Over the past few days Leeds has been hosting a literary festival called the Big Bookend. The Big Bookend describes itself as a Rock Festival for Words. This was the third year for the Festival. This year there has been a wide range of authors hosting a diverse range of activities and events for all ages held in a variety of locations throughout the city. Some of the events were free. Some charged a modest admission price. All events have been very well attended. The wonderful thing about the Big Bookend is that it celebrates the enormous wealth of local and very successful writing talent that we have in Leeds.
I went to four events this year, which is not as many as I would have liked!
The first event I attended was a book launch, which is always exciting! Elizabeth is Missing is the debut novel from 26 year old Emma Healey. It has as its lead character Maud, who is in her 80s and suffers from dementia. Although Maud forgets many things she is convinced that her friend Elizabeth is Missing but who will believe her? It was interesting to hear how Emma wrote this book. She comes across as being very engaging if slightly unsure of her talent. This is despite the fact that publishers were fighting over the rights to publish Elizabeth is Missing and the TV rights have been sold already!
On Saturday I went to two events. They were very different from each other but both very enjoyable. Author John Lake talked about (and read excerpts from) his trilogy set in Leeds 6. I then heard a fascinating talk, “Where is Chapeltown and What Does it Do?” given by Max Farrar, Emeritus Professor at Leeds Metropolitan University.
However, the highlight for me was an Audience with Alan Bennett on Sunday afternoon at West Yorkshire Playhouse. We had been to see his play Enjoy at the Playhouse on the Friday evening but to actually hear the great man talk had me tingling with excitement. As you might have guessed, I am a big Alan Bennett fan. He is one of those authors whose voice you can hear in your head when you read his books. He was immensely amusing and very sharp with his observations on life. He was born and brought up in Leeds and retains his love of the city. Apparently, he comes up to visit on a very regular basis. He clearly enjoys the fact that people feel they can approach him and talk to him about his works. His way with words is wonderful. One quote I remember from yesterday is “I like it when I arrive at the station and everybody talks like me”. Clearly a man who has not forgotten his roots …
Alan Bennett is such a brilliant raconteur and it was truly a privilege to hear him live.
Today I have spent the last hour or so scrolling through the public library catalogue. Why? Because I need to select and reserve suitable books to deliver to a gentleman who has had a stroke and is therefore no longer able to visit his local library to select his own books. It’s part of the Library At Home service offered by my local council run library service. I have been volunteering for the Library At Home service for about six years. This does mean that my poor borrower has had to put up with me descending on him once every three weeks for the last few years but he doesn’t seem to mind! Over this period of time we have established a very good rapport and friendship. He has become used to my inane chatter. My awful jokes. And my occasional off the wall book choices! I do try and take him a variety of books and inevitably some prove to be better choices than others …..
Against all the odds, he does seem to enjoy my visits and I get a great deal of pleasure from visiting him. He is such a lovely man. I always stop for a chat about the books I have chosen for him and to generally catch up with his news. He likes to hear about my family, my job and all the dramas that befallen me in the last 3 weeks. I derive a great pleasure from choosing books for him. I often read book reviews and think, yes, this is something he would like to read. Or if I discover an author he enjoys, then I seek out further books written by that author. A few years ago I used to work for the library service and one of my greatest pleasures was discussing books with the customers and suggesting new authors or genres. My role as a library volunteer allows me to selfishly continue with this passion.
I am lucky that I have a volunteering role that involves my love of books and reading.
It seems a long time since I last posted anything on this blog. I had such good intentions when I started but life has intervened. However, summer has been wonderful. Full of friends, travel and reading. Reading is my passion. Reading fills a void in my life and brings me so much comfort. Crime is my favourite genre but over the last few years I have tried to broaden my reading selections. At times I read avidly. At other times my brain decides it can’t concentrate and I can go up to a week without opening a book. There, I’ve said it, “opening a book”. In reality I read more books on my ebook reader that I read physical books. Why? Mainly convenience. My ebook reader has 80 books on it. Some classics, some current and some I have read and feel I might want to dip back into. I couldn’t carry that many books and my ebook reader fits into my handbag. However, it doesn’t matter how you read, the fact that you do read is the important thing.