Ep.85; Your Country in Ten (or Eleven) Books

Welcome to the latest episode of The Readers Podcast. Last month after discussing the American classics Simon came up with the idea of both Thomas and himself coming up with two separate lists of the ten books that they think sum up their country for them and would give to someone if they moved to their country to ‘read up on it’.

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Catching Up () Before the madness of the books that Thomas and Simon want to discuss they have a catch up. First Simon mentions the sad news of the passing of one of the old school bloggers Norman Geras of NormBlog. They then have a natter about the Man Booker winner, Thomas’ book buying binge and Simon going mad in London and judging the Not The Booker.

Our Country in 10 Books () In the main section of the show, Simon and Thomas discuss the books they think they would give to someone moving to their country, or visiting for a long time, that give their most realistic insight into it.

Simon’s choices are…

  • The Room of Lost Things – Stella Duffy (London)
  • The News Where You Are – Catherine O’Flynn (Birmingham)
  • The Woman in Black – Susan Hill (Norfolk)
  • One Good Turn – Kate Atkinson ( Edinburgh)
  • The Long Falling – Keith Ridgway (Northern Ireland)
  • The Proof of Love – Catherine Hall (The Lake District)
  • The Claude Glass – Tom Bullough (Wales)
  • Agatha Raisin & The Quiche of Death – M.C. Beaton (The Cotswolds)
  • Rough Music – Patrick Gale (Cornwall)
  • My Policeman – Bethan Roberts (Brighton)
  • Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma – Kerry Hudson (Great Britain all over)

Yes, you may notice Simon cheated with eleven books, oops. Thomas choices are…

  • Tepper Isn’t Going Out – Calvin Trillin (New York)
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain – James Baldwin (New York)
  • The Magnificent Spinster – May Sarton (New England)
  • Echo House – Ward Just (Washington, DC)
  • Deliverance – James Dickey (South)
  • Then We Came to the End – Joshua Ferris (Chicago)
  • Main Street – Sinclair Lewis (Midwest)
  • The Professor’s House – Willa Cather (Southwest)
  • A Way of Life, Like Any Other – Darcy O’Brien (Southern California)
  • Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin (Northern California)

So those are their lists! Simon and Thomas are desperate now to go off and read the books on the others lists that they haven’t already. Are you going to do the same? Would you agree with their lists? Most importantly, what would your ten books be that would sum up your country, as Simon and Thomas would love to read your lists… there’s a mission!!

Next time on the Readers () Thomas and Simon will be back in two weeks with more book based banter including the books that they have been reading recently.

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Ep. 77; Our Best Picks of Books in Late 2013

This week on the Readers it is that time, as we reach the halfway point of the year which has come far too quickly, where Gavin and Simon take a look at the books that they are most looking forward to in the second half of the year. HOWEVER, this time they did it with a difference as Gavin gave Simon the strict orders that they must choose books that everyone wouldn’t already be hearing about (Margaret Atwood, Stephen King etc) and go off the beaten track a little. So what did they come up with?

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The Readers Picks of Books Late 2013…

Gavin chose…

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human
Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Golum and the Djinn by Helen Wecker
Let the Games Begin by Niccolo Ammaniti
The Man with the Compound Eyes by Wu Ming-Yi
Babayaga by Toby Barlow
The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Closed for Winter by Jorn Lier Horst
The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt
Equilateral: A Novel by Ken Kalfus

Simon’s choices are…

Let The Games Begin by Niccolo Ammaniti
Mr Lynch’s Holiday by Catherine O’Flynn
Almost English by Charlotte Mendleson
Sufficient Grace by Amy Espeseth
Buriel Rites by Hannah Kent
Witches by Tracy Borman
Speaking Volumes by Romona Koval
Like A House on Fire by Cate Kennedy
Fearie Stories by Stephen Jones
Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring
The Woman in Black: Angel of Death by Martyn Waites
The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian
Books by Charlie Hill

So there’s roughly (as they meet in the middle on a few titles) Simon and Gavin’s books to watch out for in the coming months. Have any tempted you? Which books are you most looking forward to reading in the rest of 2013?

Next time on The Readers () Simon and Gavin will be back with more book based banter. Don’t forget that next Friday, the 11th, will be the latest Readers Book Club with Jess Richards and her debut novel ‘Snake Ropes’. Until then…

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The Readers – Episode Six

We have an additional extended ‘Manchester Literature Festival Special’ episode of The Readers which we are sneaking in for you this week. Simon has spent a lot of the last few weeks whizzing round the festival to report back on events starring (and where possible interviewing them afterwards) the likes of Colm Toibin, Alan Hollinghurst, Sarah Dunant, Patricia Duncker, Catherine O’Flynn, Kishwar Desai , KO Dahl and many more.

Photograph by Ed Swinden.

