More about books

As a writer and editor, I have enjoyed many years meeting and interviewing many fascinating people, and visiting wonderful locations worldwide. Take a look at my website here for an archive of my published articles.

These days I also indulge my passion for books, reading and writing by interviewing authors, hosting events and sharing my reviews and recommendations.

For more than 10 years I co-hosted a book club on air for BBC Radio Suffolk with the afternoon presenter, Lesley Dolphin. You can listen again to our conversations by following the link below. 

In 2008 I launched an open book club for leading independent Browsers Bookshop in Woodbridge and we have been meeting each month ever since.

I also have the pleasure of chairing and organising author talks for children and adults at events and festivals thoughout the year.

Past events with Browsers Bookshop in Woodbridge include Alexander McCall Smith, Margaret Drabble, Victoria Hislop, Griff Rhys Jones, Kate Mosse, Deborah Moggach, Maggie O'Farrell, Michael Morpurgo, Robert Peston, Kate Humble, Max Hastings.

I've interviewed Simon Mayo for the First Light Festival; Simon Garfield, Anna Pavord and Melissa Harrison for The Cut Halesworth; Louise Doughty, Salley Vickers and Esther Freud for Felixstowe Book Festival; Barbara Erskine and Alan Johnson MP for Suffolk Libraries, and many more.

Each week I compile an e-newsletter offering book news, author events, my reviews and recommendations. If you'd like to receive it, please click here.

Thank you for reading
Catherine

What's on

I am always planning new events but at the moment I have nothing quite ready to announce.

Events Archive

Visit my archive pages for details of all events in recent years.

Listening in

For more than 10 years I’ve co-hosted a monthly book club on BBC Radio Suffolk with the presenter Lesley Dolphin. You can listen to past discussions here.

Browsers Book Group

I've been hosting the Browsers Book Group for the past 13 years. We used to meet in the bookshop in Woodbridge but during lockdown I have been running a monthly online discussion. We are hoping to meet in person again at a new venue in the town from September. Please sign up for the weekly e-newsletter here to receive details. And do support your local independent bookshop by ordering by phone or email in these difficult times.

The Long, Long Afternoon
by Inga Vesper
Monday, 27 September 2021 - 8:00pm

Reader recommendations

At the end of each year, members of the Browsers Book Group meet together to share their favourite titles and offer ideas for gifts for friends and family, and for new authors to try ourselves. For 2020, this meeting took place online. The titles that were mentioned are listed here.

Buying books

As you get ideas for book purchases, please do remember to use your local high street bookshop. This is such a difficult time for them and they're all trying their best to find ways to allow us to shop safely.

But perhaps you've read about the new online bookshop initiative? It's called bookshop.org.

There are curated booklists to browse, drawn up by booksellers and reviewers and, for every purchase made through the site, independent bookshops receive a commission. 

I've linked the reviews on my website so that you can purchase online if you wish (and I will receive a small commission for each purchase, with a further commission going to all independent bookshops). 

However, please note that it is still best to order direct from your local high street bookshop!

Book reviews

My recent recommendations

Here are the books I've been enjoying recently, both fiction and non-fiction titles.

by Maggie Shipstead
An epic tale of family, tragedy, romance and adventure woven around the lives of a 1950s female aviator and a modern day Hollywood movie star....
Publication date: 4th May 2021
Hardback edition
by Ryan Wilson
Recommended non-fiction
The life of a teacher presented as a perfect mix of humour, poigancy, angst, frustration and inspiration. Had me laughing out loud!
Publication date: 19th August 2021
Hardback edition
by Elif Shafak
Publication date: 5th August 2021
Hardback edition
by Richard Osman
Publication date: 16th September 2021
Hardback edition
by Virginia Feito
Publication date: 5th August 2021
Hardback edition
by Christiana Figueres
Recommended non-fiction
"This book is an opportunity for you to take part in creating the future of humanity, confident that despite the seemingly daunting nature of...
Publication date: 15th April 2021
by Richard Humphreys
Recommended non-fiction
A fascinating memoir about life in a nuclear submarine revealing details about the type of people who can spend months under water, with no daylight...
Publication date: 26th September 2019
by Louise Penny
Dangerous ideas presented by a visiting academic cause disruption, then murder, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache must put aside his own feelings in...
Publication date: 24th August 2021
Hardback edition
by Robert Peston
A wry and emotive, gripping and insightful political thriller from the respected and enigmatic journalist and presenter. Loved it!
Publication date: 2nd September 2021
Hardback edition
by Marc Morris
Recommended non-fiction
This is a comprehensive, fascinating and very readable guide to the foundations of the nation of England.
Publication date: 20th May 2021
Hardback edition

