Sunday Salon: 10 years in Bristol

The Sunday SalonThis past week I celebrated 10 years in my current job, which means that last month Tim and I completely missed celebrating 10 years of living in Bristol. 10 years! For Tim that’s the longest he’s spent living in one place (though not quite yet the longest in one house as we have moved around Bristol a little); I still have a ways to go on that front as I lived in the same house from age 0 to 20. But I’m happy enough in Bristol that I can well believe I’ll still be here in another 10 years.

I love Bristol. And not least because the music scene here is fantastic. This week I’d made a note that Amy Rigby was playing at a pub near our house, but then realised we wouldn’t be able to see her because we already had tickets to see Kate Tempest that night. Which I can’t complain about at all because the Kate Tempest gig was one of the best of my life. Absolutely incredible.

She performed her new album Let Them Eat Chaos in its entirety, which is the only way to do it as it’s a single story told in poetry, rap and song over the course of 50 minutes or so. It is smart, politically and socially motivated, beautiful, funny, angry and hopeful. As when we saw her perform this without musical backing at the Downs Concert, Kate put so much of herself into it that she was in tears at the end, and not just one or two stray tears either. I love Kate and truly think she is a force for good and positivity in this world that seems to be sorely lacking in those things far too often.

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June reading round-up

(CC0)
(CC0)

I have not read many books in the past month. I had a bit of a lupus flare, and then politics sent the world doolally, which between them led me to abandon a couple of reads. I’m currently halfway through three different books and I’m not sure I’ll finish all of them. I am still reading a lot of John Allison webcomics, but mostly I’m obsessively reading news and politics articles in case someone has figured out how to fix this mess.

Right back at the start of the month, I went with a big group of friends to see Buzz Aldrin speak about his new book No Dream is Too High. And last week, Tim and I took my Mum and brother to the theatre in Bath to watch Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, which was a welcome funny distraction as well as, like all Theatre Royal shows, boasting an excellent cast.

I also, possibly overambitiously, joined a new book club at work. It seemed like a nice idea at the time, but the first meeting is next week and I haven’t picked up the book yet. Hmm. Maybe it will be a good idea to just put aside all the false starts and start July with a fresh new read. Maybe.

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Hello! What are you reading?

hello-what-are-you-readingIn this 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 Claire, who is the newest member of our pub quiz team and the most likely to be there on the days we win – could be there’s a correlation there. We share a love for all things Italian, but unlike me she can speak – and read – the language. In fact, she has a PhD in it (newly minted last year) and as soon as I’ve got that TBR down to a more manageable size I’ll be hitting her up for some Italian literature recommendations. Let’s find out what Claire has been reading recently.

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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 Bruce, who I originally met through Tim – they were in university halls together and have been close friends ever since – and over the years we’ve become close too. Bruce is always good for a heartfelt all-night chat and if he would only remember my need to eat dinner I would rate his nights out as the best fun! He’s another fellow karaoke fan, though our musical taste is rather different, but we do have quite similar taste in books, which I always forget until the rare occasions when I actually ask. Which is why I started this blog series. Here’s what Bruce is reading.

Continue reading “Hello! What are you reading?”

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…

Continue reading “Hello! What are you reading?”

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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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…

Continue reading “Hello! What are you reading?”

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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Hello! What are you reading?

hello-what-are-you-readingI love finding out what other people are reading, but I don’t ask the question nearly enough of my friends and family. So I decided to fix that and e-mailed several friends the above question. I have some very smart and interesting friends so I also asked if I could publish their answers. 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.

(By the way, if you’re a friend I haven’t asked yet, I promise it doesn’t mean I hate you! I’m just saving you for a second or even third round. I love you all.)

Let’s start right at home with talkie_tim, who is my partner, best friend and all-around favourite person. Yes, strictly I already knew what he was reading, but we don’t discuss our thoughts about the books we read nearly enough, for two bookish people who read every day and, you know, live together. Here’s what he had to say…

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The joy of reading

The Complete Polysyllabic Spree
by Nick Hornby

This book looked and sounded like fun with a literary bent, which was exactly what I needed after a few non-absorbing reads in a row.

This is a compilation of Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” columns that he wrote for the literary magazine Believer from 2003 to 2006. Hornby is funny and the magazine had a policy of positivity so the result is a real delight to read.

Hornby’s novels probably fall into the more readable end of literary fiction so it is perhaps no surprise that that is where his own reading tastes lie. He loves Dickens but has little patience for the vaguer, plotless end of literary fiction so to keep in line with the Believer‘s no-negativity clause he creates the mythical Polysyllabic Spree, the “twelve [or 100, or 64, depending on the column] rather eerie young men and women…all dressed in white robes and smiling maniacally” who he claims berate him for any bad reviews, which makes for some hilarity.

But most of the pleasure comes from Hornby’s frank discussions of how he chooses what he reads, how life intrudes on his reading, and sharing his great joy in reading what he wants to read. He despairs of literary snobbery, of those who look down on others for reading Dan Brown or Mills & Boon. He wisely and wittily describes his reads, mostly biographies, comedy and history. He is open about the sources of his books – his publisher, friends and family send him proof copies, but he is also an insatiable book buyer, frequenting book shops, new and used, whenever he can.

Believer is published by McSweeney’s, so a lot of the names involved are writers who are familiar to me – Vendela Vida, for instance – and, brilliantly, the internet tells me that Hornby’s column was recently reinstated. I might just have to become a subscriber!

First published by Viking 2006.