Posted By: Rowan Whiteside, 29 June 2012
It hasn’t been much of a summer so far this year, but our Summer Reads reading programme has been in full swing since May. With a host of author events, book club meetings and library events going on, it hasn’t seemed to matter so much that it’s been rainy and miserable.
Our first event was with SJ Watson, author of best-seller Before I Go To Sleep. I read Before I Go To Sleep last year and loved it, so I was thrilled to discover that it had been chosen as one of WCN’s Summer Reads books for 2012. The event was held at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium library. The room quickly filled up with readers who sat patiently, clearly filled with anticipation. I noticed that the audience was a diverse mix of people- it’s always interesting looking at the audience for individual events, because it gives a much better idea about who the book appealed to- Before I Go To Sleep is a novel which seems to engage almost everybody!
SJ Watson began the event by reading an extract from the beginning of Before I Go To Sleep. Sam Ruddock, the man behind the Summer Reads programme, began a conversation with SJ Watson which ranged from medical accuracy, to gender, to the nature of the debut novel. SJ said that he didn’t find it difficult to write from the perspective of a woman, because, as a writer you should be able to write from other people’s perspective. The audience laughed when SJ mentioned that he found it odd that people seemed to be comfortable with the idea of individuals writing as serial killers but not comfortable with a man writing as a woman! He did say that he asked his female friends to read the novel and fact check it for him too however...
When the floor was open to the audience for questions there was a constant flow of interested queries. SJ Watson spoke at length about the difficulties of balancing medical accuracy (as he worked for the NHS for a number of years, medical accuracy was imperative!) whilst maintaining the plot and pace of the story. SJ Watson said that he'd thought he had made up Christine’s precise medical complaint, but discovered that there is a very similar case when the book was published.
The SJ Watson event was a great success, and a brilliant start to our Summer Reads reading programme!
During our Worlds Literature Festival
we had THREE of our Summer Reads events, making it a jampacked schedule of bookish joy. Our first event was ‘An Evening with Dame Gillian Beer, Jeanette Winterson and Jo Shapcott’ and was completely sold out. Jo Shapcott read from Summer Reads book Of Mutability
, which won the Costa Book Award. Jo’s poetry was emotionally charged, and worked perfectly in companion with Jeanette Winterson’s reading of Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal
. (Read more about the event in Petra’s Blog.)
Anna Funder, whose novel, All That I Am
, was our first Summer Reads book, participated in an event with JM Coetzee and Tim Parks. These three very different authors created a smorgasbord of literary delights. Anna Funder read from All That I Am
and then discussed her motivation for writing the novel and the difficulties when crossing over from writing non-fiction to fiction. Throughout the event the audience were clearly hanging upon her every word. During Worlds festival Anna Funder won the Miles Franklin award for All That I Am
and was even interviewed from the Writers’ Centre offices for Australian television!
Last, but by no means least, came our event with Teju Cole, author of the multi-award winning Open City.
Teju Cole read an extract from Open City
and discussed how his work was influenced by his street-photography. (Take a look at some of his photos on Flickr)
The event was so successful that Waterstones almost sold out of Teju’s books! (You can read a long blogpost about the Teju Cole event here)
Listen to a podcast of the Teju Cole event below:
World Voices featuring Teju Cole, Vesna Goldsworthy and Arturo Dorado by Writers' Centre Norwich
Still coming up is an event with Stefan Tobler, the publisher of Down the Rabbit Hole, and with Rosalind Harvey, the translator. Taking place on the 25th of July, you can buy your ticket for only £2 from our website or the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. (Find out more about the event) This is sure to be a fantastic event, and as a big fan of Down the Rabbit Hole I can’t wait to find out more about the book!
As ever, we have a regular book club which meets to discuss the Summer Reads books. It’s been great to see so many new faces, as well as the regulars of course, so please do come along if you’d enjoy a relaxed evening of chatting about books. Our next Book Club Sessions are for Of Mutability (in partnership with Norwich Poetry Book Club) on the 10th July
and for Down the Rabbit Hole on the 24th of July.
We’re also running a new series of events in libraries across Norfolk. Sam has been visiting the libraries across the county and enjoying chat, Mexican chocolate and intriguing Mexican fizzy drinks.
‘The Get Involved library events are all about meeting readers across Norfolk, and having a relaxed conversation about books with them. It has been a pleasure to visit libraries that are supporting Summer Reads so well this year, and to see all the great work they do with their communities. I’ve been struck by the warmth with which these events have been received and delighted with the atmosphere and willingness to share that everyone involved has created. I’ve enjoyed every minute of delivering them. Not only have we succeeded in introducing the delights of Summer Reads to lots of readers and book clubs, but I’ve discovered lots of books I’d never heard of too! What could be better?’
Find out more about our Summer Reads reader events.
We love to chat with you about these books, so please do tweet us @WCNbookclub
, follow us on Facebook
, and check out our Summer Reads Pinterest page
If you love our Summer Reads illustrations too, check out this blogpost
from the illustrator Lauren Marina.
Vote online for your favourite Summer Reads book and you could win book tokens!
Find out more about our Summer Reads reading programme.
Reading is just the start...