Remembering ‘Mr Preview’

No Minor Chords: My Days in Hollywood by André Previn When André Previn died just a month short of his 90th birthday a couple of weeks ago, the world of music lost one of its real nice guys. I immediately dug out my copy of his Hollywood memoir which was published back in 1991 to Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them…

I’ve kept a master spreadsheet of what I’ve read every year since 2006, two years before I started blogging. There are entries on it from 2004 too, but not a full reading record. While I’ve only kept good stats since around 2010, I did used to write capsule reviews of those pre-blog reads on the Read More

Review Catch-up #3 from 2018

Yet another pair of shorter reviews of books I read at the tail-end of 2018. Where Shall We Run To? by Alan Garner I shall be reviewing this book at length for Shiny but it warrants a short write-up here too. I am a big Alan Garner fan (see here), and I can think of Read More

Review Catch-up #2 from 2018

More shorter reviews of books I read towards the end of 2018… The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story by Christie Watson There are so many books written by hospital doctors these days – of all types. Surgeon’s stories in the operating theatre; junior doctor’s comedic diaries; heart-breaking lives cut short by cancer – they fill shelves Read More

Year End Review #4: Non-Fiction

This isn’t going to be a long post, as I’ve talked about a lot of my non-fiction reading this year recently during Non Fiction November (see here), but since that post, I’ve added several more books to that list, making my non-fiction total 31 in 2018 as of today.  That’s just about 22% which is Read More

Living on the Edge

Outskirts by John Grindrod Like the author, I am a 1970s product of the Croydon/Surrey borders, so I was particularly interested to read this book, which is part memoir, part history of the Green Belt. Grindrod grew up in a postwar estate that was added to Croydon’s south-eastern outskirts, and in this estate, he lived Read More

Two of the PFD Sunday Times Young Writer Award shortlist…

The winner of the PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in association with the University of Warwick was announced earlier this week.  Adam Weymouth’s non-fiction book, Kings of the Yukon (which I shall be reading next), scooped this year’s prize from an interesting shortlist that was wide open as to who would Read More

Novellas in November – Part 3

Although my normal reading contains a fair smattering of novellas anyway, I’ve loved concentrating on reading novellas this November – here’s my third and final selection for this month: Poor Cow by Nell Dunn Published in 1967, Dunn’s novella is a ‘classic of 1960s London life’ and was her second work of fiction after her Read More

Nonfiction November – My Year in Non-fiction

Nonfiction November is being hosted by Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), and Katie (Doing Dewey). through the site What’s Nonfiction?  They have a wonderful programme mapped out for November here. The topic for the first week is “Your Year in Nonfiction ” in which we’re encouraged to Read More

Shiny Linkiness

Eric Idle – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography Yesterday I reviewed Eric Idle’s ‘Sortabiography’ for Shiny.   Read the full review here. He and Michael Palin have always been my favourite Pythons, so I was fascinated to read Idle’s memoir. However, he remains a slippery character – self-deprecating, one who’d rather Read More

Shiny Linkiness

I don’t always have time to link to my reviews over at Shiny New Books, but I have to share this one far and wide. Viv Albertine’s second volume of memoir was published in April. I saw her talk about it at the Faber Spring Party, and she was funny and lovely, and through writing, Read More

Review Catch-up…

Life is rather busy, and I’m terribly behind on my reviews. So here is a batch of reviews and links for you… Educated by Tara Westover This memoir of growing up in an unconventional setting and how the author escaped to discover the world outside was absolutely compelling reading, Westover grew up off-grid in Idaho, Read More

“17 Brushes with Death”

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell Subtitled “17 Brushes With Death” O’Farrell’s memoir was recently longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize, and I (and others on our shadow panel) were devastated when it wasn’t shortlisted. For me, it could have replaced Ayobami’s Stay With Me or perhaps Rausing’s Mayhem, although I can Read More

Wellcome Book Prize #5 – Rausing

My penultimate review of the six books shortlisted for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize. The final one for The Vaccine Race will be my stop on the official blog tour, for the prize which starts tomorrow (details above). Mayhem: A Memoir by Sigrid Rausing You may remember much news coverage of the Rausing family, heirs Read More

Get ‘Educated’ in Abingdon

Coming soon – an evening with Tara Westover The next book I’ll be reading will be Educated by Tara Westover (right). Published this week, Tara’s memoir is of growing up off-grid in the hills of Idaho sounds fascinating. Her father spent his time preparing for the end of the world, her mother worked as an unqualified Read More

An artist’s memoir of childhood in London and Hollywood …

Unaccompanied Minor by Alexander Newley My review of this memoir by the son of Joan Collins and Anthony Newley is my first of the year for Shiny New Books. Newley is an artist and frequent self-portraitist, and this account of growing up in this dysfunctional story was illustrated and enriched by many of his pictures Read More

Review catch-up!

