Posts in Events

A Vintage evening: book previewing in Manchester

Posted Wednesday 28 March 2018 by Ian Anstice in Events, Opinion

Vintage inviteOne of the serious perks of being the co-ordinator of Time To Read (well, apart from working from home with my dog, Gusto, sleeping on my lap while I’m typing) is being invited to book launches and there was a particularly good one put on by Vintage this week which I want to tell you about.

The Vintage 2018 preview event took place in the wonderful Waterstones at Deansgate in Manchester on a mild Monday evening.  It turns out that the bookshop has a secret events room behind double doors by the Costa on the top floor.

So what happens? Well, you walk in and there’s free drinks (wine and juice) as well as free nibbles (the best Marks and Spencers can offer) and six authors waiting around for the event to start. This is a great time to speak to them, as they’ve not formally been introduced yet and people are a bit stand-offish. I chickened out of talking to Irvine Welsh and instead spoke to the very friendly Abir Mukherjee, who’s an old hand at such things and politely underestimated my age, and Damian Le Bas and his wife, who were fascinating.

Then the event properly started and we all took our seats to listen to the speakers and to people form the publishers. The first speaker described who was there, including not only a sprinkling of us librarians, but also staff from Waterstones, independent bookshops and book bloggers. The publishers then summarised their favourite forthcoming books from other authors, including two which caught my eye – Star of the North by DB John, due out in May, about child abductions carried out by North Korea and the new one by Yuval Noah Harari, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”.  If you’ve not read any Harari, well, start now … but don’t miss this one. The man is a genius.

Irvine WelshOK, now on to the speakers. Irvine Welsh, the megastar in the room, was first on and literally set his stopwatch at the start to make sure he did not speak too long. He was there to speak about his “third real Trainspotters” book Dead Men’s Trousers.  This is a “twisted redemption” for his characters.

Then we had Damian Le Bas whose Stopping Places is about his journey to places in the UK which Damian Le Bashad links to Travellers. I checked with him and he’s also fine with the terms Gypsies and Romany, although the fact I had to do this showed how touchy the subject still is, even in 2018. And, yes, some people do use the socially unacceptable term “pikey” but I bet none of them knew that they do so because it comes from the old word “turnpike”, which is a road-toll. He’s full of fascinating information like that and has a real flair for description, as his reading of his trip to Appleby Fair in Cumbria demonstrated. Did you know that you can so carefully control a coin toss that heads can come up nine times out of ten?

Diana EvansDiana Evans came nest with Ordinary People, a novel about black British middle class people from the day Obama was elected to the death of Michael Jackson in the same year. Themes like parenthood and middle age are touched on as is, of course, race, which she made clear was “not just a black person’s problem. Again there’s some good turns of phrase like the description of "Obama walking out victorious on to the bulletproof stage".  I love fact as well that the book has a playlist.

Andrew MacMillanPoetry is a notoriously hard sell but Andrew McMillan, now based in Manchester, gives it his best shot. Like his previous book, Physical is very graphic and eyewateringly personal, with lightning-quick turns of phrase that shock almost as much as the meteorological phenomenon itself. It’s about a homosexual adolescence but is basically also about awkwardness and the pains of growing up generally.

Christie WatsonThe next speaker grabbed the attention of everyone from the start. The story of a child dying in your arms from burns and the smell of her hair as it is washed is going  to stay with me for a long time. Such is the work of Christie Watson, whose book “The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story is, for my money, going to be – or damn well should be – the bestselling book here.  She’s a nurse in the NHS and talks about kindness as well as life and death. She is an absolutely riveting speaker and can move  from gruesome morbidity to humour in a minute. I think the time has come for this as it’s not misery fiction – it’s kindness non-fiction – and from a nurse, not a doctor or a midwife. I did video snaps of the other authors but I forgot to do it with Christie, she was that good.  There was a 14-way auction for the rights to this book and I can see why.

Abir MukherjeeAh, but then we had the infinitely likeable Abir Mukherjee –whose “Smoke and Ashes” is the third in a detective series based in 1920s India. It’s a good backdrop for thrillers and he does it well, with the latest being about the shameful medical tests done on Indian troops at the time, mixed in with preparations for the arrival of Prince Edward (the future Edward VIII) in Calcutta. I’ve not come across his work before but I’m going to jolly well read some now.

Abir then proved very popular in the next stage of the evening, which was a social get-together with the authors, although poor Irvine Welsh – who I suspect was too famous to be socially talked to – had to stand around for a bit while people just came up to him to autograph his new book. Oooh, did I mention there were piles of free copies of the books to just pick up? That’s rather good isn’t it? Or it would have been if I had not been so intent on speaking to people I forgot to get them until it was too late. Such are the problems of such a good evening. Here’s looking forward to the next one.

