Time to Read Blog

Trafford WordFest

Posted Tuesday 15 May 2018 by Ian Anstice in Latest Libraries News

Wordfest 2018 runs during June. Events are being held in Trafford Libraries throughout this period. All are welcome to come to the events but booking is recommended.

Bird Boogie in the Library

Old Trafford Library, Thursday 7 June, 11am-2pm

Celebrate National Bookstart Week with a boogie at our silent disco in the library! When you fancy a sit down, there will be bird-themed crafts and colouring to keep the entertainment going. We'll also be giving away free copies of this year's National Bookstart Week book, A Busy Day for Birds to under 5s. Suitable for early walkers (dancers) upwards!

This is a free Wordfest and Chatterbooks event. No need to book, just turn up.. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Vaseem KhanAn evening with Vaseem Khan

Stretford Library, Wednesday 6 June, 7.30pm

Join us for an evening with Vaseem Khan, author of the bestselling The Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, as he talks about the latest in the Baby Ganesh series, Murder at the Grand Raj Palace.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

The Pankhursts and the Suffragettes

A talk by Janet Pickering from The Pankhurst Centre

Altrincham Library, Thursday 7 June, 7.30pm

This year we are celebrating the centenary of the act of parliament which gave some women the right to vote. The Pankhurst family from Manchester were leading suffragettes and founder members of the militant Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite . For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Oliver TearleBritain by the Book with Oliver Tearle

Hale Library, Tuesday 12 June, 2pm

Why was Agatha Christie investigated by MI5 during the Second World War? Why was Thomas Hardy buried twice? A multitude of curious questions are answered by Dr Oliver Tearle, author of Britain by the Book, a fascinating literary travelogue taking in writers' unusual haunts and the surprising places that inspired some of our favourite fictional locations.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Children's Author Jane Kerr

Urmston Library, Thursday 14 June, 4pm

Come and meet children's author Jane Kerr, author of The Elephant Thief, and discover more abut the amazing real life Edinburgh to Manchester adventure of Maharajah the elephant.

This is a free Wordfest and Chatterbooks event and is aimed at children aged 7+. No need to book, just turn up.. For more information please contact urmston.library@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Happy BrainThe Happy Brain with Dean Burnett

Sale Library, Friday 15 June, 7.30pm

After a hugely successful visit to Wordfest in 2016 with the acclaimed The Idiot Brain, neuroscientist, writer and stand-up comedian Dean Burnett returns to talk about his latest book, The Happy Brain.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Ashley DeyerCrime Scene: Call Forensics with Ashley Dyer

Altrincham Library, Wednesday 20 June, 7.30pm

How do the forensic experts deal with a crime scene and how do crime writers make sure they get the facts right? Examine the evidence at our 'crime scene' and chat with the writer and forensic expert who together form Ashley Dyer.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Sahera PatelMeet author Sahera Patel

Old Trafford Library at Limelight, Friday 22 June, 7.30pm

Sahera Patel is a British Muslim, teacher and public speaker. She has a passion for her faith and it is with this passion that she wrote her first book, the inspirational I'm not a Celebrity, I am a Muslim. In her latest book, Unveiling Arabia, Sahera writes about her experience of living and working in Saudi in a refreshingly vivid way.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Lucy Diamond An evening with Lucy Diamond

Urmston Library, Tuesday 26 June, 7.30pm

Meet bestselling author Lucy Diamond as she visits Wordfest for the first time to talk about her new novel, On a Beautiful Day.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Sonic Youth Slept on My Floor with Dave Haslam

Urmston Library, Wednesday 27 June, 7.30pm

Dave HaslamWe are delighted to welcome back former Hacienda resident DJ Dave Haslam as he talks to Abigail Ward from Manchester Digital Archive about his new book Sonic Youth Slept on My Floor, a masterful insider account of the rise of Manchester and the birth of the rave era.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Six minutes to less stress

Posted Tuesday 15 May 2018 by Ian Anstice in Opinion

6 minutesLook, I like a walk as much as the next person. Ask my dog. It's a very relaxing thing to do. As is having a hot drink or listening to music. But these activities have nothing on reading. And we have the scientific evidence to prove it.

Time To Read ran a campaign a few years ago about squeezing 6 Minutes reading into busy lives because it will make us feel better. It does this by focusing our thoughts, taking us away from distractions and helping us enter another state of mind. Watch our video about the research here.

Of course, we don't mean the hectic searching for facts that typifies our internet browsing. Nah, we mean slow reading. Slow reading is not about reading at a snail's pace, but about slowing down the pace of life to take pleasure in reading. Instead of rushing to the finishing, skimming text and missing large blocks as we down when reading text online.

coffee 6 minutesThat means you can feel seriously more relaxed by having a read in a café . Hmm, that café thing. I wonder if having a tea and a read gives you an extra stress discount? Worth a go I think.

