Today we’re thrilled to reveal the best-selling authors set to pen a new series of brilliant short novels for the 15th anniversary of Quick Reads, the life-changing programme tackling the UK’s adult literacy crisis run by The Reading Agency. One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – find reading difficult, and Quick Reads is pivotal in addressing this shocking statistic. Bitesize books from Oyinkan Braithwaite, Louise Candlish, Katie Fforde, Peter James, Caitlin Moran and Khurrum Rahman will publish on 4 February 2021.
Publishing on 4 February 2021, the new raft of Quick Reads includes a dark domestic thriller from British Book Award winner Louise Candlish (The Skylight, Simon & Schuster); an uplifting romance by the much-loved Katie Fforde (Saving the Day, Century); the holiday from hell for Detective Roy Grace courtesy of crime fiction maestro Peter James (Wish You Were Dead, Macmillan); a specially abridged version of Caitlin Moran’s short sharp feminist manifesto (How to Be a Woman, abridged, Ebury); an introduction to Khurrum Rahman’s small scale dope dealer Javid Qasim (The Motive, HQ); and Oyinkan Braithwaite’s follow-up to her Booker nominated debut sensation My Sister, the Serial Killer — a family drama set in lockdown Lagos (The Baby is Mine, Atlantic).
Available for just £1 at bookshops and free to borrow from libraries, over 5 million of these invaluable books are used across the country in colleges, prisons, trade unions, hospitals and adult learning organisations.
Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “This year’s phenomenal re-launch of Quick Reads demonstrated the vital value this programme brings to improving literacy and helping thousands of people discover the joys and benefits of reading. Next year marks the second of three supported by the generous philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes – after which Quick Reads will be looking for new funding to ensure we can continue to reach new readers – and we are thrilled that such an impressive list of authors have given their time to write one of these transformative, bitesize books.”
Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of The Baby is Mine (Atlantic) said: “When I am writing, I don’t know what my readers will look like or what challenges they may be facing. So it was an interesting experience creating work with the understanding that the reader might need a story that was easy to digest, and who might not have more than a few hours in a week to commit to reading. It was daunting – simpler does not necessarily mean easier – I may have pulled out a couple of my hairs; but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Quick Reads tapped into my desire to create fiction that would be an avenue for relief and escape for all who came across it.”
Louise Candlish, author of The Skylight (Simon & Schuster) said: It’s an honour to be involved in this [next] year’s Quick Reads. Reading set me on the right path when I was young and adrift and it means such a lot to me to be a part of literacy campaign that really does change lives.”
Katie Fforde, author of Saving the Day (Century, Penguin Random House) said: “As a dyslexic person who even now can remember the struggle to read, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the scheme. Anything that might help someone who doesn’t find reading easy is such a worthwhile thing to do.”
Peter James, author of Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan) said: “The most treasured moments of my career have been when someone tells me they hadn’t read anything for years, often since their school days, but are back into reading via my books. What more could an author hope for? Reading helps us tackle big challenges, transports us into new worlds, takes us on adventures, allows us to experience many different lives and open us up to aspects of our world we never knew existed. So I’m delighted to be supporting Quick Reads again – I hope it will help more people get started on their reading journeys and be the beginning of a life-long love of books.”
Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury) said: “I wrote How To Be A Woman because I felt that feminism is such a beautiful, brilliant, urgent and necessary invention that it should not be hidden away in academic debates, or in books which most women and men found dull, and unreadable. Having a Quick Reads edition of it, therefore, makes me happier than I can begin to describe – everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend, on hand to help them through the often bewildering ass-hattery of Being A Woman. There’s no such thing as a book being too quick, too easy, or too fun. A book is a treat – a delicious pudding for your brain. I’m so happy Quick Reads have allowed me to pour extra cream and cherries on How To Be A Woman.”
Khurrum Rahman, author of The Motive (HQ) said: “I started reading late in life, as the idea of reading a book always seemed overwhelming. I hesitantly began a book a friend had recommended and quickly became totally immersed in the story. I found joy and comfort and most importantly, an escape. It’s for this very reason that I am so proud to be involved with Quick Reads. This initiative is so important for people, like I once was, to engage in stories that may mirror their own lives or to read experiences far beyond their imagination. Just like a friend once did for me, I hope I am able to play a small part in encouraging somebody to pick up a book.”
About Quick Reads 2021 Titles
Oyinkan Braithwaite, The Baby is Mine (Atlantic)
When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has no choice but to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. When he arrives, he’s surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi locked in battle with another woman, both claiming to be the mother of a baby boy. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?
Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at a Nigerian Publishing House and has been freelancing as a writer and graphic designer since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self-published work. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam. In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She is the author of My Sister, the Serial Killer, which won the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller, the 2019 Morning News Tournament of Books, the 2019 Amazon Publishing Reader’s Award for Best Debut Novel, the 2019 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. It was also shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019, shortlisted for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2019 in the Mystery & Thriller and Debut Novel categories, shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2020 in two categories, shortlisted for the Cameo Awards 2020 in the Book to Audio category, and shortlisted for Book Bloggers’ Choice Awards 2020. It was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019, and longlisted for the 2020 Dublin Literary Award. My Sister, the Serial Killer is being translated into 30 languages and has also been optioned for film.
