If you live within the M25 you may have come across Cityread London. If not, then this is your chance to take part in the biggest annual reading event in London, for Londoners and about London. As the organisers put it:
“This is an celebration of literature that brings reading to life for the whole capital in a massive book group”
This event is in its seventh year and for the first time will take place in May, rather than April. Each year, a different author and book are chosen and this time it’s the turn of Jessie Burton and her second novel ‘The Muse’. Many of you may remember her wonderful debut work ‘The Miniaturist’ which was broadcast as a BBC TV drama last Christmas.
We encourage all of you to read this year’s book and take part in the conversation. You may like to join one of our many book groups that are taking part this Spring. You can find details of our groups here
Not only that, May will be packed with events related to the themes of the novel, which are many and topical: live jazz band performance plus talk on the jazz clubs scene of 1960’s Soho, talks on the Spanish civil war, swinging Sixties, the changing role of women, immigration and its impact on the capital, art, food, drink and more. Take your pick and book your place
And don’t forget to look at the Cityread website for a London wide picture of what is going on this May.
April is here again, and that can only mean one thing if you’re a library member in London: Cityread!
Each April, Cityread asks London’s citizens, workers and visitors to pick up a book – the same book – and read it together. Taking the chosen novel as a starting point, a month-long programme of book groups, film screenings and other events takes place across all 33 London boroughs in libraries, bookshops, museums and other venues.
This year’s book is Ten Days, a newly published and gripping thriller by Orange Prize-shortlisted author Gillian Slovo:
‘Ten unpredictable days of violence erupt from a stifling heatwave. And, as Westminster careers are being made or ruined, lives are at stake. Ten Days is about what happens when politics, policing and the hard realities of living in London collide.’
Here in Westminster we have a programme of special events including historical talks and a walk around key ‘rebel’ points in Westminster’s streets. Our many reading groups will be joining in and discussing the book at meetings throughout the month – pick one and come along!
Click on the book cover above to find copies of Ten Days available in your library. It’s also available as an ebook and we have limited numbers of free copies to give away – ask in your library.
We’d love to know what you think of the book. If you can’t get to a reading group to discuss it, let us know your views in the comments.
Are London West End Police Constables too busy to read? Obviously not and in any case the Charing Cross Met contingent will have to make time for it this Spring. Westminster Reference Library handed out to them free copies of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London, the first chapter in the saga of Met Officer (and Apprentice Police Wizard) Peter Grant and Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale (head of The Folly and the last officially sanctioned English Wizard – the real thing, basically).
Following an unexpected encounter with a ghost, Officer Grant is recruited into the small branch of the Met that deals with magic and the supernatural. In the process of doing so he comes across evil forces that turn ordinary people into vicious killers, warring gods of the River Thames, vampires and all manner of supernatural underworld trickery. Almost all of the action takes place in and around the WC2 area – perfect location and subject matter for our local constabulary to enjoy:
“We are delighted, as local police officers, to be a part of Cityread London 2015 – it is a terrific scheme which is encouraging more of us to read.”
Theatre company LookLeft LookRight adapted Aaronovitch’s novel into an immersive participatory experience as part of Cityread London 2015, as described in the previous post.
PC Alexander Williams from Charing Cross Police Station, seen here with two specimens of the lowest ranks of apprentice wizards Rossella Black and Zsuzsannah Nemeth, was appointed as the lucky recipient of the gifts but remained unimpressed by all the magic and shenanigans…
“All in a day’s work, Guv really, nah mean” Officer Williams said, “nothing in ‘ere that we don’t have to put up with every day and night in this library.”
Hard to impress bobbies, these days!
Ever wonder how the London Met fends off supernatural criminals in the capital?
Or if ghosts are real?
If Rivers could talk, what would they say…?
All these questions and more were answered in Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch‘s supernatural urban fantasy novel and our 2015 Cityread London book.
But the story didn’t end there.
Westminster Reference Library, in conjunction with Cityread and LookLeft LookRight Theatre hosted an interactive theatre performance that ran on Saturdays and Sundays throughout April. The top floor of the library was converted into a special police department: the official training centre for new recruits of the Supernatural Sciences Branch!
Anne tells us how she fared on her first day as a wizard’s apprentice….
“Unfortunately I did not have what it takes to become a new police apprentice studying magic at the Folly, but I had a really good time trying out for a place last Sunday.
Sixteen prospective applicants met at Westminster Reference Library, where the top floor had been transformed into The Folly – the training academy for the magic police division in the Cityread book Rivers of London. PC Peter Grant from the book spoke to us first and explained how we would be tested and then we were off in small groups to meet the different protagonists.
I saw Sir Isaac Newton first in a room where the Sherlock Holmes collection had been transformed into a 17th Century study to explain the underlying principles of magic. Then it was onto see Inspector Nightingale who tested our powers of observation in a crime scene, and finally we met with Mama Thames herself and her daughter Beverley Brook. Although a number of us had passed the tests up to this point we all failed to produce a werelight in the laboratory, so none of us made the grade… but we all had a magical time trying.”
Cityread London was a brilliant experience for all concerned this year. We hope that you managed to get involved in some way, either by reading the book, coming to an event, or taking part in discussions online. Roll on Cityread 2016…
Posted in Arts & culture, Books, Westminster Reference Library
Tagged Ben Aaronovitch, book, books, Cityread, events, LookLeft LookRight, performance, Rivers of London, theatre, Westminster Reference