Claire Amy Handscombe
Host of the Brit Lit Podcast.
UNSCRIPTED, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan
CONQUERING BABEL: A Practical Guide to Learning a Language
WALK WITH US: How the West Wing Changed Our Lives.
How to Be a West Wing Fan
Listen to your friends. Listen to your friends when they tell you there is this programme you should watch because it’s about politics and you would like it. Listen to them even though you don’t give a monkey about American politics.
5 Ways to Make Friends As Bookish As You Are
For so many reasons, bookish friends are among the very best kinds of friends there are. For the extroverts among us, books present an endless supply of conversation – from what you’ve been reading lately, to how a movie compares to the novel it was adapted from, or what your favourite local bookstore is. If you feel a little socially anxious, “what are you reading?” is an easy way to springboard into conversation. And if you love companionable silence, what better way to achieve that than by sharing a sofa or a stretch of beach, each quietly turning pages and caught up in your own worlds?
10 Useful Skills for Working as a Bookseller
I’ve recently fulfilled my years-long dream of becoming a bookseller – I now work at East City Bookshop in Washington D.C., a lovely woman-owned bookshop on Capitol Hill, which is a picturesque neighbourhood of engaged, passionate readers and thinkers. So far, I love it – my colleagues are great, the customers are friendly, and I feel like Rory Gilmore every time I walk into work.
My Goodreads Wish List
I’ve used Goodreads for years now. It's not primarily where I go to interact with other readers (that happens mostly on Instagram and Twitter for me), but it’s a great place to record all the comings and goings of my reading life and to see how I’m doing with my challenge of getting through a certain number of books per year.
What’s Your Bookish Love Language?
It’s almost a quarter of a century since Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages was published, and the book has helped countless couples understand each other better. The idea is that we all have certain ways we naturally prefer to receive love, and we sometimes assume, without even realising we are assuming it, that the people in our lives long for the same things we do — whether that’s regular date nights, long letters of appreciation, or small but thoughtful gifts. We may think we are giving love, but they may not feel they are receiving it — and vice versa. Since the original book, there have been various other editions published, to help us love our kids, our teens, and our friends, in the way that they receive love best.
Unrequited love. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? I know I certainly have. I’ve spent most of the last eighteen months wallowing in it, and at the height of my obsession I trawled Goodreads for hours, trying to find quotes that would help put what was happening in my heart into words.
6 of the Best Books Featuring Libraries and Librarians
If there’s anything library fans love more than anything else in the world, it’s books. So what could be better than a book about a library, or featuring a librarian as its main character? Beyond the few obvious and well-known choices — The Shadow of the Wind, The Time Traveller’s Wife — I’ve rounded up a few more for you to try.
Gifts for Language Learners in 2020
Cast your mind back to March 2020. Or maybe not; it was a scary time. But one of the trends that appeared once people realised they would be home a lot more, and some would have a lot more time on their hands, is a spike in language learning -- or at least, a spike in the intention to learn a language. Maybe there's a person with that intention in your life. Or maybe there's someone who's been studying French or German for years. Either way, help is at hand for the perfect gift for them in 2020.
8 of the Best Feel-Good Books To Warm Your Heart This Winter
Well, it's been…quite a year. Maybe, like me, you're feeling exhausted, fragile, and in need of comfort? If so, perhaps you'll enjoy curling up with one of these feel-good books in the cold winter months.
Gifts for Bookworms in 2020
If you have a bookworm in your life, I’m here to help you pick the perfect gift for them — whether that’s books or bookish accessories. After all, being a bookworm is not just about reading — it’s a way of life, complete with every accessory you can think of, whether to help with the actual practice of reading, like bookmarks or audiobooks, or proclaim your love of books to the world, like mugs or tshirts.
9 Books To Help you Process and Heal From Your Anxiety
When the history books are written about 2020, I’m betting the word “anxiety” will come up a lot. Whether it’s the panic buying of toilet paper or the nagging worry that even a much-needed hug is potentially dangerous, there’s a lot to be anxious about, from the slightly frivolous to the downright depressing. But of course, even without the pandemic, there would have been plenty of causes for anxiety in 2020 — the U.S. election, yes, but also in the general course of being human and loving other humans. As with so many things, though: part of the solution is books! Here’s a selection of books about anxiety to help you manage it and begin to heal.
What to Eat in Mystic, Connecticut
I can’t believe that in eight years of asking people where I could go to the beach from DC by train, nobody’s ever suggested Mystic. Still, that’s remedied now, and I had a great time. The train journey itself was great – I love long train journeys, seven hours in this case – and it feels safe and relaxing in this 2020 year, with only every other seat booked and masks worn throughout (expect for eating and drinking).