Does anyone else watch Strictly Come Dancing? Isn’t Jeremy Vine fucking awful? And yes, you’re right, that is a peculiar way to start my monthly post. But, in lieu of having written anything about books over the last month, we have to talk about something, right? Maybe you’re more of an X-Factor kind of a book nerd. Come to think of it, you bookish types are probably more at home on BBC Four. If so, are you enjoying Poetry season? I particularly enjoyed finding out that Larkin, for all his flaws, was a defacer of library books in his time at Oxford where he’d scribble rather biting notes about his course texts. Clearly, he wasn’t all bad then.

Incidentally, on defacing library books, I’m all for it. Not to the point where they are beyond use, but I rather like corners being bent and notes in the margins. If there’s one thing that physical books have over e-books, it’s that each one has its own unique history. Half the pleasure of a good library book is knowing that it’s passed through the hands of dozens of other people before it reaches you, that you’re part of a unique lineage of readers who have enjoyed that one particular iteration of a story, no matter how many copies exist in the world. Or maybe I’m over romanticising. But, as a library elf by profession, I recommend a good bit of literary vandalism (just don’t think this applies to my personal books, all you who I lend to – my fury shall be mighty and without restraint).
Leading by Sir Alex Ferguson book cover

Now that I’ve dragged the conversation away from sequined dancers and back towards the book world, let me run you through my plans for November and my little blog. I had meant, last month, to write a review of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street but ended up putting this off as I was in the process of organising an interview with its author, Natasha Pulley. I’m pleased to say that the interview has been pulled together now so I will be releasing this with my review in the coming weeks.

I’ve got a couple of non-fiction books on the go at the moment, too, in the form of Inside WikiLeaks by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and Leading by Sir Alex Ferguson. I always find it harder to review non-fiction books as there seems to be less to talk about – perhaps less for the reviewer to interpret – and it’s a more clinical process of assessing both the value of the book’s message and how well it delivers this. Not quite the same appeal as the fantastic world of fiction. Still, I expect I shall put out posts on both the non-fiction titles I’m mid-way through at some point in November.

Oh, and I’m also reading The BFG at the moment. Yes, the Roald Dahl book which is definitely not a children’s story. To be honest, until I’ve re-read it I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll post about as I can’t really remember the details, apart from the fact that there’s some creepy giant fella who tips dreams into children’s ears while they sleep. Sounds suspicious to me. Could be quite fun to have a chat about the book though.

And actually, while I’m at it, I was trying to remember the title of a book I read as a child. I can only remember the vaguest of details about it but I’m wondering if it rings bells with anyone. Here’s what I can remember:

It was a story about a boy who was bullied at school and dubbed tattermash (tatter-mash?) by the bully. I can’t remember why. Although I do remember that the bullying was resolved during a football game at the end when the main character smashes a cross towards the bully’s head and it flies into the net after striking him unawares. The main bit of the story, though, is taken up with the main character meeting another young lad who is wheelchair bound and, I think, home schooled. The two of them play miniature cricket with a set of carved players, recreating the famous bodyline Ashes series which featured Larwood and Bradman.

That’s all I can remember and I have no idea when the book was published – it was probably old when I read it, so maybe the 1980s. Or possibly the 1990s. It’s a long shot but if anyone remembers the book, I’d be glad to be reminded of its title.

And with that detective quest, I leave you until next month.