Reading Year of Culture 2016

A year-long celebration of the arts, culture and heritage in Reading. October sees the first Reading In Reading Book Festival.

Pile of books

Reading In Reading Book Festival
Friday October 28th - Sunday October 30th | Olympia Ballroom, Reading

Ian Wright | Friday October 28th, 7pm - From earning 33 England caps to breaking Arsenal’s scoring record – winning the league, the FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup in the process – Ian Wright is one of the true stars of the Premiership era.  Now found on Match of the Day and Radio 5, Ian kicks off Reading in Reading talking to Bass Culture author Lloyd Bradley about his long-awaited autobiography.
Amelia Dyer | Saturday October 29th, 10.30am - Victorian Supersleuth Investigates: Reading-based crime writer and historian Angela Buckley takes us back to 1896 when a body discovered in the River Thames at Caversham captures the nation’s attention, as she charts the frantic race by Victorian police to stop the infamous serial killer Amelia Dyer.
Chris Tarrant | Saturday October 29th, 12pm - A proud son of Reading – and fittingly the longtime host of the Pride of Reading Awards – Chris’ career has ranged from from Tiswas and Capital Radio to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and his current Channel 5 show Extreme Railway Journeys. Hear him discuss that series’ accompanying book and reflect on four decades of broadcasting.
The Good Immigrant | Saturday October 29th, 1.30pm - Crowdfunded on and backed by JK Rowling, The Good Immigrant brings together some of the best emerging British black, Asian and minority ethnic writers for 21 essays about race and immigration, by turn poignant, funny, heartbreaking and angry. We are joined by four contributors: actor Vera Chok; Hip-Hop educator Darren Chetty; journalist Varaidzo; and blogger Wei Ming Kam.
Susie Dent | Saturday October 29th, 3pm - Countdown’s resident lexicographer and adjudicator for over 20 years, Susie studied at Oxford and Princeton before joining the Channel 4 show. Also a regular on 8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown and a Radio Times columnist, in her new book Dent’s Modern Tribes she provides a witty guide through the linguistic minefield. Ever wondered why football managers all speak the same way or what cabbies call the Houses of Parliament? Join Susie and former Independent literary editor Arifa Akbar for an entertaining and informative hour.
Book Group: Julie Cohen & Carol Drinkwater | Saturday October 29th, 4.30pm - Two bestselling novelists discuss their writing with Get Reading’s Francesca Perryman. Carol Drinkwater – an award-winning actress best known for playing Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great & Small – has topped the Kindle Single chart on both sides of the Atlantic and her latest The Forgotten Summer transports us to a French vineyard. Originally from the US, Julie Cohen now lives in Reading. Her novels have been translated into 15 languages and selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club; her latest, Falling, tells the stories of three generations of women.
My Life With Bowie: Woody Woodmansey | Saturday October 29th, 6pm - Now the last surviving Spider From Mars, Woody was just 19 when he left Hull to join David Bowie’s backing band. It’s his drum beat on Five Years that opens The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and playing on Hunky Dory, The Man Who Sold the World and Aladdin Sane means that anyone who’s ever heard Life On Mars, Jean Genie or Changes has heard him. In his new autobiography Woody gives a unique personal insight into a musical genius at the peak of his powers.
Reading in 50 Buildings | Sunday October 30th, 12pm - Did you know that the Sun Inn on Castle Street was damaged by elephants? Or that the same man who built Carnegie Hall funded Caversham Library? Historian Stuart Hylton takes us on a journey around town through the centuries, from Reading Prison and one of England’s oldest schools to Jackson’s and the Oracle. Hear how Henry I paid tribute to his son, find out about the pub where prisoners would stop off for a last drink before their hanging – and much more.
Jane Austen: The Secret Radical | Sunday October 30th, 1.30pm - Almost everything we think we know about Jane Austen is wrong. That is the starting point for a new biography from Helena Kelly, who teaches Austen at Oxford and Bath. She reveals how the Pride & Prejudice author – educated at Reading Ladies Boarding School – bravely took on subjects including femininism, slavery and the power of the church. She joins bestselling novelist and Austen aficionado Gill Hornby.
Dexter Fletcher | Sunday October 30th, 3pm - From his film debut as Babyface in Bugsy Malone – filmed in Reading 40 years ago – to Sunshine on Leith and Eddie the Eagle cementing his status as one of the most successful and respected British directors, Dexter has quite a career to reflect on. In between he starred in Press Gang, Band of Brothers and Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.
The Novella Project | Sunday October 30th, 4.30pm - Newbury-based publisher Holland House is this autumn releasing novellas by five talented young writers, four of whom – Issara Simone Edwards, Kasim, Carly Schabowkski and Connor Wray – join editor and Reading MA student Natasha Robson. With stories ranging science fiction to the letters between a father and son, come hear about this exciting new project.

Tony Robinson | Sunday October 30th, 6pm - From the original production of Oliver! and Who Dares Wins to Maid Marian and playing Baldrick in Blackadder, Sir Tony is one of our best-loved actors. He presented Channel 4’s hit archaeology show Time Team for 20 years, has written 16 children’s books and served on Labour’s NEC. As if that wasn’t enough, his new autobiography reveals he was bullied by Steve Marriott, failed to impress Liza Minnelli and was pushed into a stinking London dock by John Wayne.

Other events as part of the reading theme include the University of Reading’s Literature Festival in November and a children’s event on 29 October at the Museum of Reading. Tickets for individual events are £5 / £7 and £20 for a whole weekend pass. Tickets for Holland House’s Novella Project are free. Tickets are available from

Reading 2016 is supported by Reading UK CIC, the University of Reading, Reading Borough Council, Reading College as well as many local arts groups and businesses including Heart and Global Radio.

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