Review catch-up and a little rant!

Rant first… I had scoured the Cheltenham Literary Festival brochure, and worked out a nice programme of events, three on the first afternoon into the evening, and two on the following day. I saved them all to my wishlist and crossed my fingers. Living and hour and a half drive away I decided to treat Read More

Review Catch-up – again! Cocker, Saint, Jamieson & Stibbe

Firstly some Shiny Linkiness… Good Pop, Bad Pop by Jarvis Cocker This book of memoir, styled as an inventory of the stuff in Cocker’s loft from his teens and the early Pulp years until he went down to art college in London, is just a delight. Cocker has such a quirky personality, a conforming Yorkshire Read More

Shiny Linkiness

I’ve been very remiss, and forgetting to link to my various reviews over at Shiny New Books, here are my latest from this month and last: The Gift of a Radio by Justin Webb Webb’s memoir of his childhood and years up until he joined the BBC in 1984 is a candid, funny and touching Read More

“It was a pleasure to burn.” Twice!

What an iconic first line: one of those that often comes up in quizzes. Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 is an absolute classic of spec fiction which I first read in the 1970s. I invested in the lovely Folio Society edition some years ago, but was finally spurred on to reread it due to Read More

#NovNov – Short Non-fiction from the archives

I’ve read six novellas to write up for Novellas in November month (hosted by Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746 Books) – must get a move on! Meanwhile in week 2, we turn our attention to Short Non-Fiction, a better term than novella for NF. Once more, here is a section of posts from my archives of Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: What Are You Going Through

Last month was the first I’ve missed of my favourite monthly tag for ages! Six Degrees of Separation is hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our Read More

Cheltenham Literature Festival Blog Tour

I was delighted to be asked to take part in the blog tour celebrating this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival. Participants were asked to pick one of the topics from the festival programme to receive a random book from: I chose ‘stage and screen’ and was delighted when Adam Buxton’s memoir Ramble Book came through the Read More

Catch Your Breath by Ed Patrick – Blog Tour

I’m delighted o be one of the final stops on the blog tour for Ed Patrick’s super medical memoir. Memoirs by doctors nowadays tend to fall into distinct types, although in decades gone by it would usually only be surgeons who dominated the field. Surgeons still write memoirs, and I’ve reviewed a fair few including Read More

20 Books of Summer 21 nos. 16-17 – Zadie Smith & Horatio Clare

Firstly I’m going to pause to go ‘Whoop! Whoop!’ – I’ve read my 20 books with days to spare. I honestly didn’t think I’d make it, but judicious choice of some short books to finish has done the job – all 20 were books I’ve owned since 2020 and were all own copies from my Read More

20 Books of Summer 21 nos. 14-15 & a second for #WITMonth

Gosh! I’ve read 16 out of #20BooksofSummer21, so with a fortnight to go, there’s a definite probability of beating my previous best of 17, and a possibility I might just make the full 20 – it’ll have to be novellas or easy to read thrillers though. Bring it on! Meanwhile here are reviews 14 & Read More

20 Books of Summer 21 #10 & #11 – O’Hagan & Sissay

I’m just finished reading my 13th book of my 20 books of Summer 21, here are two reviews of earlier reads. Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan In my experience, there tend to be more novels celebrating female friendships than male ones. However, occasionally one comes along that bucks the trend as Rónán Hession’s Leonard and Hungry Read More

20 Books of Summer 21 #4 – Living Autobiography with Deborah Levy

The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy Deborah Levy, I think, has become my favourite woman author. She thinks deeply about things; she’s read everything that matters; can talk eloquently about anything, but has a sense of humour; and, for me, she is incapable of writing badly. Reading her ‘Living Autobiography’ trilogy has been a Read More

Catch-Up – NOT the Wellcome – Obama – Diski

NOT the Wellcome Book Prize Firstly, I was absolutely delighted that Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson (reviewed here) won the vote for the ‘NOT the Wellcome Book Prize’. It’s an outstanding book, and I was relieved that it did win by a country mile. The shadow panel (Rebecca of Bookish Beck, Clare of A Little Blog of Books, Read More

