Talking with Marian Keyes, Candice Carty-Williams, Dr Julie Smith and Nihal Arthanayake
As we mark Mental Health Awareness Week and its theme of loneliness, we speak with four writers who know the importance of talking about difficult things and why conversation is at the heart of better mental health. Marian Keyes and Candice Carty-Williams share the personal stories that fed into their fiction, whilst Dr Julie Smith brings her clinical expertise to a wider audience and broadcaster Nihal Arthanayake shows how a career based on dialogue has taught him what can help us all to have better conversations.
May 09, 2022
Consequences with Sam Knight and Jo Browning Wroe
Consequences brings together two books that seemed to have one thing in common and then turned out to be connected in entirely different ways. Sam Knight's The Premonitions Bureau is a fascinating look at the work of psychiatrist John Barker and a network of psychic visionaries in the 1960s. A Terrible Kindness is the debut novel from Jo Browning Wroe which shows how compassion and sacrifice can shape a life and how hard it can be to change course. In a fascinating discussion we discover more about the nature of time, of structure and of averting disaster.
May 03, 2022
Responding To The World with Jennifer Egan, Gary Shteyngart, Sequoia Nagamatsu and Ali Smith
All books respond to the world we live in but in this fascinating episode we speak to three incredible authors who have all written books which speak to something absolutely of this time and very often beyond it. How much has the pandemic changed the way we view the world and each other, what about the impact of technology, and what does the future hold? Featuring The Candy House by Jennifer Egan, Our Country Friends Gary Shteyngart, How High We Go In The Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu and Companion Piece by Ali Smith
April 04, 2022
Cosy Crime with Janice Hallett, Nita Prose and Reverend Richard Coles
Cosy crime has been popular for over a hundred years now but with a surge in popularity recently we speak to three authors who've all done something slightly different with the genre to discover the reasons for its enduring appeal, the techniques they use to build up their stories and why we as humans have a fascination with the dark side of life. Featuring Janice Hallett, Nita Prose and the Reverend Richard Coles.
March 16, 2022
How We Made: That Reminds Me with Derek Owusu
Derek Owusu's debut novel was the first fiction to be published by Stormzy's fledgling imprint #Merky Books and went on to win the Desmond Elliot Prize in 2020. In this episode we hear from Derek about the mental health crisis that first encouraged him to put pen to paper, from his editor Tom Avery about changing the mainstream and from chair of judges Preti Taneja, herself a previous winner of the prize, about why this book is so special. Featuring: Derek Owusu, Tom Avery, Preti Taneja
November 23, 2021
BONUS: Fry's Ties with Stephen Fry
It was during a lockdown tidying spree that Stephen Fry reacquainted himself with his substantial tie collection. It will come as no surprise that a man who had over 40 ties by the age of 15, now had a collection in the hundreds. What was surprising was how easily the memories associated with those ties came back to him and so after sharing some of the stories on Instagram we now have a gorgeous book version, Fry’s Ties. To celebrate it we took a walk with Stephen along Jermyn Street, home to both him and Waterstones and a series of men’s outfitters whose history is inextricably tied to this most individual piece of clothing.
November 09, 2021
How We Made: A Brief History Of Seven Killings with Marlon James
Marlon James became the first Jamaican-born writer to win the Booker Prize in 2015, when his multi-voiced epic, A Brief History of Seven Killings triumphed amongst a strong shortlist. In this episode we hear from the author about how the novel took its shape, from the publisher about what makes the book such a compelling read and from one of the judges about why it emerged as their unanimous winner. Featuring: Marlon James, Juliet Mabey, Sam Leith.
November 02, 2021
This Is The Book: We Are Not Like Them
We Are Not Like Them shows the impact of a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager from a different angle. Two close friends, Jen and Riley, one white, one black, one the wife of the police officer responsible, one the news anchor charged with covering the story. A premise made all the more intriguing as it was written by not one author but two, Jo Piazza and Christine Pride, one white, one black, both working together to create an unflinching novel that will start conversations. Featuring: Jo Piazza, Christine Pride, Manpreet Grewal, Stephanie Heathcote
October 12, 2021
This Is The Book: The Dust Never Settles
Some debut novelists arrive fully formed and as we’ll discover in this episode, Karina Lickorish Quinn is one such novelist; an Anglo-Peruvian writer who has drawn on family memories and the wider history of Peru to create a novel about home, injustice and ghosts that recalls Faulkner’s famous line, ‘The past is never dead. It's not even past.’ Coming from a publisher that has already chalked up multiple Booker Prize wins in recent years you’ll want to know why this year, for them, This Is The Book. Featuring: Karina Lickorish Quinn, Juliet Mabey, Kate Bland, Ben Summers, Seren Adams.
October 05, 2021
This Is The Book: Empress & Aniya
Sometimes all you need is a one sentence pitch to immediately get excited about a book. And when publisher Knights Of announced earlier this year that they would be publishing Empress & Aniya, a YA novella from Candice Carty-Williams which would be South London’s answer to Freaky Friday, you could almost hear the whoops and squeals across social media. In this episode we’ll hear from author, publisher and early readers about why, particularly if you’re a teenage girl, This Is The Book. Featuring: Candice Carty-Williams, Aimée Felone, Eishar Brar, Tanya Byrne.
