World Book Day on 5 March celebrates authors, illustrators and those who love reading, all over the world.
The team at Weber Shandwick fall into that category. We’re avid readers, and even have our own monthly book club.
What have we been reading recently? And which books do we keep turning to for inspiration?
“The unconventional hero George Smiley, with his imperfect life, is one of the main reasons I love Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy It’s a million miles away from the spy culture of James Bond, and his quiet, plodding persistence is masterful.
“Currently my bedtime listening is Oliver Twist narrated wonderfully by Martin Jarvis. I regret to say I only read the story for the first time about five years ago. I didn’t know what a yarn I was missing.”
“I enjoyed Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend by Meryl Gordon.
“Not only is this a beautiful coffee table book but it’s also an amazing insight into the wonderful life of Bunny Mellon. Featuring memoirs of the aristocrat who designed the White House Rose Garden, this book is an interesting read that lets the imagination run wild of what life in American politics, art and fashion was like for this strong-minded lady.”
“The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas. It’s a brilliant cerebro-thriller/sci-fi/fantasy mixture that I was lucky enough to get a publishers copy of.
“Don’t let the genres fool you – this is literature at its finest. An intellectual discussion of the nature of existence, science and faith, consciousness and death, space and time. Everything in fact. It’s enormously ambitious and entertaining, and I never tire of reading it.
“I’m currently reading Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Brothers Grimm. The tales have lots of familiar themes embedded in them which underpin how we view the world even today.
“My favourite book of all time is East of Eden by John Steinbeck – an expansive, enthralling American classic about families and conflict.”
“I’m currently reading The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright.
“My favourite books are Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and One Day by David Nicholls.”
“I’m reading The Wych Elm by Tana French – an Irish crime novel which turns the genre on its head. Not dissimilar to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and a real page-turner
“Book I read recently which I loved was Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – incredible semi-autobiographical novel based on a true story which paints a really vivid picture of India.”
“I’m re-reading Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed at the moment. In many ways, the accounts within are ahead of their time it’s perhaps even more relevant today than it was when it was first released.
“My favourite book of all time is rather difficult – The Truth by Terry Pratchett was almost too good an account of life at a regional paper; but The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth is a funny and insightful trip the English language and how it really is a melting pot of multiple cultures and languages.”
“I’m currently reading Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness – a personal, passionate and practical guide to the mental health benefits of bird watching… which has the added benefit of making me feel less weird about having a pre-retirement age interest in birds.”
“I’m reading From First to Last by Charlie Spedding. A gripping autobiographical story of one long distance runner’s journey from failure to success. This is an inspirational read because it serves as a worthy reminder that often the only thing holding you back is yourself.”
“What I’m reading changes with my mood. Currently I’m switching between a weird mix of The Prison Doctor, David Mitchell’s Dishonesty is the Second Best Policy, Calypso by David Sedaris and Mythos by Stephen Fry.”
“I’m currently reading Motherwell – a memoir from the late Guardian journalist Deborah Orr which focuses on her upbringing in the Scottish industrial town.
“It’s too hard to pick my favourite book of all time but after reading Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin I went on to read pretty much everything she has written – love her style, dark humour and the way she often re-writes history and fairytales from a feminist perspective.”
“Dubliners by James Joyce. Short story writing is an art form in itself, and no one captures distinct emotions like disappointment and envy quite like Joyce.”
“Easily the funniest and best book I’ve ever read is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
“In my view there has never been a more brilliant character created than Ignatius J. Reilly. Sadly Toole struggled to get this book published, and suffering from depression he took his own life. It went on to be posthumously published, and awarded the Pulitzer.”
“I’m currently reading John Higgs’ The Future Starts Here, which is a brilliant book, instructing us to stop thinking about an inevitable, dystopian downfall of civilisation, and instead look at how technology and humility might fix the problems we’re currently facing. It’s a vital, uplifting book.
“There are at least three books I go back and read every few years. If I ever want inspiration, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman has more ideas on a single page than most books have in their entirety. I’ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy approximately 42 times. Finally, Johnny Cash’ autobiography, Cash, because if you’re going to read about someone else’s life, read about someone who really, really lived.”
“I’ve just read Ian Rankin’s ‘lost’ Westwind – a thriller, which has been out of print for nearly 30 years. It was such a page turner, I got through it in a couple of days.
“A book that has always stayed with me is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – I adored this, so moving, at times really heartbreaking but also uplifting and a beautiful story of friendship. All his books are incredible.”