Time to Read Blog

WowFest 2018

Posted Monday 19 March 2018 by Ian Anstice in Latest Libraries News

Wowfest 2018WoWfest 2018 – CROSSING BORDERS responds to recent national and international political, social and cultural developments around issues of Brexit/The EU, migration, race, inclusion/exclusion, diversity, and nationalism. While Trump talks of building walls, and borders are back on the international agenda, WoWFEST 2018 - Crossing Borders will explore messages of togetherness, hope and inclusivity by building stories and experiences around the thoughts, ideas and hopes of our communities for the society and identity they wish to build for themselves and each other in the wake of Brexit.

working class writersWith the impact of Brexit hotly contested and unbridled Trumpery across the Atlantic, WoWFest 2018 – CROSSING BORDERS will explore literature, art, ideas, and practice that has transgressed and challenged accepted ways of thinking. From migrant literature to refugee stories, prisoner stories and translated works, we’ll be discussing race, gender, sexuality, Europe, politics, activism, satire, collaboration, grime music, and technology.

Shami CharkrabartiIn venues across the city WoWfest 2018 – CROSSING BORDERS will break down barriers - technological, geographic and those that frame our identity and ways of living.  Local national and international writers, artists and commentators will debate and discuss ideas of nationalism and identity and their impact on society, culture and artistic creation.  They’ll consider whether the gates protecting the most elite communities need to be torn down in the name of Social Justice and the Grenfell survivors. Subverting the theme, we’ll be exploring borders that need to be fortified #metoo. With guests including Lily Allen, Lowkey (and many more to be announced), WoWfest 2018 – CROSSING BORDERS will defy expectations, entertain and challenge, and invite you to get involved.
WoWfest 2018 is dedicated to Linda Meagor who crossed many borders and was an asset to many arts organisations and communities.

Bookmark this: Oldham Bookmark Festival returns in May

Posted Monday 19 March 2018 by Ian Anstice in Events

Oldham BookMark Festival 2018The ever-popular Bookmark Festival returns for a long weekend of fantastic fun-filled, book-related events and activities.

Expect returning popular guests, new literary voices and familiar favourites. There’s certainly something for everyone, celebrating reading in all its finest forms. See the full programme here. Book tickets here.

Events for adults include: 

bookmark crimeThe Life of Crime: Crime writers’ workshop with Jane McNulty

Do you want to write the perfect murder story? Looking for that perfect twist? Join Salford writer and playwright Jane McNulty in our Life of Crime mystery workshop. Learn how to create and handcraft your own crime stories, avoiding the regular tropes and clichés.

Mandasue Heller and David Mark

Two writers of thrilling and nail bitingly tense stories return to Oldham to discuss how and why they love writing about crime and punishment. Both bestselling authors know the dark streets of Manchester and Hull, the settings for their page turning crime thrillers. Manchester’s Mandasue Heller (author of the top ten bestsellers Run and Afraid) will be discussing her latest novel, Save Me and journalist and crime reporter David Mark will be discussing his latest book Scorched Earth.


BookishFive mini comedy shows each inspired by a different book and you get to choose which ones you see! Performed by Laura Mugridge and Tom Adams with live original music, a quiz and the stories of what happened when they tried to research the books. There will be a live vote on the night, and two shows (books) will be performed. Suitable for 10+. The five books are:The London A-Z, Ginger - My Story (the autobiography of Ginger Rogers), The Remains Of The Day, The Dairy Book.

Afternoon Tea with Milly Johnson

Sunday Times Top Five bestselling author Milly Johnson hosts an afternoon in a beautiful park and a feast of finger sandwiches, delicious cakes and scones. Born and bred in Barnsley, Milly is also an after-dinner speaker, poet, cruise correspondent, columnist, scriptwriter and a joke-writer for the greetings card industry. She writes about love and life in present day Yorkshire and makes no apologies for the happy endings.

Katie ThistletonKatie Thistleton

Join CBBC’s TV and radio presenter Katie Thistleton as she talks about mental health and her new book Dear Katie: Real Problems, Real Advice. Katie will share anecdotes from her own experiences, as well as advice found in her book on some of the most common problems and worries associated with growing up. With a bright, positive attitude, Katie will leave you feeling happier and more confident, safe in the knowledge that whoever you are, you are unique.

An Austentatious Murder Austentatious

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

Acknowledging Jane Austen as one of mankind’s most gifted writers on the subject of love and the human condition, tech developers have created the ‘Austen Algorithm’ - the key to finding the perfect partner! The new app Dating Mr Darcy is due to be launched at an Austen themed gala celebration. But moments before the app goes live, its creator is found dead - Someone has quite literally broken her heart!

An Afternoon with Simon Mayo

Oldham BookMark Festival 2018Join Simon Mayo for an afternoon of relaxed conversation around his debut adult novel, Mad Blood Stirring. Inspired by real events and real characters, the novel tells the story of the American sailors held captive in Dartmoor Prison during the Second War of American Independence.

The award-winning and popular BBC Radio 2 presenter, Book Club leader and author will be interviewed by ITV’s Caroline Whitmore. Caroline has worked for ITV for almost twenty years and is now the entertainment correspondent for Granada Reports. She meets a whole host of celebrities on a daily basis from Kylie Minogue to George Clooney and classes Take That and Peter Kay as friends.


