Category Archives: Industry Voices

Interviews with, and opinion pieces by, people across the Publishing industry.

Love to Read – Valentine’s

Welcome back to The Atwood Tate Book Club where we share what is on our consultant’s bookshelves. This post is dedicated to our feel good, favourite and romance books for Valentine’s day!

Kathryn Flicker, Administrator & Social Media Coordinator

Kathryn’s recommended Valentine’s reads are `The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock’, which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, a novel about love and obsession. Jonah Hancock’s acquisition of a mermaid brings him into contact with Angelica Neal, a courtesan who admires her possessions, and throws them into a world they would not before have entered.

Kathryn would also recommend `Sweet Tooth’ by Ian McEwan. The protagonist Serena Frome is recruited by MI5 to be part of an operation that funds writers whose writing and politics meet the requirements of the government. Serena falls in love with the young writer she is employed to manipulate, leading them both down a road of betrayal.

Helen Speedy, Associate Director

Helen loves reading Georgette Heyer’s novels which are set in the regency period and these all have an element of romance as well as intrigue. Two of Helen’s favourites are `Sprig Muslin’ and `The Corinthian’. In Sprig Muslin, Sir Gareth Ludlow is set to marry Lady Hester Thealer a woman he respects. However, on route to propose to her he sees Amanda Smith, a pretty lady who proves to have a dangerous imagination.

In The Corinthian Sir Richard Wyndham, contemplating his future loveless marriage meets a young and beautiful fugitive, where he offers himself as her protector on her travels. This road leads them into a murder investigation, and then to love.

Catherine Roney, Senior Publishing Recruitment Consultant

Catherine recommends you read `Still Me’ by Jojo Moyes, part of the Me Before You trilogy, this book picks up where After You left off. Now living in New York City, Louisa Clark is now ready for a whole new chapter. Trying to manage a new adventure, along with her new long distance relationship, Louisa is determined to make everything work. Mixing with New York High Society, Lou then meets someone who reminds her of her past and she finds herself torn between two worlds. Funny, warm and romantic, if you enjoyed the other two books then this is a must read!

Anna Slevin, Administrator

Anna enjoys reading Arthurian tales and would recommend `Erec and Enide’ translated into English where the couple are married very early on and have to learn to make it work, is almost a love story told backwards.

Gerald Morris’ modern version of Arthurian tales, Anna also enjoys. `The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf’ in particular for romance is a children’s book still close to Anna’s heart and is as much about families being idiots and going to extremes as it is about learning to love someone for who they are. Anna loves Gerald Morris in particular for his no-nonsense heroes and heroines who make mistakes, fall in love and fight to reach their happily ever after.

Novia Kingshott, Senior Publishing Recruitment Consultant

The Thorn Birds is a romantic novel which details the lives of the Clearys family. Set in a land unlike no other, rich when nature is good and poor when fallen to drought, and centred around fantastic characters. Meggie is the only daughter and distance drives her from her true love Ralph de Bricassart, although it does not drive away their love for each other.

Are you searching for the perfect read for a loved one this Valentine’s Day? Do you want to make them feel special with a perfectly picked out story for them to cosy up with? Along with our recommended reads above, we suggest you take a look at Waterstone’s Valentine’s Day, Books to Love.

https://www.waterstones.com/campaign/valentines-day

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Girls can do Anything

The panel:  Abiola Bello (Author and co-founder of Hashtag Press), Hannah Sheppard (Literary Agent, DHH Literary Agency), Charlie Morris (Senior Publicity and Marketing Executive, Stripes Books), Gillian McAllister (Sunday Times Bestselling Author)

On Wednesday, our administrators Kathryn and Anna went to the evening event Girls can do Anything, Write? The first panel discussion in a new series hosted at The Library in Covent Garden as part of the London’s Big Read 2019, inspiring an eagerly listening audience with suggestions for success in a publishing career.

Are women’s voices heard enough in the publishing industry?

The industry is predominantly populated by women so why are women rarely the ones in charge of those important decisions? After acknowledging that there are exceptions to this within the big six trade publishers, the big takeaways were:

  1. Male voices are often given more weight – women are making the hiring and firing decisions but men are rising through the ranks at faster speed.
  2. Men and women brand themselves differently – men are often more confident and actively seek a response, whilst women couch themselves with a much more passive approach. This confidence, particularly in authors trickles all the way down to the retail selling of a book.
  3. The glass ceiling has not yet been smashed – more conversations need to be had in the sharing of maternity leave for example.

