Tea or Books? #26: give up vs soldier on, and Matilda by Roald Dahl vs Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Roald Dahl, Michelle Magorian, and whether or not to give up on books – I’m back from holiday, and Rachel and I have a lovely new (…long) episode of Tea or Books?


Tea or Books logoIn our first half, we discuss whether or not we give up on books, and what factors might play into that decision – and in the second half we get all children’s-literature-focused. We’re supposedly pitting Matilda by Roald Dahl against Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian (which only have in common that Rachel and I loved them both as children) – but we end up talking about every Dahl we can think of.

This is the excellent airbnb place I stayed in Siena, and this is our iTunes page. Listen to the ep up above, over there, or any which way you choose. We’re not the bosses of you! Having said that, I do want to boss you into telling us what you’d choose for each half. And more ideas, please! We got so many good ideas from people a while ago… and we’re running out.

Here are the books and authors we talked about in this episode:

Collection of Sand by Italo Calvino
Casting Off by Elizabeth Jane Howard
Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes
Chatterton Square by E.H. Young
Miss Mole by E.H. Young
But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman
Jane Austen
The Dover Road by A.A. Milne (book your tickets here!)
Private Lives by Noel Coward
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Zadie Smith
P.G. Wodehouse
Patricia Brent, Spinster by Herbert Jenkins
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Crash by J.G. Ballard
Possession by A.S. Byatt
The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Black Dogs by Ian McEwan
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Elizabeth Bowen
Jane Austen
Muriel Spark
Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
Who Was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
P.D. James
The Chateau by William Maxwell
A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor
Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
Going Solo by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach: a play by David Wood
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Danny, Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
The Twits by Roald Dahl
The Witches by Roald Dahl
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Doreen by Barbara Noble
Kisses on a Postcard by Terence Frisby
Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh

15 thoughts on “Tea or Books? #26: give up vs soldier on, and Matilda by Roald Dahl vs Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

  • September 28, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I used to say soldier on, but now I say give up – and I usually do unless there is a really pressing reason to finish a book. Life is too short to spend time reading something you don’t like. And I hope you get on well with the Calvino essays!

  • September 28, 2016 at 9:55 am

    When you get to my age–51 –one learns to “give up” on boring books.Time is of the essence.


  • September 28, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    I used to give up on books that bored me, but I now tend to soldier on. As Alan B. had the queen say: “one finishes what’s on one’s plate” :-). Last week I read VW’s Behind The Acts. I usually love VW, but this one…I really wanted to put an end to my misery ! I even thought “what would Simon and Karen think of me if I gave up on VW ?” And I simply couldn’t, despite Graham Greene who was whispering in my ear “superficial characters ! cardboard symbols ! paper-thin world !”. I may even read it again…

  • September 29, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Tea or Books. I’m stuck at home with a cold, listening to your podcast, which is excellent. Absolutely read more of Michelle Magorian’s books, especially Cukoo in the Nest.

  • September 30, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Can you do a feature on Welsh authors.My favourite is Dorothy Edwards.
    A piece on books read more than twice and why.
    Charity shop challenge–each go to a different town and spent £20 wisely.With photos of course.
    Short of pics of Simon in bookshops–need more.
    A tour of Simon’s parents house full of his books.There was once a photo of Simon marking small cards trying to catalogue his collection.Is this ongoing?
    Books that should be in print—why did nobody reprint Diana Tutton despite Simon’s best efforts?

  • September 30, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    RACE FOR THE FACE-print photos of middlebrow faves and the first correct answer wins a prize.

  • September 30, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    LIBRARY LURCH–Simon talks about book groups/reading groups.The pros and cons.Photos of him going in the door.I say this knowing he has said he rarely borrows books.???
    What is new in his library that got him excited?Maybe a book he had not heard of before?
    Personally i would avoid book clubs/groups.

  • September 30, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Finally–something i want to sort in my mind–all these Victorian authors with MRS in front of their name.
    and others.If you could describe them and their novels?Some are easier to read than others.Sorry if this a lame idea.

  • September 30, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Not keen on HALLOWEEN but you could do a Halloween or winter themed special.Any books that summon up the seasons.For Winter–choose LOVE FOR LYDIA–by H.E.BATES.All the skating scenes are great.

  • October 1, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Finally—love triangles/intense relationships/doomed relationships.Plenty of classics and Virago Classics.Please discus–WEATHER IN THE STREETS and TORTOISE AND THE HARE.
    Sorry if you have covered this.

  • October 1, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    And you could use the headings–SISTERS/SPINSTERS/WIDOWS/DAUGHTERS for a chat.I am reading H.E.BATES–TWO SISTERS–1926,

  • October 3, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Thats ok Simon.Not at all.

  • January 20, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    I enjoyed your discussion on Roald Dahl. My favorite was always Fantastic Mr. Fox and I loved my illustrated copy. I also liked your “give up” or “soldier on” talk. It’s a tough one for me as it’s a bit of a blow to my reading pride to admit defeat. However, as Rachel says, I don’t always like devoting precious reading time to reading something I’m not enjoying.

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:17 am

      Thanks Olivia! I think all readers seem to get more willing to ditch books over time, don’t we?


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