should be giving a read. I know it might seem small but it is still doing something. If you need any further inspiration for books the do head to The Green Carnation Prize (which I co-founded and will be back later in the year) website where lists of longlisted, shortlisted and winning titles reside, some corking reads there. Let’s get reading and discovering the worlds of all walks of life from all diverse backgrounds, after all that is all part of the wonder of books isn’t it?

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Filed under LGBT Literature, Random Savidgeness

Finding Brilliant Book Recommendations in the Real World

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me where I got my best book recommendations from outside of the internet. Initially I was slightly stumped by this because surprise, surprise online tends to be where I hear most of the chatter, along with some of the shouting which is beginning to grate, about marvellous books be it from publishers, other bloggers (admittedly I don’t read as many blogs as I would like and have a group of five or six I visit regularly, which I might talk about in due course) and other book lovers tweeting from the rooftops about great books. Offline is a trickier beast and after watching my new spending habits (for I am back buying books in a big way thanks to my new job) recently I discovered in the last few weeks it is through three main channels…

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1. Friends, select ones.

You might think that everyone I know is bonkers about books, you would we wrong. In actual fact most of my friends are either lovely ladies in Liverpool or beardy boys who like picking up other beardy boys more than picking up a good book. However within these groups and with a select few in London there are some true book nerds that I trust BUT only a handful. Polly, Eric, Catherine, Kerry, Simon, Gavin, Kim, Kate, Rob, Uli and Nina you all know you are indeed these folk. Yet I don’t buy everything that they recommend, it takes an almost squeal/squee like moment of bookish joy to get me to purchase something. This did happen just two weeks ago when staying with Catherine Hall and she raved and raved about a book I had never heard of, Ben Byrne’s Fire Flowers, to the point where when I fell in Foyles later that day I had to find it and buy it – and lucky me it was a signed copy so felt like fate

2. Bookshops, select ones.

This sounds really obvious but the best place in the world to find books that aren’t libraries are bookshops. When I am less flush a library is the ideal place, though the titles tend to be more obvious (though the same could be said for some lazy bookshops) in these to reach the reading mass market. However when I am better off nothing beats a good mooch around a bookshop. I say mooch because, and here I might sound like a right wally but hey ho, I tend to move away from the charts as I want something a bit different. Staff recommendation sections are brilliant for this, and also a really good way of judging a bookshop. Ha! I had never heard of Anne Garreta’s Sphinx (all about the fluidity of sexuality and sounds brilliantly quirky) or the publisher Deep Vellum Publishing but having been to Foyles a lot of late (because I seem to be in London every week at the mo for a day or two, which is nice if train tiring) I have my sights on getting many more of.

3. Random Chats, select ones.

I always find it fascinating and delightful when you strike up a conversation that leads to someone waxing lyrical about a book or author when you least expect it. This can happen here, there and everywhere. You could be anywhere and the conversation starts on something else and then you are somehow chatting about books. (I remember having a very long and lovely conversation about Toni Morrison on a train journey to Manchester from London.) This happened most recently when I was booking a work trip, to Stylist Live, with my boss and we saw Nina Stibbe was going to be on. My boss loves her and enthused about her so much I wanted to read both Nina’s books right there and then, as it was I forgot them both and bought Love Nina on the day to be signed. I love those random moments. I will judge my boss on the book though, that always happens on these random recommendations – though to be fair I think I am going to love, erm, Love Nina as I love the premise and the author is ruddy lovely too (it shouldn’t matter but it does!)

So those are how I find my best recommendations outside the interweb, selectively. I mean come on, who doesn’t love a book recommendation that is enthused, passionate and a little bit different? It is how I hope I am with books and is lovely when you find something a bit off the tracks. What about all of you, where do you get your best bookish recommendations in the real world?

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness