By Zalak Shah, Megan Cradock, Konstantopoulou and Ana Matute
Neil Gaiman famously said “A book is a dream that you hold in your hand,” and today we want to celebrate the dream makers who bring such books to life. Since the 16 January marks Book Publishers Day, here is a list of some amazing reads that’ll give you a peek into the fascinating lives of writers, publishers and many more people who bring books into the hands of readers.
For the Publishing Industry Hopeful, Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson
Dealing with the modern-day work-life imbalance, mental health issues, the promise of potential romance and personal growth against the backdrop of the publishing industry, Must Love Books follows Nora’s journey as she tries to strike a balance between following her dreams and existing in the real world.
Nora loves books and reading, so when she is hired as an Editorial Assistant at a publishing house, she believes all her dreams have come true. However, as the everyday rigmarole of corporate life and the uninteresting books she helps to publish start to take precedence over pursuing her passion, she realises she doesn’t need to restrict herself or her dream job in any way.
Must Love Books provides a realistic insight into the publishing industry, demonstrating that not everything is as glamorous as it may appear on the outside. Despite Nora’s love–hate relationship with the world of publishing, her genuine love for the written word pushes her to keep going and to carve out a path that better serves her.
A Comedy Scenario from the Publishing Industry, Bridget Jones’s Diary
The movies are a must-see, but the books by Helen Fielding tell a very different story. If you have seen the movies, you will know that Bridget works at a publishing house. In the book, however, Bridget is a little more lost and is trying to be a journalist.
It is an easy read that provides plenty of laughs even if you have seen the movies multiple times. In particular, it’s fun to see how Bridget tries to accomplish what is asked of her as a woman whilst pointing out the ridiculous stereotypes many people face at work.
Looking for a Fictional Writer Role Model? Try Little Women
Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is a treasured classic. Based on the author's experiences of family life with her own sisters, Little Women is the story of the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, who grow up in New England during the Civil War.
Jo, the second eldest sister and an aspiring writer, is keen to make her mark on the world. Her writing is a significant part of the story, allowing her to work through childish squabbles and utter heartbreak, collecting pages and pages that she later rewrites in an attempt to pursue perfection. She creates adventures and stories for her sisters as they grow up and is a driving force behind the amateur newspaper they write for themselves, ultimately learning how to harness the power of storytelling in a world that limits her.
Jo’s trials and tribulations show just how integral drive and determination are to the writing process, and Little Women as a whole celebrates the practice of writing through Jo's story as well as through Louisa May Alcott's words.
For a Lucid Representation of the Literary World, Give New Grub Street a Go
Amid the mass of books that the publishing world offers, it is surely the classics that are among the most popular given that they bring back timeless voices of past centuries and worlds.
One of those classics that is definitely worth a read is New Grub Street by George Gissing. It is arguably one of his greatest works, deftly weaving together a story that both addresses and analyses complex ideas such as determinism and free will. With an explicit focus on 19th century London and the literary communities that occupied it, this novel makes a real statement by polarising various main characters. Half of the crowd is represented by Jasper Milvain, a cunning young man ready to cross lines in order to reach the literary fame, glory and monetary prosperity he so feverishly desires. The other half is reflected in the shadows of Edwin Reardon, a talented writer of uncommercial novels who has reached a dead-end halt. The result is a book that grasps the reader by hand and shows them both the light and dark aspects of what it means to write and publish content.