Or you could find a use for some of that dead time that we all have in our lives, like when commuting. BusNext time you're on a bus or train, don't check your emails or look out of the window. Nope. Take out a book. Savour each page and get odd looks by sniggering at the ironic humour (if it's by Donald Trump at least). And, just think, by doing so, you'd have saved six times as much as if you'd played games on your phone instead. That's a saving of half hour every six minutes. Whoah, I've heard of the train taking the strain but that's ridiculous.

Or, look, you don't have to have me recommend a space. You can find your own but, please, find it. And live longer. And relax.

Toilet

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Parts of this  article come from a previous piece on slow reading and the six minutes campaign available here.

Conditions change, but human nature does not: Hilary Green on Troy and Mycenae

Posted Wednesday 9 May 2018 by Hilary Green in Author blogs

Troy: the revenge of the gods on the victorious Greeks?

Everyone knows the story of the Trojan War, don't they? Achilles the great warrior, cunning Odysseus, the Trojan horse. That last, at least, has become common parlance. In recent years fewer and fewer people seemed to have heard it, but now things are changing. I have no doubt that some of us have been watching Troy: the Fall of a City, on BBC TV. More, I suspect, were watching the first episode of Civilizations. Imagine my delight when the focus moved to the excavations of Pylos, city of King Nestor. Why? Because this is the setting for my novel The Last Hero and the discoveries of archaeologists like Sharon Stone, who appeared in that episode, underpin my narrative

"Within two or three generations after the victory over Troy, cities like Mycenae and Pylos had been so completely destroyed that for hundreds of  years everyone believed that they had never been anything more than a myth."

Last Hero GreenWithin two or three generations after the victory over Troy, cities like Mycenae and Pylos had been so completely destroyed that for hundreds of  years everyone believed that they had never been anything more than a myth. It was not until Schliemann uncovered the remains of Troy and then of Mycenae at the end of the nineteenth century that people understood that these stories were founded in fact. How was that possible? That was the question I set out to answer.

When I began to research the story that became The Last Hero, I found a wealth of information to work on. Some of it came from ancient legends which had been passed down over the centuries, like the story of the Trojan War, immortalized by Homer, or the murder of Agamemnon by his wife and her lover Aegisthus and the revenge of his son Orestes, as retold in the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles. To the Greeks of the classical era, these stories were history, not myth, and subsequent excavations by archaeologists have proved that they do have a basis in fact.

"To the Greeks of the classical era, these stories were history, not myth, and subsequent excavations by archaeologists have proved that they do have a basis in fact."

Lion Gates MycenaePursuing the archaeological evidence I found that it reveals a fascinating story. There is no doubt that the city of Mycenae existed. Once only the Lion Gate was visible but now the ruins are there for all to see. Grave goods have shown that it was indeed a rich and cultivated society, where the royal dead were buried with masks of beaten gold over their faces. What interested me particularly was the evidence that over a period of years, after the victory over Troy, the city suffered partial destruction and re-building. Some time around 1200 BCE. a house belonging to an oil merchant outside the walls was burnt down and about the same time parts of the city and the palace were destroyed and rebuilt, with some of the walls being strengthened and a secret passageway constructed to a spring which fed a cistern. Was this evidence that the city had been attacked and expected the attackers to return?

Even more evidence came from excavations by Professor Carl Blegen of the University of Cincinnati at the site of Pylos, on the west coast of the Peloponnese. Here, legend had it, was the palace of King Nestor, who plays a large role in the Iliad; and excavations proved that it was so. A magnificent palace once stood on the hilltop of Epano Englianos, 17km north of the modern town of Pylos. It had columned courtyards and a throne room whose walls were decorated with beautiful frescoes. There were storerooms full of fine pottery and olive oil jars labelled to show their different flavours. Linear BMost interesting of all were the many clay tablets inscribed with writing in two different scripts, which had only been found before in the ruins of Knossos, the city of the Minoans on the island of Crete. Neither script had been translated and they were given the names Linear A and Linear B. Eventually, in 1952, Michael Ventris and John Chadwick succeeded in deciphering Linear B and discovered that it represented an early form of Greek.

"We even have the names of the men in charge. ‘To the headquarters of Klymenos near Metapa, the Count Alectryon with 100 men’ etc etc."

