World Book Day 2019
In a world of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Instagram TV it’s easy to forget the impact a well-crafted book can have on its reader. To celebrate World Book Day, members of the Speak team reflect on the books that made them laugh, cry and everything in between.
Laura Smith, Managing Editor: ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ by Zora Neale Hurston
I first read this book in my mid-20s and it made a huge impression. A woman, in conversation with her best friend, looks back on the three men she's loved and reflects on how they helped her decide the kind of life she wanted. What struck me most, apart from the beauty of the prose, is the fact that this book is not written in any way for the white gaze. Hurston creates a truthful, self-contained world of black people with complex interior worlds.
Joe Mcaweaney, Copywriter: ‘Kill Your Friends’ by John Niven
I don’t think I ever appreciated how funny a book could be until I read this novel by John Niven. I even considered not reading it on public transport as I was laughing out loud too much. It’s crass and rude, but brilliantly written and – despite being 20 years old – perfectly satirises everything that is wrong with society today. It is rare to find a character who is so unpleasant, but equally intriguing.
Aurore Groult, Producer: ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara
This book is a real emotional rollercoaster. It centres around four very different classmates who grow up and navigate life together. The relationships are touching and complicated, and even though the subject matter is difficult – exploring themes such as addiction and childhood trauma – I couldn’t put this book down. I also cried (a lot).
George Theohari, Director: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque
One of those weighty classics you know you should read, but keep putting off. I finally did recently, and wish I’d done it sooner. Despite the subject matter, the writing is anything but weighty. Remarque’s ‘tell it like it happened’ style has a journalistic directness and impact that creates page after page of vividly memorable scenes. I wish some (like troops in trenches repelling a rat invasion) were easier to forget.
Simge Eve Dogan, Copywriter: ‘The Suicide Shop’ by Jean Teulé
Set in a near-apocalyptic future, the book follows the Tuvache family who run a morbid store offering a variety of products to end lives. However, their youngest child Alan has an unexpected love of life and threatens to sabotage the business. It’s a dark, quirky and delightful read.
Paul Williams, Client Director: ‘Peace at Last’ by Jill Murphy
I have read ‘Peace at Last’ with my 18-month-old daughter nearly every night for the past year. It’s a simple story told with a gentle rhythm and repetition that typically sends us both into a peaceful sleep. More recently (as the terrible twos approach) our little one has decided to challenge Jill Murphy’s narrative – the book finishes with Mrs Bear bringing Mr Bear “a nice cup of tea” after the tough night he’s had trying to sleep; our daughter is now insisting it’s a cup of coffee.
It’s not an argument I want to have at 8pm each night so if JM is listening and can update the next edition, that could make our life a little easier.
Roisin McCormack, Copywriter: ‘4 3 2 1’ by Paul Auster
This book is captivating and impeccably written. Auster’s epic bildungsroman set in 20th century America weaves together four different versions of one man’s life. In each section, seemingly inconsequential details change, but have the effect of creating completely alternative life trajectories for him. Think Sliding Doors. Only a few things remain consistent: his love of baseball, writing, Laurel and Hardy – and the tumultuous historical background of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.