With a few weekday afternoons on my hands, one of the things that I really enjoy doing is attending recordings of James Naughtie’s Bookclub at the BBC. For the price of a book and a train ticket, you are given something quite priceless: the opportunity to be part of an select studio audience and put your questions directly to the author.
I have been introduced to several books I might never have read otherwise. Rather than opt for new releases, the book choices this year have included The Life of Pi and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.
One author who I probably would never have found my way to otherwise is the American writer, Siri Huvstedt, whose novel What I have Loved is set in the New York art world. If you don’t have time to read many books, this is an excellent choice because it crosses over so many genres: described as an urban thriller, it starts off as an intimate portrait of friendship, love and family life before the plot intensifies and the pace increases. When there is often pressure for established authors to produce one book a year, it took Siri six to stumble on the right structure for her story, which is all the more remarkable because it is very personal to her. There is plenty of time to read her book before the programme airs. (Radio 4, August 4th and 8th at 4pm). But if you don’t have time, you may be able to pick up just enough to impress your friends with your knowledge of contemporary fiction.