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International Women’s Day & a Fabulous Longlist!

uczcmsm8 March 2018

So it’s International Women’s Day and, if there wasn’t already enough excitement surrounding the celebration of all the wonderful women in our personal lives and those who have shaped lives for women across the ages, the Women’s Prize for fiction has also released their 2018 longlist!

Set up in 1996, the Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously Bailey’s Prize and the Orange Prize) ‘celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world’. The winner receives £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a ‘Bessie’.

One of this years judges Sarah Sands said: “What is striking about the list, apart from the wealth of talent, is that women writers refuse to be pigeon-holed. We have searing social realism, adventure, comedy, poetic truths, ingenious plots and unforgettable characters. Women of the world are a literary force to be reckoned with.”

The books in the longlist are:

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The shortlist will be announced on 23rd April and the winner announced on 6th June. Get reading and decide your favourites!!

World Book Day

uczcmsm3 March 2018

World Book Day 2018 logoEvery year the beginning of March brings World Book Day – a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and reading. The campaign gives children in over 100 countries the chance to read/own a book and is often marked by children dressing up as their favourite literary character (or whatever character their parents can scramble together). For publishers, it is an opportunity to drive more children into bookshops and encourage children to read for pleasure. Lots of authors every year write a book as part of the campaign and bookshops across the UK sell these titles. This year, Penguin Random House organised the single largest volunteering effort – donating over 6,000 books to the local communities and with 500+ colleagues visiting over 130 schools, libraries and children’s centres (although it was rather affected by the snow!). Here is a little history of the campaign, its values and this years WBD books!

History of World Book Day

Now in its 21st year, the WBD campaign aims to ‘encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own’. It does this by sending 15 million book tokens to schools across the UK along with resource packs containing activities, ideas and display material. It is all possible thanks to National Book Tokens Ltd, publishers and booksellers.

How do the tokens work?

The tokens are each worth £1 and, to ensure that every child can purchase a whole book (as opposed to half…), ten exclusive new books are released as part of the WBD initiative. The tokens can also be used to get £1 off any book or audio book worth over £2.99 at any participating bookshop. For teens, there are now also five titles for only £2.50 – so only £1.50 with a WBD token!

WBD 2018 Titles

World Book Day Childrens titles

Children’s titles:

Oi Goat! by Kes Gray and Jim Field

Mr Men: My Book About Me by  Roger Hargreaves

Paddington Turns Detective and Other Funny Stories by Michael Bond

Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story

The Baby Brother from Outer Space by Pamela Butchart

Terry’s Dumb Dot Story: A Treehouse Tale by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Brain Freeze by Tom Fletcher

The Bolds’ Great Adventure by Julian Clary

The Girl Who Thought She Was a Dog by Clare Balding

Marvel Avengers: The Great Heroes

World Book Day Teen titles

Teen Titles:

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge

 Gangsta Rap by Benjamin Zephaniah

I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

Summoner: The Novice by Taran Matharu

Booktube with Annie!

uczcwtu27 February 2018

Today we’re very happy to be talking to Annie about booktubing (book YouTubing, for those who aren’t in the know!)

1. Why did you start your booktube account?

Truthfully – I was living in Austria and had a lot of time on my hands and nobody to talk to about books, so it seemed like an obvious solution to a problem. Now I have much less time and a lot more ‘real life’ people to talk to about books – but I keep it up anyway because it’s such a lot of fun.

2. Who are some of your favourite booktubers?

I love Eric at The Lonesome Reader because we have very similar reading tastes and Jen Campbell because she is so knowledgeable! Lauren at Reads and Daydreams was the first channel I ever started watching and I also really love Simon of Savidge Reads because he makes me laugh.