Louise Candlish, The Skylight (Simon & Schuster)
A dark domestic thriller by the author of Our House and The Other Passenger. When Simone looks through the skylight into the flat below hers, she sees her boyfriend Jake sipping wine with their attractive young neighbour Alina, even though he’d claimed he was working late. The sight of the two of them together triggers a violent desire to teach them a lesson they won’t forget.
Sunday Times bestselling author Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and worked as an illustrated books editor and copywriter before writing fiction. She is the author of fourteen novels, including the thriller Our House, winner of the British Book Awards 2019 Crime & Thriller Book of the Year and now in development for a major TV series with Red Planet Pictures. Those People, a novel about neighbours from hell reached #2 on the Sunday Times bestseller list and has also been optioned for TV. Her new thriller The Other Passenger is out now in hardback. Louise lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband, teenage daughter and Labrador puppy.
Katie Fforde, Saving the Day (Century, Penguin Random House)
An uplifting romantic novel from the bestselling author of 26 novels. Allie lives with her father and has a useless boyfriend. She works in a supermarket but longs for a change. Seeing an ad in a cool café where she longs to work sets her on a path that will change her life as well as making a difference to the future of the café.
Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family, and is a true country girl at heart. Her books are the perfect escape. Each one explores a different profession or background, with Katie’s research helping her bring these to life… She’s been a porter in an auction house, tried her hand at pottery, refurbished furniture, delved behind the scenes of a dating website, and she’s even been on a Ray Mears survival course. She loves being a writer; to her there isn’t a more satisfying and pleasing thing to do. She particularly enjoys writing love stories. She believes falling in love is the best thing in the world, and she wants all her characters to experience it, and her readers to share their stories. She has written 25 novels and is a regular in the bestseller lists.
Peter James, Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan)
Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back…
Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his crime and thriller novels. He is the creator of the much-loved detective Roy Grace. His books have been translated into thirty-seven languages. He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award. Many of his books have been adapted for film, TV and stage.
Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury)
The specially abridged version of her 2011 celebrated and ground-breaking memoir of the same name. Moran documents her early life (from teens until mid-thirties) including her views on feminism. This is a hoot of a book as well as being a short sharp feminist manifesto.
Caitlin Moran is the eldest of eight children, home-educated on a council estate in Wolverhampton, believing that if she were very 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 of 16, and became a columnist at The Times at 18. She has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. At one point, she was also Interviewer and Critic of the Year – which is good going for someone who still regularly mistypes ‘the’ as ‘hte’. Her multi-award-winning bestseller How to Be a 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 Sunday Times bestsellers, and her novel, How to Build a Girl, debuted at Number One, and has been adapted into a movie due for release this summer. 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 two children, where she spends her time tweeting either about civil rights issues, or that picture of Bruce Springsteen when he was 23, and has his top off. She would like to be remembered as ‘a very sexual humanitarian’.
Khurrum Rahman, The Motive (HQ)
Khurrum’s novel introduces Javid Qasim, a happy-go-lucky small scale dope dealer, who goes on to feature in his novels East of Hounslow, Homegrown Hero and Ride or Die. Short of cash, Jay gets a welcome call to swing by a house party to deliver some weed to some local university students. But as the party gets out of hand, a routine police call-out because of the noise becomes much more serious when one party goer is stabbed and their life hangs in the balance.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1975 Khurrum moved to England when he was one. He is a west London boy and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two children. Khurrum graduated with BSc Honours and has been working in IT for a Local Authority for over 18 years. His debut novel, East of Hounslow (HQ, 2018), is part one of a gripping spy thriller series that centres on Jay Qasim, a happy-go-lucky small scale dope dealer in West London turned MI5’s most reluctant secret weapon. The series continues in Homegrown Hero (HQ, 2018) and Ride or Die (HQ, 2020). Khurrum has been shortlisted for Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year and CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger, and East of Hounslow was recently chosen as one of The Times and the Sunday Times Crime Club’s best books of the past five years.
About The Reading Agency & Quick Reads
The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council England. www.readingagency.org.uk
Quick Reads, part of The Reading Agency, aims to bring the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, including the one in three adults in the UK who do not regularly read for pleasure, and the one in six adults in the UK who find reading difficult. The scheme changes lives and plays a vital role in addressing the national crisis around adult literacy in the UK.
Each year, Quick Reads commissioning editor Fanny Blake works with UK publishers to commission high profile authors to write bitesize, engaging books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. Since 2006, 4.8 million books have been distributed through the initiative, 5 million library loans (PLR) have been registered and through outreach work hundreds of thousands of new readers each year have been introduced to the joys and benefits of reading.
From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes.