The Essential YALC Guide 2019

[Last updated: 11.30am Thursday 25th July]

Here you can find out about early copies, proof giveaways, swag and fun activities at each publisher stall at YALC — you can find more information about signings, panels and workshops on their website.

For official YALC info, you can find the daily schedules here:  Friday // Saturday // Sunday.

Below you will find information listed by stall about fun stuff, early copies for sale, competitions and more. Pay attention to the key – some stalls are cash only, some card only and some both. It is recommended that you get cash out before you come to the show, as cash machines in Olympia often have long queues and sometimes run out of cash. There are several in the small shopping centre at Hammersmith’s Piccadilly and District line tube station (by the McDonald’s) and at the station at Kensington High Street. For more info on the area, check out my thread from last year.

It is going to be very hot again this year, so please be kind and considerate to your fellow attendees, but also authors and to the staff running these stalls who are on their feet working all three days, making the experience as fun as possible for us all, and will also be suffering with the heat. My top tips: bring fans, drinks and snacks, wear cool clothes, use the cloak room to store bags, be kind and look out for anyone who looks like they are struggling. 

This year I decided to organise the list by publisher/stall to make it easier for you to navigate YALC along with the map.

If you have anything you’d like to add to the YALC Guide, please DM me on Twitter, or drop me an email at hux.sewmanybooks AT gmail.com.

ANDERSEN PRESS [CASH ONLY] – Stall B1

  • Chinglish by Sue Cheung: competition, post your drawn 30-second self-portrait to Twitter. 5 winners per day chosen at 4.30pm.
  • Evernight by Ross Mackenzie: competition, tweet a photo of the proofs. 1 winner Friday & Saturday, chosen at 4.30pm.
  • All paperbacks £5, all hardbacks £10.

ATOM BOOKS [CASH ONLY] – Stall B3

BARRINGTON STOKE [CASH ONLY] – Stall A15

  • What Magic is This? by Holly Bourne: early copies for sale in the YALC bookshop. Show proof of purchase at stall to claim an A6 Holly Bourne print.
  • Letting Go by Cat Clarke: competition, visit stall to enter to win, one signed early copy available each day. Winners drawn at the end of the day.
  • The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James: buy from the YALC bookshop and bring proof of purchase to stall to claim steampunk/cog jewellery.
  • Free samplers showcasing summer/autumn YA titles by Cat Clarke, Eve Ainsworth, Holly Bourne, Lauren James and Elizabeth Wein.
  • Selection of books on sale for only £5.

BHC PRESS [CASH ONLY] – Stall C8

  • Meet N.J. Simmonds, author of The Path Keeper, who is running the stall this year.
  • Cover reveal of book two in the Indigo series, Son of Secrets.
  • Visit the stall for giveaways and signings.

BLOOMSBURY [CARD & CASH] – Stall B8&9

  • Friday 3.30pm, Karen Gregory will be signing I Hold Your Heart.
  • A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer: competition, tweet a photo of the proof & white rose on the stall to enter.
  • Signed Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas & goodies: competition, match the most quotes with the titles on the stall to win. 
  • Samplers of Havenfall by Sara Holland, and a Bloomsbury YA booklet full of Q&As, extracts & treats.
  • Enjoy exclusive artwork by Jim Kay of the Triwizard dragon from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Illustrated Edition. 

BKMRK [CARD NO CASH] – Booth A

  • The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave: raffle, 20 to win, pick up a ticket on Friday, winners chosen at 3.45pm.
  • SLAY by Brittney Morris: raffle, 20 to win, pick up a ticket on Saturday, winners chosen at 3.45pm. One winner will also win a VR headset.
  • The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu: raffle, 20 to win, pick up a ticket on Sunday, winners chosen at 2.45pm.
  • Signed King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo: 6 available per day, sign up for a chance to buy one, names drawn every day from 1pm.
  • Chill out in the Paper & Hearts Society zone, and swap books on the book-swap-shelf! 
  • On Saturday, take a polaroid with your pals to be featured on the Meat Market board.
  • On Sunday, celebrate the publication of Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence with everyone and cupcakes!
  • Free sanitary products in the YALC bathrooms, courtesy of The Hormone Diaries.

CHICKEN HOUSE [CASH ONLY] – Stall C14

  • Jelly by Claire Rees: buy your copy from the YALC bookshop, and pick up a free goodie bag from the stall.
  • The Loop by Ben Oliver: raffle, pick up tickets on Friday and Saturday. Winners drawn at 2.45pm.
  • Guess how many jelly beans there are in the jar to win a big bunch of YA books.
  • All paperbacks £5, all hardbacks £10.

ELECTRIC MONKEY [Not selling any books this year] – Stall C2

  • Chelsea High by Jenny Oliver: giveaway, take a post it featuring a role from Grease and try on an outfit, some roles mean you win! 10 proofs to win per day.
  • Samplers for The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven and Chelsea High by Jenny Oliver.
  • Play the Love Hypothesis chemistry bingo game to win a limited edition sampler, or enter The Exact Opposite of Okay caption contest.
  • Saturday 11.30-1pm, Aisha Bushby will be making origami paper stars on the stall. Join her, sign your social media handle inside the star, and you could win a signed proof of A Pocketful of Stars.

FABER & FABER [CARD & CASH] – Stall B10&11

  • Pet by Akwaeke Emezi: giveaway, win proofs, visit the stall for more info.
  • Giveaways to win The Curses by Laure Eve & In Paris With You by Clémentine Beauvais
  • Promotional material for The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds and Pet by Akwaeke Emezi.
  • Saturday 3.30pm: exclusive giveaway and signing with Alwyn Hamilton in the event space.

