Hello! What are you reading?

hello-what-are-you-readingIn this new blog series, I ask my friends and family to talk a little about their current reads. I figured it would make a change to look at the reading habits of people who read a lot but don’t blog about it usually.

This week we’re hearing from Amy, who I’ve known forever. Well, okay, not quite forever, but since we were 11 so a pretty darned long time. I have many a memory of fun and adventure (and of consoling heartache) shared with her. We don’t see much of each other in person these days, pretty much since we went to different unis, but we’ve always stayed in touch, sending each other long rambling e-mails and even on occasion real actual letters! Amy is a bundle of creativity and always has been. Let’s see what she’s been reading…

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Musical interlude: The Heavy

Last week was an especially musical time in the life of Kate and Tim. On Wednesday we went to see The Heavy, a rock band from Bath that Tim’s been following for a couple of years without me paying much attention. Their live show was phenomenal and I am now totally on board. A few of their songs were used in adverts a couple of years back so you may well find you recognise some of their stuff if you look them up.

Friday morning found us awake at 6 a.m. – that’s an hour and a half earlier than usual; we are not early birds – so that we could go and queue to buy tickets for the Massive Attack gig on Clifton Downs announced just days beforehand. It was a total success – nice weather, nice crowd, tickets obtained – but I had to break my usual one-coffee-per-day rule to get through! (Shout out to Hayles who brought me a coffee while I was queuing after I complained on Twitter that I needed some!)

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Hello! What are you reading?

hello-what-are-you-readingIn this new blog series, I ask my friends and family to talk a little about their current reads. I figured it would make a change to look at the reading habits of people who read a lot but don’t blog about it usually.

This week we’re hearing from Spiky Zebra, who I met through work and hang out with regularly. She’s a stalwart of our pub quiz team (especially excellent at music rounds), a far better photographer than me and will forever be cooler than me because, though we have in common that we both wrote for our respective student papers, while I reviewed books and theatre, she reviewed gigs and interviewed bands. Super cool. Here’s what Spiky Zebra has been reading…

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Sometimes we don’t want to be tethered to yesterday

spectaclesSpectacles
by Sue Perkins

This memoir by beloved comedian and TV presenter Sue Perkins jumped out at me when browsing one of our local charity shops, as I was looking to add some comedy to my book shelves and this seemed like just the thing. One the one hand, I was right that it would be funny, on the other it also made me cry no less than three times. Damn it Sue with your sweet, touching moments. And dead pets.

I’d like to claim to be an early fan of Sue, having watched her first TV shows Light Lunch and Late Lunch, back in the 90s, but the truth is that they followed years of stand-up comedy that I of course knew nothing about. Sue is yet another alumnus of the Cambridge Footlights society, and gives a brilliant description of the drab, dingy basement that is the Footlights theatre. This is also where she met long-time comedy partner Mel Giedroyc, who in this book (and, I assume, in life) is the butt of many a joke, primarily about her being two years older than Sue.

Sue is a good writer, whether talking about her family, her career, her loves or her pets. Her timing is spot-on, knowing when to hit the sad button and when to lighten the mood with a joke with the canny judgement of Spielberg. She’s not afraid of sincerity about tough subjects and the chapter about her break-up with a long-term partner after getting back into TV work and running a bit wild is a little painful to read as it seems to betray lingering feelings.

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Hello! What are you reading?

hello-what-are-you-readingIn this new blog series, I ask my friends and family to talk a little about their current reads. I figured it would make a change to look at the reading habits of people who read a lot but don’t blog about it usually.

This week we’re hearing from Mess, who I originally met through his wife, but both have become great friends of ours. We’ve been on holiday together (always a good test of friendship) and Mess and I share similar taste in board games, TV and film, as well as (perhaps surprisingly) karaoke song choices. Here is what Mess says about his current reads…

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Stirring, like a sleeping monster about to wake up

blood-harvestBlood Harvest
by SJ Bolton

Last year one of my books of the year was Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton, a crime drama set in the Falklands that I found beautiful and gripping. So I had been on the lookout for other books by her and was excited to spot this one on sale. You can tell it’s an older title from the fact she was still using the pen name “SJ Bolton”, presumably to disguise her gender, but also from the fact it’s a slightly less ambitious undertaking.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s just less impressive than one of my favourite books of last year. Now that’s out of the way I’ll explain what it’s all about.

Heptonclough is a fictional Lancashire village surrounded by the Pennine Moor. It’s a classic atmospheric setting, both wide open space and spookily claustrophobic thanks to the residents effectively being trapped at night or in bad weather by the danger of the surrounding countryside. New vicar Harry is not a local and neither are the Fletcher family, residents of the village’s only new build in decades thanks to the Church of England selling off some land next to the church. Both the church and the Fletchers’ home are loomed over by the ruins of an ancient abbey, giving the village a gothic centrepiece.

The book opens with Harry being shown a crime scene by local policeman DCS Rushton – a mudslide has caused a 10-year-old grave to collapse, revealing not one but three bodies, two of which should not be there. The story then skips back two months to the arrival of Harry shortly after that of the Fletchers. He’s a groovy young vicar who wears shorts and sometimes swears, and he’s nervous about the task ahead of him – Heptonclough’s church has been shut up and unused for 10 years.

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The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary!

Peepolykus
Bristol Old Vic, 6 May 2016

It’s probably for the best that Tim booked this without my knowledge and also that I didn’t look it up before we went, because on paper I’m not sure I would have been convinced by the concept. An uproarious, farcical comedy based on Flaubert’s tragic novel Madame Bovary, with song, dance, magic tricks, strobe lighting and adult humour. It seems so unlikely to work that I suppose it was inevitable that it actually would.

I should say upfront that I thoroughly enjoyed this. I spent a lot of the show crying with laughter. Once I got the message that this was not a serious adaptation of a serious novel, but a fourth-wall-breaking comedic homage, I settled in for some very-not-serious fun.

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Musical interlude: Sound of the Sirens

On Monday night Tim and I saw out the end of the bank holiday weekend at venerable local music venue the Louisiana, where we saw Sound of the Sirens. They’re a female folk-rock duo who create magic with great harmonies, lyrics and energy. It was a truly brilliant gig that can’t be captured in a YouTube video but here’s a taster of what they do. Enjoy!

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Hello! What are you reading?

hello-what-are-you-readingIn this new blog series, I ask my friends and family to talk a little about their current reads. I figured it would make a change to look at the reading habits of people who read a lot but don’t blog about it usually.

Today’s answer comes from my friend L, who I have worked with for about six years. She takes part in Viking Age re-enactments – the fighting part as well as the living-history part – and we originally bonded over hula fit classes. She was also a large part of the reason I wanted to learn to knit, because since I have known her she has taught herself from scratch and is now making all kinds of fancy items. Here is what L says about what she’s reading…

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April 2016 reading round-up

Hamlet-stfWhat a literary month April was! This year’s World Book Night fell on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, but the whole month has been Bard-tastic. Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory is a longstanding fixture at one of our local theatres every spring, but this is the first year we have been to see both the plays they’re producing. This season’s repertoire was All’s Well That Ends Well and Hamlet, neither of which I had seen on stage before or studied in any detail. I definitely preferred Hamlet, but I think that’s the writing more than the acting, which was great in both cases.

My reading this month has been mixed and not nearly as plentiful as March. But I did introduce a new blog feature called Hello! What are you reading? in which I ask my friends about their current reads. I’ve loved gathering their answers so far and look forward to sharing them week by week.

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