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Bringing you festive, bookish cheer from our authors and the Two Roads team!

DAY 4 – Feat. Two Roads’ Assistant Editor Federico Andornino

Two Roads 12 Days of Christmas Day 4Christmas really is my favourite time of year: I put up the tree as soon as my flatmate will allow it, blast Christmas tunes on my way to work thanks to my fantastically diverse playlist (I’ve got everyone, from Darlene Love to Mariah Carey) and get happy with friends and mulled wine.

But the thing I love the most is spending a good amount of time looking for the perfect presents for friends and family. I am not a big fan of shopping for shopping’s sake: I believe buying a good gift for a loved one requires time and effort and a good dose of love.

It also requires a good bookshop: books are the absolute centre of my Christmas giving campaign. So here’s what I’ve been busy gift-wrapping over the past few weeks:

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in the new, brilliant edition illustrated by Jim Kay. It’s completely stunning and manages to re-imagine the magic world of Harry Potter without relying on the films;
Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, the first of four novels by the mysterious Italian literary star. If you haven’t read it already go out and buy it now;
Coralie Bickford-Smith’s The Fox and the Star, because it wouldn’t be Christmas without a gorgeous children’s book.

Buon Natale everyone!


Bringing you festive, bookish cheer from our authors and the Two Roads team!

DAY 3 – Feat. Sally Magnusson, author of Two Roads bestseller Where Memories Go (find out more at http://bit.ly/sallymagnusson)

Two Roads 12 Days of Christmas Day 3I only want comfy books at Christmas, so I’ve just taken delivery of these two in the consoling certainty that I’ll be able to slip into their worlds and entirely disappear.

Robert Harris is the king of historical novelists and I’ve been waiting for Dictator, the third in his Cicero trilogy, for ages.

Christmas also requires at least one new crime book. Under the Robert Galbraith pseudonym J.K. Rowling has brought such a light touch, dark plotting and clever characterisation to her Cormoran Strike novels that I have high hopes for this third one, Career of Evil.

Off to put on the slippers and fill my glass. Cheers!


Bringing you festive, bookish cheer from our authors and the Two Roads team!

DAY 2 – Feat. Two Roads publisher Lisa Highton

The Penguin Book of the British Short Story edited by Phillip Hensher

Volume 1 from Daniel Defoe to John Buchan

Volume 2 from P G Wodehouse to Zadie Smith  


Two Roads 12 Days of Christmas Day 2This is my Christmas present to me.  It comes with a gift tag which says:

I hereby give you permission to put your feet up and read other people’s books over the Christmas holidays, much love etc

I have a passion for short stories and have a huge collection. They’re so marvellously liberating, allowing you to dip in and out – they are the cocktail party of literature.

There’s a publishing myth that short stories don’t sell, which is probably utter nonsense (along with green books not selling – though that one may actually be true). Whatever, the truth is that they are one of the most enjoyable forms of reading.

This incredibly handsome and well curated collection is so tantalising it’s almost edible. It includes some favourites such as Muriel Spark’s Bang-Bang You’re Dead, the old masters such as Saki and Maugham, and some new discoveries for me such as Margaret Oliphant, who wrote prolifically all her life to support her family. I can’t wait.

Happy book break to everyone.



Bringing you festive, bookish cheer from our authors and the Two Roads team!

DAY 1 – Feat. Guinevere Glasfurd, author of the forthcoming The Words In My Hand (find out more at http://bit.ly/thewordsinmyhand)

Two Roads 12 Days of Christmas Day 1I was lucky to see Edna O’Brien in conversation twice this year – first, in early February, when she read from the final draft of her latest novel (still a sheaf of loose papers) and then again in November when those papers had become a book: her seventeenth novel, The Little Red Chairs.

The Little Red Chairs deals with the horror of the Bosnian war and brings that horror home – in this case to an unwitting, but in some ways complicit, village community in Ireland. Writing the novel, O’Brien said, was a way to confront the evil of the war, to face down the unrepentant swagger of the men who perpetrated it; to bear witness through language and literature.

Many of us remember the Bosnian war, the nightly reports on the news. It was awful, horrific, but we were largely safe from it. O’Brien’s novel breaks this down absolutely. There is no safe distance, she seems to be saying; the war is ours, it was then and is now. If we do not confront it, (or are simply complacent), then we are within reach and liable to its harm, to its consequences.

I saw The Little Red Chairs first as a bundle of papers and then as a book. As my first novel makes its way towards being published, I’m aware of the work needed to bring a book to print. I’m aware too of how hard it is, as a woman, to write, and how few women make a living as writers and sustain that over many years.

So, read The Little Red Chairs because it is a great work, and read it for it is: an astonishingly rare thing: a seventeenth novel – one woman’s writing life.


Independent Booksellers Week might be over but doesn’t mean you can’t support your local indie when shopping for your summer reading books.

And of course, Two Roads is here to make finding that independent bookshop super easy. We’ve put together a map of all the bookshops we’ve visited as part of our IBW Indie Tour (2014 and 2015 editions), complete with London locations, pictures and links.

All you have to do is click on the map below.

