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07 November 2013
It’s been 10 months since I started the Book Diet, and I’m doing well. Yes, there was one time I drunkenly bought my friend’s book at her launch, another that I 'accidentally' chose the 'Ticket + first edition' option for an event ... and that Parents of Stoke Newington cookbook for 5p at a jumble sale was a necessity ... but, for the most part, I’ve stuck to my guns and my sagging shelves have thanked me for it.Read more...
Poetry to write novels by
11 October 2013
When I’m writing, the single most inspirational thing I can do for myself is to read poetry. Maybe ‘read’ is too gentle a word, for I consume it voraciously. As a marathon runner hurls back energy drinks, I take regular poetry shots - for sustenance, adrenalin, but most of all, for the good of the heart.Read more...
The shape of ships
30 August 2013
‘Little London’: that’s what people tend to say about Bristol when I tell them about my move from the capital city of my birth to the small, tropical, party capital of the West; like they’re trying to make me feel better about my life choices. Usually, these are the people I’ve left behind in London. I see the point they’re making: take everything London has to offer, reduce on a low heat, add a generous sprinkling of folk practising circus skills, and you’ve got the measure of the place. It’s diverse, creative, always awake.Read more...
A pleasant fiction
31 July 2013
On a recent holiday to a hot rock in the Med, I found myself thinking about holiday reading. Everyone was at it. Along the beach Kindles flared, spines were cracked around the pool, pages dappled with Ambre Solaire and melon juice. At home I read perhaps a book a week, sometimes more, but it still felt like a delicious luxury to quadruple this intake, to sink into the sand or roll back on a lounger and lose myself in stories. By the end of the week I’d done my fair share of exploring of the local town, ventured further along the coastal strip, but however curious I like to think I am, interested in other peoples and cultures and experiences, I admit that for at least one holiday a year I’m happiest, most relaxed, and enjoying the greatest unadulterated pleasure, when I’m lying prostrate with my nose stuck in a book. To think, you bother going all that way to a strange country, and then disappear somewhere else again: a double, and arguably unnecessary, act of transportation, when a spray tan and my living room sofa might have delivered much the same experience.Read more...
Childhood reading: an endless summer
10 June 2013
It’s the start of summer, a time when long days and balmy nights are still a possibility, a hope, a beautiful dream. When the rain comes, as it invariably will, I know that my disappointment will be as childish as my hopes for a sun-filled summer in the first place. Nostalgia, surely, is to blame. In the rose-tinted garden of my memory, every summer is long, hot, and just about perfect. So it is with my childhood reading. I don’t remember the books I started and stopped, the ones I was nonplussed by; I can only recall the gems. And just like those carefree, sun-lit days, they are some of the best books I’ve ever read. Of course they are. Recently I wondered what would happen if I revisited a childhood favourite. Would fondness swamp objectivity? Or, worse still, would the experience leave me cold? Maybe it was a foolhardy venture, rather like having a magician explain a trick, or looking for your Christmas presents and finding them – what’s lost outweighs what’s gained. But I decided to run the risk anyway, and chose 'The Black Stallion' by Walter Farley.Read more...
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