Tag Archives: Georgette Heyer

Other People’s Bookshelves #62 – Scott Pack

Hello and welcome to the latest Other People’s Bookshelves, a series of posts set to feed into the natural filthy book lust we all feel and give you a fix through other people’s books and shelves. This week we are down in London town to spend some time with a man who I love much more than is right, and much more than he probably knows – you’ll see why. Yes this week we are spending time with the lovely Scott Pack. Now before we go and rummage through his shelves, let us grab a nice cuppa and learn more about him…

I am a publisher (just setting up a new independent imprint called Aardvark Bureau after six years at HarperCollins) and writer (a couple of toilet books under the pen name Steve Stack and bits and bobs of journalism). I sometimes host literary events of my own making and at festivals. I have a blog called Me and My Big Mouth. Outside of the book stuff I bake cakes and biscuits.

living room shelves

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 am happy to read pretty much anything but I only keep books I love, am likely to re-read or that I think a member of the family will enjoy at some point.

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?

We live in a four-floor townhouse. On the ground floor is a set of shelves containing books I have read and loved and these are alphabetical by author. Alongside these are a bunch of classics, many read but some as yet unread. I designed the shelves myself and included a long shelf for my battered old Penguin paperbacks (see above) which are arranged by colour because I got bored one day and it killed an hour or so. Any old or particularly gorgeous hardbacks are on the opposite wall. In my bedroom are more shelves and here are kept all the unread books. There are lots of them. These are grouped by genre and then alphabetically.

Next to my bed are a couple of TBR shelves.

tbr pile

The basement kitchen has the cookbooks. My son has temporary residency in the loft (he’ll leave home at some point, I am sure) and shares the space with piles of books I couldn’t fit anywhere else. When we moved here I got rid of 50 boxes of books that I had accumulated over the years and knew I would never re-read or get round to reading. The charity shops were very pleased. I do still cull quite regularly.

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

I am not sure. I am getting on a bit so it is hard to remember back that far. I definitely recall buying the Narnia books from a pokey little bookshop on Canvey Island but I don’t think I actually got round to reading them all (habit of a lifetime started right there). The late 1970s and early 1980s were not particularly affluent periods in my neck of the woods but my parents would always find money if I wanted a book, something for which I shall be forever grateful.

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?

Don’t take this the wrong way but I don’t like the idea of guilty pleasures. You know how one of the posh newspapers will ask literary authors for their guilty pleasures every now and again and the authors will pick Ian Rankin or Georgette Heyer or someone like that? Fuck the fuck right off! What the newspapers are really asking is ‘Are there any genre authors you’ll admit to reading?’

penguins

Reading books is a bloody marvellous thing to do and no one should ever be made to feel guilty for reading anything. Ever. That being said, I know you didn’t mean it in quite that way. I hope every reader has books on their shelves that would surprise people. I love the novels of Miss Read. I have read them all. She is often assumed to be very Olde English and twee but her early work, in particular, makes for great social commentary. She charted village life accurately and with great wit. Her books are proudly displayed on my shelves, though.

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?

My single most prized volume is The Satanic Mill by Otfried Preussler which was my favourite book as a child and probably still is. Much later I was able to re-publish it in the UK under it’s original German title of Krabat. Neil Gaiman rates it as one of his best spooky reads for kids so I clearly had great taste even back then. I do own a couple of books from the collections of famous people. I have a set of The Forsyte Saga that once belonged to Maria Callas and I also have Peter Cushing’s entire Noel Coward collection. And then there is my Fuck Off collection. 70+ books in which the authors have signed ‘To Scott, Fuck Off…’ or some similarly insulting message. John Le Carre, Marian Keyes, John Grisham, David Mitchell, all swearing their tits off.

satanic

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?

My dad collected the Kings & Queens series from the BCA book club back in the 1970s. He would remove the dust jackets and put them on the shelves with their purple spines glaring out at me. From time to time I would take one down and flick through it. Recently I inherited his full set—he hasn’t popped his clogs yet, he was just getting rid of them—and they now sit on my shelves glaring out at my kids.

kings and queens

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 am lent books quote often and I do use my local library. My collecting instinct has dropped off a bit as I have grown older but if I really love a book I do indeed need a print edition somewhere on my shelves.

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

No idea. Not a clue. A sign of having too many books but I don’t care.

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

You know what? I don’t think there is. Until the next time I see something in a bookshop and covet it.

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

They would, of course, think I am charming, witty, handsome, a great cook, intelligent and a careful and considerate lover.

bedroom shelves

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A huge thanks to Scott for taking part in Other People’s Bookshelves, and making me laugh and my slightly inappropriate crush even bigger! 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 forget if you would like to participate (and I would love you to – hint, hint, hint as without you volunteering it doesn’t happen) 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 Scott’s responses and/or any of the books and authors that he mentions?

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Latest Library Loots & Publishers Parcels

I haven’t quite finished ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ which is hard to believe as it is so gripping but I spent last night watching The Rocky Horror Show in Wimbledon and so didn’t get a word of reading done in the evening. Will crack on and finish at lunch as have to read The Law and the Lady by Sunday, which I don’t think will be difficult as am sure will be another of Wilkie Collins books that leaves you hooked and unable to do anything other than turn pages, well and maybe make a cup of tea or two! 

So instead of doing anything on either of those thought would share not what I have bought of late as I did that the other week (and been on a book buying ban ever since). Instead what I have recently pilfered from the library. Pilfered is the wrong word as I am borrowing them, it just sounds good, maybe I have been spending too much time in the fictional 1880’s? 

