Saturday 8th October
Palace Green Library
Review by Gabriel Brown
After Andy Miller’s last event at the Durham Book Festival, I was highly anticipating his return. Sure enough, he came back with the energy and opinions that make his events great.
The Hour Of Reading Dangerously tackled 10 books in 55 minutes, a fairly moderate task when you think about it, stretching from the interesting sounding Master and Margarita to Moby Dick. Compared to last year’s event, there was more audience participation, adding to a fun atmosphere and lots of laughs.
Had this presentation been delivered by anyone other than Andy himself, I doubt it would have had such an effect on us all. The style with which he went about hosting his event was done to perfection. It would be difficult to sit in a more entertaining talk than this during the opening weekend of the festival, and if someone finds one then do let me know!
The examination of ‘great books’ was brilliant, and it was incredibly interesting to see how they can be divided into their respective groups – from the ones we hate to the ones we love, and everything in between. Once again, Andy Miller has inspired me to pick myself up and read, even if it is ‘50 pages a day’ as Mrs Miller advises for book Middlemarch. In a kind of endearing way, he made me feel shame for not reading some of the books on his list.
Book 7 in his list was a particular highlight for me, in that there was a space for it on the schedule – but no book to fill it. Indeed, Book 7 was ‘the one everyone loves but you don’t,’ and invoked lots of participation, with audiences sharing their books that people disagreed with them on.
There was, of course, a lot of booing during this particular segment.
Andy Miller’s whistle-stop tour of literature was great, an excellent kick off to the first weekend of the festival and, above all, a very funny afternoon.