Book Shambles

A new podcast series proudly presented by Cosmic Genome

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Reading List

Jon recommends:

R.D. Laing: A Biography by Adrian Laing

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson

Clubbed Class by Jon Ronson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Holidays in Hell by P.J. O’Rourke

The New Journalism by Tom Wolfe

Thy Neighbour’s Wife by Gay Talese

The work of Joe Eszterhas

A Book For Her by Bridget Christie

What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe

The International Jew by Henry Ford

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut

The White Album by Joan Didion

The work of Albert Camus

Robin recommends:

The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness by R.D. Laing

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E Frankl

Frank by Jon Ronson

Them by Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Friends Reunited by Andrew Collins

The Big I Am by Ralph Steadman

I Leonardo by Ralph Steadman

The Outsider by Albert Camus

Blood and Guts 26 mins

The Little Price by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg

The work of Richard Feynman

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C Clarke

Josie recommends:

When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow by Jon Snow

Off You Go by Maeve Higgins

That Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson

Shades of Meaning by Samuel R. Levin

The work of Raymond Carver


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With the Cosmic Genome site buzzing this week with the launch of our new series, The Quest For Wonder, we thought we’d celebrate with a Book Shambles special. Author Jon Ronson joins Robin and Josie to talk about the influences on his own work, Hunter S Thompson, Albert Camus and a whole lot more.

Reading List

Eddie recommends:

What People Laugh At by Charlie Chaplin

Robin recommends:

The work of M.R. James

Stranger Than We Can Imagine by John Higgs

The KLF by John Higgs

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Monty Python books

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

Chaplin: His Life and Art by David Robinson

Josie recommends:

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote


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In the season two finale of Book Shambles, Robin and Josie are joined by the comedian and actor Eddie Izzard. Along with discussions of theories of the universe and improv, they get into the work of John Higgs, Monty Python and Charlie Chaplin.

Reading List

Natalie recommends:

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes

The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono

Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke

Hannibal’s Crossing of the Alps by Titus Livy

Lysistrata by Aristophanes

True History by Lucian

The Iliad by Homer

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

Medea by Euripides

Thyestes by Seneca

Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright

The work of Henry James

The Art of the Body by Michael Squire

Josie recommends:

Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

The Frogs by Aristophanes

Robin recommends:

Jerusalem by Alan Moore

The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes

Odyssey by Homer

Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster by Simon Armitage

Usborne’s Living in Roman Times by Jane Chisholm


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Writer, performer, broadcaster and Man Booker Prize judge Natalie Haynes is in the studio with Robin and Josie this week to talk about reading two books a day for a year, Greek classics and an excess of novels set in WWII.



Reading List

Reece recommends:

The Movie Treasury: Horror Movies by Alan Frank

Usborne Guide to the Supernatural World by Eric Maple, Lynn Myring and Eliot Humberstone

Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning by David Skal

Tod Browning’s books of freaks

Very Special People by Frederick Drimmer

Creepshow by Stephen King

The Unexplained magazines

Night Shift by Stephen King

The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories by Christine Bernard

The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

The Hamlyn Book of Horror by Daniel Farson

A Simple Plan by Scott Smith

Robin recommends:

The Glass Teat by Harlan Ellison

Shatterday by Harlan Ellison

Renegade by Mark E. Smith

The Monster Club by R. Chetwynd-Haynes

Dead Funny edited by Robin Ince and Johnny Mains

The Spear by James Herbert

Lost Hearts by M.R. James

Fallen Idol by Graham Greene

Josie recommends:

Tales of Mystery comics

The short stories of Stephen King


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Taking a break from trying on wigs for the new series of ‘Inside No. 9’, Reece Shearsmith joins Robin and Josie to talk all things horror. There’s talk of books of horror movie history, Stephen King, talking mongooses called Gef and everything else horrific in between.


Reading List

A.L. recommends:

Travels with a Donkey by Robert Louis Stevenson

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson by Robert Louis Stevenson

ABC of Men’s Fashion by Amies Hardy

Absolute Magic by Derren Brown

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

Black Country by Liz Berry

Fires by Raymond Carver

Empty Space by Peter Brook

Totally Unofficial: The Autobiography of Raphael Lemkin by Raphael Lemkin

Robin recommends:

On Bullfighting by A.L. Kennedy

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes

England, Half English: The Life and Times of Colin MacInnes by Colin MacInnes

The Paperclip Conspiracy: The Hunt for the Nazi Scientists by Tom Bower

Flamingoes in Orbit by Philip Ridley

In the Eyes of Mr. Fury by Philip Ridley

Josie recommends:

The work of Raymond Carver


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Award winning writer and comic A.L. Kennedy joins Robin and Josie this week to talk about her own work plus that of Robert Louis Stevenson, Philip Ridley and secret books of magic… Please note that this episode contains a discussion about suicide.

