Archive for the This writing business Category

Oxfam reading

Posted in This writing business on 5 July 2010 by nicholasroyle

Tom Fletcher and I will be reading tomorrow night – Tuesday 6 July – between six and seven pm at Oxfam, Didsbury, 778 Wilmslow Road, Manchester M20. The event is part of Oxfam’s national Bookfest, back for a second run. There are numerous other events at the Didsbury branch and at many other Oxfam shops around the country.

Oxfam has come in for a lot of criticism from secondhand booksellers who regard it as having unfairly encroached on their territory; indeed, the charity has been blamed for putting some dealers out of business. But it’s hard to see Oxfam as the villain here, raising money as it does to ease the effects of poverty around the world. You can’t really argue with that. I love secondhand bookshops – more than I love new bookshops, strange for a writer perhaps, but I was a reader before I became a writer – and I feel the loss of every secondhand bookshop that closes. But I also like to support a good cause, both by shopping in Oxfam and by supporting the charity in other ways, such as taking part in Bookfest.

So, if you are near an Oxfam shop over the next week or so and they’re staging bookfest events, get down there. If you’re in Manchester at a loose end before the Holland v Uruguay semi-final tomorrow night, come down to Didsbury and Tom and I will read to you.


Wankers shelf

Posted in This writing business on 21 May 2009 by nicholasroyle

I have an ethical dilemma. I don’t get sent a lot of books, but I do get sent some. Inevitably they are not the ones I would like to be sent, while those I would like to be sent I have to go out and buy. And then I don’t have time to read them, but that’s another matter. Usually, the books I get sent that I don’t want I give to charity. Oxfam, Cancer Research, British Heart Foundation. Then you feel you’re doing something useful. But what should you do when you’re sent something that belongs on the Wankers shelf? Do you have a Wankers shelf? I do. It’s for books by Wankers. Books that are so bad – or books by authors who are Wankers, whose books might actually be OK, from time to time, but they themselves are such unbearable Wankers – that you wonder if the best thing to do, rather than giving these books to charity, is to keep them out of circulation. 

I was sent a new book the other day by a Wanker. Let’s call him X. I mean, obviously I’m not going to name him, am I? It would be more fun, of course, but it could lead to all sorts of trouble. And in any case, it doesn’t really matter. He’s one of my Wankers. For you he might not be a Wanker. And you might have Wankers who I think are fab writers. But I’ll tell you what, if you don’t think this guy’s a Wanker, you just don’t know enough about him. So, I’ve got this book; it’s sitting on my shelf. Not the Wankers shelf, but the interim shelf, where the new stuff goes before I’ve figured out where to put it. Like the Just Returned shelf in the library or the New Stock shelf in Oxfam. It’s doing nothing there other than taking up space. It has to either go out, to charity, or be moved upstairs to the Wankers shelf. You see, partly, I feel I’m doing the world a service by keeping this stuff out of circulation, and partly I feel it’s important not to give X any more readers than he already has.

I wonder if I’m on anybody’s Wankers shelf? Actually, if he has one, I can think of at least one author that would definitely put me on his Twats shelf, because I can still picture the email he sent me some months after my review of his novel appeared. A model of brevity, it contained only one word. In surprisingly small type, too.