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Archive for the 'People Who Love Books' Category

Harmless Like You, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

By Helena, on 4 May 2017

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize 2017

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s debut novel ‘Harmless Like You’ is both subtle and striking. It tells the story of a Japanese-born aspiring artist growing up in New York between 1968 and 1983, and that of a newly married art dealer across late 2016. The narrative is set almost entirely in New York State, with a brief though critical exchange taking place in Berlin. We are presented with Yuki’s time in New York between the ages of about 10 and 30, having lived there for all of her re-collectable life after her parents emigrated from Japan, and where she remains long after her family’s return. We also hear the story of Jay, a recently married art dealer who is struggling with the recent death of his father, and his abandonment by his mother – Yuki – as a young child. These accounts are presented in tandem, the narrative alternating between them despite their separation in time. Each faces similar questions of both past – Yuki’s relationship with her Japanese heritage, Jay’s developing response to his abandonment – and future – the idea of parental responsibility, with Jay having recently become a father.


Notes From the Underground by Karina Maduro

By uczccgl, on 21 December 2015

What do you think of when I say London Underground? Packed stations, delayed trains, and commuters rushing to their next appointment probably all come to mind. But there’s an aspect of the London Underground that often goes unnoticed and unappreciated: buskers. Whether they’re bringing you the classics, original songs, or instrumentals, buskers add a sense of culture and entertainment to our daily commutes. But how many of us actually stop to appreciate their music and get to know their stories?


Notes From the Underground is a project that aims to publish a book that will uncover the world of London busking. Inspired by projects such as Humans of New York and books such as Athol Rheeder’s London Street Performers, Notes From the Underground will interweave interviews and photographs to provide an intimate insight into the lives of London buskers.


Over the next few months we will be journeying through the London Underground and researching the community in order to find the best buskers out there! We are very excited to confirm that we will also be talking to some of the winners of “London’s Big Busking Competition” that took place in September 2015. We hope to uncover their backgrounds, influences, and future aspirations. And hopefully bring attention to some amazing talent too!


In the book, buskers will have their own profile. This will include photographs, as well as stories and anecdotes that we uncover through our interviews. Alongside these profiles, we’ll also be writing features that include the history of busking, top tips, and a calendar of events in order to provide more information on the busking community.


We are aiming to release the book in April 2016. However, we will also be documenting our progress and providing sneak peeks into the project via social media. So don’t forget to follow us!


Facebook: Notes from the Underground

Twitter: @notesunderbook

Instagram: notesunderbook


Thanks for reading!

Group 2 xx

The Publisher’s Atlas: Holiday Edition!

By uczcsek, on 9 December 2015

Welcome to the Publisher’s Atlas! This blog will provide a series of maps and guides to help you make your way through the wild and wonderful world of publishing.

The holiday season is upon us once again. Though there are some people that have been blasting Christmas music since Halloween, if you’re like me, you still wake up and can’t believe it’s December. You mean I have to find gifts for all my friends and family again? I just did that last year! I don’t know about you, but in addition to feeling 22, I get really stressed about finding the perfect gift for everyone on my list. Seeing as I’m a publishing student and am now overly conscious of being a good literary citizen, books seem like an appropriate gift to give this year. To find the perfect titles, I decided to seek help not from an online algorithm telling me, “People who bought x also bought y,” but instead wandered around London to real life bookshops and asked their real life employees what they thought were the best books to give this year. Here are their suggestions:

Owl Bookshop


Mary’s recommendation: The Lady in the Van: The Complete Edition by Alan Bennett

“It’s a great read, and with this edition you get pictures along with the script from the film, so it’s got something for everybody.”

What it’s about: The real-life story of Alan Bennett’s relationship with the eccentric Miss Shepard, who one day parked her van in Bennett’s driveway and then lived there for 15 years.

Perfect for: The person whose New Year’s resolution is to read more.

London Review Bookshop


Charlie’s recommendation: Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

“Difficult but rewarding to read…wonderful writing. A book I’d be happy to give or receive.”