Reading List

Charlotte recommends:

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Phillip K. Dick

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George

Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman

The Harry Potter novels

Fortunately the Milk… by Neil Gaiman

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

The work of Roald Dahl

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Robin recommends:

Vampires and Vampirism by Dudley Wright

There’s a Riot Going On by Peter Doggett

A Textbook of Psychosexual Disorders by Clifford Allen

The Rebel by Albert Camus

Spare Rib Reader by Marsha Rowe

In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman

Ubik by Phillip K Dick

The work of Dr Seuss

Swann’s Way (Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Ulysses by James Joyce

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The work of Michael Winner

Holocaust Survivor’s Cookbook by Joanne Caras

Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson

George Bernard Shaw Vegetarian Cook Book by Alice Laden

Josie recommends:

The Girl From

The work of Rumer Godden

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The work of Raymond Carver

The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

The restaurant review books of Jay Rayner

Heartburn by Nora Ephron



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In this week’s episode Robin and Josie are joined by singer-songwriter Charlotte Church to talk of books to read to your children, books that make you cry, quantum physics and get into why Charlotte hasn’t read the entire works of Plato.




Reading List

Dean recommends:

The Star Trek novelisations by Diane Carey

First Frontier by Diane Carey and James Kirkland

The work of Stephen Baxter

The work of Isaac Asimov

The work of Robert A. Heinlein

The Idiot Brain by Dean Burnett

Kiln People by David Brin

The Culture series by Iain M. Banks

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons By Sam Kean

Good to be God by Tibor Fischer

Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall by Spike Milligan

Robin recommends:

Absolute Pandemonium by Brian Blessed

We Are Our Brains by Dick Swaab

Star Trek episode photo books

The City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison

The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

Josie recommends:

The work of Kurt Vonnegut

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins

Some Comics by Stephen Collins

Perils of the Ultranet by Paul Rainey

Book of Lists by Paul Rainey


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In the Season 2 premiere of Book Shambles, Josie and Robin are joined by neuroscientist and author of the popular Brainflapping blog as well as new book The Idiot Brain, Dr Dean Burnett to talk psychology, science fiction, Spike Milligan and horse punching…


Reading List

Mark recommends:

Take a Funny Turn by Tom O’Connor

Sing Lofty: Thoughts of a Gemini by Don Estelle

Crying with Laughter by Bob Monkhouse

The Sherlock Holmes work of Arthur Conan Doyle

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The work of Dennis Wheatley

The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley

Nightshade (A Doctor Who Novel) by Mark Gatiss

No Name by Wilkie Collins

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

The Wooden Overcoat by Pamela Branch

Stamboul Train by Graham Greene

Martin’s Close by M.R. James

Robin recommends:

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste by John Waters

Role Models by John Waters

Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl

Tall, Dark and Gruesome by Christopher Lee

The work of David Niven

The memoirs of Peter Cushing

James Whale: A Biography by Mark Gatiss

The Challenge by Kerry Allyne

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Josie recommends:

The work of Nancy Friday

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens


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With special Christmas episodes of both Sherlock and Doctor Who due on screens this holiday season, who better to join Josie and Robin for the Book Shambles Christmas special than Mark Gatiss?! Expect musings on Sherlock and Doctor Who as well as Dickens, The League of Gentlemen, Dennis Wheatley and a surprisingly in-depth discussion about wigs.

Reading List

Chris recommends:

The work of Edgar Rice Burroughs

The work of Isaac Asimov

Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

The work of Arthur C. Clarke

The work of Robert A. Heinlein

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

Shit My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

The work of Carl Sagan

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes by Chris Hadfield

Darwin’s Ghosts by Rebecca Stott

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Robin recommends:

The Scottie Book of Space Travel by Arthur C Clarke

World Beyond: The Everlasting Frontier edited by Larry Geis

Almost Like a Whale by Steve Jones

Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells


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On the day that Brit Tim Peake begins his journey to the International Space Station, the Book Shambles crew wondered what sort of books he might want to read while he’s up there and what sort of books might inspire an astronaut. So who better to ask than Chris Hadfield, author, musician and former Commander of the ISS.  Chris joins Josie and Robin for the final episode of Book Shambles, Series 1.




Reading List

Salena recommends:

The work of Nick Cave

The work of Leonard Cohen

The work of PJ Harvey

My Tits are More Feminist Than Your Tits by Salena Godden

Springfield Road by Salena Godden

Lenny: The Real Story of Lenny Bruce by Valerie Smith

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict by William S. Burroughs

Boy Wonder by James Robert Baker

The Things You Do by Deborah Delano

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart

Everything Crash by Tim Wells

The Eejit Pit by Jenny Lindsay

The Woman Who Was Not There by Joelle Taylor

Robin recommends:

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

How to Talk Dirty and Influence People by Lenny Bruce

Queer by William S. Burroughs

Off the Road by Carolyn Cassady

Angry Woman edited by Vivian Vale

The Joke’s On Us by Morwenna Banks and Amanda Swift

Fun Home by Alison Bechtel

All the Devils Are Here by David Seabrook

The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson

The Robin Williams Scrapbook by Stephen Spignesi

Josie recommends:

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys

The work of Derrick C. Brown


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It’s poetry week on Book Shambles as Robin and Josie are joined by poet Salena Godden to talk about everything from Lenny Bruce and Elizabeth Smart to the virtues of writing in your books. In pen.