Welcome to the Manchester Literature Festival (0.17) we discuss the joys of festivals in general, after reminding you all we are on iTunes, before Gav starts grilling Simon on where he went. His first port of call was the opening night and seeing Colm Toibin and Alan Hollinghurst in conversation (2.19) where they discussed homosexuality in literature and what inspired them to write. Simon managed to sneakily record part of the discussion.

Next up, Emma Jane Unsworth and Jon Niven (7.07) were in conversation and discussed comedy in books and how hard it is for them to be pigeon holed by publicity and marketing departments. Simon comes away reading one of the author’s books and desperate to get hold of the other authors, just what a festival should do. Gav has something to say on it all too and Emma will be joining us for another podcast on books with humour in the future.

Before she got on stage in the first of the two South Asian Literature events with Tahmima Anam with Claire Armistead hosting, Simon interviewed Dipika Rai (9.31) in the gothic wonder of Manchester’s town hall to talk about Indian Literature, the voice of women in Indian fiction, technology in publishing and how it can benefit authors and book groups as well as her debut novel ‘Someone Else’s Garden’.

Photograph by Ed Swinden.

Photograph by Ed Swinden.

The second of the South Asian Literature Events (25.45) saw two very different authors, Moni Mohsin and Kishwar Desai, look at the current concerns in their countries and their cultures and how they have used the genres of comedy and crime in order to address them. Simon then meets up to interview Kishwar Desai (26.59) in Manchester’s bustling Piccadilly Station the next day to talk about this and her award winning debut novel ‘Witness the Night’ in more detail its diverse nature with the subject of gendercide as well as her menopausal crime solver.

Something completely different next as Simon took Granny Savidge Reads to see and adaptation of Sarah Dunant’s ‘Sacred Hearts’ in Manchester Cathedral (50.20) with a full blown choir in the form of Musica Secreta. It proved a moving experience.

Photograph by Ed Swinden.

Crime in a Cold Climate (53.26) was a special night of Nordic Crime, well discussing it, with Thomas Enger, KO Dahl and Yrsa Sigardurdottir. Simon then caught up with Thomas and KO (or Shell) afterwards for a chat (55.04) about all things Nordic and why this crime wave has become so popular and so graphic. Oh and before you think we are being sexist, the lovely – and frankly hilarious – Yrsa will be in a ‘chilly and chilling’ episode of The Readers in the future.

Photograph by Jon Atkin

As a chair, co-founder and judge of a prize himself Simon went to the Prize Culture evening (1.04.55) on the eve of the Man Booker and got more than he bargained for when the panel started discussing all things prize based and then started talking about book bloggers, uh-oh…

Photograph by Jon Atkin.

Afternoon Tea With Patricia Duncker (1.08.09) was an event to celebrate Patricia Duncker’s special short story set in the Midland Hotel as part of the festival. Simon then had more afternoon tea with Patricia Duncker (1.09.10) to discuss the story and her latest novel ‘The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge’ and the cult novel ‘Hallucinating Foucault’ as well as those books you think are written just for you.

It was an exciting final author meeting for Simon as he got to meet Catherine O’Flynn (1.18.58) who he thinks might be the next Kate Atkinson, to talk about her word of mouth debut success ‘What Was Lost’, its TV Book Club chosen follow up ‘The News Where You Are’ and how being a writer isn’t a be all and end all career.

Finally, Simon reveals how he and his team faired at the last event the Literary Quiz (1.27.10) how do you think he did?

And that is it… A rather MASSIVE thanks (1.28.20) to all at the Manchester Literature Festival who let Simon in to the events and behind the scenes, he had an amazing time! You can find out about all the events on their blog – which is also where we pilfered the pictures for this post.

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The Readers – Episode Five

Episode five is a little different and not just because of the theme tune, we have no author interviews because you will be getting author overload in a mid/late-week special but we do have lots of nattering about more book awards and what Gav and Simon have been reading, are reading now and want to read.

Books in the News (00.48) Publishers Weekly have announced their top ten novels of the year… already? (02.32) The Green Carnation Prize 2011 shortlist has been announced and Gav interrogates it’s Chair, who happens to be his co-host Simon (07.21) The Galaxy National Book Awards 2011; who won, who was a contender and what Simon and Gavin think about it all.

There is no specific discussion this week (23.39) as we have a Manchester Literature Festival special coming with Kishwar Desai, Catherine O’Flynn, Patricia Dunker, Colm Toibin, Alan Hollinghurst and many more.

What we have been reading, are reading and want to read (24.20) Gavin and Simon discuss the latest books on their radars…


Gav has been reading: Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Gav is reading: The Floating Admiral by Members of the Detection Club
Gav is desperate to read: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey


Simon has been reading: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
Simon is reading: all the books by Joan Bakewell
Simon is gagging to read: I Am Half-Sick of the Shadows by Alan Bradley

Next week on The Readers (35.40) after a Manchester Literature Festival Special Gavin and Simon will be getting their deerstalkers out for a Sherlock special with none other than Anthony Horowitz, the game is afoot!

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