What it’s about: A collection of short stories narrated by an unnamed woman exploring what it means to live a rural and solitude life in Ireland.

Perfect for: The person who thinks they’ve read everything.

Persephone Books


Meg’s recommendation: Greengates by RC Sherriff

“I’m fairly young and I still related to it even though it’s about retirement! It’s perfect for anyone who is still uncertain about their life.”

What it’s about: After his retirement, Tom Baldwin and his wife come to realize that their lives are dull and constricting, but a day together in the countryside helps them to begin anew.

Perfect for: The person going through their quarter, mid, or any kind of life crisis.

Daunt Books


Patrick’s recommendation: The Fly Trap by Fredrik Sjöberg

“An all-around great read.”

What it’s about: A memoir about Sjöberg’s life collecting hoverflies, and his reflections on science, nature, and anything else that pops into his mind.

Perfect for: The person with incurable wanderlust.

Forbidden Planet


Quinn’s recommendation: One-Punch Man manga series by ONE

“This series had everything: action, comedy, superheroes, amazing art…and there’s an anime version now too, so they can read the books and then watch the show.”

What’s it about: Saitama appears to be just a regular guy, but he has a hidden power: he can take out any opponent with one punch. But he grows bored with such easy fights, so he is constantly seeking out bigger and badder villains to see if any of them can actually put up a fight against him.

Perfect for: The person who keeps asking if you’ve watched Jessica Jones yet.


Even if none of these titles fit the bill for that one impossible-to-shop-for person, get off the interent and head over to one of these shops. Everyone I spoke to was so enthusiastic and eager to share their favorite books, it was enough to put any grinch back in the holiday spirit!

Until next time,




Many, many thanks to all the bookshops and booksellers that participated for this post! If you can’t visit them in person, check them out online:

Owl Bookshop:




London Review Bookshop:






Persephone Books:






Daunt Books:






Forbidden Planet:




All photos and book descriptions are my own, or quotes from the booksellers interviewed.


Celebrities Use Pink Post-it Notes Too! – Russell Brand at The Reading Agency

By Caroline A Murphy, on 26 November 2014


Photo courtesy of Amy Davies

By Caitlin Mehta (@CaitlinMehta)

Every now and then when reading a book I’ll struggle to find a book mark. While I used to use the (barbaric) method of folding down the corner when I was young and foolish, the older and more considerate me now opts for old train tickets, receipts (for food most likely) and occasionally the odd post-it note. This may seem completely unrelated to the fact that a few of my course mates and I went to hear Russell Brand give The Reading Agency’s annual lecture, but bear with me!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this evening: was it going to be a serious affair? How could it be with Russell Brand as the guest speaker? Would he focus on books? What’s his favourite book? Would he talk about political affairs? Would it just be about reading? I should have already been able to answer a lot of these questions based on my knowledge of him. It’s funny that feeling of familiarity we get when thinking of celebrities we’ve actually never met. Having grown up hearing about this man constantly in the news and seeing him prance around in an (admittedly) hypnotic manner on my television screen I should have known.

It wasn’t all jokes but at the same time it wasn’t deadly serious or even the ‘b word’ (boring) either. There is something about Russell Brand when he gets going on a good rant that you just can’t ignore. Perhaps it’s the purposefully intricate vocabulary he utilises that you may not have previously understood, but do now however due to the context and manner in which he so eloquently weaves it into his speech (that was a pretty good attempt at his style of speaking, right?).

The narrative theme of Russell’s lecture (a title I would use very loosely), was to explain what reading meant to him as he read extracts from books gifted to him by family, fans and other famous people. One particular highlight was his rendition of an early chapter of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. Before mocking the crude seeming, old-fashioned names ‘Dick’ and ‘Fanny’ in typical Russell style (there I go pretending I know him personally again), he went on to explain to the audience that this book, bestowed upon him by Auntie Pat, showed him that books could open portals to other worlds. This is a notion that I feel some adults forget as life gets in the way of reading for pleasure.

