The Reading Agency Marks International Literacy Day With Jacket Reveal For 2021 Quick Reads

London, Tuesday 8 September 2020: On International Literacy Day, The Reading Agency has unveiled the jackets for the next instalment of Quick Reads, written by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Louise Candlish, Katie Fforde, Peter James, Caitlin Moran and Khurrum Rahman. These six amazing bitesize novels by leading authors will be released on 27 May 2021, marking the 15th anniversary of the life-changing programme tackling the UK’s adult literacy crisis by inspiring less confident readers. (Originally scheduled to launch in February 2021, the publication date has moved to Spring, due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and as The Reading Agency looks to share Quick Reads with the widest possible audience.)

Since launching in 2006, over 5 million Quick Reads books have been distributed. One in six adults in the UK find reading difficult and one in three do not regularly read for pleasure – Quick Reads works to change these statistics by producing high quality books supported by outreach work in libraries, further education, prisons and trade unions, to help thousands of new readers every year find the pleasure and benefits that come from reading. With publisher support and The Reading Agency’s outreach work, over 83,987 Quick Reads have been distributed in 2020 so far.

From dark domestic noir and compelling crime to family drama and feminist manifesto, the transformative titles publishing on 27 May 2021 are great reads showcasing the very best in contemporary writing, and are available for just £1 at bookshops and free to borrow from libraries, colleges, prisons, trade unions, hospitals and adult learning organisations across the UK.

  • The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic)
  • The Skylight by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)
  • Saving the Day by Katie Fforde (Arrow)
  • Wish You Were Dead by Peter James (Macmillan)
  • How to Be a Woman, abridged by Caitlin Moran (Ebury)
  • The Motive by Khurrum Rahman (HQ)

Fanny Blake, Quick Reads Commissioning Editor, said:

We are extremely proud to share the fabulous jackets for Quick Reads 2021. We could not be more grateful to the authors and publishers for their support of this invaluable programme. As we look forward to this next exceptional instalment of Quick Reads titles, it is easy to forget that without the generous gift of three years financial support from Jojo Moyes, Quick Reads would not have been relaunched,  next year’s titles would not exist, and thousands of readers would not have picked up a copy of these life-changing books. It’s crucial that we find a way of ensuring that Quick Reads are here to stay. They provide entertaining, compelling, first-class storytelling that changes lives through reading.”

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director, The Reading Agency, said: We’re thrilled to be unveiling the jackets for 2021’s upcoming Quick Reads. The authors taking part in the 15th anniversary of the programme are some of our brightest writing stars. We’re delighted to receive their help in tackling the adult literacy crisis in the UK. We hope the wide range of stories showcased in this collection will once again help people across the country discover the joy and proven power of reading. There really is something for everyone”

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director, The Reading Agency, Fanny Blake, Quick Reads Commissioning Editor, and the 2021 Quick Reads authors are available for comment/interview on International Literacy Day (Tuesday 8 September).

For further information please contact Georgina Moore and Hannah McMillan at Midas Public Relations: Georgina.moore@midaspr.co.uk | hannah.mcmillan@midaspr.co.uk | 020 7361 7860

About Quick Reads 2021 Titles (27 May 2021)

Oyinkan Braithwaite, The Baby is Mine (Atlantic)

When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout, and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They are fighting because both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib. At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?

Oyinkan Braithwaite gained a degree in Creative Writing and Law at Kingston University. Her first book, My Sister, the Serial Killer, was a number one bestseller. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize and was on the long list for the 2019 Booker Prize.

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, The Skylight (Simon & Schuster)

They can’t see her, but she can see them… Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they’ve got over for dinner. She knows what mood they’re in before they even step out the door. There’s nothing wrong with looking, is there? Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime…

Louise Candlish is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Other Passenger and thirteen other novels. Our House won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. It is now in development for a major TV series. Louise lives in London with her husband and daughter.

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, Saving the Day (Arrow, Penguin Random House)

Allie is bored with her job and starting to wonder whether she even likes her boyfriend, Ryan. The high point in her day is passing a café on her walk home from work. It is the sort of place where she’d really like to work. Then one day she sees as advert on the door: assistant wanted. But before she can land her dream job, Allie knows she must achieve two things:

  1. Learn to cook
  2. End her relationship with Ryan, especially as through the window of the café, she spies a waiter who looks much more like her type of man.

And when she learns that the café is in danger of closing, Allie knows she must do her very best to save the day …

Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family, and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a different job and her research has helped her bring these to life. To find out more about Katie Fforde step into her world at www.katiefforde.com, visit her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KatieFforde.

Katie Fforde, author of Saving the Day (Arrow, 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, 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.

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, How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury)

It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727.  But a few nagging questions remain… Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part protest, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.

Caitlin Moran became a columnist at The Times at eighteen and has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. She is the author of many award-winning books and her bestseller How to Be a Woman has been published in 28 countries, and won the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year 2011. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, is now a major feature film. Find out more at her website www.caitlinmoran.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @caitlinmoran

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, The Motive (HQ)

Business has been slow for Hounslow’s small time dope-dealer, Jay Qasim. A student house party means quick easy cash, but it also means breaking his own rules. But desperate times lead him there – and Jay finds himself in the middle of a crime scene. Idris Zaidi, a police constable and Jay’s best friend, is having a quiet night when he gets a call out following a noise complaint at a house party. Fed up with the lack of excitement in his job, he visits the scene and quickly realises that people are in danger after a stabbing. Someone will stop at nothing to get revenge…

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 sons. Khurrum is currently working as a Senior IT Officer but his real love is writing. His first two books in the Jay Qasim series, East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger.

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 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, over 5 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.