September 28, 2021
How We Made: Signs Preceding The End Of The World with Yuri Herrera
The rich mythology and linguistic skills on display in Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding The End Of The World had been thought by some to make it untranslatable but in this episode we hear from the author about the mythical basis for this modern tale of border crossing, from translator Lisa Dillman about meeting the challenges of bringing the Spanish text to an English readership, from cultural critic and commentator Maya Jaggi about what makes the book so special and from publisher Stefan Tobler about why translating fiction is so important to And Other Stories as they celebrate their 10th birthday. Featuring: Yuri Herrera, Stefan Tobler, Lisa Dillman, Maya Jaggi
September 14, 2021
This Is The Book: Keeping The House
Publisher And Other Stories have spent the last decade bringing bold new voices to English readers and in their anniversary year they continue to break new ground. Interdisciplinary artist Tice Cin takes the reader inside the Turkish men's clubs and households of North London for a unique perspective on the heroin trade that spans generations and borders. In this episode we hear from those around the publication about what makes Cin so exciting as an artist and she shares some of what she has had to go through to bring us this striking debut novel. Featuring: Tice Cin, Max Porter, Stefan Tobler, Nichola Smalley, Donald Winchester.
September 07, 2021
How We Made: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell with Susanna Clarke
When Susanna Clarke's magical vision of an alternate Georgian England arrived it became an instant bestseller but as we discover in this episode, the book's journey was far from certain. Clarke shares how a writer's confidence can wax and wane and we discover how secret support behind the scenes helped her writing come into the light. Featuring Neil Gaiman and voices from publishing and bookselling, this is the inside story of an 'instant' classic. Featuring: Susanna Clarke, Neil Gaiman, Alexandra Pringle, Kathleen Farrar, Josh Prince, Becky Kelly
August 31, 2021
How We Made: H is for Hawk with Helen Macdonald
In 2014 a book with a striking bird on its cover appeared in bookshops but what kind of book was it? Was it a memoir about grief, or a book about training a goshawk? Was it a biography of T. H. White, or was it nature writing? Or was it perhaps a melding of all of these things? And how did this hybrid book go on to become an award winner and international bestseller? In this episode we hear from Helen Macdonald about turning grief into almost a new genre of writing and from the team at publisher Jonathan Cape, which celebrates its centenary this year, about creating a modern classic. Featuring: Helen Macdonald, Dan Franklin, Suzanne Dean, Chris Wormell, Ruth Waldram, Rob Verner Jeffreys, Steve Bundy
August 03, 2021
How We Made: Ducks, Newburyport with Lucy Ellman
Being a small, independent publisher doesn't mean thinking small, and with prize-winning successes already under their belt, Galley Beggar Press took on the challenge of publishing a novel consisting of a single sentence that ran for more than a thousand pages. Ducks, Newburyport went on to win prizes too as well as Booker recognition and in this episode we hear from Lucy Ellman about how you write a stream-of-consciousness novel on this scale and from those involved in publishing it about the challenges in typesetting it, printing it, and narrating the audio book. Featuring Lucy Ellman, Sam Jordison, Eloise Millar, Alex Billington, Stephanie Ellyne, Aaron Myles, Rob Verner-Jeffreys
July 13, 2021
How We Made: A Kind Of Spark with Elle McNicoll
With perfect timing, our episode telling the inside story of A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll arrives just as we announce that it has been chosen as the overall winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2021. We speak to those involved about the serendipity of how it came to be published, why it's important to get the right people in the room when it comes to publishing and why this book is not just important but also one of the best books for children of the last decade. Featuring: Elle McNicoll, David Stevens, Eishar Brar, Lauren Gardner, Marissaié Jordan, Kay Wilson, Lizzie Huxley Jones, Florentyna Martin
July 01, 2021
This Is The Book: Why We Kneel, How We Rise
As a bowler for the West Indies, Michael Holding was well known for his measured run up and devastating fast bowling, an approach he has taken into his punditry where he is always calm and controlled but also frank and honest with his opinions. So when rain delayed the start of play and conversation was steered to the impact of racism in cricket in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Holding spoke with a clarity which forced everyone watching and those who caught up later to take notice of his words. A year on, the conversation he started has become a book, including the conversations he's had with other sporting icons, and another view of history that shows how important education is in eradicating racism and improving equality for all. In this episode we find out from those involved why this book is so important and their hopes for what it might achieve. Featuring: Michael Holding, Ed Hawkins, Ian Marshall, Samar Habib
June 22, 2021
This Is The Book: The Other Black Girl
After a few years working at one of the most established publishers in New York, Zakiya Dalila Harris was inspired to write a novel which would turn its gaze on the world of publishing itself and set up one of the most intriguing literary thrillers of the year. She spoke to us about the encounter that provided the novel's seed and the experience of working both inside publishing and outside it as an author. We also hear from editor Alexis Kirschbaum about this book's unique qualities and fellow author Erin Kelly about why she couldn't stop turning its pages. Featuring: Zakiya Dalila Harris, Alexis Kirschbaum, Erin Kelly
June 01, 2021
This Is The Book: The Vanishing Half
The Vanishing Half, our current Fiction Book of the Month was first published last year, as the impact of lockdown hit us all and, over in America, the murder of George Floyd stirred up debate and protest. With the book now available in paperback we hear from Brit Bennett about the impact of that but also what came before it, from her editor about the battle to get to publish her and from early readers about why this tale of twin sisters living such separate lives has resonated with so many readers. Featuring Brit Bennett, Sharmaine Lovegrove, Nico Taylor, Millie Seaward, Candice Carty-Williams
May 25, 2021
This Is The Book: Insignificance
As an independent publisher that consistently punches above its weight, with Booker Prize shortlisting and other notable successes, we speak to Sam Jordison and Eloise Millar, the two people behind Galley Beggar Press, about their latest publication, Insignificance by James Clammer. We also hear from James about the world of the working class, his own past as a plumber, and the emotional journey of his protagonist, Joseph. Featuring James Clammer, Sam Jordison, Eloise Millar
May 18, 2021
How We Made: Cloud Atlas with David Mitchell
The novel that cemented the reputation of David Mitchell as one of the most exciting and innovative writers of his generation is also a masterclass in structure. In this episode of the podcast we get to hear about the painstaking work that went into its construction but also the happy accidents that emanated from that to help make the novel such a rich and rewarding reading experience. We also hear about how his background as a Waterstones bookseller helped to make him the novelist he is today! Featuring: David Mitchell, Carole Welch, Jamie Hodder-Williams, Martin Latham.