FIREFLY [CARD AND CASH] – Stall B2

HARPER 360 – [CASH & CARD] Stall B5

  • The Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer: giveaway, Friday only, visit stall for more info.
  • Free Harper360 magazine showcasing new and backlist titles.
  • 1 sampler free with every purchase: The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy, and The Evil Queen by Gena Showlater.

HARPER VOYAGER [CARD AND CASH] – Booth D

  • Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron: raffle, pick up a ticket to win a proof and badge. 30 to win every day, winners drawn at 3pm every day.
  • Sign up to the Voyager newsletter to get a beautiful tote bag and a code for a free audiobook of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, and be entered into a prize draw to win copies of Darkdawn, Kingdom of Souls, The Dragon Republic, Stormtide, Kingdom of Copper and After the Flood.
  • Pose with Mr. Kindly from Nevernight, and post your photo. The best one gets to take him home.
  • Colour in the cover of The Binding by Bridget Collins to win an exclusive tote and notebook.
  • Visit the Voyager instagram booth, and set up some beautiful photos to share on bookstagram.
  • Look out for messages in a bottle. Tickets to win exclusive prizes are hidden inside.
  • Each day Voyager are giving away samplers of Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao and Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna.

HASHTAG READS (Simon & Schuster) [CARD & CASH] – Stall B12&13

  • Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed: competition to win a proof, fill out a ballot slip to enter. All entries get a badge for taking part.
  • Infinity Son by Adam Silvera: 100 given away per day from the stall, first come first served.
  • Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart: raffle, 30 proofs to win every day at 11am. 10 signed proofs also up for grabs.
  • Jackpot by Nic Stone: competition, play jackpot on the stall to win a proof.
  • Samplers of Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu, Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett and And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando.
  • Sign up to Hashtag Reads newsletter to win their biggest 2019 and early 2020 titles.

HODDERSCAPE [CARD ONLY NO CASH] – Booth E

  • Dark Age by Pierce Brown: early copies for sale, exclusively at YALC.
  • Fairyloot Exclusive edition of Finale by Stephanie Garber: competition, post a photo to instagram using the props to enter.
  • Buy any two books from the stall and pick a free gift: ARCs of Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan, The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh or The Return by Rachel Harrison, samplers of First Sister by Linden Lewis or The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson, or free Hodderscape goodies, including totes and badges.
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers: giveaway, find all 10 planets around YALC to enter.
  • Saturday 1.30-4.30pm: free glitter tattoos in the activity area.
  • Free exclusive Laini Taylor tote with purchases of both Muse of Nightmares and Strange the Dreamer.
  • Sign up to the Hodderscape newsletter to win a bundle of YA and SFF books.

HOT KEY BOOKS [CARD & CASH] – Booth B

  • D.O.G.S. by M.A. Bennett: early copies for sale
  • Throne of Swans by Katherine & Elizabeth Corr: giveaway, 25 proofs per day, visit the stall to find out more.
  • Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo: competition, win a proof, visit the stall for more info
  • The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davies: competition, win a proof, visit the stall for more info
  • Samplers of Queen of Nothing by Holly Black and a big sampler containing chapters of Hot Key’s 2020 YA Books.
  • Friday, 10-11.30am: Deidre Sullivan will be doing tarot reading. Location TBC.

ILLUMICRATE [CARD AND CASH] – Stall A5

  • Saturday 1pm: Samantha Shannon signing on the stall.
  • Sunday 1pm: Kristina Perez signing on the stall. 
  • Exclusive YALC items for sale, as well as past Illumicrate books. 
  • A lucky dip for prizes and proof giveaways during the signings.

INDEPENDENT ALLIANCE [CARD & CASH]

  • Proof lucky dip — pick a shiny jiffy (the teaser words on the outside might help guide you…) and bag yourself a proof of a David Fickling Books novel.
  • The stall will be selling a wide range of books and graphic novels, from Granta, David Fickling Books, Europa Editions, Canongate, and Icon books including the Graphic History of Queer, Call Me By Your Name and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson.

JOHN TARROW/TALLISTON [CARD & CASH] – Stall A14

JOSIE JAFFREY [CASH & CARD]

  • All seven novels available to purchase at discounted prices: pick up The Gilded King for £5 or the whole trilogy for £15. All books in the Solis Invicti quartet are £7.50 or £25 for the whole set. 
  • Beautiful enamel pin badges on sale for £2.50
  • Giveaway of early chapbooks of Josie’s latest short story, normally only available to Patreon supporters.
  • Every purchase gets a raffle ticket that enters you into a draw to win a totes, mugs and sets of pin badges. Winners picked twice a day.
  • Free stickers and bookmarks.

MELIA BOOKS [CARD AND CASH] – Stall C1

  • Pick up Tor US published titles right here.
  • On Sunday, pop over to the Illumicrate booth to Kristina Perez’s signing to potentially win Wild Savage Stars, the sequel to Sweet Black Waves.
  • Expect posters, sweets, pin badges, bookmarks, lovely company from our one and only Jamie-Lee Nardone, and prizes.

MY KINDA BOOK [CASH & CARD] – Booth C

  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal: early copies for sale on the MKB stall.
  • Wilder Girls by Rory Power: raffle, 100 copies to win, pick up a ticket, winners drawn at 3pm.
  • Friday 11am: win an Enchantée candle in lucky dip.
  • Saturday 11am: Wayward Son/Carry On by Rainbow Rowell themed Name That Spell competition.
  • Saturday 2pm: No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter themed “Empower a Stranger” message wall.
  • Sunday 10am: SING (Like No One’s Listening) by Vanessa Jones themed Musical Matches with free cupcakes.
  • Samplers of Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell.