This sparked a great controversy. Did this mean that the MInoans, hitherto believed to have been a different race altogether, were also Greek? Or had the Mycenaeans conquered and colonized Knossos? Arguments raged among scholars, but what interested me was the information the tablets revealed. Most were simply records kept by the palace administration of taxes received and supplies dispensed but in the highest, and therefore most recent deposits, the tone changes. These tablets record orders that suggest Pylos was preparing for an attack. Chariot MycenaeThe number of available chariots is to be recorded, and chariots repaired where necessary. Ships are to assemble  and watchers are to be sent to various points along the coast. We even have the names of the men in charge. ‘To the headquarters of Klymenos near Metapa, the Count Alectryon with 100 men’ etc etc. Most significantly, bronze vessels are to be requisitioned from the temples to be melted down for weapons.These tablets were found it a layer of ash, left from the fire that razed the palace to the ground. The preparations were unavailing.

"The characters who people the story are not myths. They are not descended from gods or nymphs, though they believe their ancestors were divine. They are human beings with all the strengths and faults of all humans"

Spartan warriorWho were the attackers? Tradition suggests a tribe called the Dorians, who believed themselves to be the descendants of Heracles. This, I decided, would be the basis for my novel. The characters who people the story are not myths. They are not descended from gods or nymphs, though they believe their ancestors were divine. They are human beings with all the strengths and faults of all humans. They loved and suffered and hoped and feared as we all do. Their existence is attested by the records. Alkmaion was the son of King Sillos and the grandson of Thrasymedes, who fought at Troy. His cousin and rival, Antilochos, would have been the heir instead of him, if his grandfather had not died in that war. The royal family of Mycenae are all recorded as the descendants of Orestes. Even Alkmaion’s lover, Alectryon, was a real person, as I have shown above, though their relationship is a product of my own imagination.

"In short, The Last Hero has as much historical validity as novels about Roman Emperors or Queen Boudicaa or Viking invaders."

In short, The Last Hero has as much historical validity as novels about Roman Emperors or Queen Boudicaa or Viking invaders. We may not have as much documentary evidence for it as we do for the Wars of the Roses, but the Myceneans were as real as Edward lV or Richard lll and they loved and fought with the same intensity as the men and women who lived through both World Wars. Conditions change, but human nature does not.

Hilary Green trained as an actress but has spent most of her working life teaching drama and theatre studies, most recently at Birkenhad Sixth Form College. Having achieved an MA in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University, she is now concentrating on being a full-time writer. She published three novels, all thrillers, in the 1980s but is now concentrating on historical novels. She won the Historical Novel Society's Kythira Prize for a short story in 1998.

Books and libraries sing to me

Posted Wednesday 25 April 2018 by Guest blog writer in Author blogs, Opinion

"That Poetry Bloke" Craig Bradley got in touch and so we naturally asked him to write something about reading and libraries. Here's what he said...

I have always been a reader. I can't remember learning how to read. Those little lines, loops and squiggles, that we call words, just made sense to me. Deep inside. They just clicked. I was very lucky.Numbers didn't though. Far from it. Despite my mum paying for extra maths lessons, I was well into my teens before timetables and long division sang to me. Even now their song is a bit out of tune. But books, they sang to me from the start. And they are still singing.

"books, they sang to me from the start. And they are still singing."

Craig BradleySo you can imagine what i thought of my local library. It was on the council estate where we lived. From the outside it was a gloomy drab, ugly, concrete building at the end of a row of run-down shops.  But when my Nan took my sisters and me inside, it was like walking into another world. A crazy, beautiful, slightly bonkers, endlessly fascinating world of ideas, imagination, language and stories.

They were books everywhere. We had a few at home- granddads encyclopedias and such - but nothing like this. This was on another scale. They were rows and rows and shelves and shelves of the things. Therer were so many books that they were piled up on the windowsills and tables.To me, it was like every book in the world was in this room. And the best thing was i could take one home. In fact, the lady who gave me my little pink "Childrens Borrower" library ticket said I could take up to seven books home. Now! Today! Seven actual books! I could read one a day for the next week. 

"That little grubby concrete building was a real, living and breathing Aladdin's cave"

Craig Bradley BrusselsAnd that's what i did. I read and read. I wasn't fussy - made up stories, true stories, old stories, new stories- you name it, i'd read it. Libraries opened up a whole new world to me. It was magic. No other word for it. That little grubby concrete building was a real, living and breathing Aladdin's cave, (Aladdin being one of the very stories i read by the way). By giving me access to loads of books, it gave me access to loads more people and the stories that they told, about their lives and the world that they lived in. I couldn't tell the time or do my timetables but I could read stories and, in doing so, became aware of another world beyond the council estate I lived in. I also read about other people who couldn't tell the time and felt like i wasn't on my own. Libraries did that and i thank them for it.

And you know what, they still do.

Craig Bradley is freelance writer, poet ad performer and has spread his love of reading through class and library visits. His website is here.

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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