Reading List 2016

Despite plans to make reading a daily habit, I’ve only recently managed to start working my way through a mammoth pile of books – mostly fiction. Having finally completed Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha, I quickly ploughed through his Woman Who Walked into Doors. I enjoyed both for very different reasons. Paddy Clarke was hard going simply because it was one long yarn but certainly reminiscent of my school days in lots of ways. While I say I enjoyed it, it was more of a challenge to read it as it wasn’t a book I would have chosen voluntarily.

The latter was an excellent portrait of a lone woman’s fight to rid herself of an abusive husband. Not for the faint-hearted, Doyle paints an excellent picture of a brutal, but sometimes humorous existence. If you’ve not read any of his works before I think this is a good place to start.

Next on the reading list is Kate Mosse’s Winter Ghosts. Again this is not a read because the theme of the book caught my eye, but because I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed both Labyrinth and Sepulchre. Mosse has a great aptitude for enveloping the reader in the world she’s created – OK it’s the aim of hundreds of writers but it’s amazing how many fail. This book is not on the same scale as Labyrinth or Sepulchre but set in similar mysterious surroundings. Looking forward to finishing it this week.


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National Poetry Competition 2016

Last few days!

Time is getting tight for this competition run by the Poetry Society.

Since its launch in 1978 it has attracted tens of thousands of entries from across the globe. It’s easy to enter and copies of last year’s winning poems can be found on the website. Deadline is 31 October 2016. The winners will be announced next Spring and published on the recently revamped PS pages. You can, of course, save on the entry fee by joining the Society – a really worthwhile investment for all who enjoy poetry in all its forms.

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Shakespeare and beyond

Last Saturday’s Shakespeare celebrations saw the BBC getting back to what it does best with its Shakespeare Live (BBC2) broadcast. Thankfully they couldn’t cut it short for some depressing news report or bore us to death with yet more football. The wealth of talent really made the show, plus a great mix of music, performance and dance gave a good insight into Shakespeare’s influences. My two particular favourites were the Horrible Histories take on the Bard and a sketch where several of our best known actors explain to Paapa Essiedu where the emphasis should be in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’. Contradictions abound with the final word being left to Prince Charles!

For anyone wanting to dig deeper into Shakespeare,  I can highly recommend the FutureLearn course Shakespeare and His World which kicked off on April 18. This is a 10 week course consisting of videos, articles, play readings etc. Don’t be put off by the time – you get out what you put in – and the first week is a basic intro, so it’s easy to catch up. This week’s play is The Merry Wives of Windsor. This is one play I’ve neither read, nor seen, and having started on the opening scene I’m not surprised, but I’ll persevere. A great resource among the hundreds of books on offer is Bill Bryson’s  Shakespeare (Harper Collins): a biographical romp full of fascinating facts interspersed with Bryson’s trademark humour.

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