The Readers – Episode 11; Funny Books, Catherine Hall, Green Carnations & LGBT Writing

For episode eleven Gavin and Simon discuss funny books, author Emma Jane Unsworth gives us her top recommended reads if you want a laugh and are joined for the second half of the show by Catherine Hall to talk about her recent winning of The Green Carnation Prize 2011, LGBT writing  and the books the three of them have read, been reading and want to read.

Before we go any further don’t forget you can subscribe to our weekly podcast on iTunes here.

We would also like to remind you that you have only got until this Friday to vote on The International Readers Awards 2011, so please do get voting and remember you could win a signed first edition of Jennifer Egan’s ‘A Visit From The Good Squad’

Funny Books (00.50) Gavin and Simon look at ‘funny books’ as with the ‘season to be jolly’ being in everyone’s head they want to know what genuinely funny books are out there and why novelty books dominate the book charts and shops at this time of year? Do you have any recommendations of hilarious novels?

Emma Jane Unsworth’s Top 5 Funny Books (13.34) the lovely, and very funny, Emma Jane Unsworth debut author of ‘Hungry, The Stars and Everything’ gives us her guide to five books that should have you smiling wryly or chuckling darkly.

Catherine Hall, The Green Carnation Prize, LGBT Writing (16.36) Gavin and Simon are joined by the author Catherine Hall whose second novel ‘The Proof of Love’ was declared winner of the Green Carnation Prize 2011 last week. They discuss the importance of nice prizes and The Green Carnation in particular, why you can’t get the book in America (though do get it through Book Depository if you’re an international listener, Simon says its amazing) and LGBT writing and why it causes some controversy still.


What We Have Read, Are Reading and Want to Read (36.19) We have nine titles to tempt you with as Catherine Hall stays with Gavin and Simon to share what books they have on their bedside tables.


Gav has just finished: The House of Silk by Anthony Horrowitz
He has just started: The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan
And wants to read: Hammered by Kevin Hearne


Catherine has just read: Ghosts By Daylight by Janine di Giovanni
Is reading: The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Can’t wait to get into: Mary Ann In Autumn by Armistead Maupin


Simon has re-read: Further Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Is currently enjoying: The Hunger Trace by Edward Hogan
Is musing reading: The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

Next week on The Readers (50.53) it’s getting frosty and arctic as we look as crimes in cold climates and snow filled Christmas books with a special guest, plus an interview with Yrsa Siguardardottir.

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The Readers – Episode Nine; Books, Blogging & Culling

It’s a very bookish and blogging episode as we are joined by Kim of Reading Matters (who actually introduced Gavin and Simon to each other) for a very book based banter filled show. From book blogs and adding lots of titles onto your TBR’s to having to cull and clear out we discuss getting books and getting rid. The lovely Polly of the book blog Novel Insights gives us her top five books and of course, as always, we share what we’ve been reading and want to read.

Before we go any further don’t forget you can subscribe to our weekly podcast on iTunes here we also apologise if anyone couldnt download us last week, we had a mad surge of downloads and exceeded our bandwidth but now we have lots so do subscribe away.

We talk Book Blogging (00.58) with special guest Kim we discuss why we blog about books, what we love about the book blogosphere and if it has changed us as readers?

Polly of Novel Insights Top 5 Books (22.27) we asked book blogger Polly to give us her top five books and what a treat they are for you, she is also a prime example of a blogger who is inspired by other bloggers on what to read next!

How do you cull books and why? (29.51) Kim also kindly joins us for a debate on culling those ever growing TBR’s. Can you ever have too many books? How do people cope with the one book out one book in rule, and how on earth can Gavin already be culling his Kindle?

What we have read, are reading, and really want to read next (40.36) We have nine titles to tempt you with as Gavin and Simon are also joined by Kim to share what books they have had on their blogger brains.


Gav has just read and loved (shock, horror): Thud by Terry Pratchett
He has just started: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
And quite fancies: Starlight by Stella Gibbons


Kim has just read and adored: Leaving Ardglass by William King
Is twenty odd pages into: Shadowstory by Jennifer Johnston
Can’t wait to get into: Bloodland by Alan Glynn


Simon has been blown away by: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
Is currently enjoying: Hungry, The Stars and Everything by Emma Jane Unsworth
Is very excited about starting: The Man Who Rained by Ali Shaw

Next week on The Readers (56.00) the gloves are coming off as Simon and Gavin try to settle the debate on who owns Margaret Atwood, is she literary, is she sci-fi or speculative fiction? Should anyone even dare to pigeon hole her? What’s the fuss about? Well The Readers will be debating (quite heatedly we imagine) all of this next week after having read ‘In Other Worlds’ you have been warned!

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You can subscribe to our weekly podcast on iTunes here.

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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