I realised to my horror at the end of last year that I knew nothing about the British book world anymore. I had fallen into the trap of vaguely assuming that my people back home must be reading more or less what we are reading in the US. While it’s true that a lot of the “big” books published in America do well in the UK, they don’t all, and we Brits have different tastes, a lot of homegrown talent, and a different aesthetic when it comes to books in translation and works from elsewhere. I got my act together, pulled my socks up, and started the Brit Lit blog.
If you, too, are a Brit or an Anglophile, you might be interested in where to get UK book news, especially if, like me, you live across the Pond and can’t pop into WH Smith or peak at what people are reading on the Tube to get a sense of which books people are buzzing about.
The BBC Radio Four Books and Authors feed consists of A Good Read, in which public figures of all kinds discuss some of their favourite books, and the Books and Authors podcast – you know you’ve made it in the literary fiction world if Mariella Frostrup interviews you on that one. They’ve also recently started a regular segment where a publishing insider talks about a book they wish they had worked on, which is a really interesting angle on forthcoming releases.
The Guardian Books podcast is also stellar. On the super-high-brow end, both the London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement have podcasts, but I admit that although I want to be the kind of person who listens to these, I’ve yet to make it through either of them. And then there’s Backlisted, which takes an older book to discuss every fortnight, The Readers, in which Simon and Thomas chat about more or less whatever bookish topic takes their fancy, and Adventures With Words, in which publishing industry insiders Kate and Rob talk about their reading lives, among other things.
Guardian Books is a great resource – book world news, reviews, and book-adjacent thinkpieces, and also really regular features like Translation Tuesday and the Digested Read and lists of Top 10 Books on various themes.
The Bookseller is the British equivalent of Publishers Weekly, so it can be a bit insider-y, but it also has the official book chart’s top 10, updated daily, which is a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on.
Other, general interest websites like Stylist (the UK’s answer to Bustle) and Red Online carry occasional book news or lists, and The Pool does a regular “This Week We’re Reading” feature every Friday
All those podcasts and websites have Twitter feeds, too, and following bookshops is also a great way to keep up to date with what’s happening. My favourite is @BigGreenBooks, now famous for starting the let’s-tweet-Piers-Morgan-the-entirety-of-Harry-Potter challenge after Piers Morgan got into a Twitter fight with JK Rowling. But I loved them even before that – it’s a fun feed, and I like seeing the shop’s innovations, like the weekly competition to guess how many books will be sold on a Saturday. (The winner gets a £10 voucher to spend in-store.) @shift_zine is great for news on the thriving UK YA book scene, as is prolific and very on-the-ball blogger @LucyTheReader. @nikeshshukla champions BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) writers. @bookgig is great for following upcoming literary events, and @booksaremybag supports and celebrates independent bookshops.
Do you have any favourite bookish Brits to follow online?