For children

These are my most recent recommendations for children. Click here to see listings by age.

by Tom Gauld
An offbeat, quirky fable about love, loyalty and courage by the 'Guardian' literary cartoonist.
Publication date: 2nd September 2021
Hardback edition
by Rob Biddulph
Peanut's father has gone missing but when she discovers a box of pencils he left her, she finds that she can draw images which come to life,...
Publication date: 2nd September 2021
Hardback edition
by KA Hayton
From a sleepy Suffolk village, we're transported to the Dark Ages, the time of King Edmund and the threat of invasion. This is a time slip novel...
Publication date: 2nd September 2021
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
A touching and compelling story of friendship and separation, and the bond between animals and humans. Wonderful.
Publication date: 5th August 2021
by Tom Silson
A touching story about magic and memories and the bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter, for readers aged three upwards.
Publication date: 1st August 2021
Hardback edition
by Daisy May Johnson
A beautiful cover, an intriguing title and a funny and inventive adventure, aimed at readers in middle grade, aged 9-12.
Publication date: 1st July 2021
by Julia Donaldson
The brown, woolly caterpillar is crawling through the garden wondering about her future. What type of moth will she become?
Publication date: 24th June 2021
Hardback edition
by John Burningham
A very moving story of new horizons and saying goodbye, with beautiful illustrations.
Publication date: 17th June 2021
Hardback edition
by Al Rodin
A surprising and original story of Little Echo living alone in a cave! Subtle and poignant with unusual and distinctive illustrations. Rather lovely.
Publication date: 17th June 2021
Hardback edition
by Victoria Hislop
A beautiful, touching and life-affirming story of the people on Spinalonga, the former Greek leper colony, with a wonderful narrator and glorious...
Publication date: 3rd June 2021
Hardback edition

Look out for

These titles will soon be published but are not yet available in the shops. 

by Richard Osman
Publication date: 16th September 2021
by Tim Peake
Recommended for children
Humour, action and inventiveness with feisty and engaging characters, in a scientific, interplanetary, futuristic adventure.
Publication date: 30th September 2021
by William Grill
Recommended for children
Recommended non-fiction
Publication date: 1st October 2021
by Sarah Moss
Powerfully moving and atmospheric, a story about nature, community and survival in the time of the pandemic.
Publication date: 11th November 2021
by Jodi Picoult
You're never entirely sure what to expect with Jodi Picoult, and this doesn't disappoint!
Publication date: 25th November 2021
by Sheena Kamal
Recommended for children
Publication date: 11th January 2022

My blog

Sunday 5 September 2021

Taking your time

If you have joined in our Booker Book Groups in the past few years, you'll remember our collective frustration at wanting to read all the titles in the longlist for the prize but finding many of the books to be unavailable. 

When authors are gaining this extraordinary attention, it's a shame that the publishers are unable to act quickly enough to capitalise on the interest by providing the quantities of books clearly needed.

Although it is to be hoped that an author's career will see continuing rewards from this recognition, and although we are always acknowledging that reading is a solitary act, there is something to be said for us to be enjoying a book, or a list of books, together, in the moment, and it's a shame that this has often proved so difficult. 

Last week I saw that there was an abundance of copies of one of the Booker longlisted titles available as a paperback and thought that this would make a good choice for our regular book group meeting, later this month. Three days after selecting it, however, the publisher had sold out and a reprint will take another couple of weeks.

How will we feel when we are eventually able to obtain copies of the book? Will the wait have enhanced our sense of expectation and excitement? Or will we have moved on to the next 'big thing'?

There has been a great deal of hype ahead of the new Sally Rooney novel, which is released on Tuesday. Will you be racing to get a copy, to be among the first to read it? Or will you wait to see what others say about it before launching in?