Title: The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym

Author: Paula Byrne

Pages: 668 Pages

Publisher: William Collins

The Blurb

A brilliant, intimate biography of English writer Barbara Pym.

She was Pym to friends. Miss Pym in her diaries. Sandra in seduction mode. Pymska at her most sophisticated.

English novelist Barbara Pym’s career was defined, in many senses, by rejection. Her first novel Some Tame Gazelle was turned down by every publisher she sent it out in 1935, finally published only fifteen years later. Though she picked up a publisher from there and received modest praise, the publishing industry grew restless and her sales spiralled downwards. By her seventh novel she had been dropped. She was deemed old-fashioned, telling stories of little English villages, unrequited love and the social dramas of vicars or academics.

This brilliant biography, brimming with Pym’s private diaries and intimate letters, offers a first full insight into Barbara Pym’s life and how it informed her writing. It gallops through her love affairs and lifelong relationships. It opens a door to the quick-draw humour which lives in her every written line. It shows how, with a little help from her most ardent fans and friends including Philip Larkin, her work eventually resurfaced, meeting new readers and bringing her sudden astounding, resounding love and acclaim – in the last years of her life.

The Review

What an absolute romp.

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym is the biography of one of Britain’s most underappreciated writer Barbara Pym. Paula Byrne delves into the delicious life of. Barbara Pym and brings her back to life with a non fiction book that reads like fiction.

Throughout the book Byrne throws light on the events in Pym’s life that shaped who she was and the things that influenced her writing: growing up in Lancashire, her time at Oxford, the loves and losses, the war, the men. All the things that were important to Barbara Pym.

We are also privy to the greatest heartache that she felt. Not the men who she loved and lost but the fact her work wasn’t appreciated in her own time. A true crime.

The greatest thing about The Adventures of Barbara Pym is the way the narrative is constructed. Byrne could have easily have produced a non fiction book that was very matter of fact but what she has done is presented Pym as a character that we can care for, fall in love with and ultimately root for. This is what makes it such an interesting read.

A true gift for Pym fans the world over.

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne is available now.

For more information regarding Paula Byrne (@paulajaynebyrne) please visit www.paulabyrne.com.

For more information regarding William Collins (@WmCollinsBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: 1966 – The Year the Decade Exploded

Author: John Savage

Pages: 640 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

From the acclaimed author of the classic book on Punk, England’s Dreaming, comes a history of the pivotal moment in the 1960s that changed pop culture forever.

The pop world accelerated and broke through the sound barrier in 1966. In America, in London, in Amsterdam, in Paris, revolutionary ideas slow-cooking since the late ’50s reached boiling point. In the worlds of pop, pop art, fashion and radical politics, often fueled by perception-enhancing substances and literature, the ‘Sixties’, as we have come to know them, hit their Modernist peak. 

A unique chemistry of ideas, substances, freedom of expression and dialogue across pop cultural continents created a landscape of immense and eventually shattering creativity. After 1966 nothing in the pop world would ever be the same. The 7 inch single outsold the long-player for the final time. It was the year in which the ever lasting and transient pop moment would burst forth in its most articulate, instinctive and radical way.

Jon Savage’s 1966 is a monument to the year that shaped the pop future of the balance of the century. Exploring canonical artists like The Beatles, The Byrds, Velvet Underground, The Who and The Kinks, 1966 also goes much deeper into the social and cultural heart of the decade through unique archival primary sources.

The Review

1966 is a comprehensive look at an impactful year in music and society in general. Savage takes you on a musical journey highlighting the important figures and events in music and politics that changed the face of the world as it had been known.

Artists such as The Beatles, Otis Redding, The Supremes among many others are celebrated and their stories are told, about how their actions altered things so much that we still feel the changes today.

Personally, I feel that 1966 is best served as an academic text. To read it for pleasure – which I was doing – felt a bit heavy. However, to read with purpose would make this book a lot more enjoyable. Regardless of this 1966 is a fascinating and thorough read.

1966 – The Year the Decade Exploded by Jon Savage is available now.

For more information regarding Jon Savage (@JonSavage1966) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.

Title: Girl – Essays on Black Womanhood

Author: Kenya Hunt

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

In the vein of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, but wholly its own, Girl is a provocative, heartbreaking and frequently hilarious collection of original essays on what it means to be black, a woman, a mother and a global citizen in today’s ever-changing world.

