It’s Thursday, so I thought I would use the Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts meme to bring you up to date with what’s been happening at 746 Towers.
You would think that when you launch a big summer reading challenge that the blog posts would flow thick and fast.
Unfortunately here at 746 Books, that hasn’t quite happened yet. I realise that it looks like I announced 20 Books of Summer and then promptly exited stage left, but I promise, that’s not the case.
Firstly, thanks to EVERYONE taking part. A whopping 75 of you have signed up on the Master post and I know there are a few more people taking part on Twitter rather than on blogs. That’s really fantastic and your enthusiasm is a real support.
Secondly, although I have only posted a measly ONE review in the first three weeks of my challenge, things are actually going really well! I have so far read 7 of my 20 books and 3 books that weren’t on my original list. This puts me well on target for the summer, so I’m pleased. Now I just have to find time to write some reviews and I’ll really be on track.
The reason for my lack of posting is that I have been away for work for the last couple of weekends. Now, while that might sound onerous, it has actually been great fun.
At the start of June, I attended the Jaipur Literature Festival at the British Library in London and had an amazing weekend. The JLF put together a brilliant programme for this weekend featuring some fascinating discussion panels.
I attended some brilliant events including Shashi Tharoor on Why I am A Hindu; the brave and brilliant Suki Kim talking about her time undercover as a teacher in North Korea (do read her book, it’s wonderful), Desmond Elliott Prize winner Preti Taneja talking about her book We That Are Young and a raucous and rousing panel on 100 Years of Suffrage featuring Anita Anand, Angela Saini and the inimitable Helena Kennedy QC who introduced herself in a slightly tongue in cheek fashion as the woman you go to when you’ve killed your husband…
And if that wasn’t enough inspiration, I have just spent the last weekend at the amazing Dalkey Book Festival in Dublin. Dalkey is a small seaside village about half an hour outside Dublin, home to Bono, Bob Geldof and the legend that is Chris deBurgh and each year they host some amazing writers and thinkers over four days.
I was there to present Something to Write Home About on Seamus Heaney with my pal Glenn Patterson. This is the talk we had done before in India in January, and despite having done it before, I was incredibly anxious to repeat the experience.
Imagine the terror then, when we turned up to do the talk and were told that there was no power in the whole of Dalkey so we couldn’t screen the film that takes up 30 minutes of our one hour slot meaning we would have to ad-lib to the 100 people waiting in the Hall, one of whom was Marie Heaney, Seamus Heaney’s widow! No pressure at all, but somehow we not only got through it, but had a great time doing so as the audience were so warm and friendly.
Once the talk was out of the way, it was time to relax and I enjoyed hearing Deborah Levy and Lionel Shriver, who spoke really well about the latest controversies to come her way. I met the wonderful Willy Vlautin in the Authors Lounge and berated him for making me cry in Gatwick Airport as I made the mistake of finishing Don’t Skip Out On Me in public. Take my advice – if you plan to read that book, bring tissues.
The highlight of my weekend however, was a long overdue reunion. For anyone who has read my blog over the years, you will be more than aware of my old pal and Reading Ireland Month co-host Mr Niall McArdle, aka Raging Fluff. Well, after a whopping 23 years, we finally managed to meet up in person. And it was the best fun.
So, that should explain my silence. Normal service should now resume and I promise to get caught up with all your wonderful blogs, 20 Books of Summer tweets and my own growing pile of reviews.
Out of my 20 books, I’ve read:
- Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
- The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty
- Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty
- Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin
- Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill
- Seeing Red by Lina Meruane
- The Search by Geoff Dyer
I’m also halfway through The Peculiar Life of A Lonely Postman so am hoping to get halfway through my list by the end of the month.
How is your challenge going? It’s great to see people powering through their piles on Twitter!
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!