May 11, 2021
How We Made: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Not many books make a big fanfare about their 42nd anniversary but fans will know why this year is important for Douglas Adams's comic masterpiece. To celebrate its enduring legacy we speak with long-time friends, colleagues, collaborators and fans to try and put our finger on why the universe he created remains so popular today. From his famed struggles with deadlines to the legendary tales that surround his ideas we take a look at what made him so funny and still so very much missed by all. Featuring: John Lloyd, Jacqueline Graham, Chris Riddell, Peter Whitehead, David Haddock, Yvette Keller, Mayara Santos, Nemo Thorx
May 04, 2021
How We Made: Wolf Hall with Hilary Mantel
The first in a new series that discovers the story behind books which went on to become prize-winners, trail-blazers, or are now seen as modern classics. We speak exclusively with Dame Hilary Mantel and her editor, Nicholas Pearson, about Wolf Hall, the first part of her Cromwell trilogy which not only won the Booker Prize but set up a series of books that went on to become a unique cultural moment at their conclusion. We hear how plans for one book became three, what it felt like to win the Booker Prize, twice, and how she feels now looking back on a 15 year project. Featuring: Hilary Mantel, Nicholas Pearson, Bea Carvalho
April 27, 2021
This Is The Book: This One Sky Day
After two critically acclaimed novels it has been a long wait for Leone Ross's third but you know what they say about all good things. Fifteen years in the making, This One Sky Day transports us to Popisho, a fantastical island archipelago, where every resident has some kind of magical ability. Food, politics, satire, sex and magic combine in this rich and evocative novel and we hear how pain, hard-work and healing combined to make such a delicious dish. Featuring Leone Ross, Niki Chang, Louisa Joyner, Sara Collins, Lucy Houghton, Peter Adlington.
April 13, 2021
This Is The Book: The Last House on Needless Street
The buzz is real and in this episode we find out why so many people are talking about The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. We speak with the author about the book's inspirations; agent and editor about shaping such an intricately plotted book with multiple narrative voices (including a cat), and find out from fellow authors why this book has blown them away. Join us for a spoiler-free journey into a dark tale. Featuring Catriona Ward, Jenny Savill, Miranda Jewess, Joanna Harris, Chris Whitaker, Kiran Millwood-Hargrave.
March 30, 2021
This Is The Book: The Lamplighters
Based on real events and a novel that has been ten years in the making, The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is a pitch-perfect mystery that will tempt any reader. In this episode we discover the true story behind this literary mystery and the author's fascination with the lighthouses that dot our coastline. We also hear from her agent and editor about the writing process, from the publishers about why the book is so special and how it's striking design was created, and fellow authors Raynor Winn and S. J. Watson tell us why they admire the book so much. Featuring Emma Stonex, Madeleine Milburn, Sophie Jonathan, Katie Bowden, Katie Tooke, Georgina Moore, Raynor Winn, S. J. Watson
March 23, 2021
This Is The Book: We Are All Birds Of Uganda
Co-winner of the inaugural Merky Books New Writer's Prize, We Are All Birds of Uganda is the debut novel from Hafsa Zayyan. In this episode we find out how she entered this open-submission competition and the family history that fed into the idea for this story of displacement, home and identity. We also hear more about this publishing collaboration with Stormzy and why it is so important to enable people from under-represented communities to tell their story. Featuring Hafsa Zayyan, Emma Wallace, Abi Fellows, Lemara Lindsay-Prince, Nikesh Shukla, Ceara Elliot
March 16, 2021
Not just one series this year, but two. How We Made takes us back to meet authors, agents, publishers and fans to discover how some of the most successful books of recent times first came to reader's hands. This Is The Book asks publishers to pick just one book from 2021 and tell us why it's so special. Exciting new fiction, powerful memoir and books that are improving the inclusivity of stories available will all be featured. What's it like to be amongst the first to read a classic? You're about to find out on the Waterstones Podcast.
