Elizabeth Chats With…Ian Hobbs

My guest this month isn’t a writer; he’s much more important than that! He’s a reader. And not just any reader, but one of the fiercest supporters of reading, books and authors, especially indies, that I’ve ever met. His simple idea of three years ago – to set up a county-wide online book club during a time when he was incapacitated with a broken arm – has blossomed into a huge community of book lovers. And these days, when he’s not reading, he’s training.  On 30th June, he will be joining hundreds of others on a 22 mile trek along the beautiful and challenging Jurassic Coast to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.  Today, I’m delighted to be chatting with Ian Hobbs.

Hello Ian and welcome. Let’s start by taking you back in time. What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?

That’s easy – English. I’ve always loved exploring the sounds and meanings of words. And avoid? Probably chemistry – I liked the fizzes and bangs but never got the hang of formulae

If you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?

Ian with a pile of books – what else?

I’m not really bothered about things but if it is definitely things, not people, then the photo album of my children’s baby pictures (don’t have them digitally), my laptop and the biggest of my bookcases (with all the books in it)

Talking about yourself, how would you finish the sentence “not a lot of people know…”?

That I know how many guinea pigs you’d need to produce a pint of guinea pig milk, should you ever wish to order one at a bar (with 24 hours notice of course) – you had to be there; it was one of those evenings!

Where is your favourite place on earth — and why?

Not a single place but more generally the rugged, remote and exposed parts of the SW Coast Path. I love the wildness, the elemental connection of sea and wind and land. Those sections restore me and make me feel that the world is a precious and unified system, of which we are a transient part. In many ways I think we are our landscape.

If you knew you only had 24 hours left, how would you spend them?


Quietly, with my children – but that would be after having had a wild few months before, sea swimming, scuba diving and walking, having a party with all my closest friends and visiting some of my favourite cities!

If you could meet one person from history, who would it be — and why?

Leonardo – such an incredible range to his talents, living during an incredible period of change. Imagine what one could learn from him.

There is a saying: to make the punishment fit the crime. Which character from fiction would you like to punish — and how?

A toss up between Mrs Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. What vacuous, irritating and insufferable women. I’d make them live in a poor neighbourhood for a year.

Watch a film, go to the theatre, read a book or talk to friends — which would you prefer?

I’d choose to talk with friends about books, films and theatre!

What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?

Value is what you do, not the money you make

Why is Devon Book Club so important to you?

Because I believe that a shared love of books connects people from all walks of life and strengthens our sense of community. The network of (now around 3000) people who are part of Devon Book Club inspires me and enriches my life and I hope it does the same for others. By celebrating and honouring writers, valuing the insights of readers and by sharing news about all things literary, I believe Devon Book Club makes a valuable contribution to our community of Devon and beyond. I want to thank all those who continue to support the network and make it so much fun.

Ian, it’s been a pleasure chatting to you. Readers, if you would like to learn more about Devon Book Club, you can find us on Goodreads; on Facebook; or on Twitter. And if you would like to show some support for Ian’s charity walk, you can find his JustGiving page here.

By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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