26 Recommends

First, an opportunity spotted by John Simmons:

Publisher Unbound have launched a new imprint for debut writers of colour, Unbound Firsts. More information here – and it’s well worth checking out. In Unbound’s own words “Unbound offers authors much more creative freedom than traditional publishing, plus all of our industry expertise, so you can tell your story as well as it can be told. And because we see our relationship as a partnership, we share all profits 50/50 with our authors.”

I recommend this article about Sherlock Holmes’ real-life secretary. I love the fact that people believed in this fictional character so much that they sent letters to him and – better yet – that an Abbey National employee spent years reading and responding to each one.

– Sarah Farley

Left Design Festival 2021

For anyone who missed the Left Design Festival 2021 you can now catch up on Youtube.

Watch all the talks from the designers behind Bernie Sanders, Jacinda Arden, Brandalism, Labour UK and many more. The sessions range from how to create persuasive campaigns to a mini history of activist design. Enjoy.

– Sana Iqbal 

I’ve been to the actual theatre and it was joyous! Well, not so joyous for Thomas Cromwell who (spoiler alert) loses his head. But wonderful to see Ben Miles play Cromwell again in The Mirror and the Light. I also went to St Ives for my holidays, which is as beautiful as the artists say it is. Highly recommend a visit to Barbara Hepworth’s studio and garden and Tate St Ives, if you’re ever down that way.

– Lisa Andrews

I’ve also enjoyed my first trip back to the theatre, in my case to see Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre in North London – starring Saoirse Ronan and James McArdle. I loved it. Powerful performances and ultra dramatic staging, plus the addition of some very posh ice cream in the interval made it feel like a proper midweek treat.

– Sophie Gordon

I was recommended David Sedaris yesterday that I’ve just started and it seems good. I re-read Paul Auster’s Travels in the Scriptorium, the only author of whom I’ve read all the published fiction. And Jonathan Franzen’s new novel is sitting on my Kindle giving me the eye!

– Mike Garner

I have just finished reading The Murder’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius, which was an all-round prize-winner about eight years back. Having consumed it at a rapid pace I understand why. What’s not to like about a heroine called Sally Jones who learns to build accordions and fly the maharaja’s biplane? While on the run and trying to free her ships’ captain? The book was written for young adults but it’s really all-ages-access. Highly recommended for keeping people engrossed throughout Boxing Day and beyond; they won’t want to put it down.

Next one up is The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer. A very promising opening, but who knows where it will lead? And today I got reacquainted with the poetry of Henry Reed. I guess I first heard Naming of Parts as an ignorant schoolboy somewhere in the ‘70s when that kind of thing was already long out-of-favour. And therefore remained unaware of the other five poems in the series The Complete Lessons of the War. What a joy to rediscover it.

– Ben Archer

Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro is on supreme form in his latest book. Set in the near future, where children often have AFs (artificial friends), the story is told through the eyes of an AF who becomes attached to a sick teenager called Josie. As Klara gains in knowledge of the human world, there is a gradual revelation of things that are hidden from the reader at the start. The tale is told very simply, but it’s beguiling and packs a tremendous emotional punch.

– Martin Lee

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