26 recommends

Before I get to your recommendations this month, I wanted to share your excellent suggestions for what ‘LGF’ could stand for in relation to 26.

Some strong literary and friendship themes coming through, with Lindsey Russell’s ‘Literary Gifted Friends’, Rebecca Dowman’s ‘Letters with Good Friends’, and ‘Literary, Galvanise and Fun’ from  Elena Bowes.

Gillian McKee and Faye Sharpe are also feeling galvanised! With ‘Liberating, Galvanising, Facilitating and ‘Lively, Galvanising, Friendly’, respectively.

Largesse Gumption and Friendship’ spoke to Jill Hopper. And then there’s my personal favourite from Sabine Harnau: ‘Language Geek Family’.

On to your recommendations!

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty

Fizzing with images that make you pause; Dara’s use of language, aged 15, is astonishing, refreshing and compelling. His passion for wildlife, and fury at its desecration, radiates from every page. Bullied for being different, his courageous advocacy for daily doses of nature is an essential message for today.

In these days of home-schooling there’s even a set of teaching notes for the UK curriculum on the website. An abridged version of the book was read by Dara on Radio 4’s Book of the Week and is still available on BBC Sounds.

– Sarah Hill


I came across this article on the need to change how we write ‘Black’ in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. I found it fascinating as I never thought about the impact a simple capital letter can have on a community. I thought it would be of interest to the 26 community too.

– Sana Iqbal


The ZEITGUIDE Culture Class with Cindy Gallop discusses how to end racism in the corporate sector. Cindy often uses quite drastic language, and she did not disappoint! If you have a spare hour and want to educate yourself on how to be a good ally, watch this hugely enlightening, unexpectedly entertaining video.

– Sabine Harnau


I’m reading a lot of nature writing at the moment, unsurprisingly, and love both Dara McNulty’s Diary of a Young Naturalist and Lucy Jones’s Losing Eden. It hasn’t happened yet, but the National Theatre is streaming its production of Amadeus on YouTube in July and I am so excited. I saw it live and it’s an exhilarating piece of theatre. Highly recommend!

In May I had the pleasure of interviewing fellow 26-er Therese Kieran as part of the Chawton House Lockdown Literary Festival. The conversation is still on YouTube if anyone fancies finding out what happened to Therese’s Armistice 100 Days work after the project officially finished…

Another member, Sinéad Keegan was involved too – inspiring all sorts of people to try their hand at ‘found’ poetry. Her introductory session is still available until the end of June and you can find it here.

– Lisa Andrews


I’ve just finished reading Hollow in the Land, the new novel by James Clarke. It features a range of contemporary characters in the marginal landscape of the Rossendale Valley, north of Manchester. I lived there for three years and his writing conveys humour, sadness and a true sense of place. Clarke won the Betty Trask prize for his first novel The Litten Path, but I think Hollow in the Land shows him flexing his writing even further. Highly recommended.

– Sandy Wilkie


I just watched Becoming – the Netflix documentary on Michelle Obama. Riveting to see the way she shares stories to connect with people, especially young women of colour trying to find a ray of hope for their futures. Also, I’m tuning in every week to Melissa Harrison’s podcast The Stubborn Light of Things. She lives in rural Suffolk and takes you on a walk every week, observing nature as she goes (nightingales, streams, barn owls) and interspersing it all with snippets and poetry from the likes of Kathleen Jamie and Liz Berry. Great for writers taking part in 26 Wild and for anyone in need of escape.

– Jill Hopper


To read or re-read …

I’ve got into the habit of reading a new book followed by a re-read of an old favourite. I keep saying that The Leopard (by Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa) is one of my desert island books. But when did I last read it? 20 years ago. Can I remember the sparkling detail of each scene, the closing down of his world, the changing of the guard? No. I know there are so many stunning new books bering written, and libraries of excellent novels I will never go into, but in these times a little comfort reading feeds my soul. Of course, I could go one stage further and take the Fahrenheit 451 option and memorise the whole book.

– Alastair Creamer


My main Covid discovery – Audible Books. I listen all the time – on dog walks, loading the dishwasher, folding laundry, ironing (ok, I don’t iron, but if I did).  And on my list – The Warmth of Other Suns, Clothes and Other Things, Dark Vanessa, and Rodham.

– Elena Bowes


And John Simmons recommends the various talks, films and articles which The British Museum have shared, exploring the history of writing. With everything from a Cuneiform tablet telling an ancient legend, to everything you wanted to know about the Rosetta Stone.

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