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Festival fever

This weekend has been dominated, one way and another, by coverage of the Glastonbury Festival, taking place after a three year hiatus. With enthusiastic crowds and headline acts, it's been declared a great success and an indication that things are finally back to normal.

Yet other smaller and newer festivals have had to be cancelled due to lack of support, and others have had attendances lower than in previous years.

While many people are eager to do all the things they used to do, there's no doubt that others are more hesitant and, with the cost of living and covid cases both on the rise, there are practical reasons why some people are unable to participate in social events as much as they may like. 

Though the arts, theatre, performance, music and entertainment may seem peripheral to life when times are becoming harder for more of us, we mustn't forget how much they contribute to our sense of joy and wellbeing. And if we don't support the people putting on these enterprises now, they may not be there for us when things become more straightforward again.

The coming weeks see many local events taking place which boost our communities, reduce the need for travel and are often very competitively priced. I hope you will consider supporting them and book your tickets in good time so that the organisers are confident of going ahead with their plans. 

We can be informed, entertained and inspired by Sarah Langford on 8 July (see below), find out more about the writing of Rupert Thomson, whom we discussed in book group this year when he visits Suffolk Book League in Ipswich on 14 September, and delight in a great programme at the Lavenham Literary Festival in November. There are riches in store!

And tomorrow it's book group! So let me know by replying to this email if you are planning on coming along and I'll make sure the coffee's on and the chairs are out, and we can enjoy sharing our ideas about 'The Blue Book of Nebo'. I look forward to seeing you soon! 

Thank you for reading.

More About Books and Browsers Bookshop present

Sarah Langford in conversation
with Catherine Larner
Friday 8 July, 7.30pm
Woodbridge Library

The Sunday Times bestselling author, Sarah Langford recalls in her new book ‘Rooted’ how she felt about moving to Suffolk with her husband to take on the management of his small family farm. 

Preconceptions and prejudices were stripped away as she saw how farming has changed from her grandfather’s generation to the present day. 

The challenges of climate change, Brexit, falling incomes, accusations of ecological mismanagement, a hostile press and public - these issues and more are all addressed in a beautifully written personal response which is impossible to put down!

Many of the stories of the individual farmers she's met are shocking and upsetting in all that they've experienced, and ultimately this is an account of the destruction of our land. But in her warm, honest and passionate response, Sarah leaves the reader feeling uplifted and energised and, ultimately, hopeful, not least because of the good people who are trying to make a difference. 

Find out how Sarah came to write the book, the people she spoke to and how she views the future for farmers - and for all of us. Tickets are £20 and include a copy of 'Rooted' (RRP£16.99) and you can purchase them here.

And if you'd like a flavour of what Sarah will be talking about, listen to her on Start the Week here, or read the article in the Telegraph here. I can assure you that you won't want to miss out, book your ticket now!

Mya-Rose Craig

Ever since she was a child, Mya-Rose Craig has travelled the world to see birds. This is the story of her family, a passion for birdwatching, and much more. 

"Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies."

I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the pages of this book. It has a beautiful cover, but would I really want to read quite such a big book all about birdwatching?!

It didn't take long for me to be completely engrossed, unable to put the book down, desperate to know the outcome of this extraordinary account of family, mental illness, and an obsession.

Since a young child, Mya-Rose has travelled the world to collect sightings of more and more birds. It was originally her father's obsession but then he realised it helped his wife's mental wellbeing. And their youngest child didn't want to be left behind, so Mya-Rose joined them.

To date she has seen over five thousand different types of bird: half the world's species. In travelling the world, she has seen the destruction that is being wrought on the planet and the resulting threat to birds in particular.

The author is known now as a birder, an environmentalist and a diversity activist and in the latter part of the book she describes how she came to organise conferences and speak to the media and audiences about her passion.

It is an extraordinary account which is all-consuming and fascinating to read. I loved it!

For recommended non-fiction titles, take a look here.

The Cure for a Crime
by Roopa Farooki

I've recently been introduced to this author through her non-fiction title 'Everything is True' about being a junior doctor in the pandemic - there'll be more about that in future newsletters. 

This is one of her two books for children which also draws on her medical background, in an original and innovative way, turning it into an adventure mystery aimed at readers aged 9+.

For twins Ali and Tulip, first aid is a natural instinct, the hospital is almost a home from home and they're familiar with numerous complicated medical terms. Their mother is a surgeon and she's been keen to prepare them for the world by sharing something of her knowledge. If, then, the twins see someone fall in the street, they're immediately at hand checking the vital signs and calling for the paramedics.

But their medical nous is needed closer to home when they find that their mother is getting increasingly drowsy and forgetful, for no apparent reason. They suspect her boyfriend may have something to do with it and, with their dynamic wheelchair-bound gran, get on the case to solve the mystery and protect their mum. 

It's a great idea for a book and the medical situations aren't light or trivial despite being aimed at a younger reader. I found elements of the storyline quite sophisticated! 

It's fast paced and action packed and gran is a conundrum in herself. Lots of surprises!

What's more the book includes some actual, practical medical tips for us all to look out for! I think it's a brilliant concept and will be looking out book two. 

Read about more recommended children's books here.

Browsers Bookshop Book Group

at St John's Hall, Woodbridge

Monday 27 June 8pm 
talking about...

The Blue Book of Nebo
by Manon Steffan Ros

A haunting and life-affirming post-apocalyptic story of a mother and son learning to survive in their changed circumstances in rural Wales. What will we think of it?
Everyone is welcome to join in the discussion, just reply to this email to let me know if you are planning to be there and I'll send you all the details.
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