Steve Recommends - Lockdown discoveries!
As George Street Community Bookshop has now reopened I thought it might be interesting if I shared some of the books I find around the shop and some other book and reading related media I come across.
It’s obviously been a difficult time for everybody but I know that books and reading have been there along with television, film, music and hobbies, in keeping us all at least kind of able to cope with the lockdowns.
One of my favourite books of, I think, 2019 (the years are blurred these days) was Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow, a wonderful gentle read set in Moscow during the Stalinist era - that sounds like a contradiction in terms but it’s true, a wonderful heartwarming read. We don’t have it currently in stock... it sells within days when it does comes in. We do have his other novel, Rules of Civility. It’s not as celebrated, but is very good and tells the tale of Katey, a secretary - part flapper, part bookworm - in 1930s New York. It was Towles’ first novel and like A Gentleman in Moscow it’s beautifully written, witty and elegant.
Towles is a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Bookclub where he discusses A Gentleman in Moscow. You can find it on BBC Sounds here https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000tvgy
For more listening, those of you who enjoy podcasts and Cold War and espionage books, I recommend Spybrary. They have great interviews with writers, intelligence experts and fans. Find it at https://spybrary.com
My big discovery this last (final?) lockdown is... Ruth Rendell! I don’t know why but I’d never investigated, pun intended, her books. I downloaded an audiobook from Derbyshire Libraries, one of her Wexford novels, to accompany me on my dog walks. It was written in the early 1960s but the historical nature of it didn’t impede my enjoyment, although some character attitudes will seem strange to the modern reader. The story was fantastic, witty, complex and believable. I’m hooked. I’ve read a lot of crime fiction and she is deservedly one of its greatest authors. Old fashioned in the best sense and we have a number of her books in stock.
Our community bookshop’s Bookclub is reading Maggie O’Farrell’s bestselling Hamnet, winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020. It’s a story about Shakespeare and his family life though I’m yet to read it. I’m not in the Bookclub, I’m too ill disciplined in my reading, but my wife is and I’ll read it after her and then it will end up in the shop! If you can’t wait till then you could buy a new copy from Bay Tree Books on Glossop High Street and one of her previous books from us, including The Hand that First Held Mine which won the Costa Novel Award in 2010.
Finally, a book about a music man who united the two great music cities of Liverpool and Manchester, Mr. Roger Eagle. He’s the person who DJ’d and promoted at Manchester’s legendary Twisted Wheel before moving operations and opening the equally legendary Eric’s Club in Liverpool. Roger was a mentor and friend to some of the greatest musicians of 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and the book ‘Sit Down! Listen to This!’ by Bill Sykes is his story. Some of you might have met him, he inspired The Lift Music Club at Glossop’s Globe pub and he lived his final years In Whaley Bridge. We have one hardback copy of the book and it’s highly recommended.
Steve, Shop Manager