Tag Archives: Random Savidgeness

What A Character I’ve Become…

I have always wanted to be a character in a book. I think in reality it is every readers dream. Well, believe it or not it has happened, and in one of my favourite contemporary crime writers latest books too…

Yes that’s Simon Savidge, headteacher and local hero on the Falkland Isles, or Sharon Bolton’s version of them in her latest thriller (a standalone) Little Black Lies. Only could there be come to this Mr Savidge than meets the eye…

Could he be a suspect and murderer? I have no idea and am reading like a loon to try and find out! Not that I will tell you either way, you’ll have to get Little Black Lies when it comes out in July. I can say it’s a corker and is making me slightly obsessed with shipwrecks, something I never thought I would say. Anyway, I just had to share my excitement with you all!

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A Golden Note(book) From Gran

Those of you who have been following Savidge Reads for the last however many years will know of Granny Savidge Reads. Since she died there has definitely been a big part of my life missing, especially the chats on the phone at least two or three times a week to put the world to rights and to talk about books – let alone trips to see her which always involved a bookshop or two if we could. Anyway, she made a random appearance in my booky life today as I was sorting out and culling my books. I had picked up Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook and I was wondering where I had got it from when I opened it up and…

Gran gave a Savidge review...

Gran gave a Savidge review…

…It was a book I had inherited from Gran, I didn’t realised that she left notes in some of her books. I also didn’t realise that she could be so savage, or Savidge, in her reviews of books – maybe I should be a little more Gran sometimes. In case you can’t read her writing she says ‘I hated this book but as it is highly regarded by many people & someone else in the family may appreciate it more than I have I decided to keep it.’ Wowsers! It was weirdly really nice to find this note and think that randomly I might be the member of the family who could appreciate it, though I am somewhat worried I won’t get it. It was also really nice to get a message, almost a footnote to the book from beyond the grave. It made me laugh and then made me cry, in a nice way if you know what I mean.

Anyway I thought I would share it with you as lots of you liked her thoughts and opinions. I am now wondering if I should be brave and try and read this in the late summer/early autumn and see if I agree with Gran or not, maybe some of you would like to join in – an unofficial read-a-long maybe, nothing too heavy yet something supportive, let me know. Oh and any thoughts on notes you’ve found in books, or even on The Golden Notebook (no spoilers though mind), that you have let me know. Back to culling, I have managed 419 books so far but feel I could do more – and I am off to my mothers tomorrow so want to take a nice big selection to her.

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The Culling Game

By giving it the title of the culling game I am of course being ironic, for any booklover that moment when your shelves (or maybe your partner) simply groan with the strain of all those books can be the beginning of what is an emotional, conflicting and painful thing – sorting out all those books you have somehow accumulated. It is something some of us have to go through once a year, some of us much more regularly. Dear readers and fellow book lovers, I am at that point and will be enduring it for the next few days/week. Starting today…

The hardbacks are the first in the line for sorting...

The hardbacks are the first in the line for sorting…

I am going to pace myself though and have a system in place both for how I attack (it sounds so vicious) these books and how I decide to keep them or not. Firstly I am not doing it all in one go. I will firstly go through my shelves of hardbacks and trade paperbacks, then my shelves of recent paperbacks, then my shelves that got mixed up because I had no space and had to buy more shelves and then onto my six boxes of ‘backlist’ books. I am giving myself a day for each of those set of shelves (even though there’s loads in each) and two days to do the boxes. This will stop any small (read as massive) meltdowns I have along the way, as has happened before. It is a long game this one, especially as I want to reduce my books by not a mere quarter, or a tricky half, but a true culling of two thirds of what I own. I know, it’s drastic but I think it needs to be done.

My criterion for books staying are these three simple points (because anymore and you start making excuses and this is a Savidge cull)…

  • Did I buy them/ask for them/are they a special edition?
  • Could I get it from the library, which should be used as much as possible?
  • Have I owned this book for more than two years and if so why so?

As odd as it may sound there is actually quite nice about the feeling you get post cull. I find that not only does everything seem neater and more organised (with me actually knowing what books I own) but it also reinvigorates how much I love books. Yes, even when you have just got rid of lots. This is because if you are anything like me books are your addiction and hoarding setting. To get rid of a book, even if they are going to good homes as mine do, is like snuffing out a potential adventure that you might have had within those pages. Yet we have to look forward and the fact that the books we have on our shelves are ones we know we will love and are desperate to read as well as freeing up the space for future reads.