For a more comprehensive list of independents try this.

IBW Two Roads Indies Map

#IBW2015 Two Roads Indie TourINDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 5


Day 5 of our Indie Tour is upon us and we’ve got a treat for you: follow our Publicist Yassine as he pays a visit to Brick Lane Bookshop

Pungent smells of turmeric and spiced onions mingle in the air over the lower end of Brick Lane as I walk up from Aldgate East tube station. Dancing past the curry-house waiters who try to tempt you in with promises of 25% off your bill, a much more tempting mainstay of Brick Lane can be found up ahead – Brick Lane Bookshop. Located at 166 Brick Lane, this is a small bookshop in terms of space but its bookshelves have a pulsating array of texts – ranging from children’s books to classic texts to London history to contemporary fiction. The time I spent scanning the shelves and tables and speaking to the owner Denise Jones found me feeling that this is a bookshop that is assured in its identity and proud of its history.

Brick Lane Bookshop was originally known as the Tower Hamlets Arts Project (THAP), later to be known as Eastside, with Brick Lane Bookshop being the latest incarnation. The shop started out in the early 1970s when there was not a single bookshop in Tower Hamlets. As the owner Denise Jones has said, ‘There was a group of local people who were not prepared to put up with this we realised that we would have to start one – but start small.’ This determination to put right a visible wrong has clearly stuck and fuels the bookshop’s ethos to take books out into the community. This is evident in the bookshop supplying books to local schools, having stalls at school author events as well as having author events at the bookshop and conducting its own reading group every month.

I walked away with three titles that were recommended to me by Denise. The first was Rebel Footprints: A Guide to Uncovering London’s Radical History by David Rosenberg (Pluto Press) which is a book that looks at periods in London history where dissenters have tried to usurp the Establishment. Each historical episode is then followed up by a map and route that you can walk in the footsteps of past heroes. I was also handed the sublimely designed pamphlet for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay We Should All Be Feminists (Fourth Estate) – a well-crafted treatise on gender inequality in society and how he can set about curing such disparity through an increase in awareness and inclusion. Probably my favourite of Denise’s recommendations was The Diary of Edward the Hamster, 1990 to 1990 (Boxtree) by Miriam Elia and Ezra Elia – a tragic, comic, and stirring read of poet/philosopher Edward the Hamster’s journals during his days in caged confinement. Existential angst pours out of each entry, replete with beautiful monochromatic illustrations – a diary that make you laugh and think in equal measure. Each of these recommendations echoed the identity of Brick Lane Bookshop – one that believes in the power of words and books in making us more socially conscious. For a bookshop that is such a part of its immediate community, I hope those further afield will flock to visit.

Brick Lane Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Brick Lane Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2Brick Lane Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Brick Lane Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Come back tomorrow for our next stop and find out more about Independent Bookshop Week at indiebookshopweek.com.

Slightly Foxed - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 1


#IBW2015 Two Roads Indie TourINDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 4


Time to head North (at least North London) for the fourth day in our Indie Tour and visit another fantastic independent bookshop, the Stoke Newington Bookshop in (you guessed it) Stokey! This is our Assistant Editor Fede’s local and that’s where he gets all his Hive purchases delivered (find out more about the free service here). Read his blog below and see why this is such a brilliant example of a truly creative indie:

It’s always such a joy to go through the doors of the Stoke Newington Bookshop: first of all it’s just a quick walk away from my flat, in one of London’s most up-and-coming and lively neighbourhoods; and then they always have a wonderful selection of titles in the shop, ranging from exciting new hardback fiction and non-fiction to the latest bestselling paperbacks, from slighlty obscure literature in translation to colourful children books.

The bookshop was in particularly fine form when I visited, with a glorious Independent Bookshop Week window display – all that orange is really eye-catching – and some fun tables inside too. I spoke with Anthony, one of the booksellers, who talked me through the various initiatives organised for IBW 2015. My absolute favourite was the display on one of the main tables, a map of the UK and Ireland with indie book picks from all over the country: the bookshop’s owner, Jo Adams, had personally called colleagues up and down the country – London, Wales, the North, Scotland, Ireland – to ask for the one book they are desperate for people to read. A treasure trove of smart and surprising recommendations. Completely genius.

I then asked the question: what would Anthony recommend? A simple question, and yet he had read so many excellent books recently that for a moment he was slightly overwhelmed by the different options. Now that is the sign of a passionate bookseller! In the end he picked two: Neil Smith’s debut novel BOO, which I had never heard of but sounded beautifully quirky, and one of Hoxton Mini Press’ terrific little books, Martin Usborne’s I’VE LIVED IN EAST LONDON FOR 86 AND A HALF YEARS, which promised to be a fun and poignant read.

Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2


Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Come back tomorrow for our next stop and find out more about Independent Bookshop Week at indiebookshopweek.com.

