A comedy podcast about all things literary hosted by Robin Ince and Josie Long


The first three seasons, plus specials are available free to listen below.  Season 4 kicks off soon with guests including Nick Offerman, Alan Moore, Helen Czerski, Noel Fielding, Sarah Bakewell and more!

Like everything, there is a cost associated with producing the show and so if you’re enjoying the show, and would like us to keep making more, we’d greatly appreciate your support.

You can pledge via Patreon below.  There will be exclusive extra episodes just for our Patreon supporters too.


Or you can make a one time donation to the show, of any amount, via PayPal.  You don’t need a PayPal account yourself to donate.

The show will always be free for everyone to listen to so if you can’t spare a £1 to support production, that’s fine, you can also leave a review or rating on iTunes which would be appreciated.  Or tweet using #BookShambles

And while you’re here, why not check out our new web series ‘The Quest For Wonder’ starring Robin with Professor Brian Cox.  The first episode might also include a special cameo from Josie…

Reading List

Robin recommends:

Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture by Bram Dijkstra

Mongoose Watched: A Family Observed by Anne Rasa

Stormy Vigil by Elizabeth Graham

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

The Outsider by Colin Wilson

The work of Susan Faludi

The work of Naomi Wolf

The Morning After by Kate Roiphe

McLuhan: Pro and Con edited by Raymon Rosenthal

Happy Days by Samuel Beckett

Josie recommends:

Acts of Darkness by Francis King

Helen by EV Cunningham

The Blackheath Counter Cultural Review

1982, Janine by Alasdair Gray

Jeff recommends:

Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger 

The work of George Orwell

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Joshua recommends:

The work of Gil Scott-Heron

He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven by WB Yeats

We Made It by Sunni Patterson

Love Rain by Jill Scott

Mark recommends:

The Place That Didn’t Exist by Mark Watson

The work of Ian Rankin

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot series

Deborah recommends:

Off the Mic: The World’s Best Stand-Up Comedians Get Serious About Comedy by Deborah Frances-White and Marsha Shandur

Sofie recommends:

Animal by Sara Pascoe

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf


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As a prelude to Season 4 of Book Shambles, here is the final free podcast we recorded at the Latitude Festival this summer. Robin and Josie go second hand book shopping on the Book Bus with ‘The Dylan Thomas Guy’, Jeff Towns. And Robin sits down to chat books with poet Joshua Idehen, comedian and author Mark Watson and the team from the Guilty Feminist podcast, Sofie Hagen and Deborah Frances-White.

Reading List

Evie recommends:

All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

After the Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld

It by Stephen King

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld

Are You my Mother? by Alison Bechdel

Stitches by David Small

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Josie recommends:

The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman

Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress by Howard Zinn

Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia by Bryan Talbot

Robin recommends:

A Short History of Decay by E. M. Cioran

The work of Robert Aickman

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel

Dead Funny Encore by Johnny Mains and Robin Ince


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Author Evie Wyld joins Robin and Josie this week to talk about her own novels plus the perils of going to a book club meeting when your own work is the book of the week. There’s also chat of Tim Winton, Alison Bechdel, Stephen King and more. And somehow no-one mentions Jean Rhys.

Reading List

David recommends:

The writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite

The writings of Cornel West

The Story of Art by EH Gombrich

A World History of Art by High Honour and Jeff Flemming

The work of Charles Dickens

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

The Price of the Ticket by James Baldwin

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

American Tabloid by James Ellroy

When We Were Very Young by AA Milne

The Starlight Barking by Dodie Smith

Robin recommends:

Art and Illusion by EH Gombrich

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander

But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz by Geoff Dyer

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Roog by Philip K Dick

Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote

Josie recommends:

The work of Jean Rhys


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Songwriter and performer David McAlmont joins Robin and Josie this week as he awaits the final results from his Art History degree, due that very afternoon. They talk of the great books of art as well as the work of John Baldwin, AA Milne, Truman Capote and, of course, Jean Rhys.

