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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
There are so many new releases every week, and publisher dollars are concentrated on a small proportion of those. The rest have to fight for attention, and that can be hard work and also emotionally draining for an author after they’ve already put years of their life into making a book they’re proud of.
In the summer of 2009, I fell in love with the English language and American politics at the same time. I have Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing to thank for that. As a child and pre-teen, I read voraciously and wrote prolifically, but when we moved to England and my mother tongue, French, began to rust, so did my love of language. Sorkin convinced me that English could be elegant. He also showed me how exciting — how glamorous, how romantic — politics could be. Or could, at least, appear.
In 2018, UK-based publisher Unbound picked up my novel Unscripted, which is what I like to think of a smart beach read about a young woman who takes her celebrity crush a little far. Unbound are innovative and different, and well-regarded in the UK. They crowdfund their books, and kick in as a more-or-less traditional publisher once the target £££ have been raised. My book’s did well — it raised a third of its funds in the first couple of weeks — but the whole process is an emotional rollercoaster.