PENGUIN [CASH & CARD] – Booth F

  • American Royals by Katherine McGee: giveaway, visit the stall on Saturday for more info.
  • Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett: giveaway, visit the stall on Sunday for more info.
  • Frankly in Love by David Yoon: free proof with the first 100 books sold at the PRH stand.
  • Fun freebies include a Percy Jackson sampler, Secret of the Commonwealth Oyster card holder, and Crossfire by Malorie Blackman inspired badges.
  • Look out for the Camp Half-Blood photo opportunities happening across YALC!

QUIRK BOOKS [CARD AND CASH] – Stall A9

  • Pick up xQuirk books on these two stalls.
  • Expect posters, sweets, pin badges, bookmarks, lovely company from our one and only Jamie-Lee Nardone, and prizes.

ROCK THE BOAT [CARD & CASH] – Stall A2

  • The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel: ARC giveaway and signing at 12.30pm on Friday.
  • With every purchase, you can enter the tombola to win a book of your choice! Includes three rare proofs of Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (limited to one proof per person).
  • Free pronoun stickers, stickers for OtherLife by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, bookmarks for Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy, How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow and Aurora Rising.
  • Join the Aurora Academy: fill out a questionnaire to find out what member you are, successful applicants get a metallic pin badge with their sigil.

SCHOLASTIC [CASH ONLY] – Stall C3&4

  • Dead Popular by Sue Wallman: early copies for sale, if you buy you are entered into a draw to win an Instax mini camera.
  • Samplers for Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Exclusive Melinda Salisbury giveaway, details to be revealed!
  • Spend £10 on the stall and get an Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green tote bag.
  • Take a Chance on Me by Beth Garrod discounted during the daily ABBA disco hour.
  • Friday 11.30-1.30: nail art themed on Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood.

STRIPES [CASH & CARD] – Stall A3&4

  • Wranglestone by Darren Charlton: raffle, five exclusive signed proofs to win every day. Bring proof of purchase of Proud (photo of your copy/receipt/physical copy bought at YALC/proof of review) to enter. Winners drawn at 4pm every day. Darren will be at the stall on Friday afternoon to talk about the book!

SWEET CHERRY – [CASH AND CARD] Stall C10

  • Lily’s Just Fine (Galloway Girls Book 1) by Gill Stewart: on sale for only £5 with free bookmarks, postcards, charms and samplers for book 2.
  • Running several competitions included tweeting photos of their bookstagram corner, and guessing how many pins. Visit the stall to find out more.
  • Sign up to the Sweet Cherry newsletter to receive an exclusive Galloway Girls chapter.

TALLER BOOKS [CASH ONLY] – Stall B15

  • Battle Ground by Rachel Churcher: early copies for sale, £5 for paperback or free ebook.
  • Making Trouble by Rachel Churcher: ebook novella, free download available from stall.

USBORNE [CASH ONLY] – Stall C7

  • The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne: raffle, one ticket free with every purchase, two proofs to win every day, winners announced at 4.15pm. Also, look out for tear drops and visit the stall on Friday for some extra Holly Bourne themed activity.
  • Seafire by Natalie C. Parker: early copies for sale on stall.
  • Signed copies of My Secret Lies With You by Faye Bird, Birthday by Meredith Russo, Jemima Small Versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter, Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans, Slay by Kim Curran. All books 2 for £10, or rounded down by 99p.
  • Free pocket mirror with every purchase of Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans
  • Free Usborne 2020 sampler includes the first chapter of Holly Bourne’s The Places I Cried in Public, William Hussey’s Hideous Beauty, the new novel from 2018 YA Book prize winning author Will Hill, and more!
  • On Saturday, visit the stall to get your own personalised pep talk with the Pep Talk Takeaway.
  • Sunday 12.30pm: cover reveal for William Hussey’s Hideous Beauty in the Activity Area. Find out more, meet the author, and sign up for an early proof.

WALKER [CASH & CARD] – Stall B14

ZUNTOLD [CASH & CARD] – Stall A11

  • Selling lots of books including The Year I Didn’t Eat by Samuel Pollen.
  • Giveaways every day at 5pm — the best suggestions for the next YA bestseller wins!

ABRAMS & CHRONICLE do not have a stall this year, however they have sent samplers of Alice the Absent by A. G. Howard which should be available on the info table, and proofs of The Last Human by Lee Bacon, possibly at the info table as well.

Download this as a printable PDF below

*sings* Space Books… I always wanted you to read some good Space Books (intergalactic yiiiikes) | Reading Round Up

I’m sorry but every time I went to write this post, that song came into my head. It is a problem.

Recently, I’ve had a real glut of space books. Sci-fi is a genre I do not read enough of considering my childhood diet of Star Trek and this planets interactive learning game I was absolutely obsessed with. Helpfully, while I was musing this, several arrived on my doorstep within a few days of each other. Three of four of these are mid series books (don’t worry, no spoilers here) but I hope that encourages you that several books deep, I’m still enjoying them!