3. What do you think is the most difficult thing about booktubing?

Finding time to film and being consistent with uploading a video every week. I don’t have any fancy lighting so I try to film during the day when the sunlight is good (which isn’t often). I also have to be in the right mood to film… and then there’s the problem of my internet connection being so weak that I can only upload videos on the UCL WiFi…

4. Talk us through how you film an average video for your account.

First I’d think about what I want to talk about – if it’s just a regular chatty video like a round-up it won’t need too much scripting, but if I’m going to talk in detail about a single book or topic then I’ll definitely do some research or at least think about what I’m going to say before I press record. Then I’ll wait one (or two or three) weeks to be in the mood to be on camera and have good lighting. After I’ve filmed, I spend about an hour editing (I used to take me way longer because I edit out loads – I umm and ahhh so much). Then I design the thumbnail, upload the video and spend a little while longer faffing around with the description, cards and end screens. Oh, and I also reply to comments as much as I can. Writing all that out has made me realise that it’s actually quite time consuming… hmmm. Assignments? What assignments?

5. What advice would you give to someone interested in booktubing?

Give it a go and see if it’s for you! You won’t regret trying. Your first video will probably be a bit rubbish because they always are – if you’re like me, you’ll feel awkward on camera and you won’t know how to edit or upload or any of those things, but it absolutely doesn’t matter. The Booktube community are suuuuper friendly and welcoming and they don’t care if your lighting is bad or if your audio quality isn’t great (I film on my phone, nobody cares). You really do have to learn by doing and it’s so easy once you get started.

“Ok, that’s all from me guys, don’t forget to hit thumbs up if you liked this and hit the subscribe button so that you never miss any of my videos!!!!” (I’m joking I don’t say that).

Thanks so much to Annie!

Interview with Samantha Rayner

uczcmsm26 February 2018

Following on from our interview with Daniel last term, we’ve heard from Sam about how she fell into publishing, her favourite books and her advice for Publishing MA students!

Sam Rayner Head Shot

Favourite book:

What kind of fiendish question is that?! There are old-time children’s favourites (Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, anything by Alison Uttley, Susan Cooper, Joan Aiken…..); favourites for comfort reading (Georgette Heyer); favourites for historical fiction (Dorothy Dunnett), for fantasy/sci fi fiction (Robin Hobbs, Tolkien, Lois McMaster Bujold), for literary fiction (A. S. Byatt, Ishiguro, Sarah Perry)….and, of course, for my academic work, it has to be Le Morte d’Arthur, by Thomas Malory!

How did you get into publishing?

It’s a story of happenstance, perseverance, fate, and how sometimes being pushed to do something can result in amazing things! Books have been the one constant in all my jobs – except, like Daniel, for a miserable few weeks working for an insurance company, and doing lots of farm work while I was at school (I grew up on a fruit and hop farm). I started with a Saturday job in my local town library, Tonbridge, and then worked in a bookshop, Hammicks in Tunbridge Wells, during my gap year and then every vacation whilst I was at university in Bangor, doing a degree in English. I went on to do an MA in Literature (on the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins), and then got married, did more bookshop work, and then a PGCE in Secondary English and Drama. A few years of teaching in Kent schools followed, before I had my son: and then my tutors from Bangor suggested that it would be a good time to do a PhD! So I did – in medieval poetry, and during the course of this, fate took our family back to Bangor, so I was able to start teaching English at the university part-time, whilst I finished my thesis. When that was done I was asked to take on a Research and Development Manager role to help set up a new School of Creative Studies and Media. This gave me interesting experiences not just of putting together new courses (including publishing ones!), hiring staff, and helping to facilitate research bids, but also useful things like having to kit out a new building, from scratch (I am still very proud that ten years on the red sofas I chose are going strong in the lobby area!) This was a two year contract, so when that ended my boss pushed me to apply for a part-time, senior lecturer post at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, in Publishing. It seemed a crazy idea at the time, but I applied, setting out what I’d do if I had to build a new MA in Publishing, and got the job!

Moving to a new place was hard, but this job allowed me to spend time within a publishing company (Cambridge University Press mentored me for the first couple of months I was in post, so I got to see all the different depts there), and I loved seeing the course develop. After a year, I was also involved in setting up a new Research Institute about Digital Culture, so that also linked in my existing developmental facilitation experience and skills.

