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What we're reading: Festival co-founder Sian Hoyle

By - 18 May 2020 - 15:46pm

While we all stay at home, we've been asking members of the DBF team which books they've been reading and, in some cases, re-reading. This week Festival co-founder, Sian Hoyle, tells us which books she has been getting stuck in to.

My initial attitude to lockdown was a measured anticipation of the forthcoming guilt-free pleasure of spending many hours reading all those books I just never seem to get round to - and rediscovering some old favourites. Just treat it like a normal summer holiday I thought: three or four books a week consumed at any hour of the day or night.

So why then, eight weeks in, have I only completed three books? I’ve attempted at least 10 more, but abandoned them after only a few pages or chapters. I just can’t concentrate on anything for long and it’s a reading experience I’ve never encountered before.

So my three books – not by any stretch of the imagination my usual fodder:

  1. Week 3 - Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty – I’d had this on my bookshelf for several years and had enjoyed Louise’s Festival event in 2017 and the TV series. My mum had read the book and urged me to give it a go though it isn’t my usual genre. But I absolutely loved it and couldn’t put it down. Great - I had my reading mojo back and had clearly just had a sticky patch.
  2. Week 5 – Agent Running in the Field by John Le Carré – Festival Director, Vicky had raved about this last autumn and I spotted the e-book on Borrowbox so hastily downloaded it. I hadn’t ready any of Le Carré's books for about 30 years, when I had devoured the Smiley novels. This was an excellent, well constructed, intelligent political thriller that kept me guessing right to the end. Yes I decided, I’ll read more of his novels – and I just happen to have The Constant Gardener on my bookshelf! 250 pages in – I abandoned it!
  3. Week 8 – At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison – I’d enjoyed Melissa’s event with Patrick Gale and I don’t read a lot of nature writing, but she is regarded as one of our best. As I was spending – and enjoying – so much time outside and had become quite fascinated by the foxes and hedgehog in the garden, I thought now was the time to discover a new genre.Well … I finished it.

I live in hope that I will fall in love with reading again but, for now, it seems to only be box sets of old favourites like Brideshead Revisited and The West Wing that seem to engage me.

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