ANN Morgan had a mission: To travel the world through literature.
She had an ambition to read examples of literature from every country in the world – and so she set off, page turning her way around the globe.
She's the focus of a podcast on the UK Guardian's website – www.theguardian.com – a very smoothly produced part of their books section filled with brilliance.
Ann's journey took in such countries as South Sudan – where a writer created a short story especially for her because of the new-born nation's status – and North Korea, which proved a diplomatic challenge.
That particular podcast goes on to take in some of the work that Ann discovered in her journey. It's eye opening, enchanting and a very fine example of the breadth of the work that can be discovered here.
The Fireside Book Chat
This brilliant little idea for a podcast can prove a little elusive online. The iTunes version of the podcast stubbornly refused to load – and the best place I found to track it down was at the Stitcher website (full of lots of other shows worth hunting down too). The idea of the site is that it is reviews of books suitable for children delivered by children.
The reviews are bite-sized – only three to six minutes each or so – and consist of the host interviewing children about the books they have been reading.
Not only does this give your children ideas for other books they would like to read or to perhaps compare what they thought about a favourite with the reviewer, but it's also a great listen for parents.
Listen to the host and the kind of questions he asks, and the prompts he gives, and he really draws out the youngsters to discuss what they liked about the story, and the key moments that featured.
Children can of course be very honest too, so don't be surprised that no punches are pulled!
Website: www.stitcher.com (then search for Fireside Book Chat)
Books On The Nightstand
As simple a premise as you could ask for, Books On The Nightstand is a review show that aims to offer great book recommendations. The hosts – Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman – are smart and genial, and passionate about literature. They're great at evoking the atmosphere of the books they discuss, and their enthusiasm in contagious – I've already snagged a couple of the books they reviewed.
The hosts both work in the publishing industry and so they also provide a good glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.
The episodes clock in at about half an hour and the quality of the recording is top notch – it almost sounds like you're sitting and listening to friends chat about books. The range of books they discuss is broad, too, so if you favour one particular genre, you won't feel left out.
While you're on Stitcher for the Fireside Book Chat, you can also find Books On The Nightstand there, though you can also catch them at their own website: www.booksonthenightstand.com
Luke Burrage, of the Science Fiction Book Review
Science Fiction Book Review
Luke Burrage is a voracious reader, as well as – in other avenues a juggler and entertainer. This multi-talented chap is absolutely bursting with energy and enthusiasm. The goal of the website is to review the books he's reading at any given time, all of a science fiction or fantasy bent. He knows exactly what you need to go along with the reviews too, with plenty of links right there on his website page to go buy the book from Amazon or to discuss it on Goodreads. The podcasts are available on iTunes, but do go visit his home page and follow some of the links to some of the other fabulously intriguing things that he's involved in, such as comedy shows and viral videos. He's great at picking up on the trivia surrounding books and their authors, though that can mean he takes a good chunk of the podcast before he really settles down to discuss the book. It's never uninteresting, however, and he's not shy to say what works and what doesn't. The first podcast I listened to of his featured one of the books I dislike the most in the genre – R Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before, a piece of blithering, overblown nonsense as far as I'm concerned – but Burrage strips the book down to its bare essentials and does a cracking job of detailing what the book is about and what its underlying messages are. This podcast I'll be coming back to quite a bit.