March 16, 2021
BONUS: CLANLANDS with Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish
A bonus episode in which we get to speak to two stars of the hugely popular TV series Outlander, actors Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish. Adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s historical novels set in 18th century Scotland in which Sam plays hero Jamie Fraser and Graham his uncle, Dougal MacKenzie, Outlander has become a TV sensation. After working together in seasons one and two, the two friends set out on a road trip around Scotland to investigate its history and culture, whilst also imbibing a good sample of its famous whiskey. We sat down with a wee dram of our own to talk about the book that came out of the trip. Books mentioned: Clanlands, Outlander
November 24, 2020
42. PUB GRUB with Tom Kerridge
A pub with two Michelin stars is no ordinary pub and in what has been no ordinary year for the entire hospitality industry we sat down with celebrated chef Tom Kerridge in The Hand and Flowers to celebrate the publication of their cookbook, 15 years in the making. Why are pubs so important to communities and how do you keep that friendliness when serving food at the highest level? We spoke about the public house, the path to perfection and the right sauce to have with a bacon sandwich. Books mentioned: The Hand and Flowers Cookbook
November 17, 2020
41. OBLIVION with Rumaan Alam
Sometimes novels come along that seem to show an uncanny prescience for the world we live in. And whilst no one could have quite predicted what 2020 has thrown at us, Rumaan Alam has managed to write a novel about a simple family holiday that touches on the pressing issues of today. Class, Race, Privilege and confusion at what's happening in the world; all of these will feel familiar, as will the sense of not knowing what to do about it. Luckily Rumaan is here to talk us through them and to share what really scares him. Books mentioned: Leave The World Behind
November 11, 2020
40. CHOICE with Christa Parravani
As Americans go to the polls to chose their next president it's clear the result could have far-reaching repercussions in many areas. For many American women it may be that wheels are already in motion to further restrict their access to reproductive healthcare with the rushed new appointment to the Supreme Court. Christa Parravani talks to us about the surprise pregnancy that she wanted to end, only to be confronted by the confounding machinery of the American healthcare system in a red state. Books mentioned: Loved and Wanted
November 02, 2020
39. CARE with Christie Watson and Madeleine Bunting
When the pandemic hit, it was nurses who provided the critical care needed to save lives. And when the waves have passed it will be nurses providing the care needed in the aftermath. In this episode we examine what it really means to care with nurse and author Christie Watson and writer Madeleine Bunting, both of whom have travelled the country to see how care works in hospitals, surgeries, care homes and our own houses. What drives people to care for others and what do we need to so to ensure that care exists for all in the future? Books mentioned: The Courage To Care, Labours of Love, The Language of Kindness
October 27, 2020
38. JUST KEEP LIVIN' with Matthew McConaughey
Whichever of his many film roles first made an impression on you, you definitely never forget a Matthew McConaughey performance. With his new memoir Greenlights, we get personal insight into the man behind the roles as he shares his frank and funny insights into family, film-making and finding your path in life. Books mentioned: Greeenlights
October 20, 2020
37. GHOSTS with Dolly Alderton
After sharing her own experiences in the memoir Everything I Know About Love, Dolly Alderton turns to fiction in her new book and explores the perils of online dating, the strains of time on friendship and the theme of identity amongst her cast of characters. Ghosts come in many forms in this ambitious novel and we encounter a few of them in this conversation. Books mentioned: Ghosts, Everything I Know About Love.
October 14, 2020
36. SECRETS with Graham Norton
With his third novel, Graham Norton is now cementing his place as a writer with a keen sense of community, repression and the power of buried secrets. Heralded as his most personal novel yet, Home Stretch follows the aftermath of a tragedy and the different trajectories of those that stay at home and those that attempt to exile themselves. We spoke to him about sticking his neck out as an author, the parts of him within the book, and the ability of characters to surprise the author themselves. Books mentioned: Home Stretch, Holding, A Keeper.
October 06, 2020
35. WORDS with Susie Dent & Eley Williams
Join us in dictionary corner as we chat to Countdown's Susie Dent about her love of language and her new book, Word Perfect, which shares the stories behind a word for every day of the year. We also speak with writer Eley Williams about her novel, The Liar's Dictionary, and enter the murky world of the mountweazel. A truly treat for logophiles everywhere. Books mentioned: Word Perfect, The Liar's Dictionary, Attrib. and other stories
September 30, 2020
34. MY STORY with Chanel Miller
When Chanel Miller published her memoir it was the first time that many people discovered that she was Emily Doe, the Stanford sexual assault survivor, whose victim impact statement had gone viral. As her book comes out in paperback we spoke to her about her she set down in words the awful experience of assault, the criminal justice system and the aftermath. Contains discussion of sexual assault, so listener discretion is advised. Books mentioned: Know My Name
September 22, 2020
33. PURPOSE with Jay Shetty
After three years as a monk in India, Jay Shetty set off to bring wisdom to the world using the modern tools of the internet and the ability to make what he'd learned go viral. With many looking at their lives afresh during lockdown and beyond we spoke to him about finding the right path in life, what we mean by purpose and why a life in service of others is the key to fulfilment. Books mentioned: Think Like A Monk
September 15, 2020
32. RAMBLING with Adam Buxton
In this extended episode we go for a ramble with Adam Buxton, back to an eighties childhood, boarding school, Bowie, Baadad! And also to confront recent grief after the loss of both parents. In this frank and honest conversation we look at family relationships, emotional connection and also get to hear a truly great Bowie impression. Books mentioned: Ramble Book
September 08, 2020
31. LIFE with Paul Nurse
It doesn't matter how you fared in biology at school, Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse is here with the perfect book to understand biology in five steps. We spoke with him about the moment he first became fascinated by how life works, the luck and mistakes that led to his great discoveries, and the family secret that revealed a genetic surprise much closer to home. Books mentioned: What is Life?