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Firstly, I need to tell you about The Truth of Different Skies by Kate Ling. Ling previously authored The Loneliness of Distant Beings, followed by The Glow of Fallen Stars which followed Seren and the crew of the Ventura several generations deep into their space colonisation mission. The Truth of Different Skies takes us back into the Ventura’s past to the recruitment on Earth, and one girl called Bea, trapped in poverty, unrequited love and sickness in Wales. Seizing the chance to change her life, Bea travels to Spain to sign up for the mission, accompanied by her stepbrother and the boy she loves. It is the story of opportunity, of adventure and escape, fleeing a dying world to find a future for humanity at the other end of a beacon that reached Earth the day she was born. Technically a prequel to the other books of the Ventura Saga, this book works as a standalone and I think would be as good a place to start as The Loneliness of Distant Beings. With typical Ling twists and turns, my heart was repeatedly battered. This is Ling’s best novel yet and I’m eagerly anticipating more from her.

Hive (UK) // Book Depository (INT) {aff}

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Following on from the beginnings of a journey into space, it only makes sense for me to tell you about what happens at the end of that mission.  I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of Record of a Spaceborn Few, the third book from Wayfarer’s Saga author Becky Chambers. This book follows the people of the Exodus Fleet, one of the original colonisation missions from Earth, now a living relic amidst the colourful universe they call home. Told through the perspectives of six characters and the blog posts of Guh’lolean the Harmagian, the novel leads you through the uncertain future of the fleet through old and new eyes. When the immediate purpose of exploration is over, where does that leave the crew? And when disaster strikes in the fleet, everything they know about their way of life is tested; how can they move forward?

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Amelia’s Kitchen Candles made their own special marbled candle for Record of a Spaceborn Few, which you can buy here!

I fell in love with this book, though it did take me a little over half the book to understand where it was going, as from the outset the multi-POV characters don’t feel particularly connected — though of course Chambers guides you there and suddenly I found myself crying late in the book. If you find yourself thinking this, do stick with it. Following on from the intensely emotional A Closed and Common Orbit, the quietness of Spaceborn Few seems almost jarring in a way, but this is not a bad thing. One of the strengths of Chambers’ series is how flexible she is with tone and story, literally giving us a whole universe to explore along with her. As with her previous books, Spaceborn Few is a standalone book within the Wayfarer’s universe, and could feasibly be the point you start at, though I personally think reading them in order (A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet followed by A Closed and Common Orbit, then Spaceborn) works best. Record of a Spaceborn Few publishes on the 24th of July and you can preorder your copy below.

Hive (UK) // Book Depository (INT) {aff}

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Moving towards the more action-packed end of the space books selection for you today is Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray, the sequel to Defy the Stars. You may recognise Gray from several Star Wars books, so you can trust that she really does know how to write a space epic. Defy the Worlds continues the action, with Abel and Noemi now split apart from each other. When Burton Mansfield captures Noemi (after she flees Genesis to search for a cure for a deadly plague), Abel finally comes face-to-face with his creator after a race through the stars. Where I felt the first book questioned morality and human nature, Defy the Worlds considers more the power of wealth and privilege, and what people will do to keep themselves alive… No matter the gruesome costs. This is another thrilling story of belonging, family and falling in love, and I’m absolutely dying for the final book in the trilogy.

Hive (UK) // Book Depository (INT) {aff}

If any of these have tickled your fancy, let me also recommend some others in the back list, such as Katie Khan’s Hold Back the Stars, a brilliant utopian novel of falling-through-space-to-our-deaths-with-the-love-of-my-life that will make you bawl, or Malorie Blackman’s gender-swapped Othello in Space, Chasing the Stars. Or Lauren James’ short but punchy and incredibly eerie The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. If you fancy something incredibly brutal, may I recommend Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, a Battle Royale in space as a working class man infiltrates the ruling class to bring them down from inside.

What’s your favourite space book?

Thank you kindly to Hot Key Books and Readers First for sending me Defy the Worlds, to Hodder Books for sending me Record of a Spaceborn Few and to Hachette Childrens for sending me The Truth of Different Skies.

Please note all Book Depository links are affiliate links, in which I earn a small commission for the sale.

Want to learn more about trans people? Suggestions from a non-binary babe

Two important non-fiction books have come across my desk in the last few months and I felt it was a great opportunity to share my take on them together.

I’m non-binary (or genderqueer). I have never felt wholly woman or wholly man, and is something I’ve felt but not quite understood for my entire life. I’ve explored various transitioning options, but right now I’m happy with a binder on my dysphoric days and people not referring to me as a lady/girl/woman, though I’m fine with she pronouns. Important aside note: this varies with every single person, so be sure to ask them!

The last few years have been a very interesting time for trans rights. You may remember a few years ago Laverne Cox graced the front cover of Time magazine, with the phrase “The Transgender Tipping Point” alongside her. This was 2014; Cox was a trans woman playing a trans character on Orange is the New Black and Caitlin Jenner had just announced that she would be transitioning. This was a time of hope, of visibility.

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In the last twelve months, it has felt like acceptable discrimination towards trans women in particular has escalated in the UK. It has felt, in watching from the sidelines, that much of the trans-exclusionary discourse has been allowed to continue as though it was a legitimate topic of discussion, as though debating someone’s personhood is okay. I’m not going to link to the fundraiser by disgraced former Labour Party members, but this article goes into a little detail of what’s been happening, for example, within a political party that is support to stand up for the oppressed. Meanwhile, the media has continued to pit trans exclusionary feminists against trans women on talk shows in some misguided and dangerous effort for the sake of balance. Paris Lees refers to the current wave of violence towards trans people as an epidemic.

One way you can support trans people is through buying work from trans creators, but also by reading about them, educating yourselves on their lives and the issues they face daily. For this, I would immediately direct your attention to two books: Trans Like Me by CN Lester and Trans Britain edited by Christine Burns.