Reading List

Ronnie recommends:

The Soldier’s Tale by Igor Stravinsky

Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew

Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare

The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

Charles Laughton: A Difficult Actor by Simon Callow

The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb

A Fart in a Colander: The Autobiography by Roy Hudd

The Sugar Girls by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

Robin recommends:

The work of Roald Dahl

The Little Book of Bagpuss by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin

The three volume Orson Welles biographies by Simon Callow

The Freewheeling John Dowie by John Dowie

The Lorax by Dr Seuss

Josie recommends:

Dictionary of Puppetry by A.R. Philpott


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The man behind everything from Zippy and Sweep to goblins from the Labyrinth, Ronnie Le Drew, joins Robin and Josie this week. There’s much chat of puppets, naturally, via the work of Roald Dahl, Simon Callow, Anna Kemp and others plus Ronnie’s own upcoming autobiography on Unbound.

Reading List

Robin recommends:

James Randi: Psychic Investigator by James Randi

The Demon-haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

The work of Erich von Däniken

The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The work of Carlos Castaneda

The work of Ward Churchill

The work of Michael Gazzaniga

The work of Philip K Dick

Moore Can You Speak Venusian? by Sir Patrick Moore

Science Ink by Carl Zimmer

The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms by Charles Darwin

Neanderthal Man by Svante Pääbo

Josie recommends:

The work of Walt Whitman

Dallas recommends:

The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever by Richard Hoagland

World Top Secret: Our Earth IS Hollow! by Rodney Cluff

The work of Ken Campbell

Jon recommends:

The Observer’s Book of Astronomy by Sir Patrick Moore

Exploring Space by Kenneth W. Gatland

Forces of Nature by Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen

Ginny recommends:

How the Body Works: Big Stuff Simply Explained by Ginny Smith, Dorling Kindersley and other

The work of Oliver Sacks

Paul recommends:

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene

Sheena recommends:

Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong

Life’s Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code by Matthew Cobb

J recommends:

The work of Leo Tolstoy

The work of Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts by Andrew Chaikin

Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys by Michael Collins

Science Grrl recommends:

The Archaeology of Disease by Charlotte Roberts and Keith Manchester

The Incredible Human Journey by Alice Roberts

Trent recommends:

Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan


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In Part 2 of the Science Shambles specials from the Blue Dot Festival from Jodrell Bank, Robin and Josie tackle the issue of evolution and bananas before we chat about scientific delight in all things bookish with a bumper lineup of guests. There’s science presenters and writers Dallas Campbell and Ginny Smith, immunologist Sheena Cruickshank, astronomer Paul Abel, the team from ScienceGrrl, impressionist Jon Culshaw and Public Service Broadcasting’s J Willgoose. Because this episode was recorded in a large field where a music festival was also taking place, there is often a bit of background noise. Sorry about that.

Reading List

Robin recommends:

The work of Charles Darwin

The work of Thomas Huxley

The Demon-haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

Why Does E=mc² by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut

The Challenge by Kerry Allyne

Rash Intruder by Angela Wells

Stormy Vigil by Elizabeth Graham

It’s Not Rocket Science by Ben Miller

William Blake: A Man Without A Mask by Jacob Bronowski

Josie recommends:

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes

Brian recommends:

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality by Max Tegmark

Forces of Nature by Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen

Matt recommends:

The novelisations of Star Trek and Star Wars

Monica recommends:

Nightfall by Isaac Asimov

Laudato Si by Pope Francis

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

The work of Iain M Banks

The work of Terry Pratchett

Ben recommends:

The Aliens are Coming! by Ben Miller

The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski

Relativity: The Special and the General Theory by Albert Einstein

I Think You’ll Find It’s a Bit More Complicated Than That by Ben Goldacre

The work of Richard Feynman


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Recorded at the Blue Dot Festival at Jodrell Bank, Robin chatted with various people about the great works of science and science fiction. And also some Mills & Boons. Robin and Josie kick things off and then our guests include physicist and professional pointer at wondrous things, Professor Brian Cox, Rosetta project scientist Dr Matt Taylor, space scientist Professor Monica Grady and actor, comedian and science writer Ben Miller. Because this episode was recorded in a large field where a music festival was also taking place, there is often a bit of background noise. Sorry about that.