On a positive note, women reign supreme in crime fiction at the moment and their voices are being heard in publicity roles across publishing.

Lesson: Be confident and share support, whatever stage you have reached in your career

(Don’t be afraid to ask AND offer!)

How can more BAME women be heard in publishing?

Publishing houses are making more of a conscious effort in their recruitment processes however, diversity reports show that there is more work to be done.

  1. There are not many BAME submissions and more books need to be published with BAME characters
  2. There is a twitter “mob mentality” around individual voices, however the existing writing community is under pressure to avoid writing diverse characters. So how do we get diverse books to young readers, with characters reflecting themselves, to encourage them become authors?
  3. It is possible that we need to start from the bottom, and address potential unconscious bias within schools and promote books outside of the educational canon.

Some Advice…

Are you an aspiring writer? Here are some useful tips:

  • FINISH THE BOOK! You can edit later, it is much easier to work on a finished manuscript.
  • Find something that triggers inspiration for you. A particular genre of films?
  • When reading, read analytically. (This is relevant to a career in publishing on the other side of the desk too!)
  • When writing, your characters should drive the plot – what do they really want? It is their goal that should lead the story.
  • It is important to network; attend events, blog, join in conversations, subscribe to industry news outlets like The Bookseller and BookBrunch. (This is relevant to a career in publishing on the other side of the desk too!)
  • TIP: Try to write 20 minutes a day and take a day off.

Do you want to get into publishing? Here are some useful tips:

  • Read a lot, especially what is being promoted, bestsellers and what is being reviewed. It is important to have knowledge of what works and the industry itself.
  • HAVE OPINIONS! When applying for a job, look for a connection between yourself and the role you are applying for.
  • Read the job advert closely, understand exactly what they are looking for and demonstrate that you have those skills.
  • Look at the companies’ social media and website and see what they value.
  • TIP: Recognise the business person within yourself and be a boss in your field!

With contributions from Anna Slevin.

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Society of Scholarly Publishing: Fact vs Fake News

The Society for Scholarly Publishing held their regional event in late September at Springer Nature’s Macmillan Campus. With a panel of publishers, journalists, researchers and tech professionals discussing Fact vs Fake News: Who decides what’s true? Anna and Clare went along to hear more. Here is what Anna took away from the discussion:

The Market in Data

In the UK on average we spend 4 hours a day online on a desktop and 1 hour 47 minutes online on our phones (2017). Every moment of that we are producing data which becomes a product. The consumer becomes the product to enhance marketing campaigns and to pinpoint a susceptible audience to target. All of the Cambridge Analytica controversy, Facebook targeting political campaigns at specific users…

Fake news is about persuasion. What to agree with. Variations of an ad will appeal to different people because of their personal bias. Star vs Circle? You are more likely to listen to one than the other.

What makes a fact?

  • Access to the source
  • Expertise
    • Analysis + Interpretation of information -> Explanation to be understood

Challenges to “facts” today?

  • Readability for money
  • Comment and opinion pieces are rising in number
  • Appeal to emotion rather than figures/numbers
  • The incentive is to be read as with “click-bait” to generate income
  • The monopoly of ownership
  • False balance
    • Example: the BBC disproportionately giving voices in debate
    • Lack of diversity in voices writing/speaking
  • Disenfranchisement and lack of knowledge

Technological Solutions?

Annotation Software
  • This uses layers to allow multiple experts to make notes at different levels, separately from the editors but in real time.
  • Collaborators can see what is going on and there is transparency

This can happen before or after publication.

The Credibility Coalition want to create standards (a toolset of questions to give ratings) the appropriateness and accuracy of online content.

Credibility scoring articles are now being published for the public to view, for instance regarding climate change.

Content Assessment

Community-driven start-ups are looking at algorithms, aiming to create higher quality content. These can find whether it is true or false but experts are needed to label content. Classification then improves the algorithms in the “grey areas”.

Nuance is the tricky point!

Problems

  • Data literacy is poor
  • Data claims to know you better than you know yourself, matching you to content…
    • What you can do: understand what processes look like and where your data is going.

Students can’t evaluate sources or different viewpoints constructively – more empathy is needed

Steps Going Forwards

Make the community bias visible.

  • We choose our media. Choose more than one.
  • Diversify perspectives. Have more than one viewpoint.
  • Democratise expertise

New technology allows gutter journalism which we have always had to be “published” wider than ever but accessibility and agency do fight fake news.