And then, in 2012, I was encouraged to apply for a job at UCL, and did, again not thinking I stood a chance of getting it – and the rest is history! I am living proof that at some point, all those random bits of work experience do come together (even the fruit and hop-picking have been useful training in perseverance, and attention to detail!).

How do you interact with your chosen field?

That’s a good question! Publishing is such a truly dynamic area, and is moving so fast, so you have to keep up with what’s happening. Twitter is a vital tool, as is The Bookseller, and all the different conferences and seminars that happen. The London Book Fair is a great annual hub of activity. On the academic side, I have two academic families – my publishing one, and my Arthurian/ medieval one, and I interact with them by attending conferences, meetings, and collaborating with people on research. You are always learning something new, and I love that!

Favourite piece of research you’ve been part of?  

I really enjoyed the Academic Book of the Future research, which was a huge project, with lots of different strands and activities. I worked with some amazing people, and got the chance to make real impact within the academic book world. At the moment, I am really loving the research I am doing with two friends and Arthurian/ publishing colleagues (yes, there are more of us!) Dr Leah Tether and Dr Bex Lyons, on the Penguin Archive at Bristol University. We’re looking at how Penguin worked to make classic texts available to a more general readership, and finding some fascinating stuff…it’s detective work, and finding material that sheds new light on how we perceive these canonical works. Publishers do more than you might think!

What advice would you give a Publishing MA student?

Make the most of your investment. Use all the opportunities the course and UCL offer you – not just the classes, but beyond that. Be prepared to push outside of your comfort zone, to take creative risks, and to use the space the MA gives you to explore what your strengths are, and what kind of job you really want to pursue….

A fun fact about yourself:

Um….I’ll confess to being a complete Alan Rickman fan!

A book that we might be surprised you have read? 

Well, when doing Admissions interviews, I always take note of any books people say they enjoy when they answer that first question! So, this past year, I have enjoyed reading Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, and Sigrid Unset’s Kristin Lavransdatter as a result of student recommendations: so I do listen! (and thanks, guys!)

 

Thank you Sam for your wonderful answers. I was pleased to note I’m not the only one who struggles to choose a favourite book (or ten)!

3 Book Blogs to Follow Right Now

uczcrot21 February 2018

It’s no secret that the digital age has modified the publishing industry in significant ways. In the modern publishing world, readers engage with texts electronically, Amazon has transformed the way we shop for books, and online reading communities continue to emerge around such outlets as Twitter and Goodreads. The Internet, moreover, has altered and strengthened the way we discuss the books we read and love. The emergence of book blogs, for example, has created a valuable network for readers of all ages to share what they are reading, what they think about it, and what they think fellow book lovers might (or might not!) enjoy. There is an abundance of wonderful book blogs online today, and you can read about three of our favourites below.

Folded Pages Distillery

Folded Pages Distillery is a book review blog run by Hikari Loftus, Doni Faber, and Brittney Jensen. As reviewers, these women aim to focus on the ideas and feelings at the heart of books, and they consistently deliver thorough and well-considered reviews of titles across several genres. They also create and share beautiful, book-inspired photography over on Instagram.

Bibliomaniac

Katherine Sunderland has created a book lover’s paradise with her blog, Bibliomaniac. We adore this site for Katherine’s frequent, highly readable reviews and attention to modern, best-selling books. Some of our favourite posts include Katherine’s Weeks in Books, in which she relays books she has purchased, reader events she has attended, and more. The site also features a Bibliomaniac Book Club, which is the perfect opportunity for readers to discover and engage with new titles.

BookRiot

BookRiot is a comprehensive review site that discusses a variety of literary genres and book-related topics. Whether you are seeking thrillers to keep you up at night, romances for your next holiday, or inspiring non-fiction picks, BookRiot will help you find the titles for you. We also appreciate that BookRiot goes beyond book reviews to discuss other facets of publishing, from writing culture to issues of diversity to reader lifestyle and more.

