This year’s Quick Reads titles have been released by The Reading Agency, with the six bestselling authors sharing their inspirational personal stories about the transformative impact books have had on their lives.
Reading has transported each of them – whether it be from poverty, depression or isolation – and it is the liberating power of books that makes the Quick Reads initiative so vital. The page-turning 2018 Quick Reads are penned by bestsellers Fern Britton, Dorothy Koomson, Mark Billingham, Kit de Waal, Tammy Cohen and Vaseem Khan.
Vaseem Khan, author of Quick Read Inspector Chopra and the Million Dollar Motor Car, says:
“Reading became my great escape from what was a difficult life. It created a love of learning in me, and this helped me gain a great education. In turn, that led me to a great career, and eventually to fulfil my dream of becoming an author.”
He also feels books have a wider community benefit by “helping break down barriers and bringing people together.”
Quick Reads was founded by Baroness Gail Rebuck DBE in 2006 to provide shorter, easier to read, accessible fiction for busy people and less confident adult readers. Now in its 12th year, the programme has distributed more than 4.8 million books and introduced hundreds of thousands of new readers each year to the joys and benefits of reading. One in three adults in the UK does not read for pleasure and Quick Reads are designed to break down the barriers that prevent people from picking up a book.
Tammy Cohen, author of Clean Break, credits books with saving her from loneliness and isolation:
“Reading hasn’t just shaped me, I think it’s no exaggeration to say it has also saved me. When I was young and living alone in a foreign country, I could take a book out with me and not feel lonely.” It was also a book that helped her cope with a bout of depression which took away her ability to read novels. A friend gave her a poetry anthology and everything changed. “They were short and accessible and all I could cope with at that time in my life. And they got me through.”
Books offer readers a chance to explore the world, travel in time, and walk in other people’s shoes, without having to go anywhere. Quick Reads has loaned more than 5 million library books.
For author of The Beach Wedding Dorothy Koomson, libraries were a second home as a child. She says:
“From about the age of ten, I used to stop off at the library on my way home from school and read stories. I basked in the peace and tranquillity of the library as I entered the diverse and fantastical worlds you could only find in the pages of a book. For me, reading is the most personal, enriching way to experience the world without ever leaving your seat… it is one of the most powerful and liberating things a person can do for themselves.”
Kit de Waal, author of Quick Read Six Foot Six, grew up without books, and only discovered the joys of reading later in life. She’s never looked back.
“There were no books in the house I grew up in. I never read when I was a child unless I absolutely had to and only became a reader in my twenties feeling that I was very behind everyone else. Once I discovered books I never looked back and I know that reading has made a massive difference to my life. Most of my working life has been in criminal law, with prisoners and with social services so I’ve met lots of people who like me have been challenged for one reason or another.”
For Mark Billingham, author of Cut Off and Fern Britton, author of The Great Cornish Getaway, books have always been an invaluable companion. Mark says:
“I most certainly would not be a writer if I was not a reader. It gave me the taste for storytelling; for exploring other worlds. I have never felt alone with a book in my bag or tucked into my pocket.”
Books have always offered companionship to Fern as well:
“Reading has given me so much in my life. A quiet companion, a soothing friend and a guide to life…”
Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency, says:
“We’re proud to present a really diverse range of titles in this year’s Quick Reads list, which we hope will inspire both those short of time looking for something brilliant and brief, as well as less confident readers. At The Reading Agency we believe that everything changes when we read; our six fabulous authors have told us how reading transformed their lives, and we hope that their books will do the same for thousands of new readers.”
Baroness Gail Rebuck, DBE, Founder, Quick Reads, says:
“I was deeply moved by the new Quick Reads authors’ descriptions of the transformative power of reading on their lives. Yet for so many adult emergent readers, access to this opportunity does not exist, at a time when reading for pleasure becomes more and not less important in our digital age. The impact of this unique publisher-led initiative continues to be felt at such a crucial time for accelerated skills development.”
Cut Off by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown): A punchy, taut urban thriller about that moment we all fear: losing our phone! For Louise, losing hers in a local café takes a sinister turn. Billingham has sold five million copies of his novels and has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Award for Crime Novel of the Year.
The Great Cornish Getaway by Fern Britton (HarperCollins): As the sun sits high in the sky over Cornwall, and the sea breeze brings a welcome relief to the residents of the seaside village of Trevay, a stranger arrives in need of a safe haven. The former presenter of This Morning, Britton is now a Sunday Times bestselling author and this story is full of her usual warmth and wit.
Clean Break by Tammy Cohen (Transworld): A dark and twisty portrait of a marriage coming to its bitter end, from the mistress of domestic noir. Can Kate rid herself of her jealous husband before it’s too late? Cohen’s acclaimed novels include The Mistress’s Revenge, The War of the Wives and Someone Else’s Wedding.
Inspector Chopra and the Million-Dollar Motor Car by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton): An enchanting Baby Ganesh Agency novella from the bestselling Khan set in the bustling back-streets of Mumbai. Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick have two days to solve the mystery of a missing – and very costly – car for its gangster owner, or there’ll be a heavy price to pay.
The Beach Wedding by Dorothy Koomson (Arrow): A gripping short read featuring a wedding, family drama, and old secrets. Tessa is thrilled when her daughter arrives in Ghana to get married but memories of the last time she was there haunt her; can she lay the ghosts of the past to rest or will they come back to haunt her daughter’s future? Koomson is the bestselling author of 12 novels including The Ice-Cream Girls, My Best Friends’ Girl and most recently The Friend.
Six Foot Six by Kit de Waal (Viking): A charming novella from Costa First Novel Award shortlisted author de Waal about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. Everything changes for Timothy, a 21 year old with learning difficulties, when local builder Charlie calls on him for help. De Waal worked in criminal and family law and was a magistrate for many years before her international bestseller, My Name is Leon, was published.
Quick reads are available from your local library and bookshops.