Why should businesses care?

  • Reputations are at stake when advertising platforms are discredited.
  • When disenfranchisement grows, the consumers change.

Why should you care?

  • You deserve better than fake news!

Moderator: 
David Bull, Vice President for Business, Economics, Political Science & Law publishing at Springer Nature, the world renowned academic publisher

Panelists:
Michael Parker, Membership Editor at The Conversation UK
Jennifer PybusLecturer in Digital Culture and Society at KCL and contributing author to the new book “Trump Media War
Lusiné Mehrabyan, Community Manager at FactMata
Heather Staines, Director, Partnerships at Hypothes.is

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SYP Panel Help Aspiring Publishers to Kick-Start Their Career

In September, SYP London kindly hosted ‘Kick-Start Your Career: How to Succeed with your Job Search this Autumn’ for aspiring and entry level publishing candidates hoping to gain some career and work experience from established members of the industry. Speakers included our very own Associate Director Helen Speedy, who all brought their experiences and insights on how to build a successful career in publishing.

Did you miss the event? Perhaps you would like a recap! Helen Speedy shares her publishing career advice and experiences.

Explain your role and how you got there (approx. 5 mins each).

I am the Associate Director at Atwood Tate, a specialist publishing recruitment company based in Central London and Oxford. My job is to manage the Permanent team day-to day, who consist of seven consultants and an administrator, and make sure everybody is hitting their targets, having smooth relations with both clients and candidates and generally feeling happy. I am also the contact for senior publishing roles across the country, so a day can be talking through pipelines and business development with my team, or taking briefs from clients and sourcing appropriate candidates for the recruitment process.

I got my first job through talking to one of the speakers at the Oxford Brookes Careers Day towards the end of my MA, who gave me the contact details of someone looking for an Office Junior.

How do I get my first job in publishing?

There are a number of ways to get your first publishing job, and it’s worth trying a few to give yourself the best possible chance.

  • MA (plus work experience and networking)
  • Work experience placements that could lead to your first job
  • Through an agency – temping can lead to perm or to getting that work experience you needed but being paid properly along the way (also perm)
  • Networking events are a great way to build up your contacts and make a good impression before you’ve even made an application!
  • Proactive volunteering/personal work are also worth considering to boost your CV and stand out from the crowd. It is a lot easier to prove your interest in children’s illustrated fiction if your social media, blogging or volunteering backs you up!

What advice would you give your younger self, when you were just starting out?

Be more confident and don’t always assume that there are people better qualified than you.

What do you regret doing in your career?

I don’t have any regrets really. That may sound a bit complacent, but I have the philosophy that you make the right decision at the time and there is no point looking back. There are various points in my career when I could have taken a different path and I have turned down jobs and also taken roles that didn’t quite turn out to be what I thought. I remind myself that I made those decisions and they felt like the right choice at the time.  As long as you feel in control  and you are happy with your decision at that time, you should not have any regrets.  The only lasting regret I have is not calling out a bully, but I was young and in the junior position, so I forgive myself and it has given me the strength to help others confront difficult situations and not be scared to do so myself.

Associate Director Helen Speedy (second from left) after speaking on the panel

What’s the best career advice you’ve heard?

  • In terms of CV advice, make sure it shows the difference you made and the impact you’ve had, not just a list of your duties
  • If you’ve got lots of voluntary experience, internships and temp roles, try categorising rather than listing chronologically – tell a story and make sure the facts support the narrative.

How do you know if you should go for a role or not?

  • Can you tick 70-80% of the boxes (usually nobody has it all!)
  • Is it located in a sensible place for you to commute to?
  • Does picturing yourself in the role make you feel excited?
  • Do you think it would give you opportunities to learn?
  • What do you know about the company culture and how that would suit you?
  • If you’re not sure, try to have a conversation (with recruiter or name on advert)

Is it off-putting for employers if you apply for lots of different positions at the same company?

It depends on the size of company. It can be off-putting if it looks you are applying for anything and there is no real effort on any of the applications.  HR will begin to wonder how can  you be truly that interested in so many different roles with different skillsets! If there are different roles that catch your eye, find out if they will refer you if their role isn’t suitable. In a small company,you may get referred internally (I did for my first job and ended up with a better job than the one I applied for!)

Want to hear more about the SYP?

