Hear…Read This! Ep.1

Hello and welcome to our first ever episode of Hear…Read This!  We’re thrilled to present four hosts, two books and one bookclub, this week talking about HHhH by Laurent Binet and Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan.  Take a listen and you’ll hear Simon and Gav of The Readers, a Book Based Banter podcast, and Kate and Rob of Adventures With Words, exploring storytelling in all its forms.  Beware, as there are mild spoilers for both books!

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Section 1: HHhH by Laurent Binet
What an opening title – we get stuck into discussing this novel/historical text/thriller/writing guide.  What kind of book actually is it?  How does it work combining the writer’s own voice with a thriller narrative?  Is there such a thing as too much research?  And, is it OK for a Nazi to be a bigger character in the novel than his would-be assassins?
Beware: mild spoilers, although of course this book is based on historical events.

Section 2: What we’ve been reading
Our chance to share a recommendation with you, from our recent reading.  Rob has been enjoying The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt; Kate was pleasantly surprised by The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher; Gav thought Grass by Sheri S Tepper was great; Simon recommends May We Be Forgiven by A M Homes.

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Section 3: Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan
In our second discussion, we share our views – which were varied but certainly strongly held – about this book-meets-computer escapade, set in a mysterious bookshop in the seedier side of San Francisco.  Can you enjoy an adventure when you find the characters shallow?  Is this fantasy-lite, or is it send-up?  Can a plot hang together too neatly?  Is there something better about paper books, or does digital hold the key to the future?  And finally, just how many times can you use the word Google in 300 pages?

I Remember You

House of Rumour

And finally…
We reveal our choices for next month.  Gav and Simon have chosen I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, and Rob and Kate have chosen The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott.
We’d love you to read them and join us next time!

 Now on iTunes

8 thoughts on “Hear…Read This! Ep.1

  1. Loved the comparison between PENUMBRA and BERNADETTE. Loathed one and loved the other 😉
    Despite your enjoyable debate, I still wouldn’t pick Penumbraflr an Appetite Book Club read as it felt too childlike.

    I resisted listening to your hHh chat as I was nervous of spoilers. Jo

  2. I absolutely loved the podcast, & hope all the others are as entertaining as this one! I had read Mr. Penumbra several months ago & although I found it mildly entertaining, I have to agree that I was disappointed after all the hype. As for HHhH ~ oh my! I do love WWII history, and love spies & intrigue, but this is a bit of history that had escaped my attention. I read this book after hearing that it was going to be the subject of the first episode of HRT, and so glad I did. The format was very different for a factual story, but I thought it worked very well. The author’s concern for maintaining the integrity of the story was obvious, and I found it similar to sitting in on a history class in which the professor clearly loves his subject and effectively shares his passion with his students. I actually thought the format increased my interest as well as the intensified the suspense.

  3. Great choices – I might join you for The House of Rumour.

    I liked Penumbra, but haven’t read Ready Player One yet, and will probably check out HHhH

    You asked for book suggestions for future podcasts, I’d like to sugges Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier, one of my all time favourites, Little Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt and Through a Glass, Darkly by Jostein Gaarder

  4. I enjoyed both books quite a lot although they were very different kind of reads.

    I think one of the reasons I enjoyed Penumbra so much was that I hadn’t heard any of the hype and I found it to be a light, fun, read. I think Gav was on to something when he said that those who don’t normally read ‘quest’ novels might react more favorably towards it. I think that is me in a nutshell. I actually really liked the fact that there wasn’t any peril. I thought for sure that something was going to happen when he was scanning the Codex Vitae, when it didn’t, I was thrilled. I love that it just went from one nerdy thing to another (books, computers, dragons, archaeology, art, yarn museums, libraries, etc.).

    And you all are right: the money and access to resources and expertise, and everything else all happened at just the right time. But, I also love that in a piece of escapist lit. That is why I like DE Stevenson and Nevil Shute, because everything comes in on cue, no one is ever in any real danger, you know everything is going to come out right, characters just exist for plot, etc. I think I like this kind of book occasionally because I spend so much time reading things like Anita Brookner.

    I also do think that he was taking the piss out of Google, but he was also acknowledging the hegemony it has both on the internet in general and in the Bay area specifically–similarly Apple, which is also mentioned a lot.

  5. One more thing, the title alone should have clued you into to not take this book too seriously. It is right up there on the cute scale along with The Guernsey Potato Peel book and the Major Pettigrew.

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