Reading List

Owen recommends:

Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class – Owen Jones

The Hobbit – J.R. Tolkien

The work of Orson Scott Card

The Alchymist’s Cat – Robin Jarvis

The Deptford Mice – Robin Jarvis

The Dark is Rising Sequence – Susan Cooper

The Complete Short Stories – Roald Dahl

This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs The Climate Naomi Klein

The work of John Pilger

Antar and the Eagles – William Mayne

The Lines of Beauty – Alan Hollinghurst

Robin recommends:

Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein

The 96 books of Bertrand Russell

Renegade – Mark E. Smith

Pan Book of Horror Stories

The Rutland Dirty Weekend Book – Eric Idle

Gullible’s Travels – Billy Connolly

Sauce – Ronnie Barker

The Literary Companion to Sex – Fiona Pitt-Kiethley

Children of the Matrix – David Icke

The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire – Arundhati Roy

Flat Earth News – Nick Davies

Passionate Declarations – Howard Zinn

A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn

Josie recommends:

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken

The Point Horror books

The Goosebumps series

The poems of Louise Mensch

The novels of Anne Widdecombe

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – David Shafer


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Political books are the starting point for this week as Josie and Robin are joined by author and political activist Owen Jones to talk of everything from Naomi Kline, Ronnie Barker, Howard Zinn and the poetry of Louise Mensch.


Reading List

Laura recommends:

Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak

The work of Roald Dahl

Kiss Kiss – Roald Dahl

Darcy Burdock series – Laura Dockrill

Lorali – Laura Dockrill

Robin recommends: 

The Sad Book – Michael Rosen 

In the Night Kitchen – Maurice Sendak

The Chrysalids – John Wyndham

Osborne Book of Greek Myths

Museum Without Walls – Jonathan Meades

The Perfect Fool – Stewart Lee 

Josie Recommends:

Good Ideas – Michael Rosen


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Author and performance poet Laura Dockrill joins Robin and Josie for episode 3 of the series for a shambolic ramble in the world of children’s books via Roald Dahl, Maurice Sendak, Michael Rosen and more.

Reading List

Sara recommends:

The work of Wilkie Collins

From Hell – Alan Moore

We are Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Jay Fowler

Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire – Eric Berkowitz

Light Years – James Salter

The novels of Eleanor Ferranti

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace

Josie recommends:

Drowned World – J.G. Ballard

Children of Men – P.D. James

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood

1984 – George Orwell

Robin recommends: 

Galapagos – Kurt Vonnegut

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer – Sydney Padua

Shock Value – John Waters

The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal – Jared M. Diamond

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – Jared M. Diamond

Why is Sex Fun? – Jared M. Diamon

Incognito – David Eagleman

Sex, Death and Punishment – R. P. T. Davenport-Hines

The Beast in Man – Émile Zola


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For Episode 2 of the series, Josie and Robin are joined by comedian and writer Sara Pascoe and get all sciencey in amongst talk of Margaret Atwood, Aldous Huxley, the aquatic ape theory and a whole lot more.

Reading List

Stewart Lee recommends:

My Old Man – John Major

Gun in My Father’s Hand– Billy Childish

Vanity of Small Differences – Grayson Perry

Playing to the Gallery – Grayson Perry

The Professor That Came in From the Snow – Dan Rhodes

Lint – Steve Aylett

Conan the Barbarian

Robin recommends:

Heart of the Original– Steve Aylett

The Male Online – Barney Farmer & Lee Heeley

 A Girl is a Half Formed Thing – Elma McBryde

Going Clear- Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief – Lawrence Wright

Jeffrey archer biog

The work of Phillip K Dick

The Immortal Highlander comics

The Wizards of Gore comics

The Making of Doctor Who – Malcom Hulke & Terrance Dicks

Lady in the Van– Alan Bennett

Josie Recommends:

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League – Jeff Hobbs

Mother, Brother, Lover – Jarvis Cocker

The Lyrics of Leonard Cohen – Leonard Cohen

Art and People – Jeremy Deller

Timolean Vietta Come Home – Dan Rhodes

The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell


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Shambles is back!  And this time it’s about books.  And, well, everything else if we’re honest. Episode 1 of this new series sees Stewart Lee join Robin and Josie for a chat about Grayson Perry, Ray Bradbury, Alan Bennett and dog muck.

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