Slightly Foxed - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 1

#IBW2015 Two Roads Indie Tour



If there’s one thing that’s absolutely brilliant about our new offices on Victoria Embankment is that we are so close to the Southbank. So it seemed only fair that we go across the river for Day 3 of our IBW 2015 Indie Tour and say hi to the great people at the Southbank Centre branch of Foyles. Find out what Rosie – our Publicity Director – loved about this bookshop below:

You can almost – almost – wave to Foyles Southbank from Two Roads’ new home in Carmelite House and what better way to make an IBW book buying visit to our new neighbours than a summer night stroll along the Thames? After crossing Blackfriars Bridge and resisting the temptations of the Wahaca burrito truck, I arrived to find a busy Foyles on Belvedere Road.

Laid out on one floor and joining on to the busy Southbank Centre, it’s an airy space with a wide selection of titles, with bestsellers and new releases welcoming you at the door, and a large children’s section stretching across the shop. They hold launch parties here fairly regularly (no wonder, it’s a great spot for an evening drink, and you’re unlikely to find space anywhere else if the sun is out…) and have lots of signed copies, courtesy of the bookselling they do for the Southbank literature programme events.  Despite the fact that this is one of London’s busiest tourist hotspots, the very helpful staff tell me that they do have regulars, as well as the theatre goers and Southbank flaneurs.

I met manager Emily and her colleagues Nick and Kajra. When I asked them for recommendations, it was quickly clear they’re a brilliantly informed and enthusiastic team – Nick was able to tell me  more about the publication of THE VORHH by Brian Catling (a book from within the Hodder group) than I knew already! Interesting to hear that THE EXAMINED LIFE by Stephen Gross remains one of their bestsellers, over two years on from its original publication date – with Ali Smith’s HOW TO BE BOTH a more obvious recent popular title.

I came away with a copy of Theodore Zeldin’s LIFE (more for the unusual format than the content…) and THE VERSIONS OF US by Laura Barnett, another title that is currently doing well for them, and is headed for the beach with me. Given that the office is only a 15min walk away I intend to reclaim my lunch hour every now and then to cross the river more often…

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Come back tomorrow for our next stop and find out more about Independent Bookshop Week at indiebookshopweek.com.

Slightly Foxed - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 1

Sarah Hepola’s first book Blackout is published in June, she visited London ahead of publication. First impressions quite favourable…

Sarah Hepola in London

I am standing at the desk of an immigration officer at London’s Heathrow airport. The man flips through my passport.

“And what is your business here?” he asks, not looking up.

“I’m a writer,” I say.

It took a while to put that down on official forms. I usually put editor, and then sometimes I put journalist. To says you are a “writer” still feels like too much of a brag, like you are daring the world to call your bluff.

The man looks up. “A writer.” He says the word with a bit of music. “And what have you written which brings you to our fair shores?”

“I wrote a memoir, and it’s being published in the UK, so I’m coming here to meet the publisher.”

This grabs the attention of the middle-aged woman with glasses who has been shuffling through paperwork beside him. “A memoir, eh?” she says, looking me up and down. “But you’re so little.” I think she means young, but then again, I have been working out.

I explain that it’s a book about my troubled relationship with drinking, and more generally, about women’s relationship to alcohol. “Oh that’ll be good over here,” says the guy, and the woman beside him nods. “No shortage of women drinking,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“I have an idea for your next book,” says the guy, putting aside the passport now and leaning in, “and I hesitate to bring this up, because I don’t want you to go through another ordeal, but then again, you’re a writer, which means you enjoy unusual experience. But you know what would be a good subject for your second book? Women who have total breakdowns after the end of a relationship.”

I tell him I have some field experience with that one.

“Depression,” he says, his eyes going wide. “A real problem with depression here.”

“The heavy drinking is related to that,” I say. “It feels like it helps, until it doesn’t.”

He tells me how England has changed. It’s a pressure culture now, one defined by work and accomplishment. Gone are the Sundays at church, lazing around with the family. People can’t figure out how to relax. They’re estranged and isolated. Over in mainland Europe, he explains, you can still find that slow unspooling of the day. But in London, people are always going. Shopping, texting, rushing to work.

“Sounds like a toxic American export,” I tell him.

He nods. “Everything toxic from America drifts over here eventually,” he says, “and I wish we could just shove it back.”

The world may be rushed and too anonymous, but you can still find connection in the most unlikely places. He stamps my passport, and the two of them bid me farewell and best of luck with my book. And I move on to the baggage carousel, and into a city I’ve never been.

This blog post first appeared on Sarah’s website sarahhepola.com

A tasty one for Day 8 of #Road2Christmas!

Time for another delicious Christmas recipe. Inspired by her passion for all things festive our colleague Becky, Editorial Assistant at John Murray, has created this pretty impressive chocolate Christmas tree.
Not the easiest of cakes, but well worth the effort!

Find a step-by-step guide here: heypesto.ie/tag/darina-allen/





Every day we’ll share a piece of festive news to keep you going in these cold, dark, often madly-busy pre-Christmas days, may that be a list of our favourite books from 2014 or authors and ideas we’re excited to be publishing in the new year; or even our authors and colleagues’ favourite holiday reads.

Visit our Facebook page (facebook.com/TwoRoadsBooks) and follow us on Twitter (Lisa as @TwoRoadsBooks, Fede as @Due_Strade) to get involved!

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