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.

Bookish

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.

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Making the sandwich: putting on successful author events

Posted Wednesday 13 December 2017 by Ian Anstice in Events, Training

Public libraries are superb places to host author events. There’s thousands of them, for a start, with a wide geographical spread. They often have large amounts of floor space when compared to book shops. But, in this age of increasing competition for people’s time and limited staff resources, how does a public library ensure that writer visits can be as successful as possible? That’s the question Time To Read posed. The answers that came back all pointed to the conclusion that simply offering an author, except if they’re really famous, is not enough.

Making the SandwichIn fact, what came through loud and clear is that the library needs to think of how to package the event. Perhaps the best way to explain this is by analogy. Think of it like trying to sell a sandwich, where the author is the main filling and the library is the bread. Well, that may not be enough to get people to buy the sandwich, especially as there are many other fantastic lunch options out there. So it may be better to add in some refreshments as extra fillings  and  -  to improve the packaging, as it were -  theme the event. Oh, and make sure you don’t serve it at the wrong time of day. Perhaps add some music in there as background too. And, voila, you get a really nice sandwich . Or author event.

This guide is intended to share the best practice out there and to share the hard-won experience of experts so you don’t have to learn on the fly. But it’s not intended as prescriptive. To take the food analogy still further, choose what you want from the buffet of ideas and perhaps come back later to try something more adventurous. Oh, and let us know your ideas too so we can improve for next time.

Download the "Making the sandwich" guide here.

Rochdale Lit Festival - first names revealed

Posted Tuesday 4 July 2017 by Ian Anstice in Events

The first names on the line-up for this year’s Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival have been revealed.

The seven-day festival in October will feature talk show legend Sir Michael Parkinson, comedian and novelist Jenny Eclair, and Manchester poet Tony Walsh aka Longfella.

Michael Parkinson will be looking back at his life and career interviewing many of the most important cultural figures of our time. With his son Mike, he will show highlights from the Parkinson archive, and provide an opportunity to get an entertaining and informative look at his remarkable journey from a pit village in Yorkshire to the top of the famous stairs on his chat show set, while re-living the best moments from a show which defined Saturday night for millions of viewers over many years.

Jenny Eclair, who performed a sell-out show at Middleton Arena during last year's festival and vowed to return, will be back in more intimate surroundings talking about her new collection of short stories -'Listening In,' based on the BBC Radio 4 Series 'Little Lifetimes.' The book comprises tales from the mouths of many different (mostly furious) middle aged women!  In 1995 she became the first female solo winner of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival's prestigious Perrier Award. A regular on radio and television ever since, she voiced the thoughts of Grumpy Old Women for years and is also the author of another 6 books including 'Life, Death and Vanilla Slices'. 

Tony Walsh, one of the UK's most renowned performance poets, is also on the line-up and will be writing a new poem especially for the festival.  His poignant reading of 'This is the Place' in Albert Square after the Manchester bombing is being turned into a book for charity. Tony, or 'Longfella' as he is also known, is quite literally a giant of the performance poetry scene. His work has been published internationally and he's a multiple award-winner. A regular on television and radio, his trademark mix of intimacy and controversy, comedy and tragedy has been stunning audiences from poetry gigs to international literature festivals for the last 15 years.

The festival will run from Tuesday 17 to Monday 23 October 2017 and we're promising another packed week of exciting arts for all ages.

Events will cover drama, comedy, poetry, spoken word, visual arts and children's shows. For young people aged 14 to 25, another 'Generation Z' programme is being put together.

Councillor Janet Emsley, our Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Community and Culture said:

"5 years in, our wonderful festival continues to inspire and entertain, attracting some fantastic guests. It brings together so many genres and really makes you think. We're going to be taking the festival to different places around the borough too, showcasing more great venues. I want to thank our sponsors for their continued generous support of the festival which helps us to deliver a fabulous event we can all be proud of."

The festival will include guest speakers and writers and is aimed at celebrating and promoting the Maskew Collection of classic literature and philosophy at Rochdale Central Library, encouraging people to engage with books and ideas. Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, met in Rochdale Library in the 1950s and left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature and philosophy to ensure classic works are available for future generations.

'our wonderful festival continues to inspire and entertain, attracting some fantastic guests'

Further details of the programme will be announced next month and tickets go on sale from 10am on 7 August 2017 from the festival website

For festival updates on Twitter connect with @RochdaleLitFest

The festival is organised by us, supported by the Maskew Bequest and sponsored by The Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre and creative digital media company - JGM Agency

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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