I’ve rather a large pile of unreviewed books I read in 2017 to catch up on, so today I have some shorter reviews for you… When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi I love medical memoirs, especially surgeon’s tales, but occasionally a book will come along that will knock you sideways. When Breath Becomes Air Read More

Year End Review #3: Non-Fiction

I decided to give Non-fiction it’s own review this year because I’ve read 20 titles – the highest number I’ve read in a year, making up fractionally under 15% of books read. This is a trend I hope to continue, for I’m enjoying non-fiction more these days, but as you’ll see below – the areas Read More

Review catch-up

I am still behind on my reviewing, even though I seem to have unlocked my reviewer’s block – so today, I have a trio of short reviews for you… The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick This is a rare case for me of having seen the film before I read the book. I loved Read More

The Importance of Music to Girls

By Lavinia Greenlaw I adore books that cover musical memories from the 1970s and 1980s, the formative years of my teens and twenties. The 1970s in particular, despite all the horrors they’ve thrown up since, are my musical heartland. Lavinia Greenlaw is a poet and author and is just a couple of years younger than Read More

20 Books of Summer #4 The Nightfly writes…

Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen Steely Dan is one of my favourite bands. It was all the fault of Mick at our Youth Club, whom I adored from afar. This was the mid-1970s and he had a copy of the Dan’s new fourth album Katy Lied (1975). Fagen has a rather distinctive voice which is hard Read More

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Shopgirl

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. This month’s starting point was suggested by me! Shopgirl by Steve Martin I read this book and saw the film last year – read my full review Read More

Getting ‘the day that went missing’ back

The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard Earlier this month I wrote about an evening with Richard Beard at my local indie bookshop, it was a very special experience for an author event. I went away from the evening with my signed copy of his new book of memoir and started reading it there Read More

An evening with Richard Beard at Mostly Books

Last night I was at a rather special author event at my local indie bookshop Mostly Books with local(ish) author Richard Beard.  Mark in the shop had long ago persuaded me to buy Beard’s last novel, Goldsmith Prize shortlisted, The Acts of the Assassins, but sadly I’ve not read it yet – I know I’ll have a Read More

‘Don’t go breaking my heart…’

Fragile Lives by Professor Stephen Westaby I love doctors’ memoirs and those of surgeons in particular. Stephen Westaby’s contribution to the oeuvre, while I’m not accusing him in any way of lacking humanity – far from it, his book is full of emotion and care for his patients – his approach to the challenge of Read More

Book Group choice for April: Egypt

To War With Whitaker The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly 1939-45 This month, our topic to choose a title was ‘Egypt’ – any book set in or about anything to do with the country. The nominations were: Death on the Nile – Christie Ice Cold in Alex – Christopher Landon Palace Walk by Read More

‘Carrison’ and ‘A New Hope’

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher Like the whole world, I was totally shocked to hear of Carrie Fisher’s heart-attack, then death over Christmas, followed by her mother Debbie Reynolds just one day later. I’d bought this volume the week it came out, and had just started to read it when I heard of her Read More

A Talking Head talks about music

How Music Works by David Byrne This book was the highlight of my splurge of non-fiction reading in December. David Byrne, founder and idiosyncratic front man of Talking Heads – one of the best punky/art-rock bands there has ever been, friend and collaborator with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp amongst others, could never be expected Read More

All that remains… in the charnel house.

A Tour of Bones by Denise Inge Denise Inge was an American who married an English clergyman. When he became Bishop of Worcester they moved there, and Denise found that they would have to share their new home with a ‘charnel house’. Wikipedia defines it thus: “A charnel house is a vault or building where Read More

Books Are My Bag & a local book sale – My super Saturday book haul

It’s Books Are My Bag BAMB day at independent bookshops in the UK. Each year the BAMB team commission a limited edition bookbag. Last year was Grayson Perry’s typically challenging but great fun design – see right. This year, however, they have commissioned a bag you can take out without having to check which side Read More