Latest Library Loot

  • Kill the Grief by Caroline Rance – I have wanted to read this ever since I saw Jackie’s review on Farmlanebooks. I love the line in the blurb “from the bleak Wirral shore, to the screams of the operating theatre, and from a backstreet gin shop to the dungeons of the gaol” sounds very me, so will be following the fictional story of nurse Mary Helsall soon.  I wanted so much for it to count as Sensation fiction but sadly its 100 years too early, still is a perfect read to have alongside as is quite dark and disturbing, not for the faint hearted.
  • The Frozen Deep & A Rogue’s Life both by Wilkie Collins – Not his sensational fiction but can still fit them in as they are both very quick reads and would like to try some ‘non-sensation’ works of his.
  • Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer – I didn’t get on too well with ‘Simon the Coldheart’ so swapped it for some of Heyer’s crime fiction, hoping this one will be much more up my street. 
  • Q & A by Vikas Swarup – The Converted One wanted this and I will probably give it a whirl afterwards. I refused to see the film at the cinema for my own silly stubborn reasons but borrowed the DVD from a friend and we thought it was amazing!

There have also been some arrivals from some publishers I wanted to mention. The very lovely people at Duckworth publishing has seen my blog on Julie and Julia – The Movie the other day and sent me ‘My Life in France’ by Julia Childs which made me do a squeak of glee. They also sent me ‘War on the Margins’ which is about Jersey during the war and the Nazi’s occupation of it. I loved ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ and found the subject of these islands in that time fascinating so this should be brilliant.

Publishers Parcel

You will also see that I have not one but two copies of the latest Louis De Bernieres (I have not read anything of his yet, is that shocking?) novel, well collection of stories, ‘Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village’ which is based on his time growing up in rural England. This isn’t a memoir though as the author is “plagued by a novelist’s inability to stick to the truth”. The characters sound wonderful… “English village was a place where a lady might dress as a man in plus fours and spend her time shooting squirrels with a twelve bore, or keep a vast menagerie in her house. A retired general might give up wearing clothes, a spiritualist might live in a cottage with her sister and the ghost of her husband, and people might think it quite natural to confide in a spider that lives in a potting shed.” I am not sure I will be able to hold myself back from reading this for long. Which is a good thing for all of you as the spare copy is for a giveaway I shall do on the day!

What have you acquired of late? Have you read any of these or anything by the authors? As always, do let me know your thoughts, I best get off here and start reading!

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Latest Library Loot

Now that I am back up and running I decided it was time to take a trip to library (and finally taking back a few overdue books and pay a few fines – I don’t condone it). I must admit that I hadn’t had the intention of getting any more as I have to say that my local libraries aren’t normally renowned for having the latest books or anything special that really grabs me, something big has changed of late as I came away with all these gems…

Latest Library Loot

Latest Library Loot

Simon The Coldheart by Georgette Heyer – They had a whole shelf devoted to Georgette Heyer and she seems to have become ‘in vogue’ of late since the world of book blogging took off and Stephen Fry mentioned that she was one of his favourite authors. She has blinking loads of books, like really, loads and loads. I didn’t know where to start and so took one that has my first name… though have heard it’s actually one of her not so great books. I loved the line in the blurb “the icy rage of “Simon the Coldheart” must melt – or quench Lady Margaret, spitfire of Belremy” this could be fun between Man Bookers.

The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro – I hadn’t heard of Alice Munro until she won this years Man Booker International Prize and so was thrilled to see not one, not two but three of Alice Munro’s short story collections at the library. I thought that I would just take the one for now and see how I get on, I don’t have a particular reason for this particular one it was just the first I picked up – remember my intention wasn’t to get anymore at all. This should be interesting as I am not the biggest reader of short stories and I am trying to change that plus it’s a whole new author for me.

Now the next three I was so shocked to see I did a double take. When did libraries start stocking Persephone Classics? I am really chuffed to have managed to get three as I will be reading these in conjuncture with Claire of Paperback Reader and Verity of The B Files ‘Persephone Week’ later in the month. I have been meaning to read Persephone Classics for some time so this is the perfect opportunity. I only wish they’d had Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day but I mustn’t grumble and will keep my eyes peeled for it over the next few weeks. The ones I did get were…

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski – No idea the story of this one at all and yet I have actually been wanting to read it for ages. I was on the tube early this year or late last year and a girl was so intently reading it I wanted a copy and to befriend her. It might have been deemed a little odd though randomly starting a conversation with her about books and her boyfriend might not have been impressed.

Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes – Dovegreyreader has mentioned her recently and until then I had never heard of her. This is a collection of her short stories during the war and meets both the criteria of making me read short stories and classic authors this year so that’s two boxes ticked. I also think the cover is fabulous. Some Persephone books are just grey which I think is good in terms of identifying them but at the same time a little drab!

The Far Cry by Emma Smith – Elizabeth Bowen described this in ‘Tatler’ in 1949 as ‘savage comedy with a vicious streak’ what more could you want from a book? It’s all about a girl called Teresa who is taken away to India by her father to escape her mother clutches. I think this sounds very much my cup of tea a mix of interesting and a little mysterious yet witty.

Then a modern book was my final grab from the shelves and though I on the whole much prefer to own the books I read (it’s a strange issue I have) some books I always wonder whether are worth buying or not especially if you know nothing of the author and the reviews are a little mixed as with… 

Broken by Daniel Clay – This sounds like a big social/family drama of a book that I don’t think you could surmise easily… so that could make the review when I have finished it an interesting one. It borders on a ‘coming of age story’ which is a tag and genre that I can have issues with and is why so far I have never gotten round to buying it, and its not one I have seen in charity shops. 

So that was my haul. Have any of you had any big successes at the library of late? Do you love your library; I am certainly beginning to get on with mine much, much better after this? Have you read any of these books or ones by the same authors? Do let me know…

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