Reading List

Isy recommends:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Ghost Children by Sue Townsend

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend

Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

Stoner by John Williams

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Robin recommends:

Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Burton, Harris, O’Toole and Reed by Robert Sellers

The Richard Burton Diaries edited by Chris Williams

The Essential Lenny Bruce edited by John Cohen

The autobiographies of Roger Moore

Dead Funny Encore edited by Johnny Mains and Robin Ince

The Mayflower Book of Black Magic Stories  by Michael Parry

The work of James Baldwin

The Neon Bible by John Kennedy Toole

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

How I Live Now by Meg Rosof

Josie recommends:

The Actual One: How I tried, and failed, to remain twenty-something for ever by Isy Suttie

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend


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Stand Up, actor and writer Isy Suttie joins Robin and Josie this week to talk about her new book, The Actual One.  As usual, the conversation meanders through all sorts of topics from stand up to Jane Eyre to poo to Sue Townsend.  They also establish a new comedic cliche to replace the tired ‘The differences between men and women’; The differences between Bronte fans and Austen fans. It’s bound to catch on.

Reading List

Sarah recommends:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut

A Woman In Berlin by Marta Hillers

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Robin recommends:

Each of Us (And Other Things) by Ben Moor

Lint by Steve Aylett

Heart of the Original by Steve Aylett

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Jerusalem by Alan Moore

The Outsider by Albert Camus

Dirt Music by Tim Winton

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg

Josie recommends:

Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

More Trees to Climb by Ben Moor

Lanark: A Life in Four Books by Alasdair Gray

Every Man Will Shout: Anthology of Modern Verse by Roger Mansfield and Isobel Armstrong

Waiting by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

The Man With the Gallow Eyes by Billy Childish


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Comedian Sarah Kendall joins Robin and Josie to talk about her upcoming Edinburgh show and Radio 4 series as well as bringing in a big bag of her favourite books.  There’s Jeffrey Eugenides, Kurt Vonnegut, David Mitchell, Ben Moor, Marta Hillers and plenty of others.  Also Josie reads us her favourite poem.  Content warning – The following episode contains a discussion about sexual violence.

Reading List

Josie recommends:

Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

The work of George Saunders

Robin recommends:

Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffman

Dead Funny edited by Robin Ince and Johnny Mains

Dead Funny Encore edited by Robin Ince and Johnny Mains

The work of Robert Aickman

Creepshow comics

The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley

Reece recommends:

Grimms’ Fairytales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Suzi recommends:

Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You My Lad by MR James

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by MR James

Anna recommends:

The work of Dennis Wheatley

Rufus recommends:

The Outsider by HP Lovecraft


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Saturday night at Latitude, around midnight, Robin and Josie hosted a Book Shambles Live Horror Special to coincide with the launch of Dead Funny Encore from Salt Publishing. This special podcast includes highlights from the live show as week as backstage chats with some of the guests including Reece Shearsmith, Suzi Gage, Anna Savory and Rufus Hound.

Reading List


Full reading lists for Latitude episodes to follow in the week


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Robin and Josie introduce the live panel held on Friday night at the 2016 Latitude where we asked the question, is art a spell? David Bowie’s final work, visually and aurally, was some of the most potent of his career, made all the more so by his death three days after the release of Blackstar. His favourite books contained many on art, the occult and magick – so are the great creators shamanic… The panel, hosted by Robin, includes Daisy Campbell, Andrew O’Neill, John Constable and Hollie McNish.

Reading List

The Wicked and the Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

Mondeo Man by Luke Wright

Nina is Not Ok bu Shappi Khorsandi


Full reading lists for Latitude episodes to follow in the week


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Direct from day one of the Latitude Festival it’s Robin’s Book Shambles. Because Josie is still on route. Robin chats with comic book creators Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, poet Luke Wright and writer and comedian Shappi Khorsandi.

Reading List

Geoff recommends:

Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer

But beautiful : a book about jazz by Geoff Dyer

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell

The work of John Berger

Robin recommends:

Zona by Geoff Dyer

The Stag Movie Review by HC Shelby

Ways of Telling by Geoff Dyer

Why They Aren’t Writing the Great American Novel Anymore by Tom Wolfe

Boredom by Geoff Dyer

The Missing of the Somme by Geoff Dyer

White Sands by Geoff Dyer

Josie recommends:

The work of Jean Rhys

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On the 100th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme on July 1st, Robin and Josie chatted with the acclaimed writer of ‘The Missing of the Somme’, Geoff Dyer about that plus his entire body of work including his new book, ‘White Sands’. All that and jazz, Tarkovsky, Brexit, Jean Rhys, sitcoms and more.