September 01, 2020
30. DIVISION with Elif Shafak
Even before the turmoil of 2020, the last few years have seen the rise of populist politics, people split into tribes, and the disintegration of constructive discourse around the topics that affect all of our lives. In this age of division, what can we possible do to maintain our sanity? We sat down with Booker Prize-shortlisted author Elif Shafak to look at some of the reasons for our current state of affairs and to ask what needs to change for a more positive future. Books mentioned: How To Stay Sane In An Age Of Division, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World
August 25, 2020
29. TRESPASSING with Nick Hayes
A love of the natural world has always suffused the graphic novels of Nick Hayes but his latest book takes things even further as he trespasses the English countryside in order to explore the limits and absurdities of the property law that excludes us from much of the country we live in. As lockdown eases and we yearn to get out again we spoke to him about the importance of making that connection with nature and what we can do to ensure that we all have access to it. Books mentioned: The Book of Trespass, Woody Guthrie, Cormorance.
August 19, 2020
28. CHILDREN with Nathan Bryon, Dapo Adeola, Sharna Jackson & Liz Hyder
A celebration of the best new talent in children's writing and illustration, the Waterstones Children's Book Prize has recently announced its winners. In this episode we enjoy chats with all four of them about the importance of children's literature and the books that helped form them as readers, writers and illustrators. Join Nathan Bryon, Dapo Adeola, Sharna Jackson and Liz Hyder for a trip back to childhood and a look ahead to a rosy future for kids everywhere. Books mentioned: Look Up!, High Rise Mystery, Bearmouth
August 04, 2020
27. EXPECTATIONS with Emma Gannon
We all grow up with a sense of the expectations our family or, indeed, wider society might have of us: grow up, get a job, buy a house, get married, have kids, settle down. And yet every single one of those has been challenged by millennial life. Emma Gannon is well-known for her observations on modern working life and in her debut novel, Olive, her eponymous heroine dares to articulate that she doesn't want to have children, only to find that it remains taboo. We spoke with Emma about choosing to be child-free, choosing fiction to express it, and the special bonds of female friendship. Books mentioned: Olive
July 21, 2020
26. DOING IT RIGHT with Pandora Sykes
The millennial generation have grown up with more choice available than ever before and the encouragement always to be living your best life. So why, for so many, does it feel like they're getting modern life all wrong? With her essay collection How Do We Know We're Doing It Right? Pandora Sykes examines everything from authenticity, binge-watching and modern working lives to 'that dress'. We spoke with her about capturing a moment and what the changes of 2020 have hopefully taught us about living better lives when we emerge on the other side of it. Books mentioned: How Do We Know We're Doing It Right?
July 14, 2020
25. OUTRAGE with Dotty Charles
Anyone who has spent any time on social media will have seen how outrage provides the fuel for many a discussion. And despite well-meaning intentions, is our desire to make the world a better place being clouded by the rush to insult and those moments where we can be baited into a response. BBC presenter and DJ Ashley ‘Dotty’ Charles is familiar with the provocations of the modern world and joined us for a discussion about returning to a truer course of activism, recorded in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests. Books mentioned: Outraged: Why Everyone is Shouting and No One is Talking
July 07, 2020
24. GUILTY PLEASURES with Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Daisy Johnson
With the recent announcement that Stephanie Meyer’s retelling of the Twilight saga from Edward Cullen’s perspective (Midnight Sun) will finally be published in August there has been some ravenous excitement around the original books and perhaps even a reappraisal of their value. Should one feel guilty about enjoying them so much and indeed should one feel guilty about reading anything at all? To help answer those questions I spoke to former Waterstones Children’s Book Prize-winner Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Booker Prize-nominee Daisy Johnson. Lockdown has allowed these near-neighbours to create a bookclub amongst their friends and things have get very intense recently with the Twilight saga turning them all. Books mentioned: Twilight, Midnight Sun, The Mercies, Sisters
May 26, 2020
23. KINDNESS with Rutger Bregman
We have been told for centuries that humans are not much more than brutal animals with a thin veneer of civilisation on top but in his radical new history of humankind Rutger Bregman seeks to flip things on their head and ask if in fact we're pretty decent after all and if in fact our kindness has helped us to develop so far as a species. Challenging long-held views from philosophy and fiction, we spoke to him about his revolutionary perspective. Books mentioned: Humankind
May 10, 2020
22. APOCALYPSE with Mark O'Connell
Now, it might seem a strange time to be calling a podcast episode Apocalypse but in many ways now is the perfect time to enjoy the insights of Mark O’Connell’s odyssey into the end times. We have much to learn from those preparing for civilisational collapse in America, or millionaire bolt holes in New Zealand, the drive to take humans to Mars and an engagement with nature much closer to home. We spoke to him from his home in Ireland about the end, parenthood, and finding hope amidst the chaos. Books mentioned: Notes From An Apocalypse
May 10, 2020
21. TRANSLATION with Walter Iuzzolino and Sam Taylor
After bringing the best of world TV to UK screens with Walter Presents, Walter Iuzzolino is now doing the same with literature in conjunction with Pushkin Press. We spoke to him from lockdown in London about why it's so important to get cultural input from around the globe and to find out more about the first book in the series with translator Sam Taylor, who speaks to us from his home in the US to help us understand more about the process of translating from one language to another. Books mentioned: The Mystery of Henri Pick, The Second Life of Inspector Canessa, HHhH, In Paris With You.
