From Alan Bennett's Baffled at a Bookcase, to Lucy Mangan's Library Rules, famous writers tell us all about how libraries are used and why they're important. Tom Holland writes about libraries in the ancient world, while Seth Godin describes what a library will look like in the future. Lionel Shriver thinks books are the best investment, Hardeep Singh Kohli makes a confession and Julie Myerson remembers how her career began beside the shelves. Using memoir, history, polemic and some short stories too, The Library Book celebrates 'that place where they lend you books for free' and the people who work there. All royalties go to The Reading Agency, to help their work supporting libraries.
- Literary essays
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Seth Godin is the author of ten international bestsellers, including the New York Times bestseller The Dip.
His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and include Permission Marketing, Purple Cow, and Meatball Sundae.
He is also the founder and CEO of Squidoo.com (a huge and fast-growing tribe) and the most popular business blogger in the world.
Alan Bennett has been one of our leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for the stage.
One of the National Theatre's most successful productions ever, The History Boys won numerous awards including Evening Standard and Critics' Circle awards for Best Play, an Olivier for the Best New Play and the South Bank Award.
His collection of prose Writing Home was a number one bestseller. Untold Stories won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for autobiography, 2006. Recent works of fiction are The Uncommon Reader and Smut: Two Unseemly Stories.
The film of The Lady in the Van starring Maggie Smith was released in 2015, and a new edition of his book of the same name a #1 bestseller for nine weeks.
Julian Barnes is the author of thirteen novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and The Noise of Time. He has also written three books of short stories, four collections of essays and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times number one bestseller Levels of Life. In 2017 he was awarded the Legion d'honneur.
Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies.
She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award.
She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010.
In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.
Ann Cleeves is the author behind ITV's Vera and BBC One's Shetland. She has written over twenty-five novels, and is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez - characters loved both on screen and in print. Her books have now sold millions of copies worldwide.
Ann worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she started writing. She is a member of 'Murder Squad', working with other British northern writers to promote crime fiction. In 2006 Ann was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger (CWA Gold Dagger) for Best Crime Novel, for Raven Black, the first book in her Shetland series.
Some of her other novels include the popular Vera Stanhope series, The Crow Trap, Telling Tales, Hidden Depths, Silent Voices, The Glass Room, Harbour Street and The Moth Catcher. In 2012 she was inducted into the CWA Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame. Ann lives in North Tyneside.
Susan Hill has been a professional writer for over fifty years. Her books have won awards and prizes including the Whitbread, the John Llewellyn Rhys and the Somerset Maugham, and have been shortlisted for the Booker.
She was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Honours. Her novels include Strange Meeting, I’m the King of the Castle, In the Springtime of the Year and A Kind Man. She has also published autobiographical works and collections of short stories as well as the Simon Serrailler series of crime novels.
The play of her ghost story The Woman in Black has been running in London’s West End since 1988. She has two adult daughters and lives in North Norfolk.
Lucy Mangan is a columnist for Stylist magazine and a features writer and reviewer for The Guardian, The Telegraph and many other publications. She broadcasts frequently on radio and occasionally on television, and is the author My Family and Other Disasters, The Reluctant Bride, Hopscotch and Handbags and Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory.
Bali Rai's first novel for young adults, (Un)Arranged Marriage, created a huge amount of interest and won many awards, including the Angus Book Award and the Leicester Book of the Year.
It was also shortlisted for the prestigious Branford Boase first novel award. Rani and Sukh and The Whisper were both shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize.
Bali is also the author of the hugely popular Soccer Squad series for younger readers. Bali was born in Leicester where he still lives, writing full-time and visiting schools to talk about his books.
Lionel Shriver's novels include the National Book Award finalist So Much for That, the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World, and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Her journalism has appeared in the Guardian and the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications. She lives in London and Brooklyn, New York.
Anita Anand has been a radio and television journalist for over twenty years.
She is the presenter of Any Answers on BBC Radio 4 and on BBC television she has presented, among other shows, Newsnight.
Her first book Sophia: Princess, Suffragette and Revolutionary was received to widespread acclaim. She lives in West London.
Caitlin Moran is the eldest of eight children,home-educated on a council estate in Wolverhampton, believing that if she werevery good and worked very hard, she might one day evolve into Bill Murray.
She published a children’s novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of16, and became a columnist at The Timesat 18. She has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. At onepoint, she was also Interviewer andCritic of the Year - which is good going for someone who still regularlymistypes ‘the’ as ‘hte’. Hermulti-award-winning bestseller How to Bea Woman has been published in 28 countries, and won the British Book Awards’Book of the Year 2011.
Her two volumes of collected journalism, Moranthology and Moranifesto, were SundayTimes bestsellers, and her novel, Howto Build a Girl, debuted at Number One, and is currently being adapted as amovie. She co-wrote two series of the Rose d’Or-winning Channel 4 sitcom Raised by Wolves with her sister,Caroline.
Caitlin lives on Twitter with her husband and twochildren, where she spends her time tweeting either about civil rights issues, or that picture of Bruce Springsteen when he was 23, and has histop off. She would like to be remembered as ‘a very sexual humanitarian’.
Tom Holland is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. He is the author of Rubicon: The Triumph and the Tragedy of the Roman Republic, which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; Persian Fire, his history of the Graeco-Persian wars, won the Anglo-Hellenic League's Runciman Award in 2006; Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom, a panoramic account of the two centuries on either side of the apocalyptic year 1000; In the Shadow of the Sword, which covers the collapse of Roman and Persian power in the Near East, and the emergence of Islam; and Dynasty, a portrait of Rome's first imperial dynasty.
He has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for the BBC. His translation of Herodotus was published in 2013 by Penguin Classics and followed in 2016 by a history of thelstan published under the Penguin Monarchs series, and in 2019 thelfl d England's Forgotten Founder as a Ladybird Expert Book. In 2007, he was the winner of the Classical Association prize, awarded to 'the individual who has done most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilisation of Ancient Greece and Rome'.
Holland is the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Making History. He has written and presented a number of TV documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4, on subjects ranging from religion to dinosaurs.
He served two years as the Chair of the Society of Authors; as Chair of the PLR Advisory Committee and was on the committee of the Classical Association.
Bella Bathurst is a writer and photojournalist. Her books include The Lighthouse Stevensons which won the 1999 Somerset Maugham Award, The Wreckers, which became a BBC Timewatch documentary, and The Bicycle Book, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011.
China Mieville is the author of numerous books, including The City & The City, Embassytown, Railsea, and Perdido Street Station.
His works have won the World Fantasy Award, the Hugo Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award (three times). He lives and works in London.
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