I had a pretty full-on year presenting Hannah’s Bookshelf in 2019. As usual, I’ve welcomed some absolutely fantastic guests to the studio, as well as recording interviews with writers from further afield (much further in some cases!). I’ve also featured some great original fiction and poetry, and themed reading lists for my Special Editions. Below is a round-up of everything that happened this year on the show, but I’d like to say a big thanks to North Manchester FM for letting me haunt their airwaves and to Rob Shedwick (aka Digital Front) for being my unofficial producer on the show.
The Hannah’s Bookshelf 2019 schedule began on the 5th January with a Recent Reads show, where I reviewed a selection of the books I’d read the previous months. My first guest of the year was on the show the following week – Isabelle Kenyon of Fly on the Wall Press. Also in January, I also interviewed Jaki McCarrick and Comma Press’s Ra Page.
As we’ve done for the past few years, volunteers from North Manchester FM were at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival on Friday 25th January, broadcasting live from the event. You can hear my highlights of the festival show here.
I began February with a bit of literary nostalgia in my first themed show of the year – Back to Y2K. You can see details of the books I talked about on the show in this blog post. My first guest of the month was Roger Foss, and I also interviewed Ged Austin. Finally in February, I hosted my (now) annual Live Poetry Special. You can see details of the wonderful poets who appeared on that show in this blog post.
February also saw the introduction of a new feature on the show – theatre reviews. On Hannah’s Bookshelf this month, I played reviews of Dave Gorman’s stand-up tour, The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, SparkPlug and Tea and Two Sugars.
Also this month, I hosted a couple of Special Editions of Hannah’s Bookshelf. The first was a That’s What She Said Special, featuring interviews with a number of writers taking part in the TWSS performance night. You can see more about the writers featured in this show in this blog post. As a little bit of bonus material, this show also featured interviews with Manchester International Festival about the launch of their 2019 programme, and with contributors to Practicing Place: Creative and Critical Reflections on Place, a new book launched in Manchester in March. The second Special Edition was my Manchester Irish Writers Special, to mark the group’s 25th anniversary. You can see more about the group and the writers featured on the show in this blog post.
Four fantastic interviews in April. I began with a transatlantic interview with Pepper Gomez, and then I chatted with Jack Barrow and Barry Faulkner. The final interview of the month was with poet Benjamin Guilfoyle.
Also in April, I played out another theatre review – of Kingdom this time.
And another four amazing guests on the show this month! May began with an interview with Icy Sedgwick. Then I had my first ever interview with a writer based in Africa (Nairobi, to be specific): author Vered Ehsani. In the second half of the month, I spoke with Tim Major and Frank Burton.
And another theatre review on the show this month – I played out my review of a recent production of Richard III.
There was quite a lot going on in June! I began with an interview with Paul Fitzgerald (aka Polyp) and Eva Schlunke. And then, I had my first ever interview with a guest based in Australia (I’m really working my way around the globe): Kaite McKenna. This show also included, as bonus content, an interview with the Shaw Centre about a new book of stories written by centre-users.
On the 15th June, North Manchester FM was on the road again. Myself and other volunteers were at the University of Manchester Community Festival, speaking to various presenters and researchers about their work. You can hear my highlights of the festival here. And then I presented another Recent Reads show, in which I talked about the books I read the previous month. There was a little bit of bonus content on this show as well, as it included an interview with the directors of the Greater Manchester Fringe, a little preview for the final show of the month… my Greater Manchester Fringe Special. In this show, I spoke with writers, performers and directors taking part in various shows on the programme at this year’s GM Fringe. You can see information about all the productions featured on the show in this blog post.
July began with another Special Edition. Like last year, I was at the Portico Sadie Massey Awards for Young Readers and Writers this year, and I interviewed a number of the prize-winners, organizers, teachers and guests. I was also joined in the studio by Paul Morris and Martin Griffin, two of the judges on this year’s prize. You can see more about the guests on the show in this blog post.
The next show of the month was a themed show: Angry Books. You can see a list of the books featured on the show in this blog post. The following week was an unthemed show, as unfortunately the planned interview that week was cancelled. It was actually a lot of fun chatting randomly about books, inspired by a few texts from listeners, of course!
As July was GM Fringe month, there were a lot of reviews of fringe theatre production on the show this month. I reviewed Underwater, The Yank is a Manc! My Ancestors and Me, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, The Empathy Experiment, The Suitcase, the Beggar and the Wind, The Death of a Muse, The Melting of a Single Snowflake, skank and Holy Land!
September kicked off with a couple more themed shows. First, I tackled Fictional Letter-Writers (i.e. books that revolve around a character and their correspondence, rather than writers of fictional letters). You can see the books that I talked about on the show in this blog post. And then, in honour of Friday 13th, I looked at some Bad Luck Books – and you can see the titles that were on my list in this blog post.
Then I took a little look at some of my favourite Literary Twins, and you can see the books that made that list in this blog post. The final show of October was my Halloween Special, featuring the runners-up and winners of this year’s 3 Minute Scares competition. As is now tradition, I presented this show in fancy dress. Not ideal for radio, but that doesn’t seem to stop me!
I also had another theatre review in October. This time it was Pizza Shop Heroes at the Orbit Festival.
Loads of interviews in November! I started the month speaking to Rose Condo, one of the performers whose GM Fringe show I reviewed in July. And then I interviewed Laura Harper, who was one of the creatives whose GM Fringe show I sadly missed this year (and I was extra gutted about that after speaking to Laura about her work).
And so to December and the end of another year. I began the month with an interview with Judy Morris and Elaine Bousfield of ZunTold Press. This was my final studio interview of 2019, but it was a lovely one to end with!
And then it was jingle all the way for Hannah’s Bookshelf! My pre-Christmas Christmas Special once again featured some festive flash fiction submitted for this year’s 3 Minute Santas, and then (as is now tradition) my Christmas Special featured a run-down of some recommended reads for the festive season. You can see the books I chose for this year’s Christmas List in this blog post.
Just one show left this year… and I hope you’ll tune in!
Coming up at 2pm on Saturday 28th December, I’m doing my end-of-year show. Tune in for my personal Apocalypse Books highlights of the year. As always, you can listen on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).
Happy New Year!