It is this feeling that I will be focussing on along with a) the fact that I want to have all my shelves sorted by June the 23rd when I have an unofficial restart of the blog (so I need to sort the backlogue of reviews I have by then too) giving me a goal b) thinking of all the people who will get enjoyment out of the books I am passing on – this will mainly be my mother who I am off to see this weekend for my sisters 17th (I feel so old) birthday. It is going to be quite a torturous task but I am going to feel so much better after!

Right, less chatting on here and more culling, wish me luck!

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Looking for Something Different?

I have been pondering the direction of this blog for the future. Not in a naval gazing or woe is me way, no one likes those sort of introspective blog posts, actually in a very positive and hopefully exciting way. As the blogosphere grows, seemingly daily, there are now a plethora of places where you can find book reviews in abundance, yet strangely it seems that the more blogs there are the more the same books get discussed. I don’t know about all of you but I sometimes feel like I want something different. A wander round Waterstones Piccadilly last week, where all this posts photos were sneakily shot, made me realise this all the more last week.

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However, I am a fine one to talk. Which is one of the most talked about books in and out of the industry at the moment? Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins. Which book did I review only last week? A God in Ruins. That said, she one of my favourite authors who I have loved ever since Gran introduced me to one of her lesser known novels. Why am I sounding defensive though, isn’t that what we all want from our reading, to read some of the most talked about books AND read a diverse mix of books that you might just find on a random mooch and meander around a bookshop looking on the shelves and the tables. I know I do. I am always keen to hear what books people are talking about, yet I only read them if I really want to not because the world seems to be telling me so.

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Often though (for me) it is the books I might be missing, the hidden gems somehow overlooked, that I am keener to find out about. Judging Fiction Uncovered has shown me there are vast numbers of these books in the UK alone and those are contemporary, when you think about all the ones there must be all around the world be they books published right now or back listed, modern classic or truly ancient, the mind starts to boggle and highlights my point. There are so many books out there not being discussed or seemingly hunted down, and I think that is what I want to do but maybe it is just me?

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The reason why I ask if it is just me is that I have noticed on Savidge Reads that when I review a lesser known book, for example something like the wonderfully quirky Girly which I mentioned yesterday, there seems to be less chatter on the blog and (as I went and had a look) a few less views than when I talk about one of the big buzz books. Now this isn’t an issue as I am not a hits and views chaser, don’t get me wrong they are lovely but I still see this blog as a diary of my journey to find great reads for myself. Selfish so and so aren’t I? I can also understand it as I love seeing what bloggers I respect and follow have thought of books I have read in the past and the potential to have a natter about them (I know my commenting has been rubbish, I have been chastising myself this very morning) as reading can be a lonely activity.

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With their being so many books coming out; being rediscovered, republished and translated and with all the wonderful powerhouse publishers and the new and niche imprints and independents, it is the books I know nothing about that will have me clicking to read further. Maybe that is just me though? Maybe I am just at a stage in my reading life where I need to go off on a tangent and read by the seat of my pants in some unusual and different directions. Reporting back of course along the way!

I would love your thoughts, if my ramblings made any sense? If they didn’t thanks anyway for providing me with a sounding board, it may have muddied the waters your end but they are much clearer here, if you know what I mean? Oh dear Simon, quit while your ahead! Right, chip in with your thoughts below if you fancy…

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

Pondering: The Return of 40 By 40 (I Need Your Book Recommendations)

You may remember way back in the distant past, well back in 2013, I discussed the idea of reading 40 books before I was 40 and even making a list of the titles. A lot has happened since then, mainly Gran getting very ill, and so that project sort of when by the wayside. However I was reminded of this when the new (stunning) edition of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley arrived through the letterbox – a book I have been meaning to read, by an author I have always meant to read.

Going back and looking at the list of books that I had chosen I realised I had read three so that was quite good. I also realised that I wasn’t sure I had created quite the right list. The forty books I had chosen were all books where I hadn’t read the author before and, if I am being super duper honest, some of them feel quite ‘worthy’.

So I am pondering doing it again starting from scratch. Yet this time I want to rethink about the sort of books I want to read, and of course I want your suggestions. Yes, I would still like to read some of the books by authors I have missed and really shouldn’t have, yet I also need to think about books by authors I like who I haven’t read in ages. When was the last time I read Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, (both Alias Grace and The Remains of the Day I have been intent on reading for ages) or even Daphne Du Maurier? Shocking.

