To read or not to read….before literary events

To read or not to read?

On occasion we have had authors visiting us at our monthly meetings and on other occasions we have ventured out to literary events as well as theatre productions – usually when they are related to a book we have discussed.

The Essex Book Festival happens yearly and provides lots of dates in the diary.  These events are generally authors discussing their own work.  I have been to several of these events and knowing I had a ticket to hear Kate Hamer reading her debut novel THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT left me with a dilemma.  To read or not to read?  Meaning – does one read the book before or after meeting the author?      I have done both and can see advantages for each , but generally I like to have read the book prior to the event.

The book was released on a wintery Wednesday (hardback only) giving me less than a week to read it.  Given the week I had planned, moving from place to place, a hardback wasn’t going to work so I downloaded it onto my phone and read the entire novel on a small phone screen.   It didn’t detract from the read (although I still prefer a ‘real’ book) and finished it moments before driving to Manningtree Library, which is a beautiful setting for a literary event.

Kate Neilan, who  interviewed Kate Hamer, had the difficult job of posing questions which wouldn’t produce spoilers and she did so with professional sensitivity, leaving the right balance between satisfaction (to those who had read it) and intrigue (to those who hadn’t).  Meeting an author adds another dimension to the writing and I’m sure we will discuss GIRL IN THE RED COAT at a future APPETITE BOOK CLUB meeting.    A friend who attended with me came away wanting to read the book –  so win, win!

Another shining light in the Essex Book Festival programme was Jessie Burton (author of The Miniaturist, voted by Waterstones booksellers as their Book of the Year 2014, National Book Awards New Writer of the Year 2014, and the Observer’s book of the year in their Best of Fiction 2014 (shall I go on!).  She was interviewed by her friend and fellow Actor, Hayley Atwell and if the writing or acting dries up they could go into presenting as both women were eloquent, beautiful, interesting, entertaining and full of energy.  This was another instance where prior knowledge of the book would not have mattered.

So, if to read or not to read is the question, I would say the answer is yes…but in your own time J

Jo Coldwell, Appetite Book Club

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