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Epic fail again – summer came and I forgot to blog! But that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle, far from it. It’s been a busy time campaigning for the public library service, reading lots of excellent books, and even getting a bit of allotmenting done.

I’ve attended several of the public meetings organised by Leicestershire County Council to persuade us that volunteers can run the library service. These meetings were heated. Very heated. It’s heartening that so many people care and are so angry about the proposals. The statistics quoted by the Council representatives were flawed. Their position- that this was a consultation – was exposed as a sham. We gathered signatures on petitions, demonstrated outside libraries, wrote passionate letters and emails, and even got our picture in the local rag. Their decision will be “made” next Friday. Watch this space, or even better, the Library Campaign at www.librarycampaign.com.

Books-wise, I’ve read a few…. Highlights have been The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey, a rollicking zombie apocalypse thriller with an intriguingly different central premise. Couldn’t put it down! Austerity Bites: A journey to the sharp end of cuts in the UK by Mary O’Hara also was hard to put down, mainly because it was so utterly shocking. I urge everyone with a social conscience to read this book. And Far from the Tree: Parents, children and the search for identity by Andrew Solomon was magnificent; a very long but rewarding exploration of how parents learn to love (or not) children who have “horizontal identities”, based on hundreds of interviews with real people. It made me both laugh and cry, and I think made me a better human being for having read it.

But mostly, I have been utterly lost in the off-kilter world of Phil Rickman, having now read all of his Merrily Watkins series. I can’t recommend these enough. And I love them so much I even went on a little pilgrimage to Hay-on-Wye, setting of The Magus of Hay, and was delighted to discover the infamous bookshop (site of a neo-Nazi Satanist murder…) at the novel’s core was real (although it’s actually a music shop, I think the evidence was compelling…)

If ever you get the chance to visit Hay, please do so. It’s a fascinating place steeped in quirky history, and the booksellers are keeping a very venerable tradition of reading print books alive.

Other than that, I’ve been up to lots of other things that shall remain my own business, but it’s been a good summer and many excellent books have been devoured. I’ll try and remember to share them…!

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