The Society of Young Publishers is a membership body for aspiring publishers and current candidates in the first ten years of their career. With branches in London, Oxford, South-West, North, Ireland and Scotland; the SYP is the biggest membership organisation in the publishing industry. For more details and to sign up, go to https://thesyp.org.uk/membership-signup.

 

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The Wider World of Publishing

 


The Variety of Publishing

Thanks to Anna Slevin for this blog post!

The SYP recently hosted a panel discussion entitled The Wider World of Publishing, Alison and Anna went to find out what it was about.

An all-female panel discussed pay transparency, diversity (or perhaps more accurately inclusivity within the industry) and Brexit. Each panellist gave a rundown of their organisation and a day-in-the-life for their job. Discussion ranged from big publishing houses poaching talent from small presses and the size of the UK market in foreign publishing – and both Germany and Italy can give big book advances

The big takeaways were that there are opportunities whether in job openings in organisations you might never have thought of, audiobooks, or the fall of the pound sterling seeing a rise in foreign publishers buying UK books (for now at least!). Book to film and TV adaptations are increasing in recent years too.

Help with funding for those starting in entry-level roles from the Booktrade Charity or support like the Spare Room Project with accommodation for people to come to London exist. They really do but public awareness of these are low so please let the publishing industry know where you were looking for advice when you were starting out!

Most importantly think outside the box!

The Panel were:

Aki Schilz – Director at The Literary Consultancy

Sheerin Aswat – Head of Sales & IRC Relationship Manager for The London Book Fair

Zoe Plant – Senior Scout at Daniela Schlingmann Literary Scouting

Eliza Kavanagh – Campaigns Executive at The Publishers Association

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Kayleigh Pullinger: Interview with a Book Designer

This is an interview with Kayleigh Pullinger, Designer at emc design. emc design is the largest design agency dedicated to book publishing in the UK. Kayleigh joined emc in 2017 after earning her designer’s stripes in the big city. Although new to book design, she is excited to learn new skills and over the moon that she can now spend more time with her lopsided pet rabbit (Bobbity) instead of commuting.

1) How did you start your career? And do you have any tips for people wanting to cross over from graphic to book design?

My first job was working as an in-house designer for a charity, followed by two jobs working for design agencies with clients varying from independent start-ups to big FTSE100 corporates.

My tips to those who’d like to cross over from graphic design to book design would be to familiarise yourself with inDesign as much as possible, and brush up on your basic Photoshop skills. Knowing the software that you’ll use day in day out will speed you up and free some headspace for getting creative with the realia (realia is the term used for images on the page, used to illustrate a language learning point). Start looking at the world around you, which, as designers, you probably do anyway. Take notice of how websites work, what makes an online article look different to one in a magazine? Study the pizza menu next time you’re out and about and make a mental note of how the menu is designed. All these little things help in really unexpected places.

2) What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job?

My favourite part of my job is definitely styling realia, closely followed by a good stint of text formatting. I love how quickly you can go from a completely unstyled page of text to something visually engaging. I have to say that my least favourite part of my job is checking my own proofs, as I’m terrified of missing a big blunder.

3) If you could travel five years back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

Don’t panic if what you’re doing feels unfulfilling at the time, it’s all a learning curve, and eventually you’ll end up doing something that engages you properly. Take your time over every job, no matter how small. Get off the internet and go out into the world more, to museums and galleries and concerts and even just down the road.

4) Who do you admire and why?

Jessica Hische is my hero. She’s a lettering artist and illustrator, which is a far cry from what I do, but her career path and drive inspire me. She also keeps a lot of personal projects on the boil, which I think really helps keeps your creative cogs oiled. Oh, and she can code too!

5) Will you be at London Book Fair and if so, what are you most looking forward to? 

I won’t be personally this year, but some of my emc design colleagues are going down, so feel free to say hello to John and Ben.

Bonus Q: What book characters would you invite to your fantasy literary dinner party?

Being a child of the Harry Potter generation, I’m definitely inviting Albus Dumbledore, Luna Lovegood and Dobby. Let’s also throw in Anne Elliot, Lyra and  Marvin the Paranoid Android to mix it up a bit.

Thanks Kayleigh for taking the time to answer our questions! You’ve made me want to try my hand at book design now…

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Byte the Book | Buzz Words: How Can You Build a Community Around Your Content

Last night I attended Byte the Book’s event on marketing and building a community around your content, sponsored by Bookswarm. As Atwood Tate’s Social Media Coordinator, I found the talk from industry leaders and influencers really interesting.