NOT the Wellcome Book Prize – Two from our Shortlist

So the shadow panel (Rebecca of Bookish Beck, Clare of A Little Blog of Books, Laura of Dr. Laura Tisdall, Paul of Halfman, Halfbook and I) managed to pick half a dozen from the 19 books we longlisted – some picked themselves, others needed a bit of discussion and a deciding vote. The six are: Exhalation by Ted Chiang Invisible Read More

Blog Tour: Richard Russell – Liberation Through Hearing

Richard Russell is the producer and owner of XL Recordings, home of some artists I know well such as Radiohead, Adele, The Gotan Project and the White Stripes, but also a lot of fare that isn’t my normal listening such as The Prodigy, MIA, Dizzee Rascal and more. I may not listen to that second Read More

Paul Auster Reading Week: A Life in Words

Paul Auster in conversation with I.B. Siegumfeldt. IB (Inge Birgitte) Siegumfeldt is a Danish professor at the University of Copenhagen, which houses The Paul Auster Research Library – an international hub for his work and its translated versions. Auster was made an honorary fellow back in 2011, and Siegumfeldt has taught his work, especially the Read More

Year End Review 4: Non-Fiction

I managed to increase the amount of non-fiction I read this year once again – I seem to be going up by one or two NF books per year! So in 2019 I read 33 non-fiction books (up to 25 December), making 25.3% of the total this year. Thanks to taking part in the Wellcome Read More

Review Clear-out! James, Scarfe, Vaughn and Auster

In an effort to make room on my dining table where I work, so we can eat Christmas lunch on it, I’m clearing the pile of books yet to be reviewed, here’s my last batch for 2019: Somewhere Becoming Rain: Collected Writings on Philip Larkin by Clive James When James died a few weeks ago, Read More

Non-Fiction November: Be the Expert: Recent Biographies/Memoirs/Reportage

Week 3 of this year’s Non-Fiction November has the theme of ‘Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert’ in which we can either “share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you Read More

In Brief:

Catching up on books read with short reviews… Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi Translated by Geoffrey Trousselot A short Japanese novel about time travel set in a café was always going to have to be read by me! It ticks all the boxes on the face of it, and I was hoping Read More

Life as a WPC

On the Line by Alice Vinten We are all fascinated by other peoples’ lives these days. Narrative non-fiction as publishers call the mixture that includes history, politics, biography and memoir – any non-fiction that tells a story. Doctors and surgeons’ memoirs, have been joined by nurses, midwives, chefs, firemen, barristers and more, and now by Read More

A love letter to his wife

About Alice by Calvin Trillin I was going to choose the only other book I’ve read by Trillin for the letter T in my go at Simon’s Twitter tag #AToZofBooks which I’ve enjoyed doing over the past couple of days, but I got distracted by another author. Tepper Isn’t Going Out (reviewed here), which I read back in late 2008, is a comic masterpiece all Read More

British Book Award Shortlists

The British Book Awards run by The Bookseller are the publishing industry’s equivalent of the BAFTAs and are affectionately known as The Nibbies. They celebrate the best British writers, books, publishers and bookshops. The Books of the Year are split into the following categories with one overall winner being picked too: Fiction Debut Crime & Read More

Wellcome Reading #7 – Jauhar and Edelstein

Heart – A History by Sandeep Jauhar This book is the single traditional medical history/memoir to make the Wellcome Book Prize shortlist this year. Jauhar is a practising cardiologist in the USA, and he combines personal memoir of his doctor’s career and family medical notes with explaining how the heart works, patients’ stories and a Read More

Just the job for this young lady…

MI5 and Me – A Coronet Among the Spooks by Charlotte Bingham Back in 1963, the young Charlotte Bingham published a book of humorous memoir called Coronet Among the Weeds. The daughter of the 7th Baron, Clanmorris, it told of Bingham’s experience of ‘The Season’ as a debutante among the chinless wonders, or weeds, as Read More

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