May 05, 2020
20. TOGETHERNESS with Vivek Murthy
A book about human connection would an essential read at any time but right now it seems vital. Vivek Murthy served as Surgeon General in the US and found that loneliness was at the heart of a lot of the health issues he wanted to tackle. We spoke to him from his home in America about why human connection is so powerful for mind, body and spirit and what we can do during this period of isolation to maintain that contact. Books mentioned: Together
April 28, 2020
19. COPING WITH CHANGE with Julia Samuel
As a psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience Julia Samuel knows that change can present moments of crisis and crisis can force moments of extreme change. Her new book, This Too Shall Pass, looks at the moments of change any of us might face in our lifetime and as well as speaking to her about that, we wanted to know what lessons from her book might help us all to navigate the current crisis. Books mentioned: This Too Shall Pass
April 08, 2020
TABLE MANNERS BONUS EPISODE with Jessie Ware & Lennie Ware
A little bonus episode for you, recorded with Jessie Ware and Lennie Ware of Table Manners podcast fame when they came to launch their cookbook at Waterstones Piccadilly. What happens when you combine their passion for food with an equally greedy host and a fine selection of cheese from Paxton and Whitfield? A recipe for disaster? Far from it. Enjoy Books mentioned: Table Manners
March 31, 2020
18. FEAR, HOPE & ACTION with Jenny Offill, Rosamund Lupton and Julia Ebner
In these uncertain times we bring you a podcast that confronts our fears and anxieties to bring a note of hope and even some ideas about what we can do to make the world a better place afterwards. Jenny Offill speaks to us from America about the current coronavirus pandemic, and how she managed to engage with climate change, the opioid crisis and American politics in her new novel, Weather. Rosmaund Lupton shares her techniques for creating suspense in the reader in her latest real-time thriller, Three Hours. And Julia Ebner shares details of her undercover work to document online extremism in Going Dark and what happens when you come face to face with such real world danger. Books mentioned: Weather, Three Hours, Going Dark, House of Leaves, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
March 24, 2020
17. MEMORY with Nicci Gerrard, Eimear McBride and Meera Sodha
Memory gives us the chance to speak to three authors who all approach this theme from completely different directions. Eimear McBride takes us to a series of hotel rooms to see what memories they unearth and how they can warp and change over time. Bestselling food writer Meera Sodha shares some of her first food memories and why preserving family recipes is so important. And Nicci Gerrard shares her personal experience of her father’s dementia and why it encouraged her to write What Dementia Teaches Us About Love. Books mentioned: What Dementia Teaches Us About Love, Strange Hotel, East, Somebody I Used To Know, The Sense of an Ending, Playthings
March 10, 2020
16. MOTHERHOOD with Giovanna Fletcher and Maggie O'Farrell
There is something unique about the bond of motherhood but with social media adding to the pressures already present, how do we keep our expectations realistic when it comes to being a good parent? And does history have anything to teach us about our modern approach? Maggie O’Farrell talks about bridging the gap of 400 years in her fictional portrait of Anne Hathaway and the Shakespeare family in Hamnet. And Giovanna Fletcher joins us in the studio to talk about the realities of modern motherhood; the tears and the tantrums. And that’s just the parents. Books mentioned: Letters on Motherhood, Hamnet, Motherwell, The Unit, The Republic of Motherhood.
February 24, 2020
15. STORIES with Naomi Ishiguro, Zadie Smith and Julia Armfield
What is it that short stories can do that novels cannot? Why does it appeal to some writers and not others? In this episode we embrace the short form and talk to three female writers keen to engage with this unique form of storytelling. Zadie Smith straddles the Atlantic to look at the differences between story culture in the US, UK and beyond. Julia Armfield invokes body horror and genre as she plays with form and liberates herself. And Naomi Ishiguro joins us in the studio to share her journey from student to published author as she launches her debut story collection. Books mentioned: Escape Routes, Grand Union, Salt Slow, Friday Black, The Light Years, Difficult Women.
