26 members recommend

Podcasts. Publishers. Punks. Exhibitions and Elvis Costello. 26ers share what’s been inspiring them this month.

And a few of my favourite things

elvis-costelloMusic: Elvis Costello at the de la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

A man, a guitar and a lifetime on stage and lo! we have the Beloved Entertainer he half mocked in his youth. Those concrete hands bashed, that sand and honey voice sliced straight to the heart and from Radio Radio to The Mean Times we were his. And he was funny.


Film: Begin Again.

Thought I’d loathe it. Don’t like Keira Knightly or James Corden and not mad about Mark Ruffalo. But charmed by directorial lightness of touch, loved the unusual views of New York and actors nicely reined in. Couple of nice tunes, and it was funny.


Book: The Examined Life by Stephen Gross

Grief, loss, love, sex and death in an spartan room. Not a JP Sartre play but a compelling telling of a psychotherapist’s daily encounters with his clients. Altered my perception of my thoughts, feelings and meetings with others every time I read a bit more. Not funny but much else.

Julie Batty


the-crucibleThe Crucible

The Crucible at the Old Vic was heart-wrenching, shocking and just the best storytelling – all the cast were right on it and superb performances all round.

Neil Fletcher



here-lies-loveHere Lies Love arrives in town

I can’t wait to boogie to Here Lies Love when it transfers to the National from Broadway this autumn. Music by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, the rock musical traces the life of shoe-addict Imelda Marcos, wife of Ferdinand Marcos, former president of the Philippines.


And I’m crying into my soup and loving every moment reading this sad story- Breaking Night by Liz Murray.


And then to cheer myself up, I can’t wait to re-read Naked by David Sedaris. Love him!

Elena Bowes



A new kind of publisher

The book business increasingly comes down to a few conglomerates who publish on the basis of what worked before plus Amazon aiming for world domination. Writers and readers should resist this trend and seek the quirky independents. Unbound, for example, publisher of Keeping Mum by the Dark Angels Collective (pictured here in Muswell Hill Bookshop) and Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Proper books from a new kind of publisher.

John Simmons

berylArt & Life: The paintings of Beryl Bainbridge, Somerset House

When Beryl Bainbridge finished a novel, she liked to relax by painting. She was untaught and experimental, and her work has a surreal edge. Napoleon struts through a couple of frames, and Beryl depicts herself learning Latin with Dr Johnson. This exhibition adds a fascinating extra layer of meaning to her novels, echoing her life and work.

Fiona Thompson

Alphabetical by Michael Rosen, published by John Murray

This is a charming book by the famous children’s writer that is right up the strasse of any 26er. A rumination on language, languages and alphabets. A pot pourri of entertainment, illumination, erudition, personal reminiscence and wacky word whimsy. Good summer reading for word wranglers.

Martin Lee


The Moth podcast

I’m sure I’m late to this, but I read an article about The Moth and storytelling in last week’s Saturday Guardian. Now, I’ve subscribed to the podcast and want to go the next event in London. Moth is all about telling true stories and could help us all hone our storytelling craft. A US phenomenon, The Moth is a live storytelling event where celebrities and members of the public tell their stories without notes.

Elen Lewis


viv-albertineViv Albertine’s autobiography

I engulfed this book within a matter of days. Viv Albertine was the guitarist in the pioneering punk band, The Slits. Her memoir, Clothes, clothes, clothes. Music, music, music. Boys, boys, boys is such an interesting, raw read. A story that takes you from life hanging out with Sid Viscous, a relationship with Mick Jones, what happened post-punk, IVF, illness, becoming a Hastings housewife, and then finding music – and herself – again 25 years later.


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