Recycling Johnson – The Grand Total

News just in! Through their charity cycle and herculean efforts, Phil and Sheena Davies have managed to raise a grand total of £1,117 for Get Into Reading, which is certainly something to celebrate! We have to say a massive “Thank You” to Phil and Sheena from everyone at The Reader Organisation – they really have gone above and beyond to support us, and their efforts are very much appreciated.

To find out more about their immense 504 mile trek and to see some of their stunning holiday snaps, take a look at their blog.

Charles Dickens closes Maghull Arts Festival

Maghull High School

Saturday 16th July, 2 pm

Tickets: £5

An outdoor adaptation of Dickens’ classic, Great Expectations, brings the first Maghull Arts Festival to a close. This family friendly production by Quantum Theatre Company will take place in the grounds of Maghull High School in an outdoor marquee on Saturday 16th July at 2pm. Refreshments are available throughout.

Great Expectations is the thirteenth of Charles Dickens’ novels and tells the tale of Pip, an orphan, who is brought up by his abusive sister and her husband, but who eagerly abandons his humble beginnings to begin a new life as a gentleman. From the misty marshes to the dusty, dirty streets of London, Quantum Theatre bring you a brand new adaptation of Dickens’ most enduringly popular and atmospheric novel which promises high comedy and dark drama as we follow Pip’s journey through adversity to discover the true nature of his ‘great expectations’.

Emma Lloyd, Sefton Arts & Cultural Services Marketing & Programme Manager, says:

“I can think of no better way to end a fabulous three weeks of arts and cultural activity than having a truly classic novel come to life outdoors. Not even the British Summer can spoil this event, as the marquee will keep us dry in all weather!”

All tickets for Great Expectations are £5 and are available by calling 0151 928 1919 / 01704 540011 by visiting and booking online or at Maghull High School reception (during school hours).

Literature Events at the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival

As part of the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival, the Bluecoat will be hosting two exciting literature events over the coming week.

The first, Anatomy of a Disappearance: Hisham Matar in conversation with Suzi Feay will take place on Wednesday 6th July from 7 pm – 8.30 pm. Matar, a Libyan author whose first novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the 2006 Booker Prize, will discuss his new novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, life and writing with fiction reviewer Suzi Feay. His latest novel is based on the real-life story of his father, an opposition politician who disappeared during the Gaddaffi regime, and asks what happens to those left behind.

On Saturday 9th July (3 pm – 4.30 pm), join Samuel Shimon in conversation with Eckhard Thiemannto mark this year’s new English translation of Shimon’s acclaimed autobiographical novel, An Iraqi in Paris. Assyrian Iraqi author Shimon will discuss his fascinating life and work with LAAF Guest Curator, Eckhard Thiemann.

Tickets for both events cost £3/£2 for concessions, and can be booked at or on 0151 702 5324.

Recycling Johnson – A Diary

As promised, here’s Phil and Sheena’s diary of their mammoth cycling trip to the Isle of Skye and Wester Ross, along with some of their stunning holiday snaps. Whilst the couple endured torrential rain, bicycle breakdowns, and a great deal of camping, their journey did end in style, with a triumphant return to the distinctly Scottish sound of bagpipes and clarsach (played by their nephew and niece respectively). To find out more about Phil and Sheena’s Scottish adventures, just visit their Recycling Johnson blog.

A massive thank you to Phil and Sheena from everyone at The Reader Organisation for their phenomenal efforts – so far, they’ve raised £667 for Get Into Reading, which is a definite cause for celebration!

Emma Jane Unsworth to read debut novel in Liverpool

Waterstones, Liverpool One

Friday, 1st July, 6.00 pm

Manchester’s brightest new literary star and Liverpool University graduate, Emma Jane Unsworth, will be reading from her novel, Hungry, the Stars and Everything on 1st July at Waterstones, Liverpool One. The event is not ticketed – just pop in to hear a reading from the author followed by a signing session.

Speaking about her debut novel, Emma says,

“It’s about a young woman who is about to turn 30, and in her 29th year things start happening that make her question where she is in life, and whether she has made the right decisions and whether she is truly happy. Food and astronomy are major passions of mine and they certainly were when I was writing the book. I found metaphors within those subjects that related to what my characters were going through.”

Emma’s short fiction has been published by Prospect Magazine, Comma, Nightjar Press, Redbeck Press and Channel 4 books, but Hungry, the Stars and Everything is her first novel. To find out more about Emma’s life, work, and upcoming events, just visit her blog.

For further details about this event, please contact Sherry and Brian at or Katie at

Out of the Blue Music Festival

Saturday 2nd July

11.30 am – 7.00 pm

 The third annual Out of the Blue Music Festival is set to take place this weekend, on Saturday 2nd July in Everton Park, showcasing the talent of musicians from the Everton area and across the city. Headlining the event will be Johnny O’Connell, the Stan Smith Band and children from In Harmony, along with the Bo Weevils, Hope Jazz Workshop, Samba Beat, and many more. The festival also offers a whole host of family-friendly activities, including zumba, football skills, alternative therapies, craft making and drumming workshops, so there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained.

