I have quite a lot of reading to do in the next couple of weeks.
Serves me right for agreeing to host three Book Swaps in quick succession.
The first in on November 12th and is part of the first ever Portsmouth BookFest. Last time I checked they had sold over 60 tickets so it promises to be a crowded night if nothing else. I will be hosting with the dark beauty that is Marie Phillips and our guests are Mick Jackson and Charlotte Moore. Tickets are a fiver or bake a cake and they'll let you in for free. The frivolities will take place at the Aspex Gallery.
Mick's latest novel is The Widow's Tale which is not on my reading list as I have already read and enjoyed it earlier in the year when he appeared at the Alfriston Book Swap. This makes him the first author to appear twice on the swapping sofa, although he has never been to our home in Windsor. The Alfriston gathering, where we were the guests of Cate and Nash of the Much Ado Bookshop, was hosted by myself and Robbie Hudson, so Marie and Mick have yet to meet.
Charlotte's book, Hancox: A House And A Family, is new to me though, and it is a big fat hardback so I need to get cracking. I am about 50 pages in and fortunately it is a delight to read (good job too seeing as I have to be nice to her about it in a little over a week). It is the story of her family home, which has seen several generations of her ancestors come and go. So far I have been struck by the remarkably strong and independent women who lived there and the building's own fascinating history. It is a £20 hardback at the moment so perhaps one to add to the Christmas list. It would certainly make for a divine fireside read on the cold winter nights.
Once I have polished off that hefty tome I need to prepare myself for our final Windsor Book Swap (for grown-ups at least) of the year. This will be on the third Thursday, as always, which this month falls on the 18th. Tickets are a fiver and the usual cake rules apply.
That preparation will involve reading My Driver (a novel) and My Animal Life (a memoir) by Maggie Gee. Maggie is an Orange and IMPAC shortlisted author who we have been trying to coax down to Windsor for a while. Fortunately for me they both seem quite sort so I shouldn't have to cram them, I can enjoy them at a more leisurely pace. Not that I can linger over them for too long.
Oh no, because there is also The Hungover Cookbook by Milton Crawford which I also need to dip into. Now, as I am not a drinker and have never been drunk (completely true), I have no knowledge of the hangovers that the book aims to cure. Fortunately for all concerned, Marie has bags of experience in this area. As have, I am guessing, most of the audience.
I am also led to believe that Milton is actually the pseudonym of an established author, although he will be appearing in character on the night. Intriguing. I do hope he doesn't turn out to be someone I have slagged off on the blog.
And then, one week later, I will be sitting on a nice Persian rug at Persepolis in Peckham hosting a special Book Swap for the Peckham Literary Festival. Tickets are free and the venue holds about 40 people so don't hang around if you do want to come along, book your tickets now.
I won't be sitting next to Marie who has another engagement for that night - what with her being young, free and single - so I have lined up two delightful authors to keep me company.
Cathy Rogers I know well as I published her book, The Dolce Vita Diaries. It is all about how she and her husband gave up careers in television (they were behind the show Scrapheap Challenge) to buy an olive farm in Italy. Their account of the adventure is painfully honest and eye opening. I don't want to give away the ending but the fact that she is available for an event in Peckham in November might give you a bit of a clue.
DJ Connell's debut novel is plastered with quotes from Eoin Colfer, Kathy Lette, Jenny Eclair and others. It is supposed to be very funny indeed and is called Julian Corkle is a Filthy Liar. I guess I will find out just how funny pretty soon.
We'd love to see you at one, some or all of these Book Swaps. Especially if you are bringing cake. And do spread the word if you know anyone nearby who might enjoy one of our delightfully shambolic evenings.