15 episodes

On Reading is made up of three rather nosy friends who are curious about how, what and, most importantly, why readers read. The simplest way to find the answers to our questions was to ask – so we started knocking on people’s doors, and got them to tell us about their library.

Although reading is an act that most of us can perform, and many of us derive immense pleasure from doing so, our reasons for reading are as varied as our personalities.

It gives us great pleasure to share with you our encounters with the readers who so generously gave us their time.

On Reading On Reading

    • Arts

On Reading is made up of three rather nosy friends who are curious about how, what and, most importantly, why readers read. The simplest way to find the answers to our questions was to ask – so we started knocking on people’s doors, and got them to tell us about their library.

Although reading is an act that most of us can perform, and many of us derive immense pleasure from doing so, our reasons for reading are as varied as our personalities.

It gives us great pleasure to share with you our encounters with the readers who so generously gave us their time.

    Roxanna Panufnik

    Roxanna Panufnik

    Our guest this month is composer extraordinaire Roxanna Panufnik, one of Britain’s best loved composers. She studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music and, since then, has written a wide range of pieces – opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, orchestral and chamber compositions, and music for film and television – which have been performed all over the world. She is renowned for her choral and multi-faith works (such as Love Abide; or Dance of Life: Tallinn Mass for the Tallinn Philharmonic) and for her love of music from around the world.

    She has had work commissioned for Garsington opera (Silver Birch, 2017), the Proms (Three Paths to Piece, an overture for the World Orchestra for Peace, premiered in Jerusalem and at the Proms), the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Poland (Faithful Journey – a Mass for Poland), the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and many more. Her Four World Seasons, for violinist Tasmin Little, launched the BBC’s Music Nation weekend, celebrating the Olympics.

    Her work is also full of humour, and she has brilliantly put to music the words of poets and authors such as Wendy Cope and Vikram Seth (Beastly Tales – The Crocodile and the Monkey, The Hare and the Tortoise).

    May 2021 saw the release of her new album with the Sacconi Quartet, Heartfelt, a striking compendium of touching pieces, such as the letters of a First World War soldier, folk songs (slightly macabre, pickled toes and all) and poems, and the heartbeat of Bristol Zoo’s European brown bear Albie set to music.

    We urge you to watch this short film about the making of Heartfelt, which reveals how to take a bear’s heartbeat, put it to music – and see the bear himself enjoying the result!

    Roxanna is now working on her next opera, Dalia, with a libretto by Jessica Duchen for the Garsington 2022 season, and Ever Us, for the Rundfunk Chor Berlin, will be performed at the Berlin Philarmonie 2022.

    On this podcast, Roxana talks about The Music Programme by Paul Micou, The Lightless Sky – My Journey to Safety as a Child Refugee by Gulwali Passarlay with Nadene Ghouri and Dancing Bears – True Stories about Longing for the Old Days by Witold Szabłowski, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

    She also mentions the Qu’ran, the Bible and the Torah.

    You can also find all those titles in Roxanna’s list on our Bookshop.org page.

    • 28 min
    Lisa Williamson

    Lisa Williamson

    Lisa Williamson spent most of her childhood drawing, daydreaming and making up stories in her head (but never getting round to writing them down). After university, Lisa adopted a stage name and spent several happy years occasionally getting paid to pretend to be other people. Between acting roles she worked as an office temp and started making up stories all over again, only this time she had a go at writing them down.

    She talks about her love of American YA, her wish to be anything but ordinary and her love of Adrian Mole – despite his failings.

    On this podcast, Lisa mentions The Enchanted Wood and The Naughtiest Girl in the School by Enid Blyton, Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume, The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend, One Day by David Nichols, Stoner by John Williams, Milly Molly Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley, Babysitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier, Sweet Valley High by Katy Rex and Andres Genolet and Paula Danziger.

    You can also find all those titles in Lisa’s list on our Bookshop.org page.