Songlines: making you question your travel and your home

Posted Tuesday 27 February 2018 by Writing Squad in Writing Squad Reviews

Continuing our occasional series of book reviews by members of the Writing Squad, Charlotte Wetton talks about a travel book which made a big impact, and may do so on you as well.

If you like plots more than ideas, this might not be the Songlinesbook for you. The Songlines describes the author’s time in central Australia and his efforts to understand the Aborigines ‘songlines’ across their land, but it broadens into a hunt for a more universal truth about our species. Chatwin’s friend Salmon Rushdie described The Songlines as ‘an obsession too great for him’. Chatwin had previously written, but failed to publish, an academic book on nomads; and this book does read as one with a vast reservoir of thinking behind it.

But The Songlines is no dry opinion-piece. Its pacey prose and dialogue are enjoyably clear. The novelistic drive comes partly from the wonderful characters who appear from the first pages - the priests and policemen and activists who populate Alice, many connected to the Aboriginal land-rights movement. Scenes such as the kangaroo hunt – the traditional spear replaced by the front of a truck – are vividly memorable.

"Chatwin builds his case that nomads are ‘the crank-handle of history’ and that to be stationary is the cause of all melancholia"

Having lured you into this hot, dusty, peopled world, the book changes in the middle and there is a long section of extracts from Chatwin’s travel notebooks. Here are chance encounters on the road, potted life histories, quotations from philosophy, mythology, archaeology and ethnography. Through these snippets, Chatwin builds his case that nomads are ‘the crank-handle of history’ and that to be stationary is the cause of all melancholia. The narrative resumes, the notebooks inter-spaced with his time in Australia. He expands his quest for understanding to the human psyche, pondering the existence of ‘Dinofelis’ -  a big-cat preying on early humans, who could be responsible for the formation of our psyche around the terror of being hunted.

"this book expanded my mind. It made me question my own experience of travel and home"

I don’t know how much of this research may have been debunked in the thirty years since publication, but this book expanded my mind. It made me question my own experience of travel and home – what parts of mythology and anthropology spoke to my experience of the world? This is an intellectual read but it’s an enjoyable and fleshy one; people and places brought to life with Chatwin’s sparse style - such as the explosive haggle between an Aborigine artist and a white art-dealer. This is research through a life lived, a book that studies humans but that is ultimately concerned with humanity and human encounters.

Charlotte WettonCharlotte is a poet based in West Yorkshire. Her first pamphlet, I Refuse to Turn into a Hat-Stand won the Michael Marks Awards 2017, following a spoken word album, Body Politic. She has published in Poetry Wales, Staple, Stand etc.  She regularly performs across the North and will run workshops if the opportunity sounds fun. She is on Twitter as @CharPoetry

X-Boxes, Hamster and Pizza: Children's letters to Jane Austen

Posted Wednesday 14 February 2018 by Ian Anstice in Jane Austen, Opinion

One of the most lovely things, to me, that came out of the Travelling Letter Exchange project, where people were invited to write a letter to Jane Austen, was the responses of one school from Stockport. Broadstone Hall School got a lot of their children to write letters and they're a real pleasure. Have a look at some of them here.

The letters were written on Halloween, which the kids explained to Jane as being "where you knock on doors and say trick or treat and they give you sweets" and, interestingly (not come across this myself but it's genius), "when you are done you normally go back to my house and count your sweets and whoever has more you get to eat the first sweets".

Jane AustenAnother big topic was how different life is now compared to Jane's time. Transport came up again and again, with bikes, trams, busses and planes being often mentioned. And then there are computers. Oh my, there's a lot about computers, with X-Boxes being the main theme, including the line "I'm nearly always on my X Box because I could literally not live without it". Worryingly for me, books only come up once or twice, although quite a few expressed an interest in reading some Austen one day. Which was nice.Some were also curious as to how Jane herself lived, asking her if she lived in a castle or normal house or if she "struggled for money".

It was fascinating to see how different children's hobbies are now to when Jane wrote. Lists like "thai boxing, guitar, mountain biking and swimming" were not uncommon. Well, Jane might have been able to do two of those I guess. Another child listed hobbies where a whopping two (art and dance) out of three would have been possible for Jane. I don't think Jane did the third one though, which was rollerskating (or did she?). 

Life at school was also a favourite, with comments like "I didn't bring my PE kit. You probably didn't go to school since most girls didn't in your time" showing awareness of how much things have changed. And then there was food.Food was a big topic. Burgers, hot dogs, pancakes and pizza. There was a lot said about pizza. One girl bravely pointed out how much meat is eaten and said that she was vegetarian. My youngest daughter is also vegetarian so more power to her, I say.

Family was mentioned a lot, especially mums, and - for some reason - hamsters. Hamsters are clearly a big thing in Cheadle. Mums were mentioned a lot more than Dads, sorry Dads, with my most cherished comment to Jane being "My life is good because I have a lovely Mum ... I would tell you more about my life but sadly you [Jane Austen] are dead"

There's so much humour in these letters but they give you a real feel for what children consider important. And as long as they can write these down in letters then they give me hope, X Box or no X Box.

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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