Roald Dahl Day: What We’re Reading

It’s going to be a busy Roald Dahl Day for us here at The Reader as we have quite a few exciting special events on the cards but of course we’ll be making time to read some of the great man’s works too!

Here at our Calderstones HQ in Liverpool, we’re embracing all things Roald Dahl with special Storybarn adventures exploring Dahl’s exciting stories for little ones and scrumptious treats for the whole family at The Reader Ice Cream Parlour as we launch a special Matilda inspired flavour – Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Fudge Cake!

And to continue the fun, we’ll be showing favourite Roald Dahl films at 4pm everyday in The Reader Ice Cream Parlour from today until Friday 21 September.

We’re also bringing the magic of Dahl’s adult fiction on the road in Cheshire where The Reader is working in partnership with Storyhouse, Cheshire West and ChesterNHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Brightlife Cheshire and the Voluntary Arts and Age UK Age of Creativity festival. Find out how you can join us for An Afternoon with Roald Dahl across Cheshire in October.

But just in case you can’t join any of our Roald Dahl celebrations in person, perhaps you’d like a few recommended Roald Dahl reads to enjoy in the comfort of our own home, library or reading group! We asked a few of The Reader team to share some thoughts and memories of their favourite Roald Dahl reads:

Emma is reading Vengeance is Mine Inc.
I love Roald Dahl’s short stories for adults. They are so full of toe-curling, visceral scenarios that make you wonder ‘what if?…’ This collection – Vengeance is mine Inc., published in 2014 for World Book Night, brings some of his best stories  together and is full of delights.
Skin is about a man who is offered vast amounts of money and a life of luxury to parade the tattoo on his back along the beaches of Cannes. Royal Jelly is about an unusual baby who has distinctive bee-like features. The Sound Machine imagines a world where we can hear plants cry out in pain. The Great Automatic Grammatizator is a machine that writes stories so compelling it is putting real authors out of business. Lamb to the Slaughter is a vengeful tale of cunning. Perfectly formed stories, ingeniously conceived, with dark, gleeful twists which delight you to the core. Delicious!

 Georgina is reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Georgie and Auntie Annie – Wissant, France Circa 2004
“I’ve heard tell that what you imagine sometimes comes true.” 

A five-year-old me and my fondest auntie Anne enjoying time out in Wissant, France to delve into the magical world of Squelchy Snorters and Everlasting Gobstoppers.


Kara is reading The Minpins

The Minpins will always be a favourite Roald Dahl book of mine. Even now, I am not entirely sure if it is the story itself that I love, or the fact that the memory of how the book came to be mine is such a special one.

I went to a tiny primary school, 40 pupils in total from reception to Year 6. There was a custom, that in your last week at West Butterwick Primary, once you had reached the dizzy heights of Year 6 and were destined for pastures new, you were taken IN A TEACHER’S OWN CAR to WH Smith and allowed to choose a book of your choice up to the value of £10.00. I mean, how exciting? This shopping trip was the stuff of legend.

I knew the book that I was going to choose before Year 6 even started. I was going to choose The Minpins because it was the only Roald Dahl book that I didn’t yet have at home. The illustrations on the front cover seemed so dark and full of foreboding, so grown up! It was a hardback too, which seemed to my eleven-year-old self, just about the most sophisticated thing that I could imagine. Everyone knew The BFG and Matilda, but The Minpins seemed like the choice of a Roald Dahl aficionado; I liked to take my fandom seriously. The Minpins also happens to be the Dahl book that features the often quoted line:

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Something that I try to remind my adult self every day!


Zoe is reading The Twits

I discovered The Twits aged about 7, when my Mum read it to me over a week or so, as a bedtime story. The thing I loved most about it was Mr Twit’s beard. Roald Dahl’s description of Mr Twit’s beard with all those bits of food stuck in it repulsed me and stayed with me every time I saw a man with a beard.  It was one of those books that we read and enjoyed together many, many times, as did my younger brother and sister. I held on to our copy of the The Twits over the years, and when I had my own children I was delighted when they were old enough for us to read and enjoy it together.  The reading of the ‘beard bits’ this time round amused me even more. Given the current fashion for beards, both my brother, their Uncle, and my partner, are both very proud beard owners/wearers.  It gave us a lot of laughs.  It seems only fit that I should share with you then, this quote from the very first chapter ‘Hairy Faces’.

“When a man grows hair all over his face it is impossible to tell what he really looks like. Perhaps that’s why he does it. He’d rather you didn’t know…..

So what I want to know is this. How often do all these hairy-faced men was their faces?  Is it only once a week, like us, on Sunday nights?  Do they shampoo it?  Do they use a hair dyer?  Do the rub hair-tonic into it to stop their faces going bald?…

I don’t know. But next time you see a man with a hairy face (which will probably be as soon as you step out on to the street) maybe you will look at him more closely and start wondering about some of these things.

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