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Trans Like Me is a mixture of memoir and writing about the current climate around trans people. Lester, who is non-binary, has created an informative introduction to issues surrounding trans people without ever being patronising. While trans people may be familiar with much of the introductory topics Lester provides, I suspect that much of the information about current issues for trans people will be new to many cis people.

As a non-binary person, I found reading Lester’s struggles with presentation and their frustrations at the limitations of hormonal therapy — to be personal here, a major factor in not taking hormones for me was wanting to maintain my singing voice, the same as Lester.

It is an affirming, emotional book that made me cry multiple times.

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Trans Britain is a very different but complementary book to Trans Like Me; a historical anthology, including essays from individual people telling their own story within the major eras of trans history in the UK. Burns sets the scene by dividing the book into three distinct sections, and introducing them to the climate of that era, providing a reader with an overview that places the following essays within a clear cultural context.

The chapter on non-binary people was an essential learning process for me, seeing how we fit into the historical trans movement. I’ve only really began to understand myself as non-binary, knowing that I’ve always been “other” than the binary gender options, and this chapter in particular made me feel so much more connected to myself.

This is a book of mini-memoirs, and the story of a history that is still unfolding.

Trans Like Me: UK (Hive) // International (Book Depository)

Trans Britain: UK (Hive) // International (Book Depository)

These are both a great place to start. This thread I did for Trans Day of Remembrance has a number of recommendations from genres beyond non-fiction, so no matter what your reading style is there’s something for you to read. If young adult fiction is a favourite of yours, there are a number of trans main characters in the novels reference in this list.

Have you read either of these books? Do you have any recommendations? Tell me in the comments!

Your reading habits, with What Page Are you On? Podcast

Hello all.

Have you listened to What Page Are You On? It is a podcast started by two wonderful humans Alice Slater and Bethany Rutter, in which they chat about books in episodes by genre.

In one of their most recent episodes, Alice devised a series of questions about what sort of reader you are, and I decided I’d answer them too — thanks to Alice for sending them over to me! I answered them before Christmas and then appeared to promptly forget about posting this, but anyway, enjoy.

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How many books have you read so far this year? How do you keep track?

It is currently the 22nd of December and I have read 258 books. This figure is massively inflated due to reading several 20 volume long romance manga earlier this year, but we’re still looking at around 170 full length novels, which I’m pretty pleased about. Quality matters most over quantity, of course, but I’ve managed to read some great things and avoid most stinkers.

One at a time or do you jump between books?

I currently have around 10 books on the go according to GoodReads, which is a lie really. There’s one memoir about Wales that’s been on there for over a year, and I gave up on American Gods mid-year because I felt so pressured to finish it before the Amazon show came out that it was sucking the joy from it.

Saying that, I do often have several non-fiction books on the go — right now I’m reading an essay at a time from Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis, Trans Britain by Christine Burke and All the Weight of Our Dreams by the Autism Women’s Network. This means I can appreciate each section of the books separately but also think about their place in a wider context. Or at least, that’s my excuse for having so many going.

I often have one or two fiction books on the go, as well as a poetry collection and a series of manga. My bedside table is a mess, unless I’ve cleaned it recently… like today.

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The bedside table & drawer of immediate TBR

Do you push through to the end no matter what, or do you give up on books?

I never used to give up on books, but I realised that life is too short. I’m lucky that I’m rarely sent anything I don’t like but I’ve had to DNF (did not finish) a few books in 2017 that I thought I was going to enjoy but just could not get into for a number of reasons.

I think also that timing is so, so important with books — a book that you can’t get into today might be perfect for you in six months time.

Where and when do you tend to read?

Everywhere and anytime. At home I tend to read on the couch or in bed, usually after breakfast and a play with Nerys, then for a bit in the afternoon and then all evening. I always read in the bath. I read on the tube sometimes too, but I’m often distracted by podcasts or music from 2005-2007 (the golden era).

What’s your ideal reading session set up?

Bed, with the dog on my feet, and a big cup of tea next to me. Occasionally, I’ll treat myself to a Tomy Moly sheet mask to go with it. Low lighting, with my Lumie lamp, Totoro light that Lilith bought me for secret Santa and a candle on the go. Very therapeutic.

Do you reread books? What’s your most reread book?

For years I swore I wouldn’t, and then I realised that’s ridiculous. I rewatch movies with a passion — literally, I might finish a film and put it back on again because I liked it so much. This might go on for… some time. Oh autism, you massive lol.

My most re-read book is either Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, which I’ve definitely read at least four times, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

How do you mark your place?

I used to be a page turner but so many people were disgusted I was a little bit shamed out of it, though with proofs I’m not so precious and will still do this. I like a good bookmark but I’m forever losing them. Receipts and train tickets, or even any old bit of paper, end up replacing them.

In fact, this reminds me that years ago I found a strip of photographs from a booth of two people in an Ali Smith book and I tried really hard to find the owners using the power of social media, but no luck. The two of them look so happy and besotted with each other that I kept them, and sometimes I use that.

Do you use an e-reader?

I have done in the past. I’m very glad they exist, as when I was in the Philippines with an enormous ear abscess and couldn’t dive for a week all I had was my trusty kindle and my hammock. Thanks to that I was able to read all of The Hunger Games, Brideshead Revisited, Little Women and a couple of other books, narrowly avoiding complete madness (it looks beautiful but I was literally trapped in my research station on the rocks for over a week).

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Now, I don’t. I realised quickly that my ability to retain information from reading on Kindle and other screens is very limited. I’ve always been a print-it-out kind of person, and that extends to books too. It’s a pity because I could be such a minimalist, but as it stands I have to stick to physical books.