February 11, 2020
14: ADAPTATION with R. J. Palacio, Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood
Books have provided the inspiration for countless films, plays, musicals, TV series, and other works of art. In Adaptation we speak to R. J. Palacio about seeing her best-seller, Wonder, transferred to the big screen. We hear from Neil Gaiman about the different ways he has adapted his own work into other forms and which he thinks have worked the best. And Margaret Atwood speaks to us about seeing The Handmaid’s Tale become a phenomenon and her own adaptation of the works of Shakespeare. Books mentioned: Wonder, The White Bird, The Ocean At The End of the Lane, Coraline, Good Omens, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, Hag-seed, This Thing of Darkness, An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, Not The End of the World
January 28, 2020
13. CHANGES with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, Emily Dean and Claudia Hammond
At the start of a new year, and indeed a new decade, we’re taking the theme of Changes to allow us to talk to Dr Rangan Chatterjee about the simple ways in which we can genuinely change our health, happiness and fulfilment without having to take out a gym membership or clear the diary. We also hear from Emily Dean about how losing her sister, mother and father in the space of three years, forced a huge amount of change on her and how she coped with this bereavement. And Claudia Hammond tells us why rest is as important as sleep for human health and happiness and why reading might be the very best way to achieve it. Books mentioned: Feel Better in 5, Everybody Died, So I Got A Dog, The Art of Rest, All Among The Barley, Queenie
January 14, 2020
12. EATING with Jay Rayner, Lara Williams and Michael Palin
Beware: this episode may make you hungry. We’re joined by gourmand Jay Rayner to look back at the life experiences that shaped his taste as he searches for the ingredients for My Last Supper. Michael Palin shares his experiences of eating around the world and how food can be a great unifier of people who may not even share a language. And Lara Williams talks about subverting the idea of appetite for her stunning debut novel about female friendship. Books mentioned: My Last Supper, North Korea Journal, Supper Club, An Echo of Scandal, An Apple A Day, The Best of A. A. Gill
December 03, 2019
11. MEETINGS with Malcolm Gladwell, Sally Rooney and Arundhati Roy
Malcolm Gladwell brings fascinating anecdotes and insight to why humans are so bad at reading each other on first meeting, drawing on events that end in tragedy, wrongful conviction or compromised security. We also look at another meaning to meeting entirely: that between author and character. Sally Rooney talks about the absurdity of ascribing real psychology to figments of her imagination, people who may not exist and yet whom she feels she knows intimately. Arundhati Roy takes things even further by revealing the unique relationship she has with the characters she creates and the way in which they influence decisions about the books they inhabit. Books mentioned: Talking To Strangers, Normal People, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, 1913, The Psychopath Test, Just Kids.
November 26, 2019
10. COMMUNITY with Ann Patchett, Jason Reynolds, Amrou Al-Kadhi and Zing Tsjeng
Author and bookshop owner Ann Patchett joins us to talk about why a bookshop should be at the heart of any community and why book design is more important than ever. Jason Reynolds talks about what binds communities together and gives us his perspective on black culture and its influence around the world. And we also hear from an event around Pride in London at which Zing Tsjeng and Amrou Al-Kadhi interrogate whether corporate sponsorship of events like Pride is a good or bad thing. Books mentioned: The Dutch House, Long Way Down, Look Both Ways, Unicorn, Forgotten Women, Queer Intentions, Sanctuary, Under Milk Wood, Bold Girls.
November 19, 2019
9. CULTURE with Richard Ayoade, Debbie Harry and Jia Tolentino
Culture comes in many forms and we’ve tried to cram as much as we can into this week’s episode. Richard Ayoade takes us to the movies with his inimitable perspective on perhaps the best cabin crew dramedy ever filmed: View From the Top starring Gwyneth Paltrow. We get the chance to speak to cultural icon Debbie Harry, who shares what it was like to be in the New York of the 1970s involved in music, fashion, art and filmmaking. And essayist Jia Tolentino talks about the influence of the internet on our culture and why we should be very careful about what we give up to social media. Books mentioned: Ayoade on Top, Face It, Trick Mirror, A Field Guide To Getting Lost, The Lonely City, The Importance of Music to Girls.
November 11, 2019
8. OUTSIDE with Robert Macfarlane, Rebecca Solnit and Shane O'Mara
Robert Macfarlane joins us in the studio to talk about the world outside, the climate emergency and how the landscape has shaped his writing and thought over the years. With climate strikes becoming a regular feature we also speak to veteran activist and essayist, Rebecca Solnit, about whether we should be hopeful about the future of the planet. And we actually head outside with the microphone to speak to Professor Shane O’Mara about why the act of walking is far more miraculous and fundamental to being human than we may have imagined. Books mentioned: Underland, Ness, Whose Story Is This?, In Praise of Walking, Modern Nature, Haunts of the Black Masseur, The Secret Garden.
November 05, 2019
7. HAUNTING with Stephen Chbosky, Andrew Michael Hurley and Jeanette Winterson
You don’t start a new podcast season at this time of year without injecting some thrills and chills. Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being A Wallflower has made us wait 20 years for another novel but with Imaginary Friend he’s back with a bang. He spoke to us about where his idea for it came from and how he provokes reactions from readers. We also get to hear a genuine ghostly encounter from Jeanette Winterson who will have you checking the doors and windows before bedtime. And Andrew Michael Hurley shares his own fascinations with death and the afterlife and why we’re all a little bit obsessed with what happens next. Books mentioned: Imaginary Friend, Starve Acre, Frankissstein, Ghost Stories, Rivers of London, Thin Air.
October 29, 2019
6. FAMILY with Jeanette Winterson, A. M. Homes and Emilie Pine
For our final episode in season one we tackle our nearest (if not dearest). Jeanette Winterson talks about how being adopted has shaped her concept of family and why the future may not look great for its traditional form. A. M. Homes, another adopted child, talks about the differences of writing about family in fiction and memoir. And to finish off we hear from Emilie Pine about her honest and frank personal essay collection and how she managed to share the intimate details of her family life. BOOKS MENTIONED: Frankissstein, This Brutal House, The Mistresses’ Daughter, May We Be Forgiven, Notes To Self, The Unmumsy Mum, Never Mind, Educated.
