I was intending to finish another Persephone book today, but that was wildly ambitious, since I have over 200pp left to read of it still… so another Persephone review will be turning up at some point, and for now I’ll just thank Claire and Verity for their stirling work. (Thanks, ladies!) Persephone Reading Week[end] seems to get bigger every year, even if the number of days have shrunk – and I’m sure lots of us have added potential reads to our real or imaginary tbrs. I realised I still ahve 26 unread Persephones on my shelf, so I shan’t be buying any more for a while (though have my fingers crossed for winning one of the competitions I entered.)
So, instead of a review, I’ll mention My Life in Books. Has anyone been watching this? Anne Robinson almost succeeds in putting away her steely glare, and asks authors and other famous people to talk about the books they have loved throughout their lives, and a bit of biographical info thrown in. I think it’s a great idea, and has led to some interesting programmes. There’s one on every night for two weeks, and we’re in the middle of ’em now – all so far available to watch here, if you like in the UK (and maybe if you don’t – I’m never sure about these things.)
So far, I think I most enjoyed the programme with Sue Perkins and Giles Coren – both pretty funny people, with interesting choices. Perkins’ mention of The Queen of Whale Cay by Kate Summerscale, about a rich, eccentric playgirl Joe Carstairs, was especially intriguing. Also one of the few surprising choices – my only criticism is that most of the guests seem to have loved a diet only of classics. Truly fanatical readers have to find their own niches in the libraries of the world, surely, rather than simply love received wisdom. But perhaps the BBC persuaded them to pick books they had video clips of?
Some great pairings so far – I wouldn’t have expected PD James and ‘disgraced ex-Blue Peter presenter’ Richard Bacon to have much in common, but they actually had a lovely conversation. I can’t wait for Debo Devonshire’s episode, coming up this week. Jeanette Winterson and smarmy-spin-doctor Alastair Campbell could be interesting… What is wonderful, though, is how enthusiastic the guests are about books – they really do love reading. They discuss re-reading, or the merits/demerits of adaptations, to the manner born; they chat about Austen, Dickens, Melville, Dostoevsky with affection and knowledge. I can’t believe a programme this bookish and, yes, intelligent is being shown on a terrestrial TV channel – this NEVER happens. Much as I genuinely enjoy the TV Book Club and their presenters (more on’t next week), the content – outside of the author interview and the actual book discussion amongst the delightfully literature-lovin’ presenters – often dumbs down a little. I saw an episode the other day in which the first thing the guest said was “I’ve never been much of a reader.” Indeed.
So, head over and have a watch, if you can. You (like me) will doubtless come away wishing that you and other bloggers could be taking the place of the guests… well, if so, watch this space…