How do you decide what to read next?

This depends on a few things. I have quite a big list of books that I have for review noted in my bullet journal, alongside important dates I should ideally publish reviews by and promote on social media. I was all prepped earlier this year to stay on track but then I went and started an independent press with some friends so I’m very behind.

So I have my review TBR, and my recently purchased TBR, and also a drawer full of books I’ve picked up in charity shops. Sometimes I just go with my heart, even if I have a lot of other things to read, because at the end of the day you might not love something as much as you could if you read it at the wrong time, or push it (see my point about American Gods above, which I will return to).

Where do you buy books?

All over the place. Waterstones, independent bookshops (though admittedly not as much as I should), and direct from small presses such as 404 Ink, Dead Ink and Unbound. I’ve had to emergency Amazon a few things this year before hosting last minute events. Needs must, I suppose, but I try not to actually buy books from there even if I do use their website to create the most complex wishlist system.

Which book shop sections do you like to browse?

Children’s is always my go to floor, followed by fiction. If there’s a queer reads or BAME writing section, I will always gravitate to there — luckily in Waterstones Piccadilly they are right next to each other, separated by the independent presses; basically my favourite corner.

I like to hate-browse gender studies sections, and very occasionally hide transphobic or whorephobic writers behind books by great people like Sara Ahmed or Melissa Gira Grant. I’m an ex bookseller so I know exactly how annoying this is, but I can’t stop myself.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Yes, of course. While a bad cover won’t prevent me from reading a book — I’m looking at you, Europa editions of Elena Ferrante — but a good cover will encourage me. I am a magpie, especially for beautiful clothbound editions in that scratchy material.

Do you own multiple editions of the same book?

I try not to. I might rebuy a copy, especially if I’ve been sent a proof and fallen in love with the book; I want to support the authors however I can after all, and proof copies are not made to last and provide the author with exactly zilch. Once I have a new copy, proof goes in the recycling bin or older edition goes to charity shop/someone who wants it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a tweet by Roxanne Gay. One of her books (I believe it is Nasty Women) has been recovered for a special edition and someone said they were going to rebuy it, and she asked instead that they spend their money on a debut author. Whenever I consider rebuying a book now, I try and consider this more.

Saying all this, if a series changes cover half way through, I will end up rebuying because non-matching covers makes me feel a little physically sick (again, thanks autism).

Do you lend your books to other people, and if so are you particular about their condition on return?

I literally lend my books to three people, and even then I can feel nervous about it. It’s not because of condition; I am terrible at losing track of who has my books and I get really, really upset if they go missing (which has happened many times). I only lend books if I’m not bothered about their condition upon return, because its hard to expect other people live up to your anal standards.

I never borrow books from people because I instantly forget they belong to someone else, and are immediately incorporated into my bookshelf. Admittedly, I worry that people who borrow books from me might be as irresponsible as I.

I would much prefer to buy someone a copy of a book rather than lend them my copy, and tend to keep an eye out in charity shops for books that people have asked to borrow so I can get them their own copy.

Do you write in your books?

Very, very rarely do I make a note, or scribble in a book of my own. I like dedications very much, especially when a friend has gifted you it. It makes a copy so much more special, and it always hurts my heart a little to find books in charity shops with dedications inside them.

That’s it! All my weird behaviours. What about you guys? Do you have any strange book habits? Tell me in the comments.

Hux.

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My Favourite Anthologies & Publishers to Watch| Reading Round Up

I love a well-curated anthology. There is nothing better than diving into a book that feels like a lucky dip of voices, many of whom you’ve never read before. I also love the flexibility you get with an anthology; only got 10 minutes, no problem! You can read a few poems, maybe even a whole short story or an essay in that time. They are the perfect commuter companion and excellent options for busy times like Christmas, when you want to grab some quiet time before you’re called away again.

I leapt at the chance to create a series of anthologies at our micropublisher 3 of Cups Press. Our first, On Anxiety, launches in January and you can preorder it still through our website shop. There are more coming in later 2018 too – keep a particular eye out for February book fans!

But until then, here are some of my favourites to keep you going!

Also, a quick note, in writing this, I realised this quickly became a love letter for all the independent presses that I know and love, who you should throw some of your book money at in the coming year. These guys do fantastic work and I want them to stick around!

Okay, let’s go.

change.PNGA Change is Gonna Come is the wonderful young adult anthology that features only BAME authors, created by the team at Stripes publishing. The book features twelve authors, contributing ten short fiction pieces and two poems. Change represents the future of publishing – voices that have been historically untapped, stories yet to be told. It is an absolutely divine book of exceptionally high quality, and not one of the stories felt like a duffer. I’ve actually read the anthology twice – once back in August when I was in the middle of Kickstarter hell, and just this last month so that I could refresh my mind. In particular, Aisha Bushby’s piece made me sob on my dog and Tanya Byrne’s Hackney Moon is just the most wonderful queer love story that I have ever read. I want more from all these authors immediately. Stripes and Little Tiger Press also produced the wonderful collection I’ll Be Home For Christmas last year, and in my opinion are a publisher to watch.

Sliding over to non fiction, my first recommendation is The Good Immigrant is an awardimmigrant.PNG winning collection of essays from BAME people living in Britain, collated and edited by the wonderful Nikesh Shukla. This is an extremely timely collection about what it means to be an immigrant or a person of colour in the UK today. The collection includes 21 voices in essays covering their wide ranging experiences and perspectives. It is so difficult to say anything about The Good Immigrant that hasn’t already been said by many, many people. Believe the hype; this book is fantastic and essential reading for anyone living in the UK. From Nikesh Shukla and his wonderful agent Julia Kingsford, we now have The Good Journal, a quarterly literary magazine featuring BAME authors and artists, and The Good Literary Agency, launching in 2018.