We gathered in the chapel at the House of St Barnabas (a not-for-profit private members’ club working against homelessness), which was a beautiful if unconventional venue. The wine I’d bought not long before had to be quickly finished off as we couldn’t bring alcohol into the chapel. As I sat on a hard wooden pew, I drafted a tweet with an image of the chapel, which I immediately had to delete upon being told the crucifix hanging over the alter was in fact copyrighted.

the chapel and full audience waiting for the discussion to begin

The chapel sans crucifix

At any other panel talk, the audience being glued to their phones throughout would be considered rude. At a digital marketing discussion, it’s encouraged, with live updates from the #BytetheBook hashtag projected on to the screen behind the speakers.

Digital Marketing Tips from the Panellists

Lysanne Currie, a journalist and digital strategist, chaired the discussion. She began by asking Laura Lindsay, Director of Global Communications at Lonely Planet, about the community of travellers Lonely Planet has built online and offline. Lindsay recounts how Lonely Planet started its online community in the 1990s by sharing letters from their readers. They were one of the first brands on Twitter, and built their following by sharing content from their community of travellers, not just sharing marketing materials. Building an online community, she says, is no different to building a ‘real world’ community.

Children’s author Piers Torday notes the barriers to connecting directly with readers online when those readers are children, so he embeds himself in distinct communities of parents, librarians and teachers. These are the gatekeepers and the people who buy children’s books. He also discusses the differences between content on different platforms. Twitter, he says, is great for conversations. Instagram is best for curated storytelling.

Leena Normington, YouTuber and Social Media Producer at Vintage Books, advises the audience to choose what platform(s) work for you, and not worry about using every platform. She notes the different demographics engaging with different media – for example podcasts tend to have a slightly older and more male audience than YouTube videos. She also emphasises treating your online audience as real people, not only as viewers or subscribers.

The panellists agree that the key to a great social media presence is to be consistent and to be genuine. Have a schedule for uploading content and show who you are as a person, rather than just marketing your book. Try new things and experiment, see what works for you and it’s okay to stop if it’s not working.

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LGBT History Month in Books and Publishing

February is LGBT History Month in the UK, a month to remember the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people throughout history and to raise awareness of the current position of LGBT people in society. We thought this would be a good time to reflect on and celebrate LGBT authors and those working in publishing.

LGBT booksDetail of the portrait of a young woman (so-called Sappho) with writing pen and wax tablets

I am a big fan of LGBT literature, with my dissertation at university being about the influence of Sappho on twentieth century female poets – Anne Carson, with her beautiful translations of Sappho’s fragments; Amy Lowell, chronically overshadowed by her relative Robert; Olga Broumas and her collaborations with Jane Miller and T. Begley, celebrations of female love and desire.

Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Patrick Ness, Sarah Waters, Rita Mae Brown, Jeanette Winterson, Ali Smith… LGBT writers and texts have helped shape literary history, though many are forgotten, or their sexuality hidden. Many chose not to write explicitly about their sexualities, due to censorship. Today we obviously do not censor LGBT literature, though barriers remain to getting published. Books featuring LGBT characters may be considered more niche and therefore not chosen for publication. As a result, LGBT authors and characters are underrepresented on our bookshelves.

What’s changing in the publishing industry?

Publishers are trying to change this and diversify their lists. Penguin Random House launched Write Now in 2016, a programme for un-agented writers from communities underrepresented in publishing. This includes those from BAME and LGBT+ communities. Selected writers are invited to insight days and ten are selected for a year-long mentoring programme, with the aim to then publishing these writers.

Little Tiger announced today that they will be publishing a short-story anthology for young adults written by LGBT+ authors. They are now accepting submissions for PROUD from unpublished and un-agented LGBT+ writers.

Last year, Pride in Publishing launched as a network for anyone who identifies as LGBT+ working in the UK publishing industry. They hold bimonthly networking events and committee meetings which all members are welcome to attend.

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Best Book and Publishing-Related Podcasts

When I’m not listening to an audiobook on my way to work, I love listening to podcasts – especially ones about books and publishing! It’s no secret that the audio sector is growing, whether through audiobook services like Audible, Kobo or Google Play, or through the rise of podcasts. Here are a few of my favourite book and publishing-related listens:

1)    Mostly Lit

A weekly books and pop-culture podcast from Alex Reads, Rai, and Derek Owusu. Aimed at a millennial audience, this is a fun and accessible podcast that promotes reading as something for everyone to enjoy. It makes reading cool again, discussing books alongside films and TV.

