Another busy week! Thank goodness I have nothing booked in for the next fortnight – even for half term, except for promising my daughter a London trip to Camden market.
Monday night was my Book Group – this month we read The Amber Fury (aka The Furies) by Natalie Haynes.
I read this book last year and reviewed it here and saw her talk about it at the Oxford Literary Festival – here. Everyone really enjoyed it. We thought the characters were well done, the setting felt real and all the Greek myths therein were used brilliantly.
The star attraction was Kazuo Ishiguro, or Ish as he is known. No sooner had we got installed with drinks than Rachel from Faber brought him over to meet us – lovely man. He was slightly perplexed over blogging and the intercommunication between us all, but we were onto safer ground talking about book groups – he talked about his wife’s one. I will be reviewing The Buried Giant for Shiny New Books in April.
I also chatted with the handsome Welshman Owen Sheers about the Mabinogion retellings from Seren books which he contributed to. He has a new book out in June called I Saw a Man which sounds utterly gripping from the extract he read. He signed a copy of the proof for me – the first to ask – I am privileged. You’ll have to wait several months for my thoughts on the book though.
Also there were Andrew O’Hagan, who read brilliantly from his new novel The Illuminations which is currently R4’s Book at Bedtime, and KateHamer – debut novelist of a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood as a contemporary thriller The Girl in the Red Coat. Sarah Hall would have been there too to read from her new novel The Wolf Border, but couldn’t make it sadly.
Friday night was Mostly Bookbrains 6. This year, the Wednesday evening Bookgroup from Mostly Books took over the mantle of compiling the questions, allowing me to be in a team with Simon and all his lovely friends. It was lovely to be on the other side for a change, and, dear reader – We won!!!
I’d like to finish by highlighting my two reviews in the Non-Fiction section of Shiny New Books’ new issue…
Armchair Nation by Joe Moran
Moran is becoming one of our foremost cultural historians of the twentieth century. His history of the googlebox in Britain goes right from its inception and promotion by Mr Selfridge himself through to The X-Factor via the new upstart ITV and Mary Whitehouse.
Absolutely fascinating, full of impeccable research from TV and news archives, Mass Observation and more.
Read my full review here.
Where I’m Reading From by Tim Parks
We all love books about books, and Tim Parks collection of essays (originally published in The New Yorker) is essentially one long opinion piece.
Divided into four sections covering the worlds of literature, reading, writing and translation, Parks, an English novelist, translator and university lecturer makes a lively companion. I didn’t agree with all of his views (cf e-readers!) but found the essays entertaining and thought-provoking. I particularly enjoyed the section devoted to the world of translation, which gave me many new insights.
Read my full review here.
So that’s my week – how has yours been?
* * * * *
To explore some of the books mentioned above, click below (affiliate links – thank you):
- Where I’m Reading From: The Changing World of Books by Tim Parks. Pub Harvill Secker, Nov 2014, hdbk, 256 pages.
- Armchair Nation: An intimate history of Britain in front of the TV by Joe Moran. Paperback edition pub Profile Books, Nov 2014, 320 pages.
- The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes. Inexplicably, Amazon doesn’t stock the normal paperback – other places do though. Corvus books 2014.
- The Buried Giant by KAzuo Ishiguro. Pub Faber & Faber, March 2015, Hardback, 352 pages.
- The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan. Pub Faber & Faber, Feb 2015, Hardback, 304 pages.
- The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall. Pub March 25 by Faber & Faber, hdbk, 448 pages.