September 24, 2019
5. SUCCESS with Elizabeth Day, Arundhati Roy and Sarah Perry
Elizabeth Day, creator of the How To Fail with Elizabeth Day podcast and book joins the team to share failures and to see what their connection is to success. After putting so many of her personal failures in her book, would Elizabeth have any new ones to share? We hear from Man Booker Prize-winner Arundhati Roy about becoming a global sensation with her debut, Man Booker Prize-winning novel and what that meant for her, her friends and her family. And we also hear from Sarah Perry about what it meant to have The Essex Serpent named as Waterstones Book of the Year. BOOKS MENTIONED: How To Fail, The God of Small Things, Ministry of Utmost Happiness, The Essex Serpent, Mothering Sunday, Painter To The King, On The Come Up, Range, Golden Hill.
September 10, 2019
4. PERFECTION with Charly Cox, Sebastian Faulks and Gabriel Tallent
What do we mean by perfection and is the pursuit of it a pointless exercise? We hear from poet Charly Cox about why just the word alone is enough to induce anxiety, Sebastian Faulks considers where in the arts perfection might lie and why capturing it might mean a journey to perfection and then back again. Finally we hear from novelist Gabriel Tallent who shares the sheer blood, sweat and tears of writing his debut novel. BOOKS MENTIONED: She Must Be Mad, Paris Echo, Love Is Blind, My Absolute Darling, Dept of Speculation, Ink, Carol, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
August 27, 2019
3. SEX with Hannah Witton, Caitlin Moran & Candice Carty-Williams
Hannah Witton joins Will and Holly in the studio to talk about Sex. As a sex-positive vlogger on YouTube, author of Doing It and The Hormone Diaries, plus a podcaster in her own right, Hannah Witton is the perfect guest to discuss why we’re so silly about sex writing in the UK and what makes for great sex on the page and between the sheets. They also listen to broadcaster and author, Caitlin Moran and Women’s Prize-winner A.M. Homes talking about writing sex in their fiction as well as Candice Carty-Williams, who shares some of the personal experiences that feed into her bestselling debut, Queenie. Doing It, The Hormone Diaries, How To Be Famous, Music For Torching, Queenie, Pimp State, Jack of Hearts, Trumpet, An American Marriage, Eleven Minutes, The Dilly, Three Women.
August 13, 2019
2. FRIENDSHIP with Angie Thomas, Tash Aw, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené
Will, Dan and Holly talk about friendship with book recommendations coming straight away from Holly, who loves Expectation by Anna Hope. Dan talks about a Waterstones event for Empathy Day and how reading, empathy and friendship are all connected. We get to hear from Waterstones Children’s Book Prize-winner Angie Thomas talking about friendship in the wake of her huge success with The Hate U Give. Tash Aw talks about how his international life puts a huge pressure on friendship and why it requires work to succeed. And to finish off we drop into an event featuring Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebenene, authors of Slay In Your Lane. The two best friends talk about how their book began and how their friendship helped them to share more of themselves through it. BOOKS MENTIONED: Expectation, The Hate U Give, We, The Survivors, Slay In Your Lane, The Lido, Release, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
July 30, 2019
1. BEGINNINGS with David Nicholls, Michael Palin and Tomi Adeyemi
In this first episode we get to meet hosts Will Rycroft, Holly Davies and Dan Bird as they talk with bestselling author and screenwriter David Nicholls about their beginnings with books. Nicholls also shares his experiences as actor which feed directly into his new novel, Sweet Sorrow, which charts one life-changing summer as Charlie meets Fran during rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet and the two experience the transformative power of first love. Nicholls also speaks about his BAFTA Award-winning adaptation of Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels for TV. There’s also the chance to hear from Michael Palin as he talks about the fear and excitement that attends to the beginning of almost any enterprise, whether that be a journey, a new TV programme or sitting down to write fresh comedy. His latest book, Erebus, tells the story of HMS Erebus, the famous exploring vessel which went missing in the Arctic and whose wreck was recently discovered. We also hear from Tomi Adeyemi’s event to launch her Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Older Fiction category-winning YA novel, Children of Blood and Bone. She shares a brilliant story about a young girl jumping to the head of the signing queue to demonstrate the importance of representation in encouraging younger generations to begin writing themselves. BOOKS MENTIONED: Sweet Sorrow, Erebus, Children of Blood and Bone, Patrick Melrose, The Bad Beginning, Tales of the City, Dear Ijeawele
July 16, 2019
The Waterstones Podcast Trailer
Welcome to the Waterstones Podcast, a chance to hear authors going beyond the book to talk about the themes and ideas that obsess us all. This is a books podcast with a difference, drawing on the regular appearances of authors nationwide in our events and the more intimate conversations recorded in the studio, each episode will take a different theme and see where it takes us. As Dylan Thomas said, we shall begin at the beginning, with David Nicholls joining our podcast team to chat about his beginnings as a Waterstones bookseller, as an actor and then as a writer. ‘Beginnings’ will also feature Michael Palin on those first steps to any journey and Tomi Adeyemi on realising the power of being seen in encouraging new writers to put their words to the page. So join us over the next few weeks as season one takes us through friendship, family, success, sex and perfection. We’ll be hearing from Arundhati Roy, Sebastian Faulks, Jeanette Winterson, Tash Aw, Angie Thomas, Elizabeth Day and many, many more.
July 12, 2019