Reading List

Nikesh recommends:

Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present by David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Human Acts by Han Kang

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

The Spiderman comics

The novelisations of Star Wars and Star Trek

The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

Bombay Talkie by Ameena Meer

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

Aerogrammes by Tania James

Life is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book of Days by James Salter and Kay Salter

Robin recommends:

Coconut Unlimited by Nikesh Shukla

A Confederacy of Dunces by JK Toole

Neon Bible by JK Toole

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Catcher in the Rye by JD Sallinger

The Divine Madness of Philip K. Dick by Kyle Arnold

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Excavating Kafka by James Hawes

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride

The Outsider by Albert Camus

Jerusalem: A Novel by Alan Moore

Josie recommends:

The short dirty stories of Philip Larkin

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa

The Faber New Poets

Light Years by James Salter

The work of George Saunders

The work of Raymond Carver

Essays by George Orwell

Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla

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Acclaimed writer Nikesh Shukla joins Josie and Robin this week to talk about his own work including the upcoming collection of essays, The Good Immigrant, plus everything from Spiderman comics to the dirty short stories of Philip Larkin…

Reading List

Claudia recommends:

Love’s Executioner by Irvin D. Yalom

Man Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood by Elspeth Huxley

How We Die, Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin Nuland

Tennis Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

The Third Man by Graham Greene

The short stories of Saki

The House of Journalists by Tim Finch

Looking at Wildlife by Nicholas Hammond

RHS Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers by Christopher Brickell

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life by Paul Webley, Carole Burgoyne, Stephen Lea and Brian Young

Mind Over Money: The Psychology of Money and How to Use it Better by Claudia Hammond

Josie recommends:

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa

The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot

Faber New Poets 14 by Crispin Best

CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders

Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders

Oxford Dictionary of Saints by David Hugh Farmer

Robin recommends:

Pastoralia by George Saunders

The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders

Redeemable by Erwin Jones

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh

Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung

Time Warped by Claudia Hammond

DK Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Universe by DK

Halliwell’s Filmgoers Companion

Radio Times TV Comedy Guide by Mark Lewisohn

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable by Chambers

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Author and host of ‘All in the Mind’, Claudia Hammond joins Robin and Josie this week to talk about her new book, psychology, Primo Levi, George Saunders and her own teenage book diary, which you can see a sample of below! Claudiasbook
Reading List

Lisa recommends:

End Game by Samuel Beckett

The Green Road by Anne Enright

The Divine Comedy by Dante

The Beckett Actor: Jack Macgowran, Beginning to End by Jordan R. Young

Dirt by David Vann

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

The short stories of Lydia Davis

The short stories of Elena Ferrante

The short stories of Sharon Olds

Stag’s Leap bu Sharon Olds

Josie recommends:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill

Dark Lies the Island by Kevin Barry

There Are Little Kingdoms by Kevin Barry

I Can Hear Your Heart by Aidan Moffat

Off You Go: Away from home and loving it. Sort of. by Maeve Higgins

We Have a Good Time … Don’t We? by Maeve Higgins

Robin recommends:

Not I by Samuel Beckett

Footfalls by Samuel Beckett

Rockaby by Samuel Beckett

The work of Elizabeth Smart

Rash Intruder by Angela Wells

Stormy Vigil by Elizabeth Graham

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Actor and Beckett performer extraordinaire Lisa Dwan joins Robin and Josie this week ahead of her upcoming World Premiere of No’s Knife at The Old Vic later this year. There’s obviously plenty of Samuel Beckett’s work to discuss as well as everyone’s favourite short story authors, Dante and the best music to read Mills and Boons by.

Reading List

Alex recommends

Pelé by Alex Bellos

Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life by Alex Bellos

The work of Pythagoras

Alex’s Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos

Snowflake Seashell Star by Alex Bellos

The Mystery of the Prime Numbers by Matthew Watkins

Genius at Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway by Siobhan Roberts

The Elements of Euclid by Oliver Byrne

Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis

Robin recommends

Principia Mathematica by Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead

The work of HG Wells

The Human Brain Colouring Book by Marian Diamond and Arnold Scheibel

Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension by Matt Parker

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth by Paul Hoffman

Here’s Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math by Alex Bellos

Josie recommends

The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves from Charlton Comics

Black Magic: Express Elevator from Prize Comics

Bad Luck Buggy from American Comics Group Adventures into the Unknown from American Comics Group

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Season 3 of Book Shambles kicks off with Robin and Josie joined by mathematician, author and Pelé biographer, Alex Bellos with talk of football, Feynman, Euclid, reader offers in 1970s comic books and a whole lot more.

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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