Image from Folded Pages Distillery

The Woman in the Window: An Editor’s Smash Hit

uczcrot11 February 2018

Whether they’re psychological hits like The Woman in Cabin 10 or tales of domesticity gone wrong, it’s safe to say that literary thrillers are established and well-loved in today’s publishing world. So far in 2018, one particular crime thriller, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, has skyrocketed to the top of bestseller lists and to the forefront of public awareness.

As mentioned in our previous ‘Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Month’ post, the novel focuses on Anna Fox, a children’s psychologist who, due to a mysterious past trauma, has isolated herself in her home. She passes her days sipping wine, watching old movies, and perhaps most prominently, spying on her plethora of neighbors. One day, she believes she may have witnessed something sinister, and the plot unfolds as Anna, and those around her, try to make sense of what she might have seen. We can’t wait to delve into this mystery characterized by foggy pasts, questionable perspective, and issues of mental health.

We are excited about this release for reasons outside of its captivating plot, however. Its author, Dan Mallory writing as A.J. Finn, is not only a debut writer but also a longtime editor and publisher. Mallory previously published with Sphere in the U.K. and now works for William Morrow in New York City. We love seeing a publishing fellow make the jump to authorship and receive such resounding praise. How inspiring!

Have you read The Woman in the Window? Let us know what you think!

Bookstagram

uczcwtu7 February 2018

Ah, bookstagram – one of the best places on the Internet where book lovers can congregate and show off their newest purchases. However, sometimes it can be a bit discouraging when you follow loads of beautiful accounts, and you just aren’t getting the same number of followers and comments as them!

So, here are some tips for making your bookstagram the best it can be!

1. Props – Whether that be flowers, candles, bookmarks, or Funko pops, people go nuts for photographs with props. There’s something about that cosy clutter that really works with books, especially if the props are somehow related to the book that is being photographed. Related to that, food and drink (often tea) can be used as a prop as well!

2. Lighting – the best time to take photographs of books is during the

day, particularly when it is sunny and bright. This makes it a bit difficult in the winter, but what I do is take all of my photographs on the weekend.

3. Pick a theme/filter and stick to it – this what the proper professional bookstagrammers do – so there’s no reason why you can’t do it too! Alternatively, pick a prop or a background that will feature in all of your photographs. That’ll give them that streamlined look too.

4. Background – you can take the best picture in the world, but if it has your bedroom clutter in the background, it’s going to be let down. Some easy backgrounds are bedspreads, other books, and white poster board.

5. Practice makes perfect – unless you’re a photography goddess, there’s no way you’re going to be able to nail it the first time around. So just play around with your photos!

6. Finally, don’t worry about it – ultimately this is a way to have fun with your books, and to show the world what you’re reading! So don’t worry about followers and comments, but rather just enjoy it.

Come follow me @whatthelog!

A Night of Reading Aloud with Francesco Dimitri: A Review

uczcmsm6 February 2018

This guest post was written by fellow student, Vicky Joss.

In an endeavour to rediscover the lost art of reading aloud, several UCL Publishing students attended ‘A Night of Reading Aloud’ at Waterstones Gower Street, led by Francesco Dimitri, the author of To Read Aloud. His new book is a curated collection of excerpts from well known (and some lesser known) books that are designed to be read aloud. They are categorised thematically through experiences such as change, pleasure, loss, love and wonder. In becoming the reader, or the listener, you are challenged to remain completely in the present, focusing solely on the words.

The evening started with a little history. Whilst we now consider reading aloud as an activity for a child’s bedtime, it only went out of fashion in the twentieth century. It was so popular with Cuban miners in the nineteenth century that they would pay to have a lector during their working hours! The room was set up in a speed-dating format, and we were told that if we didn’t sit with a stranger we would be moved (gulp). There were three rounds, each one consisting of a reader and a listener. The first was a warm-up round, with an extract under seven minutes. The second was slightly longer, and the listener got to choose their extract this time. The third round was much like the second, except the listener had to wear a blindfold.