The whole day kicks off at 11.30 am with the Blue Run, a family fun run for all ages. Entry costs £1 or £2 if you’d like a Blue Run t-shirt to wear with pride! The run is a mile long, or 2 miles for those over 16 years old and brave enough to take on the challenge. If you’d like to take part, contact Kate or Paul at WECC on 0151 282 0303, as soon as possible.

Why not come along for a fun filled festival which will see a section of Everton Park packed with a lively array of creative arts, drumming, music and performances. A day not to be missed!

For further information, contact Paula Kearns at WECC on 0151 282 0303.

The End of the Road for Recycling Johnson

Today is the final day of Phil and Sheena Davies’s herculean efforts to raise money for Get Into Reading by following the trail of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s Scottish exploits, cycling 504 miles in the process. After almost two weeks of non-stop exertion, the couple will complete their journey back where it all began – in Faolin on the Isle of Skye. After an exhausting journey, and the experience of last night’s camping, they will be glad no doubt of a warm bed and a hearty welcome at the Faolin Lodge.  It’s certainly well-deserved. Thanks so much to Phil and Sheena who have gone above and beyond to support Get Into Reading. Hopefully, in a few weeks time, we’ll be able to regale you with tales of their adventures, and maybe even see a holiday snap or two!

So far, Phil and Sheena have raised £632 for Get Into Reading – an enormous amount. But there’s still time for you to sponsor them by visiting their charity giving page and donating whatever you can. The more money we raise, the more books we can buy to use in our reading groups, the more people we can read with, and the more tea and biscuits for our Get Into Reading group members to enjoy!

Recycling Johnson Takes A Literary Turn

As Phil and Sheena begin the final stretch of their Scottish cycling tour (only 91 miles to go after today!), my research into Dr Johnson has taken a more literary turn, with the announcement of the shortlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction yesterday. The Samuel Johnson Prize aims to reward the best non-fiction and is open to authors of all non-fiction books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts. This year’s selection appears to be pretty heavy on history and biography, with works on Caravaggio, Bismarck, and Mao’s Great Famine appearing on the shortlist. Other entries include John Stubbs’s Reprobates, which offers an insight into the Cavaliers of the English Civil War, drawing on the writings and experiences of “wits, womanisers and wanderers,” and Maya Jasanoff’s Liberty’s Exiles, which tells the story of the remarkable global diaspora created by the emigration of Americans to other parts of the British Empire, in the aftermath of the American Revolution. The only non-historical entry shortlisted is The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley, a book which apparently proves that, however much we like to think to the contrary, things are getting better and, compared to 10,000 years ago, we are better fed, better sheltered, better entertained and better protected from disease.

The shortlist looks great – I’d be especially interested to read Maya Jasanoff’s book – we’re so used to thinking in terms of people emigrating to America,  I think it would be fascinating to discover the life stories of those who left the country to start a new life in some distant corner of the British Empire. One to add to my summer reading list methinks.

The winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize will be announced on 6th July, with a special edition of The Culture Show the following evening discussing the result and shortlisted entries.

So, as it turns out, Phil and Sheena aren’t the only ones to be inspired by Johnson! But, whilst the winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize will receive the princely sum of £20,000, Phil and Sheena are trying to raise £1000 for Get Into Reading. If you’d like to help them reach their target, visit their charity giving page and donate whatever you can.

Recycling Johnson – Back on the Mainland

Whilst I enjoyed a lazy weekend of sleep and sunshine (followed by an awful lot of rain), Phil and Sheena Davies managed to cycle 68 miles further around Skye, and make it back over to mainland Scotland to continue their tour this week. Makes me think that I really should start doing more with my weekends. Anyway, back to Phil and Sheena, who will today be travelling from Lochcarron to Torridon via Applecross. Lochcarron is a beautiful village located on a sea loch, and boasts some stunning views. To be fair, I’m yet to find an ugly place that Phil and Sheena have visited on their travels, and I’ll be mightily disappointed when they return, as I will no longer have an excuse to research breath-taking Scottish landscapes during work hours.

So far, Phil and Sheena have raised a total of £632 but there’s still time for you to donate. Just visit their charity giving page and give whatever you can towards Get Into Reading.

Recycling Johnson – Almost Halfway

After today’s 46 mile slog, Phil and Sheena Davies will have covered 203 miles – almost half of the total distance they’ll be travelling on their trip. Setting off from Kingsburgh, they’ll first head down to Ullinish before moving on to Talisker. As soon as I heard the couple were heading to Talisker, I must admit that my first thoughts were of whisky. After scanning Johnson’s account of his Scottish tour, I was disappointed to find no mention of this world-famous tipple, now one of Scotland’s largest exports. However, I suppose it would be unfair to blame Johnson for this omission, as his visit to Talisker took place in 1773 – over 50 years before the distillery was actually built in nearby Carbost. Still, let’s hope that devotion to the historical accuracy of Recycling Johnson doesn’t prevent Phil and Sheena from taking advantage of this local luxury!

Phil and Sheena have already raised £610 for Get Into Reading, but they still hope to do more. More money means getting more fantastic books into the hands of people who need and love them. To donate, please visit the couple’s charity giving page and give whatever you can.