Did you know The Good Immigrant was published through Unbound, an independent publishing crowdfunding platform. They produce the most magical books and you must go check them out. I particularly recommend you check out Cut From the Same Cloth and A Country to Call Home, which are both still in the funding process. Check them out!

9780995623828It would be remiss of me to discuss anthologies without looking at Nasty Women, another stunning and award winning anthology released this year. What does it mean to be a woman in the 21st century? What does it mean to stand up against misogyny, racism and classism alongside sexism? Independent Scottish Publishers 404 Ink seek to answer this question in this excellent collection of essays and interviews from a number of brilliant women. Originally released as a Kickstarter that was 369% funded, the Nasty Women collection is now widely available, as is their first edition of the 404 Ink Literary Magazine, Error. The collection covers a wide range of topics – the feminist leanings of foraging, accountability in the punk scene, classism within the arts, the difficulty of living multiple racial identities, the struggle of loving Courtney Love. I feel that this collection would stand up well in a feminist starter pack of sorts, as we continue to gather around the rallying moniker of Nasty Women. Buy a copy for the young and old women in your life; there is something for everyone here, and while you’re at it, check out the other books and magazines produced by 404 Ink.

For both Nasty Women and The Good Immigrant, every single essay made me pause for thought and I enjoyed reading a single article then setting the book aside, allowing them to settle in my mind. While this meant it took me longer to read these books, it allowed me the extra time to connect to the voices and their experiences.

I’d like to add a quick recommendation for How Much the Heart Can Hold as well, a fiction anthology developed by Sceptre around the seven types of love, which they added a further story to by Phoebe Roy (also featured in Change) when the paperback was published. I enjoyed this immensely earlier this year, and have been in the process of seeking out works from the authors featured in the book. A great one to dip in and out of too.

In the meantime, I have a lot on my shelves that I’ve been dipping in and out of recently and so haven’t had time to review properly, but I wanted to mention them now:

  • Know Your Place edited by Nathan Connolly and published by Dead Ink Books. this book is essays about being working class, in the style of The Good Immigrant.
  • The Things I Would Tell You edited by Sabrina Mafouz and published by Saqi Books: an anthology of essays from British Mulsim Women.
  • 2084: A Science Fiction Anthology edited by George Sandison and published by Unsung Press is an anthology of science fiction short stories all about what the year 2084 could look like.

That’s all for now, I think. Tell me, what are your favourite anthologies? Which projects are you most looking forward to next?

The Writing of Non Pratt | Reading Round Up

I’ve not really been in the YA scene very long. I started my job as a bookseller on Halloween in 2015, where I dressed up as a witch and read spooky stories to little ones. I already had a bit of a love affair with children’s literature going on, but admittedly much of that was a love for the books I read as a child.

I officially stopped being a teenager back in 2006, but I hadn’t really been reading very much at all for the previous four years ago due to a combination of exams, working numerous part time jobs and discovering boys.

And so, there are many young adult authors that have risen to prominence in the almost 15 (oh god) years since I stopped reading YA as an actual teenager. Stuff published in the last two years? Sure, I know it, probably own it, have likely read it, definitely have sold a few copies of it.

In my determination to read all the back catalogue of UKYA that I have shamefully missed out on, I figured I’d start with some of my absolute favourite people in the whole world. And so, we begin with literal angel human Non Pratt.

For those of you who may not know her, Non is a former children’s editor who then turned her hand to writing her own young adult fiction. She was the author who raised money for charity by shaving her head in front of an audience at the Young Adult Literature Con this year, which startled Benedict Cumberbatch who happened to walk in on us all chanting “SHAVE SHAVE”, which sounded a lot like that scene from Game of Thrones. More recently, she got two of the cutest kittens in the world and you should follow her on Twitter (and read her books).

I read Non’s books out of publication order, and have listed them in the same way.

9781781125854Unboxed (2016) is Non’s first book for dyslexic friendly publisher Barrington Stoke, and follows a group of friends who come together to retrieve a time capsule they had hidden on their school premises. However, in the years that have passed since its creation, their group has gone from five to four. As they open the box, they find a new addition from Millie, commanding the four to read aloud all their letters from all those years ago, and to share their deepest, darkest fears with each other. This may be the smallest of her books, but boy does this pack a huge punch to the heart. This is a book filled with the memory of friendships that were, changed by time and situation; the nostalgia of returning to places so imbued with specific moments in time.

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Remix (2015) is Pratt’s sophomore novel, a perfect summer read that follows two best friends as they attend their first music festival. I really like this summery novel – Kaz and Ruby both exploring growing up, relationships with boys and their own identities as people. It’s definitely a book that suits being read in the summer, lying on a patch of grass and reminiscing about your lost youth at muddy festivals (or that’s just me).

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Pratt’s first novel, Trouble (2014), is probably my personal favourite of her works. Hannah is such a passionate, witty and brilliant character who finds herself pregnant. When new boy Aaron arrives at school, Hannah finds herself drawn to him, only for him to offer to pretend to be the father of her unborn child. I found Hannah’s voice incredibly refreshing; a young working class person determined to be true to herself and her child. Rarely have I seen a character who felt so true to my own teen years – awkward drinks swigged while lurking cold parks.