The evening was not only interesting, but also surprisingly insightful. Reading is, of course, nothing new to us. Yet reading aloud introduced several new elements. Firstly, it forces a busy mind to stop and simply be present (simultaneously reading and thinking is just not possible. I tried!). As a reader, it was odd to hear my voice shape words in to existence for the sole purpose that this stranger would listen. As a listener, I focused less on their voice and more on shaping the words to form a picture in my head. I had one chance to fully grasp this; there were no pages to look back on to remind myself of crucial details.

Yet perhaps the most surprising part of the evening was that Francesco was right: reading aloud formed a connection with a stranger that completely bypassed any formalities. I talked to my partners about ambitions, politics and their grandchildren without hesitation.

I, for one, am behind this quiet revolution to re-introduce reading aloud to adults as normal once again.

 

Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Month

uczcrot2 February 2018

Hello everyone, and happy February! With the onset of a new month comes an exciting new reading list to delve into, and the publishing world has truly been delivering lately. Continue on for a number of titles we can’t wait to read, be they new releases, recent award winners, or buzz-worthy crowd favorites. Enjoy!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Though released in the middle of 2017, this charming debut novel has come to the forefront of publishing news as a recent winner of the Costa First Novel Book Award. This tale follows hilarious but  lonely Eleanor as her orderly, uneventful life transforms and she experiences new and unexpected relationships. Throughout its pages, Eleanor must confront her fears and learn to see the magic in others—and in herself.

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon addresses sentimentality and the human spirit in this novel that centers upon 84-year-old Florence, a resident at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. The story opens as Florence collapses in her flat, and while awaiting rescue, she reflects upon the arrival of a mysterious new Cherry Tree resident, her lifelong friendship with best friend Elsie, and a secret she’s kept hidden for years. The Guardian describes this novel as ‘powerful and profound,’ and we think it’d pair perfectly with a rainy afternoon.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train are likely to enjoy this new thriller by Daniel Mallory (pen name A.J. Finn). Dr. Anna Fox is a former child psychologist who spends her days tucked away in her townhouse, spying on and following the lives of her neighbours. On one seemingly ordinary day, Anna believes she has witnessed a murder. Mallory’s novel channels the eerie, unsettling mood of its literary thriller counterparts but also explores such themes as family, mental health, and the unreliable narrator.

The Jhalak Prize

uczcwtu31 January 2018

The second annual Jhalak Prize is upon us! The Jhalak Prize was founded in 2017, and celebrates the best books by British and British resident BAME writers, and awards one writer £1000. The first book to win the Jhalak Prize was Jacob Ross’ The Bone Readers.

Started by authors Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla and Media Diversified, with support from The Authors’ Club and a prize donated by an anonymous benefactor, the prize exists to celebrate the achievements of British writers of colour.

Excitingly, the 2018 longlist has recently been announced! It includes:

John Agard, Come All You Little Persons (Faber)

Nadeem Aslam, The Golden Legend (Faber)

Jeffrey Boakye, Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials and the Meaning of Grime (Influx Press)

Sita Brahmachari, Worry Angels (Barrington Stoke)

Kayo Chongonyi, Kumakanda (Chatto & Windus)

Yrsa Daley-Ward, Bone (Penguin)

Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I ‘m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Bloomsbury Circus)

Xialou Guo, Once Upon a Time in the East (Chatto & Windus)

Meena Kandasamy, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife (Atlantic Books)

Kiran Millwood Hargrave, The Island at the End of Everything (Chicken House)

Leone Ross, Come Let Us Sing Anyway (Peepal Tree Press)

Preti Taneja, We That Are Young (Galley Beggar Press)

This longlist was chosen by the all-female judging panel, which includes writer Sunny Singh, YA author Catherine Johnson, novelist Tanya Byrne, writer and performer Vera Chok and travel writer and journalist Noo Saro-Wiwa.

Judge Vera Chok spoke about the prize: “An incredible thing about the Jhalak Prize is that it’s open across genres. I’ve been especially delighted to discover writers of colour beyond literary fiction and memoir, making their mark in the fields of non-fiction, children’s writing, and experimental forms.”

The shortlist will be announced on the 20th of February, and the winner will be announced on the 15th March 2018.