More about books

As a writer and editor, I have enjoyed many years meeting and interviewing many fascinating people, and visiting wonderful locations worldwide.

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

Each month I host 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. Do join in with your own comments on the books we're reading!

I also have the pleasure of chairing and organising author talks for children and adults at events and festivals thoughout the year. Past events include Alexander McCall Smith, Margaret Drabble, Victoria Hislop, Griff Rhys Jones, Kate Mosse, Deborah Moggach, Maggie O'Farrell, Michael Morpurgo, Robert Peston, Kate Humble, Alan Johnson MP, Max Hastings 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 some years I’ve been co-hosting a monthly book club on BBC Radio Suffolk with the presenter Lesley Dolphin. You can listen to past discussions here.

PODCAST - listen here to Catherine talking with Lesley on Tuesday 11th May 2021.

Scroll down for details of the title we’re reading this month or click 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, due to the current situation regarding coronavirus, I have been running a monthly online discussion. 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.

Here We Are
by Graham Swift
Monday, 31 May 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 Christina Sweeney-Baird
Publication date: 29th April 2021
Hardback edition
by Jackie Polzin
Publication date: 1st April 2021
Hardback edition
by Abbie Greaves
Mary stands outside Ealing Broadway station each day with a sign saying 'Jim Come Home'. Why is this action necessary? Where is Jim? A real...
Publication date: 29th April 2021
Hardback edition
by Emma Donoghue
Out now in paperback! An extraordinary account of a young woman nursing in a maternity unit in Ireland at the time of the 1918 pandemic. Wonderful!
Publication date: 23rd July 2020
by Nina-Sophia Miralles
Recommended non-fiction
A fascinating history of the magazine and the people who created it.
Publication date: 18th March 2021
Hardback edition
by Susan Beale
Family life in Brussels challenged by infidelity and adolescence, with a backdrop of a refugee crisis and terrorism. Brilliant!
Publication date: 4th March 2021
Hardback edition
by Beth Morrey
Living alone, estranged from her family, Missy Carmichael finds friendship through a chance meeting in her local park.
Publication date: 4th March 2021
by Michael Rosen
Recommended non-fiction
A profoundly moving and important record of how the much-loved writer Michael Rosen battled covid, told through prose poems and letters.
Publication date: 18th March 2021
Hardback edition
by Christina Lamb
Recommended non-fiction
This is a disturbing, distressing, powerful and challenging read exposing the war crimes against women. Brilliantly written.
Publication date: 5th March 2020
Hardback edition
by Emma Stonex
Fantastically atmospheric, great characterisation and an intriguing mystery. Rather wonderful!
Publication date: 4th March 2021
Hardback edition

For children

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

by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Publication date: 13th May 2021
Hardback edition
by Melissa Harrison
A nostalgic, yet contemporary, magical adventure introducing the Hidden Folk who give us a different perspective on the natural world. Wonderful!
Publication date: 6th May 2021
by Zadie Smith
Wonderful illustrations by Magenta Fox for this story about Maud the guinea pig, who's considered a bit of a weirdo by the other pets.
Publication date: 15th April 2021
Hardback edition
by Lauren Ace
A beautifully illustrated story of a group of boys growing up together.
Publication date: 1st April 2021
Hardback edition
by Danny Wallace
How would we cope if all the technology stopped working? The world is in chaos and grandma is on her own at the other side of the country...
Publication date: 18th March 2021
by Rachel Delahaye
The first in a new series of very funny stories about the pacifist, vegetarian Mort the Meek who has to survive in a brutal and violent kingdom.
Publication date: 4th March 2021
by Elle McNicoll
A fabulous, thought-provoking page-turner set in an imagined future where one young girl challenges the offer of artificial intelligence.
Publication date: 4th March 2021
by Tamsin Mori
A fantastic adventure set in the Shetland Isles where the weather is magic!
Publication date: 4th March 2021
by Zeb Soanes
Beautiful pictures illustrate the story of a bus trip through London with a fox, to enjoy a concert in the park.
Publication date: 4th March 2021
Hardback edition
by Hannah Gold
There aren't meant to be any bears on Bear Island, and the only people living in this remote Arctic Circle landscape are April with her father,...
Publication date: 18th February 2021
Hardback edition

Look out for

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

by Hilary McKay
Recommended for children
The stunning companion novel to 'The Skylarks' War'. Wonderful characters and a gripping and moving story of courage, resilience and friendship.
Publication date: 27th May 2021
by Victoria Hislop
Recommended for children
A beautiful, touching and life-affirming story of the people on Spinalonga, the former Greek leper colony, with a wonderful narrator and glorious illustrations throughout.
Publication date: 3rd June 2021
by Nancy Tucker
An eight-year-old girl kills a toddler, her actions seemingly an outlet for the lack of care and attention she receives from her mother. An astonishingly sensitive and compelling novel.
Publication date: 24th June 2021
by Kate Sawyer
Completely consuming story of a post-apocalyptic world, and the time before. Set in London and beside a beached whale in New Zealand. Stunning!
Publication date: 24th June 2021
by Lucy Kellaway
Recommended non-fiction
After a successful career in journalism, and raising a large and happy family, the author leaves it all behind and becomes a teacher. Brilliantly inspiring and entertaining. Haven't been able to stop telling people about this book!
Publication date: 1st July 2021
by Cathy Rentzenbrink
Publication date: 8th July 2021
by Adrian Bleese
Recommended non-fiction
A warm, engaging and entertaining personal story of working in police helicopters over Suffolk. Fascinating!
Publication date: 19th July 2021
by Vera Kurian
When a series of murders take place on a college campus, suspicion immediately turns to the secret research programme involving psychopaths. An astonishing thriller.
Publication date: 9th September 2021

On the radio

BBC Radio Suffolk

Catherine at BBC Radio SuffolkFor more than 10 years, each month I have joined Lesley Dolphin on the afternoon programme at BBC Radio Suffolk to talk about books. In the feature called Lesley's Readers, I selected a title for an 'on air' book club, inviting listeners to read along and send in their comments by text or email. You can listen to past discussions here.

xxx

We have just read.....

The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig
It's midnight on Nora's last day on earth and she is transported to a library. This is where she can explore what else might have happened in her life, if she'd made different choices. Described as 'a beautiful fable', 'a brilliant premise and great fun', what will we think of it? 

My blog

Sunday 9 May 2021

A measure of success

This week has seen prospective candidates in no doubt whether they have succeeded or failed in their attempts to seek election for government. But how do we measure success in our own lives?

Many people have read 'The Midnight Library' by Matt Haig which I am discussing on BBC Radio Suffolk this week. It's topped the bestseller charts as hardback, paperback and now also as audiobook. This interesting and enjoyable story has much to say about regret and achievements, success and failure in life, and its message resonated with me.

"Too often our view of success is about some external idea of achievement," says Nora, the central character as she looks back on her life, considering what she believes were missed opportunities and poor decisions. Her life could have been about winning medals, having a family, earning well and being highly regarded in a career. But, she concludes "success isn't something you measure, and life isn't a race you can win."

There is a false assumption that "if we simply achieve more, the feeling of success will follow," says presenter and author Simon Sinek in his book 'Start With Why', which I describe below. "It rarely does...Achievement is something you reach or attain, like a goal. Success, in contrast, is a feeling or a state of being...Success comes when we wake up every day in that never-ending pursuit of WHY we do WHAT we do."