Ready to read


The second Wanstead Book Festival – part of next month’s Wanstead Fringe – is fast approaching. It’s time to get your summer reading ready, says Festival chair Giles Wilson

The idea of long, languorous summer afternoons with only a novel to occupy the attention is a holiday dream for many people, myself included. But what to read? Pick up something new at the airport or catch up with that pile of half-finished books? Well, here’s another option. The second Wanstead Book Festival is taking place during this September’s Wanstead Fringe, so why not use your summer break for some pre-reading?

Headlining the Festival is one of the UK’s greatest living authors, Jonathan Coe, who has been chronicling the changing nature of family and national life since he rose to prominence with What a Carve Up in 1994, and then most famously with The Rotters Club in 2001, which was adapted for TV. His new novel, Bournville, takes a sweep of post-war British history and gives a few well-aimed jabs. It’s a fantastically vivid portrait of how we see ourselves, which makes him just the person to headline the Festival (and an ideal candidate for holiday reading).

The question of how we see ourselves is also raised by Paterson Joseph’s The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho. It’s a novelised version of diaries written in the 1700s by Sancho who escaped as an infant from a slaving ship, becoming a musician, actor, anti-slavery campaigner and the first black person to vote in a British election. 

Tim Burrows’ book The Invention of Essex asks where the idea of political and fashion stereotypes about Essex came from. White stilettos and go-faster stripes led to Essex Girls and Essex Man – popular culture definitely still has its views about the county which is so close to Wanstead (and of which, until the 1960s, Wanstead was actually a part).

Helen Day will be discussing her work championing Ladybird Book artists. They captured another view on our recent past – a combination of neatly observed street scenes for hundreds of books which became many children’s gateways into reading.

Artists have a particular gift of seeing the world about them, and this is the subject of the new book See What You’re Missing by the BBC’s former arts editor Will Gompertz, now artistic director at the Barbican, who will be jumping on the Central Line to come and speak to us.

This is just a sample of the authors who will be taking part this year. The full programme – and tickets – will be available online. Details will also appear in the Wanstead Village Directory next month. And if you’re still looking for that summer read, you can see books from all the Festival authors in the online Wanstead Bookshop.

Wanstead Fringe and the Wanstead Book Festival will take place from 9 to 30 September. Visit wansteadfringe.org

For more information on Wanstead Bookshop, visit wansteadbookshop.com

Author: Editor