Whilst reading from these books I suddenly noticed that curiously, much like myself, Russell Brand also seemed not to be in possession of a real bookmark. Sure enough as the comedian worked his way through the hefty stack of books he brought on stage it appeared that in each one he had marked his place with a bright pink post-it note. One of these even got stuck to his trousers much to my amusement.

I realise this was not the main message to take away from the evening. Books really are fantastic; libraries are too. That was the eventual point of the long-winded lecture. However to me, the makeshift post-it bookmarks were a sharp reminder that yes he is a “celebrity” but still  a human being not so far flung from myself. A human being with flairs and flaws who likes to read stories both factual and fictional as a means of escapism. It is stories, as Muriel Ruysker was quoted as saying, that make up the universe.

That and funny men with long hair and pink post-its stuck to their legs!


Check out Caitlin’s blog at www.caitlinlouisemehta.wordpress.com

FutureBook 2014 (Part 1)

By Caroline A Murphy, on 18 November 2014

By Rachel Mazza (@mazzie191)

futurebookAbility to fervently Tweet and absorb information about the publishing industry at the same time during the FutureBook conference…Skill for the CV?

Yes, actually! According to nearly every speaker at the 2014 FutureBook conference, skills like managing social media and carefully selecting what content is passed on to consumers are what “new voices” in publishing are doing…so its good to know my drained phone battery, from all the live Tweeting, served me well.

What else are publishers looking for? Well Marissa Hussey, Digital Marketing Director at Orion, told a room full of them what publishers should be looking for. Since we all need jobs, I bet you are interested in the scoop on this as well…

Got skills?

– Tech savvy

– Adaptable

– Emerged in social media

– Innovative

– Creative

– Willing

– Analytical

– Logical

– Resourceful

And above all else, Hussey said she looked for curiosity in applicants.

Keynote speaker George Berkowski, author of “How to Build Billion Dollar Apps”, touched upon this subject as well when he said the “smart creative” type would be well suited to the publishing industry. This means that publishing would benefit from engaging with people from computer science and engineering fields.

That led me to wonder if tech skills should be something we students are learning before we go into the workforce. Right now, we aren’t expected to know how to code or create an app, but wouldn’t it be great if we did? From the sounds of things, tech knowledge in publishing will be required in the near future.

Digital content isn’t going anywhere, so the more we know about it, the better. Knowing what to do with digital was another hot topic. Apparently there is no one right answer. As Carla Buzasi, Global Chief Content Officer of WGSN, said “people consume media in different ways on different devices”. Its true, I think publishers needs to be all over as many devices and platforms as possible. However, it should be done in an organized and focused a way that creates cohesion among any digital media they produce in order to establish a meaningful online presence consumers and authors can depend on.

Buzasi, among others, stressed the importance of discovering ways to make authors part of the key process of publication. She said it is not enough to simply tell them to Tweet or manage a blog. The publisher must provide support to authors on digital matters.

But again, to offer that support, publishers must understand digital media themselves and how to effectively use it. This brings us to the next panel I attended, entitled: What is the long-term role of social media in publishing?

Sanne Vliengenthart, Digital Coordinator at Hot Key Books and BookTuber, said it is important to find someone who knows the platform. The main idea amongst the three speakers was that having focused and consistent content that promoted community provided the best results. In her videos, Vliengenthart provides insight into the publishing process and talks about the thing that bring publishers and readers together: the love of books. At the end of the day, passion and dedication to books is what draws us all in, but we must be prepared for the rapidly changing, ever evolving business side of things as well.

Overall FutureBook was exciting. The upfront, honest and often humorous approach most speakers brought to their topics kept things fresh and fascinating…a day well spent!

P.S The biscuits served for tea were extra fabulous. I continue to be impressed by dedication to delicious sweets in this industry.

PSS. Check out Thug Notes on YouTube: http://thug-notes.com

Stay tuned for part two tomorrow evening, when Rachel relays some more key highlights from the FutureBook conference, including useful Twitter users to follow!