The Holy Vible by Elis James & John Robins


The Holy Vible is a book I have been looking forward to reading for a while. It is written by comedians Elis James and John Robins, who since 2014 have hosted a Saturday show together on Radio X, the highlights of which I regularly enjoy via their podcast. And as a loyal PCD (Podcast devotee) I was very excited when I first heard that Elis and John were to write a book together, and tonight I will also be hearing them read from their book in Nottingham as part of The Holy Vible Tour!

One of the things I love about their podcast is the genuine relationship between them, and the way it feels as though you are listening to a friend’s conversation. And this is something that also comes across in their writing. Elis and John have been friends for over a decade, and throughout the course of the book we see a little of the badinage between them. The book is told in an A-Z format, with different chapters dealing with a number of topics, which includes favourite features from the podcast along with things of significance to Elis and John. As a result some sections are told predominantly from one perspective though there are comedic interceptions and footnotes to add extra detail and to give it the feel of the podcast in which two friends share their stories and the things they are passionate about. I also liked the variety of the subjects covered, with chapters on favourite bands, sports, pub crawls and the culture of Carmarthen amongst others. This made for an entertaining read which also reflects the content of the podcast, and the broad range of interests of its listeners. Another part of Elis and John’s appeal is the way they cover a variety of things, and bring humour to them, even when they include times of darkness.

I found The Holy Vible to be an enjoyable read, and as with the podcast it was something that made me smile, and helped me forget about the stresses of the day as I worked my way through their A-Z on my lunch breaks. Whilst the friendship does come across on the page I would also be interested to listen to the audiobook which I imagine is like listening to a bonus, extended edition of the podcast. In terms of my favourite sections of the book I did enjoy ‘John’s Shame Well’ and ‘Humblebrags’ which are amongst my favourite features from the podcast. As someone who is socially awkward, the former is a feature that makes me feel that I am not alone! I think perhaps my favourite part of the book is the chapter in which John discusses his experience of what is referred to as the darkness. I found this to be honest and sensitively written, to acknowledge the complexity of mental health and the way it can impact different people in different ways. This was something that I found both relatable and helpful, and something I may return to in my own moments of darkness. There was so much I enjoyed and took from this book, the Welsh word for carrot is one of them, and I did enjoy learning a little about the Welsh language. I even read chapters about football and snooker, which I wouldn’t ordinarily read about. And I also spent an evening listening to Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci songs, and got mildly irritated in a Sainsburys because I couldn’t find one of John’s recommended session ales!

I really enjoyed The Holy Vible, and it was a book which captured some of the elements of a podcast I love, whilst providing a humorous look at the variety of things of significance to Elis and John, and their loyal listeners. It is a book that would certainly appeal to existing fans of the podcast, or to anyone looking for an entertaining read which explores the things we obsess over. And if you haven’t already listened to Elis and John’s podcast, I would definitely recommend you give them a listen!

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