You can find them on Twitter @MostlyLit

2)    Minorities in Publishing

This publishing industry podcast from Jenn Baker interviews publishing professionals as well as authors and others related to the industry about diversity (or the lack thereof) in book publishing.

You can find them here: http://minoritiesinpublishing.tumblr.com/

3)    BBC Radio 4 Books and Authors

BBC Radio 4 hosts a number of high quality book podcasts, which include interviews with high-profile authors and public figures. It tends to focus on more literary fiction. Harriett Gilbert hosts A Good Read, where she discusses people’s favourite books. Recent episodes feature Ruby Tandoh, Nicola Sturgeon, and Stephen Fry. Also see Radio 4’s other podcasts – Bookclub and Short Story in particular are worth a listen.

Download Books and Authors here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrsfl/episodes/downloads

4)    Guardian Books

Similar in tone to the Radio 4 podcasts, the Guardian’s version is a weekly show hosted by Claire Armistead, Richard Lea, and Sian Cain with interviews and discussions about latest book trends and themes. Recent episodes cover LGBT must-reads and Helen Dunmore’s posthumous Costa prize.

Find all episodes here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/series/books

5)    Time Literary Supplement – Freedom, Books, Flowers & the Moon

This weekly podcast from the TLS takes its name from the Oscar Wilde quotation, ‘With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?’ Stig Abell, Thea Lenarduzzi and Lucy Dallas are joined by special guests and discuss articles from the week’s edition of the magazine, covering literature and related topics, including politics, culture, language and history.

All episodes are on their website and can be found here: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/podcast-freedom-books-flowers-moon/

6)    Book Riot

Book Riot is well worth a listen for their accessible discussions of book-related news. There is a notable American bias, but any global publisher today will want to keep up with what’s happening in the book world over the pond.

Find it on the Book Riot website (and while you’re there, it’s also worth taking a look at the other content on there!): https://bookriot.com/listen/shows/thepodcast/

Let us know in the comments or on social media what you’ve been listening to recently!

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Our Favourite Books in 2017

Our favourite books in 2017 header

This has been a great year for trade publishing and we’ve been enjoying reading both new releases and older books we hadn’t quite got round to. Here are our favourites that we’ve read this year!

Claire C-S

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)Lincoln in the Bardo cover

The Man Booker Prize winner has been writing short stories for 20 years, but it’s his prize winning debut novel about Abraham Lincoln grieving the death of his son Willie which is already considered a masterpiece. Told through the narrative of spirits and extracts of Civil war memoir, this emotional and poignant tale of loss will stay with you forever.

Ellie

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins)Eleanor Oliphant cover

This debut was deservedly named WHSmith’s Fiction Book of the Year. Eleanor Oliphant is an utterly unique narrator, equal parts irritating and charming, and this story about her learning to engage with the outside world brought me to tears on more than one occasion. It also has the most realistic depiction of a cat I think I’ve ever read!

Claire L

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047 by Lionel Shriver (The Borough Press)The Mandibles cover

I love a good dystopian fiction novel and this one didn’t disappoint! Lionel Shriver creates a believable very near future world which is going through major debt crisis (following an earlier crash of the internet). The US refuses to get on board with the new global currency and this leads to huge bankruptcy. We follow a family who were expecting a large inheritance, having to adjust in this new world and Shriver gives us some quirky and likeable characters as well as some awful ones – just like a normal family?!

Lucy

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend (Penguin)The Woman who went to Bed for a Year cover

The book I am currently reading is definitely up there with my favourites this year. Sue Townsend retains her place in my heart with The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year. Poignant yet hilarious, this book shines a light on modern family life with the wit we expect from the woman who brought us Adrian Mole.

Tanaya

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Mass (Bloomsbury)A Court of Mist and Fury cover

This was actually published in 2016 but I only read it this year as I struggled to get into it during the first chapter. This was by far my favourite book of the year. The main character, Feyer, is rebuilding her life after the massive events of the last book and learns to come to terms with the person she is now. A Court of Mist and Fury is all for empowerment and putting the pieces of your life back together after an abusive relationship.  It combines the amazing fantasy world building and characters of Sarah J Mass with powerful messages about self-worth and independence.

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