    • 26 min
    Claudia Winkleman

    Claudia Winkleman

    Journalist Claudia Winkleman is one of the nation’s best loved broadcasters, co-host of Strictly Come Dancing and now Celebrity Best Home Cook for BBC1; easing us into the weekend with her Saturday morning Radio Two show, Claudia is family, and part of our homes.

    Here you’ll discover the book that turned her from reluctant reader into bookworm, find out why teenage Claudia tucked a tea towel into her jeans and learn how she gets her children reading.

    She tells us how she wrote Quite, an eclectic collection of witty essays on love, life and eyeliner, but also art, bridge, squirrels and much more, and about how she lends a comforting ear to clinical psychologist Tanya Byron’s guests on the How Did We Get Here? podcast (on Apple podcasts or Spotify).

    On this podcast, Claudia mentions Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, George’s Marvellous Medicine, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Famous Five, The Gruffalo, Harry Potter, Asterisk, Hidden Valley Road, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Choice. She also mentions the fabulous Jackie Collins.

    You can also find all those titles in Claudia’s list on our Bookshop.org page.

    • 25 min
    Dana Mills

    Dana Mills

    Dana Mills is a political theorist, lecturer, activist, dancer and author whose books include a biography of Rosa Luxemburg, a thesis on dance and politics and a new study on dance and activism. A voracious reader, Dana doesn’t trust people who don’t read books!

    In this podcast, recorded during the January lockdown of 2021, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Dana spoke to Will about the importance of reading books from cultures other than your own, on the unlikely opportunities for reading, on the need to fight for our libraries and on the joys of post-it notes.

    On this podcast, Dana mentions the following books: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, A Tale of Love and Darknessby Amos Oz, La Storia by Elsa Morante, The Castle by Franz Kafka, the letters of Gershom Scholem, In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

    Dana also mentions Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Friedrich Nietzsche and Bonnie Honnig.

    Get the books at Bookshop.org (and support independent bookshops) here.

    • 42 min
    Linda Sargent

    Linda Sargent

    Linda Sargent grew up in Kent, went to the University of Sussex (fashionably late) to study Economic History – at least, that was the official line, but as usual spent a lot of time reading fiction. She has worked in education and the arts since the 1970s, and since 2002 has worked as a publisher’s reader for David Fickling Books and as a freelance reminiscence and disability advisor.

    She has published short stories and articles and her first novel, Paper Wings, appeared in 2010; she is also the author of Words and Wings, a training guide to creative reminiscence work, available as a free download from her website.

    In this podcast, Linda recalls a countryside childhood with books, and talks about how reading sustains and comforts her and helps transcend the everyday.

    On this podcast, Linda mentions the following books: Old Lob by Elsie Hall Grassam, The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown, An Experiment in Education by Sybil Marshall, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Diary of Anne Frank, Wilfred McDonald Gordon Partridge by Mem Fox, Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham and The Diviners by Margaret Lawrence.

    Linda also mentions Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven series, Cynthia Voigt and Rosemary Sutcliff.

    Get the books at Bookshop.org (and support independent bookshops) here.

    • 30 min
    Rosie Goldsmith

    Rosie Goldsmith

    Rosie Goldsmith is an award-winning journalist specialising in arts and foreign affairs. In twenty years at the BBC, she travelled the world, presented several flagship programmes, such as Crossing Continents and Front Row, and interviewed some of our leading cultural and literary figures, from Margaret Atwood to Edmund de Waal and Antony Gormley.

    Rosie is a linguist and has lived in Europe, Africa and the USA. Today she combines journalism with chairing and curating arts and literary events and festivals for leading cultural organisations. Known as a champion of international literature, translation and language learning, she promotes them whenever she can. She is Founder and Director of the European Literature Network, editor of The Riveter magazine and was Chair of the Judges of the EBRD Literature Prize from 2018–2020. Rosie works with major cultural projects and institutions, such as Future Library Norway and the Victoria and Albert Museum London.

    In this podcast, recorded during the January lockdown, Rosie tells Clémentine about the joy of reading, her professional literary discoveries and how authors have much more power than they often realise.

    Get the books at Bookshop.org (and support independent bookshops) here.

    • 38 min

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