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3 Festivals for 2024


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September 2023: Currently Reading

By - 11 October 2023 - 14:32pm

Have you read any of our featured books?

Can you believe it’s already October! Which means the Autumn Edition of Derby Book Festival is just around the corner! We’re delighted to be back at QUAD for 12 great author events from Friday 17 - Sunday 19 November. In addition, we will be holding our well loved book and craft fair at the Museum of Making (in the Italian Mill) on Saturday 18 November from 10.30am to 4pm.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased through our website or by directly visiting QUAD. Without further ado, here are our September reads. What have you been reading this month? What books are you adding to your Christmas lists?

Liz Fothergill, Derby Book Festival Chair: Bricks and Mortar by Helen Ashton

I have thoroughly enjoyed two Persephone books this month. The first, Bricks and Mortar,

was first published in 1932. It is about the life of an architect and his family over 40 years. A gentle but engaging read which I was so sorry to finish. The second is One Afternoon by Sian James. Published in 1975 it is an unusual but compelling love story, full of wit and social insight. I loved both these books and have gone on to seek other books by these little known but exceptional authors. Highly recommended escapism!

Gini, Festival Manager: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Dear Edward is an extraordinary story about 12 year old Eddie who is the sole survivor of a tragic plane crash as he tries to make sense of his life amongst the debris of loss and grief to find his place in a world without his family. It is a story of friendship and identity and, as he comes of age in the aftermath of this tragedy, he must find the answers to some of life's most profound questions - how do we make the most of the time we are given and what does it mean not just to survive but to live?

Di Smith, Derby Book Festival Trustee: Impossible Creatures by Katherine Randell

This book is a great read for anyone who enjoys a brilliantly written, mysterious story with extraordinary characters. Hugely enjoyable for 11 year olds upwards or an exciting bedtime story for 8 year olds and above. I wonder if this might be the successor to Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’?

Sue Wall, Derby Book Festival Trustee and Interviewer: The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

I missed this when it was first published in 1992, but somehow the title lurked in my memory, and I am glad I have eventually read it. It might be described as a "campus novel" about a close knit group of 6 students, who study classics at a liberal arts college in Vermont. It is also described as "an inverted detective story". We know a murder has been committed (so that is not a plot spoiler) and gradually the circumstances and identity of the actual person who was murdered are revealed, as well as the long term effects on the group who have - seemingly - got away with it. Well-written, and fast paced, you are drawn into the tight-knit, almost claustrophobic world of the students, as you get caught up in the twists and turns of the plot and the lives of the group. It is escapist - but also chilling, and an excellent read.

Keith McLay, Derby Book Festival Trustee and Interviewer: Leadership: Lessons from a Life in Diplomacy by Simon McDonald

A self-confessed Foreign Officer lifer, who rose to be the FCO’s top civil servant, the Permanent Under- Secretary, McDonald’s book offers a pleasant gamble among vignettes from his career at home and abroad. As one might expect from a civil servant, the book is judicious, well written but hardly radical in its guidance on leadership, although there is a concluding chapter on proposed reforms to Britain’s political and constitutional settlement. It’s a pleasant and engaging read with the fundamental decency of McDonald and the Civil Service more broadly ringing true throughout.

Fiona Apthorpe, Derby Book Festival Trustee: Red Sorghum by Mo Yan

This was the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. A story of love and resistance during late 1930s China it spans three generations, told through a series of flashbacks depicting horrific events set against a backdrop of war as the Chinese battle both Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent 1930s. The book won major literary awards in China and inspired an Oscar-nominated film.

Felicity, Festival Administrator: Wahala by Nikki May

This is May’s debut novel. It’s a character-driven story (which I love) about three Anglo-Nigerian friends who’ve known each other since uni and now they’re in their 30’s. So, they have a lot of history, they know each other inside and out, or do they? A new ‘friend’ joins the group and May cleverly hints at what’s to come. It’s a really interesting take on modern life for women from lots of different angles: career, families, relationships, how we evolve as individuals over time. I’m confident there are twists and turns on the horizon and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it unfolds. I’m about halfway through and would recommend this book.

Vanessa, Festival Administrator: Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny

This story follows teacher, Jane, over a series of years after she moves to Boyne City for work. Whilst there are no significant plot events, the witty style and interesting human observations of the people in Jane’s life, make this an enjoyable read. I recommend this book wholeheartedly for its beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family.

Have you read any of the books featured in this month’s Currently Reading? We’d love to know what you’re currently reading. Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter and follow us across social media!

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