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Speed’s top ten book recommendations

Our charity partner Ablaze Bristol, which tackles inequality of opportunity for young people in the South West of England through literacy programmes, is launching a virtual book club this December to encourage our local community to get reading and in the process, support them in the wonderful work they do.

Eagle-eyed followers will have spotted images of the Speed team taking time out of their busy schedules today to focus on reading and we hope you’ve done the same. For those of you who are keen to do more reading but want to make sure you’re investing your time in the right book, we’ve got you covered.

Ten of Speed’s upmost literary connoisseurs have kindly given their thoughts on ten books you really should get lost in – it’s quite the selection so we’re confident there’s something for everybody in the below list…

Helen Collingborn, Associate Director: “I highly recommend Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. It’s a book everybody should read given the chance. One, because it’s short and easily digestible and two, because it’s a true story and really beautifully written.”

Caragh Seymour, Account Director: “One of my favourite books I’ve read this year is The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary. Chick-lit is my go-to genre of books and this was really fun and provided me with the escapism I needed during the first lockdown. I seem to remember reading it in two days over a sunny weekend in the garden.”

Lauren Peters, Senior Account Director: “I have many, many favourite books but one that really stood out recently was The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman. It’s about a baby who washes up on the shore of a lighthouse where a couple lives and what happens from there. It is about love and loss on so many different levels, and the struggle between the heart and the head. I’m not ashamed to say I was sobbing by the end. The imagery is beautiful and the author does a fabulous job at evoking emotion.”

Kelly Pepworth, Managing Director: “Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield starts in an ancient inn on the Thames, the regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child. Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. The story weaves magic, mystery and intrigue. It doesn’t take a traditional path of any genre of book but smashes together complex character arcs and lands on humanity’s acceptance of the unexplainable based on faith, love and hope.”

Chris Baker, Account Director: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind in which Yuval Noah Harai invites you to step ack from your daily life and look at the big picture of human civilisation. The book puts a lot of things into perspective and it’s encouraging to be reminded of the more positive aspects of globalisation in light of the human cooperation needed to overcome the challenges we face together.”

Elise Harvey, Account Executive: “The Harry Potter books are all perfect escapism but a particular favourite of mine is Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire. Everyone knows the Harry Potter films but what I didn’t realise until I read the books a few years ago was how much more exciting the storyline is with constant twists and turns that keep you gripped from start to finish. The book covers so much more ground than the film is able to, so if you’ve not taken the time to read the series or this book in particular, I can’t recommend them strongly enough.”

Tara Greenman-Sparrow, Account Manager: “One of my favourite books is How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. It follows the life of Tom, who suffers from a condition which means he ages slowly, outlives everyone close to him and is more than 400 years old. To survive, he has rules he must follow: don’t stay in one place too long and don’t fall in love. The narrative jumps backwards and forwards in time, following Tom’s life through key periods in history through to the modern day where he’s trying to have a ‘normal life’ as a teacher. With wisdom beyond his seemingly young age, following Tom’s story makes you reflect on the difference between life and living, and how to enjoy the now.”

Maddie Wibberley, Account Executive: “My favourite book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, which follows Francie Nolan – a Brooklyn girl with a Brooklyn name and a Brooklyn accent. Her family are brave, devoted immigrants struggling to survive and rise above the squalor, poverty and violence that surrounds their home. The book is about so much more than just Francie though. It’s a moving portrayal of life. The heroes of this book aren’t great men, they’re just ordinary people. They are flawed and they are beautiful. It’s a profoundly moving novel and an honest and true one, which is exactly why it’s my favourite.”

George Evans, PR Assistant: “I strongly recommend Wonder by R. J. Palacio, the story of a young boy born with a major facial disfigurement who was home-schooled until the age of ten. It’s at this point he’s told he can begin attending ‘real’ school, something which scares him due to trepidation around the reaction of students to the way he looks and someone that looks different to them. It’s a narrative that resonates with me as a friend of mine also has a physical abnormality and was affected by the way others made him feel. It’s a great read and hammers home the all-important message – we should treat people how we’d want to be treated.”

Ben Rogers, Account Manager: “The book I always find myself recommending is Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. An enthralling murder mystery, it follows Batman during the early stages of his crime-fighting career as he attempts to capture the elusive holiday killer while working out who his enemies and allies truly are. A riveting read which includes some truly infamous comic book panels and is one of the foremost inspirations for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Utterly sublime storytelling.”

So now you’ve got an idea of the books you should be picking up, we’d love for you to help us raise vital funds to enhance opportunities for local children. To donate and support the great work Ablaze Bristol does in fighting back against child illiteracy, donate £5 by texting ABLAZE 5 to 70085*

*Texts cost £5 plus one standard message rate

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