So here is the start of my new list…

  1. The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
  2. Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
  3. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

…But which books next? I am going to go through my shelves over the next few days/weeks and see which books I already have I have been meaning to read, whether I have read the author or not. I would also love to have recommendations from you. These could be your top 5 books (and I can see if I have read them before), books you have spotted I haven’t read and should and also the books that you have always meant to read and haven’t (maybe you could join in or it will give you a nudge to give them a whirl). So over to you for your suggestions in the comments below! Next up for me to reignite is the Persephone Project, I seemed to get stuck on book eight, 2013 wasn’t a good year for me starting projects but then it was a bugger of a year!

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Vote! Vote! Vote!

Here in the UK, as many of you will know, it is a very important day for voting. Firstly there is the small matter of the General Election (which I am so tense and nervous about I have been unable to edit any reviews I wanted to, read or really be any use) and secondly because of a vote which I thought you might all be somewhat more interested in/less bored of hearing about elsewhere… The Vote for Britain’s National Bird.

Picture from The Guardian

As I am contemplating a summer ‘reading the British countryside’ (more on that in due course when I have had time to plan it/decide if it is actually a daft idea long term) and reading more non-fiction and nature writing (which is becoming a huge new favourite in bookshops apparently along with colouring books) it seemed quite apt.

The shortlisted candidates are… Barn Owl, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Hen Harrier, Kingfisher, Mute Swan, Puffin (which I have eaten), Red Kite, Robin or Wren. How do you do it? Well you pop to this website here www.votenationalbird.com and select the right bird, simple as that. You have until midnight GMT tonight. I thought it would make for a nice bit of fun amongst all the other madness today! You can see their manifesto’s on The Guardian’s website here. Let me know if you do and what you vote for.

Who did I vote for? I chose the bird that brings the most nostalgia for me and that is the Red Kite, my grandparents used to make me play the ‘how many Red Kite’s can Simon see?’ game as we travelled up and down the country to and from my mum’s on and back from holidays. Though you could say that sums up my politics in general, voting for Red Kite’s rather than Blue Tit’s. (Sorry I couldn’t help it!)

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The Long Weekend; What Are We All Reading?

Here in the UK we are about to have the first of our Bank Holiday weekends (I don’t count Easter as a Bank Holiday, in fact I have never looked up why we have Bank Holidays and simply enjoyed them, maybe I should?) meaning we have an extra day off, which naturally is used by the sane of us to do lots more reading than we normally would. Yes, even those of us who have been judging books like crazy. Whilst I am still in reading mode for Fiction Uncovered (get ready for a longlist next week) I have decided to use this Bank Holiday as a holiday from those books and catch up with some books I have been meaning to read since they arrived here at Savidge Reads HQ. After rummaging through my shelves I have decided on this selection of books to keep me company over the next three days…

Some light weekend reading, guarded by Henry the Cushion Cat

Some light weekend reading, guarded by Henry the Cushion Cat

Now I might not read all of them, especially as one of them is ******* huge and another pretty large, but as The Beard is away working the whole three days I thought that I would go for a couple of epics. Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life has been getting some serious chatter over in America (Ann Kingman who I trust implicitly, along with Michael Kindness of course, has raved about it with no spoilers here) and while not out here until August the proof has been daring me to read it for a good few weeks now. The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall is another I have been meaning to read for a while, set in countryside of the Lake District this is a tale of a woman who has come back to the old home town she fled a very different person than when she left, oh and is trying to bring wolves back into their former habitat… sounds right up my street.

Long time visitors of the blog will know I love Kate Atkinson and A God in Ruins is the ‘alongside/accompanying’ novel to Life After Life which I thought was bloody marvellous. It is out next week and I want to get to it before it is talked about too much. Speaking of talked about, Elena Ferrante has been an author who has becoming something of a cult with lots and lots and lots and lots of the people I trust around the booksphere, My Brilliant Friend is the first of her much acclaimed Neapolitan Novels and frankly I wouldn’t mind escaping to Italy, so time to try her out. I will report back on what I manage to get through in due course, before all that though I am off to see Child 44 (the book is so good, I hope the film is so good too) tonight…

What about all of you? What are you reading or planning to read over the weekend, be it a long one or not?

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