As a kid, myself and books were never the best of friends. Unfortunately this apathy towards literature stayed with me until early adulthood; apart from the obligatory books we’re all forced to read for GCSE, I barely picked up a book to read for pleasure until I was well into adulthood.
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What started my journey into the land of literature was the fantastic selection of books that HMV used to curate for their stores. They always stocked a manageable selection that were culturally relevant and more accessible for the novice book buff.
This was in stark contrast to traditional bookshops where the sheer volume of books on offer, and myriad of styles and writers, was terrifying. Not to mention the thickness of many books being hailed as bestsellers, which bore more resemblance to a phonebook than anything anyone would want to tackle for fun!
Up until my HMV enlightenment, the choices for reluctant readers like myself always felt a bit childish and patronising. There were audiobooks and abridged books (short versions of novels, re-written to keep the story line intact, but cut down on much of the bulk.) While the audiobook experience has greatly improved with the advent of services like Audible, reading abridged books can sometimes leave the reader robbed of some of the descriptive flare that many authors skilfully use to bring their creations to life.
So I was intrigued to hear about Quick Reads; a series of books that offer struggling adult readers another option. Quick Reads are short, accessible books written by bestselling writers. Rather than writing cut down versions of their popular books, when writing for the Quick Reads series, authors create bespoke miniature novels, packed with the same kinds of storylines, characters, excitement and drama you’d expect from their full length titles.
The only differences are that the books are shorter at around one hundred pages. The sentences use familiar words and are not too long, and there are never too many characters or confusing changes of time or place.
For those that suffer from visual stress, Quick Reads are printed on off white paper that isn’t too see-through and use the Stone Serif font with larger than normal spacing.
So far Quick Reads have published over 100 titles and have had contributions from authors such as Jeffrey Archer, Linwood Barclay, Maeve Binchy, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Roddy Doyle, Lynda La Plante, Andy McNab, Jojo Moyes, James Patterson, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin and many more.
There will be six brand new Quick Reads titles published in February 2016 including a special Quick Reads edition of I Am Malala, the memoir of the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai. There is also a collection of short stories called The Anniversary, edited by Veronica Henry, with a range of talented and well-loved authors, including Phillipa Gregory, Matt Haig, Jenny Colgan and TV presenter Richard Madeley. The Double Clue features a selection of Agatha Christie short stories edited by Sophie Hannah.
Jo Dawson the Quick Reads project manager at The Reading Agency gives us her selection of titles to get you started:
Today Everything Changes by Andy McNab. Unlike most of the Quick Reads titles, this is a true story. Andy was abandoned as a baby and grew up in foster care. He went to seven schools in seven years and by the age of sixteen he was in juvenile detention. He was recruited into the army and was told he had the reading age of an eleven year old. The next six months in the Army education system changed the course of his life forever and Today Everything Changes tells his inspiring story.
Andy McNab says “I’m a perfect example of how reading can change your life. I had the reading age of an 11 year old when I was 17 and I only became a confident reader when I joined the Army. But once I started I couldn’t stop.” Andy McNab has written about his life in the army and the SAS in Bravo Two Zero, and has written several bestselling thrillers.
Dead Man Talking by Irish writer Roddy Doyle. Roddy Doyle says “I started to write a story about a man who was pretending to be dead. But as I wrote, it changed and I realised I was writing about death. I wanted the story to be funny and a bit frightening because, while it’s often frightening, death is rarely funny – and I wanted the challenge.”
The Codpast is a multimedia production from www.extraordinaire.tv