My three memoir companion pieces are Viv Albertine's Clothes, Music, Boys, Laura Sage's Bad Blood and Maggie O'Farrell's I am, I am, I am. O'Farrell's memoir is subtitled 'seventeen brushes with death' and in capturing her life through these numerous incidents, from muggings in Chile to her daughter's life threatening allergies ( I was particularly moved … Continue reading From punk to parenthood – three great memoirs
First, Kurt Vonnegut's If This Isn't Nice, What Is? It is a slim collection of his speeches at school and university graduations. At the heart is the premise, adopted from his Uncle, that when life is good one must pause and say 'if this isn't nice, what is?' It is a mantra that I have … Continue reading Books that will leave you feeling good about life
My husband drunkenly ponders and lists the eight songs he would choose for Desert Island Discs (Pixies, Bowie, Can, Dylan blar, blar, blar...). 'You are spoilt!', I cry. 'When I'm on A Good Read with Harriet Gilbert, I can only choose one book.' ONE BOOK. The impossibility of such a task. So in my ongoing … Continue reading What would you choose for ‘A Good Read’?
I rediscovered Good Evening, Mrs Craven just before Christmas, and through happenstance was given Jan Struther's Mrs Miniver not once, but twice for Christmas. The two are perfect bedfellows and now I only need to cast my mind about to find a third companion piece. Mrs Miniver is a series of vignettes from the point … Continue reading London life in the Second World War
Does every reader go through a Mitford phase? There is a heady combination of 'upper classishness', political extremism, rebellion and style in their lives and writing. Unity is in love with Hitler, Diana marries Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, and Jessica is off with her young lover to fight the … Continue reading Good reads from the Mitford sisters
I am addicted to BBC Radio 4's A Good Read. I listen to Harriet Gilbert and guests in back to back episodes, pausing on my commute or interrupting my weekend potter to note down a particular novel, memoir or anthology. My bedside table strains under the weight of recommended reads. One of Harriet … Continue reading Can you recommend something to read?
All brilliant, immensely readable books in their own right, Dave Eggers' The Circle, Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed and Jarett Kobek's I Hate The Internet combine to make a powerful trio that unpick the negative impact of the internet on our lives." The public shaming of Kobek's fictional Ellen Flitcraft and the real life shaming … Continue reading The internet is a bad, bad thing – three reading recommendations