August is my birthday month (I had a lovely day) and also school exam results month (my youngest child attained his place at university) so as a family we have been celebrating. Having reached month’s end this is also the end of summer, although I still have a couple of weeks with all my children home before they disperse, each to a different UK capital city to continue with their studies. I anticipate quieter times ahead.
I was offered a new opportunity early in the month when a producer from my local radio station, BBC Wiltshire, contacted me to ask if I would like to come into their studio in Swindon once a week to recommend a summer read to listeners of the afternoon show. How could I refuse? You may read about, and listen if interested, to my five guest slots by clicking the following links.
Week 1; Week 2; Week 3; Week 4; Week 5
The 15 books I read in August proved a mixed success in terms of enjoyment, the smaller presses mostly outperforming the larger houses.
Takeaway by Tommy Hazard, published by Morbid Books
Layover by Lisa Zeidner, published by One (Pushkin Press)
Night Driver by Marcelle Perks, published by Urbane
Prodigal by Charles Lambert, published by Gallic Books
A Perfect Mother by Katri Skala, published by Hikari Press
A note on this next book…
I had a ticket to a sold out event in Bath, part of Patrick Gale’s latest tour, but offered it back to the bookshop when I realised his latest story wasn’t for me. I hoped that a more appreciative attendee could go along and perhaps buy the book – better for all concerned. In doing this I discovered that the bookshop runs a waiting list – worth knowing if you can’t or no longer wish to attend a popular event.
Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale, published by Tinder Press
Strangers With The Same Dream by Alison Pick, published by Tinder Press
I reviewed two books in the Canongate Myths series for Bookmunch. The latter proved not to be what I had expected, and not in a good way.
Weight by Jeanette Winterson
Lion’s Honey by David Grossman (translated by Stuart Schoffman)
I will be attending the Debut Authors event at the Marlborough Literature Festival next month so borrowed (and enjoyed) the books to be discussed from local libraries.
Sal by Mick Kitson, published by Canongate
Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe, published by Fleet (Little Brown)
Salt kindly sent me their 2018 short story collection, edited by Nicholas Royle and offering a fine taster of current work in the form. I had only read a couple of these stories previously, in author collections. I do enjoy short stories and must read more of those currently languishing on my TBR mountain.
Best British Short Stories 2018
I also enjoyed three poetry collections. I would happily take more of these.
What Are You After? by Josephine Corcoran, published by Nine Arches Press
Certain Manoeuvres by Lydia Unsworth, published by The Knives Forks And Spoons Press
Circling for Gods by Jo Burns, published by Eyewear Publishing
I posted two interviews that other sites did with me.
Bookblast: Meet the writer behind my book reading hen avatar
Link Age Southwark: writing competition judges interview
Judging the writing competition referred to in that second interview will likely keep me busy throughout September, limiting my other reading. My blog may appear unusually quiet.
Finally, as a judge for last year’s Guardian Not the Booker Prize, I and my fellow judges were asked to nominate a wildcard choice to complete their shortlist. We opted for Three Dreams in the Key of G by Marc Nash, published by Dead Ink. If you are following the prize and read the book do let me know your thoughts.
As ever I wish to thank the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel makes my day.
My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your support is always appreciated.