9781406366938While Trouble is my favourite by a smidgen, I strongly think that Truth or Dare is Pratt’s best book to date. Told in split perspective, Truth or Dare follows Claire and Sef as they start a Youtube channel charity project in order to raise money for the private health care Sef’s brother so desperately needs after an accident leaves him with pronounced neurological damage. The book is split into two halves; the book starts with Claire’s narrative before you physically flip the book over to Sef’s storyline (shortly after which I sent Non a bunch of tweets with expletives in them). It is a brilliant story that also highlights a lot of problems with health care for disabled people, how the standard of it is so often hinged on how unwell you are and what borough you live in.

Wonderful Non has two very exciting books coming out next year: first of all Second Best Friend, her second outing for Barrington Stoke, followed by Floored from My Kinda Books in July, a book about several people stuck in a lift, authored by seven of UKYA’s brightest and best.

Have you read any of Non’s books? Which are you going to pick up next?

How I conquered my fear of poetry

Poetry was something I was a little afraid of when I was younger. I don’t think this emotion is particularly uncommon, especially in people who haven’t studied English Literature at University, or are from working class communities. What was that alignment about? What were the rules about rhyming? Is it only old white dead people who write poetry?

Despite this adulthood fear, I wasn’t afraid as a child. Rhymes? Sure, I was down with those. I can still quote much of Roald Dahl’s poems for children.

The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature’s head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.

But somewhere between basically memorising these poems out of love as a child to being in my mid-20s, poetry and I got a little disconnected.

In A-Level English, I had a really battered copy of Seamus Heaney’s poetry about the peat bog bodies and while I loved it, I did feel surprised that you could actually write poetry about things, even preserved bodies. This was also back when I didn’t know that working in books was a job normal people could do, and figured it was a role bestowed from on high like a knighthood or celebrity status.

Moving forward a few years and once I’d fallen back in love with reading, I started questioning everything I thought about poetry. Part of this was inspired by reading every single book from Maya Angelou’s biography series and learning from her that, actually, you really can just read poetry. Heck, I met two of my best friends in the poetry section of Foyle’s (granted, we had opted to meet there before an event, because it would be quiet).

So my friends, this post is dedicated to you, those who are also nervous about poetry, and I’ll start you off with a few collections that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Though, as I do, I must strongly recommend you read Ella Risbridger’s new series on poetry, in which she contextualises beautiful words and will introduce you to a number of poets that you might not have tried yet.

There are a few good places to begin, or at least, they were where I began.

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 11.45.42One of the most popular first stops on the poetry adventure right now is rupi kaur’s instagram and her first collection milk and honey. There’s something accessible, borderline non-threatening, about kaur’s poetry, which I feel is why she’s been so popular with teenagers in recent years. Make no mistake, I don’t mean the content is bland or pallid; kaur breaks and remakes you in the course of reading, spanning the start and subsequent escape of abusive relationships into healing, and forming new connections with people. Her words are powerful, ferocious and erotic. I cried a lot, expect to do the same. kaur has also released another collection this week, the sun and her flowers, which I have yet to read.

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Unless you have been living under a rock, I’m sure you will have come across Beyonce’s album Lemonade, and you may have heard some of the spoken word poetry within it. Those words come from Warsan Shire, a Somali poet based in London, whose first collection Teaching My Mother to Give Birth opens with a quote from Audre Lorde – “Mother, loosen my tongue or adorn me with a lighter burden”. This collection is beautiful, powerful and only £4. Given poetry collections can be a little on the pricier side of similarly sized books, I do consider this a bargain. You can also listen to some of her poetry on her Bandcamp here.

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Another popular book at the moment is Amanda Lovelace‘s first poetry collection The Princess Saves Herself in This One, shortlisted for the Costa Prize for poetry this year. Like rupi kaur, Lovelace’s short poems are brimming with rage, fury, love, passion. Grief and abuse at the hands of close family are topics tackled with personal experience in Lovelace’s collection. It left me breathless.

I consider these three collections not necessarily the same but certainly related, a theme of grief and passion, rioting against patriarchy. If you like their work and want to tackle some larger collections, may I recommend these by Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde.

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I can also strongly recommend the new series of Penguin Modern Poets, which has introduced me to 15 poets I might not have known beforehand. The first collection, If I’m Scared We Can’t Win, contains work from the wonderful Emily Berry, Sophie Collins and Anne Carson, whose event at the London Review Bookshop I went to earlier this week, where she performed a 40 minute long poem about being the sky; I never thought I’d see myself as someone who not only went to that sort of event but loved it. This is a good way to feel your way into the world of poetry, to understand whose voices you like and whose collections you might want to explore further. It can be quite a gamble to spend money on a collection of poems by one poet you then realise you hate, whereas here they feature three different poets per book.

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Carnegie Medal winning collection One by Sarah Crossan was one of my favourite books in 2016. I read it all on in one go, a story of twins told in sequential free verse poems that tell the story of their battle against poverty and stigma of being different. It is so astoundingly beautiful and devastating, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. It deserves all the awards it has been getting. Thank you kindly to Bloomsbury Kids who sent me this copy while I was a bookseller.

Did you know children’s author Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a poet? Well, now you do. I recently came across her collection Last March, which was produced in collaboration with the Scott Polar Research Institute to mark the centenary of Captain Scott’s final expedition to the South Pole. This stunning collection transports you to the final mission, amongst the chill and desperation and determination to succeed. You can read an excerpt here.

There we have it – some avenues for you to start down, exploring the written word in its various guises and formats. What poetry collections have you read recently? Which ones are you going to start with? Let me know in the comments!