Black women have never been more visible or more publicly celebrated. But for every new milestone, every magazine cover, every box office record smashed, the reality of everyday life remains a complex, nuanced, contradiction-laden experience.

Award-winning journalist and American in London Kenya Hunt threads razor sharp cultural observation through evocative and relatable stories, both illuminating our current cultural moment and transcending it.

The Review

I know that I live in a very privileged position purely based on the colour of my skin and so whenever possible I will try to read books by authors or writers who can give me insight into their lived experience so I can at least attempt and possibly begin to understand a world so close yet so separate from my own. Girl by Kenya Hunt is one such book.

Through a series of essays you are given an insight into what it is like to be a black woman in a modern world. The everyday struggles that those of us in privileged positions take for granted. Until the harsh realities are presented to you then you don’t have a clue. It is books like Girl (among others) that are helping to change and re-mould the narrative that will hopefully be more prevalent in the future.

Girl – Essays on Black Womanhood by Kenya Hunt is available now.

For more information regarding Kenya Hunt (@KenyaNHunt) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Speed Reading – Learn to Read a 200+ Page Book in 1 Hour

Author: Kam Knight

Pages: 118 Pages

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

The Blurb

#1 Speed Reading Book on Amazon for 2 Straight Years

This has become the go to book for students, teachers, educators, professionals, and home-school parents & children to rapidly improve their reading.

It offers simple tips to not only accelerate reading, but comprehension and memory.

Unlike other books that merely teach you to skim & scan, this book taps into your brain and eyes’ amazing power to naturally read more words in a shorter time.

In fact, this isn’t your average speed reading book.

I spent years to refine the techniques to double or even triple you reading speed with a few simple shifts. No skimming, no scanning, but reading every word with double or triple the speed.

Then with the additional tips and exercises, you will raise that level until you are comfortably reading a 200+ page book in 1 hour.

The Review

I am a quick reader. I read an awful lot of books per year yet my TBR pile never seems to go down (and my NetGalley percentage never seems to go up). I saw the title of this book and how it could teach me to read a 200 page book in one hour and my curiosity was heightened.

Some of the techniques that are taught in this book are really impressive and when you try them out you see that Kam Knight, the author, is on to something. For me, I found reading between the spaces to be the best technique and I am going to practise that one much more.

Speed Reading is definitely worth reading and giving a go. I plan to and hopefully my TBR pile will decrease.

Speed Reading – Learn to Read a 200+ Page Book in 1 Hour by Kam Knight is available now.

Title: Ramble Book

Author: Adam Buxton

Pages: 376 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Ramble

/ˈramb(ə)l/

Verb

1. walk for pleasure in the countryside.

‘Dr Buckles and Rosie the dog love rambling in the countryside.’

2. talk or write at length in a confused or inconsequential way.

‘Adam rambles on about lots of consequential, compelling and personal matters in his tender, insightful, hilarious and totally unconfused memoir, Ramble Book.’

Ramble Book is about parenthood, boarding school trauma, arguing with your partner, bad parties, confrontations on trains, friendship, wanting to fit in, growing up in the 80s, dead dads, teenage sexual anxiety, failed artistic endeavours, being a David Bowie fan; and how everything you read, watch and listen to as a child forms a part of the adult you become. 

It’s also a book about the joys of going off topic and letting your mind wander.

And it’s about a short, hairy, frequently confused man called Adam Buxton.

The Review

I didn’t know much about Adam Buxton before reading Ramble Book – I know, where have I been? In my defense, the only programs I watch on TV are Bake Off, Gogglebox, Line of Duty and Richard Osman’s House of Games. The rest of my time I spend reading. Anyway, I gave his book a go because from the paperback cover we seemed to have a few mutual loves – David Bowie being one of them.

The more and more I read his book the more I felt that me and Adam Buxton were meant to be together but only if we had a time machine and there wasn’t the 20ish year age gap.

Then he ruined it. He was mean about Labyrinth. Now I think we should just be acquaintences.

In all seriousness, Ramble Book is a wonderful coming of age story with such visceral growing pains that you can’t help but feel for Buxton. Especially in the passages about his father. Whilst he is a grown up middle-aged (sorry) man you are still your parents’ children and when the child essentially becomes the parent or the care giver there is a part of childhood that dies. It is with this that your heart breaks for Buxton.

Ramble Book is a great read for anyone who was a child of the 80s or a lover of that era.

Ramble Book by Adam Buxton is available now.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.