TRCH Full Monty

6 Nottingham Books to Read This Summer

16 July 18 words: Write Lion

Surely you must be in need of a beach side read. Give one of these a try...

Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player
Nick Owen
£7.63, Independent
Haven’t we all dreamt of what it would be like to win Wimbledon/the FA Cup/an Olympic gold medal/Primary School Sports Day? Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player is a short story split into tennis sets, told from the perspective of a fictional tennis player. The story watches as our underdog protagonist goes from zero all the way to hero, only to come crashing back down again. With appearances from sports stars and famous faces – including a little-known British tennis player called Andy Murray – the story emulates the rich world of professional tennis by including scripts and articles from various (also fictional) local newspapers, television interviews and a personable prose reminiscent of sporting memoirs. Plucky and tongue-in-cheek, Confessions is an enthusiastic and spirited story that charts hopes, dreams and disappointments; something that perhaps many of us can relate to. Well, maybe not the playing at Wimbledon part. Anna Murphy

Forest Folk
James Prior
£9.99, Leen Editions
There's argy-bargy afoot up in Blid’orth. First published in 1901, and written by Nottingham lad James Prior, Forest Folk is a nostalgia trip of North Notts language and localities. It focuses on the love-hate relationship between two farming families, while Luddite riots and Napoleonic wars rage on in the background. At Low Farm, we meet the Rideouts; a local family with flaming red hair, built like brick shithouses. They clash hilariously with posh doll-people Arthur and Lois Skrene, who’ve moved from Kent to High Farm up yonder. Cue awkward romance, bloody fistfights and enough old Nottingham dialect to warrant a glossary. Primarily a warm-hearted adventure story – with an over-fondness for meandering descriptions – Forest Folk shines when it explores darker aspects. The suspicious locals, who fear and loathe “new woman” Nell Rideout, make chilling villains. Prior is unsympathetic to Ned Ludd’s machine-breakers, but his love of rural life is infectious. Natalie Mills

God Save the Teen
Andrew Graves
£9.99, Burning Eye Books
Andrew Graves has been knocking out rhymes on stages across the city for over a decade. This is his third collection of poetry following on from Citizen Kaned (2012) and Light at the End of the Tenner (2014). Split into four sections, it’s the titular one which most grabbed my attention. Graves flicks between decades like vinyl in a crate. He discusses being bullied at school, a difficult relationship with his father, meeting his future partner and coming to terms with death. This is all done to a backdrop of cultural reference points like Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, Oasis and September 11th, which help to place his experiences in your own sphere of reference. A fantastic read on its own, God Save the Teen comes across even better when you’ve had the pleasure of him reading them to you first hand. Jared Wilson

Our Tan: Memoir of a Destroyed Life
Rod Madocks
Shoestring Press, £10
Our Tan is a crushing account of England’s inept social services. The case in point is Tania’s; a young mother at ease with animals and nature. Madocks, a family friend, experienced their struggles with the authorities before and after Tania’s premature death. The rigged system depicted is one of business jargon over professional judgement, where any criticism is deflected by processes designed to shield the status quo. It’s a heart-wrenching, head-slapping true story of the damage done by misguided meddlers. One particular exchange, between a social worker and Tania’s father, will live long in the memory, while the inclusion of Tania’s own words provides a devastating reminder of a young life lost. More than a work of personal retribution, this book explores wider social injustice and how public services are devouring the poverty-inflicted working-class. With Our Tan, Madocks has reinforced his standing as one of Nottingham’s most interesting modern writers. John Baird

Secret Beeston
Frank E. Earp and Joseph Earp
£14.99, Amberley
It’s fair to say that, as Nottingham’s little sister, Beeston has plenty of history behind it. This book by local historians Frank and Joseph Earp explores as much of that past as they can cram into just under 100 pages. Guiding you through the town, it starts off by uncovering secrets from a fifties guidebook, before revealing where those first few houses were built. Various subjects are covered, including a ten-page deep-dive dedicated to the history of pubs in the town, which proved to be one of the most interesting sections of the book. After reading, the topic of historic Beestonian alehouses became a standard talking point among my family for several days. Find out about Beestonians of the past, and why Gandhi and The Beatles paid the town a visit. Illustrated with plenty of photographs, this book is an adventure. Jade Moore

The One About…
Akor Opaluwah
£10, Big White Shed
It’s always refreshing to encounter something new in poetic form, and Akor Opaluwah’s The One About… definitely scratches that itch. The One About... (the actual title is 34 words long) centres around a simple concept: poetry in which the title is longer than the poem itself, so that the act of processing the title is vital to fully contextualise the piece. From this initial gimmick, Opaluwah does a delightful job of documenting life in Nottingham, his observations ranging from the heartwarming to the hysterical. Everyday interactions – simple moments like people playing in the Square or strangers smiling at each other on the tram – are rendered in a pleasantly prosaic style that highlights the experiences of those the poet sees. In The One About, Opaluwah establishes himself as a step above the average people-watcher and becomes a people-scholar. Liam Mills

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