Spine #6


Laura Waddell writes the latest article in her regular book club series.

When I’m on a plane I rarely read the book I’ve diligently packed in the hopes I’ll get through some of my to-read list. An anxious flyer, I am more likely to be paying attention to any sounds I perceive to be unusual (all of them), any micro-expression of the flight attendants that betrays what could be alarm. I spend my time in the air despising the confines, the menu, and my fellow travellers, until I can find some peace in looking out at the clouds (alcohol helps with this. I recently had the best flight of my life after little sleep, two complimentary glasses of wine with the sun tinging clouds apricot; I pressed my face to the window in tipsy wonder both at the scene and with coming to a kind of peace with flying). The book I’ve brought will sit on my lap, looked at and looked away from, picked up and put down, distractedly.



Laura Waddell writes the latest article in our Spine series, a new regular book club feature for TYCI.

Hello, readers.

Recently I’ve been re-reading ‘Out’ by Natsuo Kirino (translated by Stephen Snyder), about four women who work in a bento lunch factory in Japan, to a social backdrop of cramped housing, gambling, and off-kilter shift hours at odds with the routine of other people in their lives. They’re dissatisfied with the routine of their lives; family responsibilities, money worries, and gruelling, difficult work where they must hurry to get the best jobs on the line – repetitively ladling rice into trays for hours is one of the worst, causing painful hands. The women are all quite different from each other, and come together after a murder occurs – but like any group of people thrown together, there are tensions, and it’s really the relationships between the four that I find so interesting. I’ve been reading a lot of thick non-fiction tomes recently, slowly for review, and wanted something I could just eat up like air, which is my memory of when I first read it a few years ago. I recently asked around on twitter how people felt about re-reading, and there’s a sense the types of books people choose to re-read are mostly comforting reads, which is not to say they’re not thick or difficult, but that they’re immersive and encompassing. I don’t do it a lot – endlessly, there are so many new books I want to get round to – but I’ve probably re-read ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte the most. Goth for life.


SPINE // Reads Of The Year


Laura Waddell writes the latest article in our SPINE series, a regular book club feature for TYCI, this time asking friends, colleagues and literature junkies about their favourite books of 2016.

At this time of year, Reads of the Year lists are popping up in media outlets all over the place, filled with authors, journalists and broadcasters on what they’ve enjoyed most in 2016. Unfortunately, these lists all too often reflect subconscious bias, with some of them seeing male contributors recommend other men in 75% of their picks. I’m tired of Reads of the Year lists filled with men recommending men. To redress the balance and shake things up a bit, I’ve curated my own light hearted Reads of the Year list for TYCI, inviting friends likely to have fun and interesting suggestions to share their tips on their favourite writing by women in 2016.

For me, a few books stood out above the rest, and I’ve written about most of them in this column. From the cocktail-stick-sharp short stories by debut writer Lara Williams in the zeitgeist capturing collection Treats, to non-fiction Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City looking at artists inspired by alienation in the big city. Some of my favourite novels of the year were set in recent history, such as Bella Mia by Donatella di Pietrantonio (translated by Franca Scurti Simpson), following the emotional aftermath of families displaced by the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake in Italy with tender and well paced prose, The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride steeped in 90s London, theatre, and love, probably my most eagerly anticipated publication of the year (my tear-stained copy didn’t disappoint); and in Han Kang’s follow-up to the success of The Vegetarian with Human Acts (translated by Deborah Smith), on the 1980 Gwangju uprising of South Korea. It may have been a challenging year for many but, perhaps unsurprisingly, it has also been a year that has brought us bold and original writing.

Regular readers of my SPINE column know that I’m just as likely to be reading something brand new as a book from a few years ago: reading habits don’t always follow the publishing calendar, and the same is true of my contributors. I asked for what they’ve most enjoyed and there are some brilliant sounding suggestions in here.




Spine #5


Today on the blog, Laura Waddell writes the latest article in our Spine series, a new regular book club feature for TYCI.


Recently I’ve been reading more non-fiction, partially out of a long-held vague intention to educate
myself more about visual art, and partially because there’s some compelling narrative non-fiction
capturing my attention right now.

No Fuel Left To Go Home


Ana Hine writes a short story as part of our HOME / AWAY series.

Artwork by Ana Hine.

Artwork by Ana Hine.

She took the coins out of her pocket and counted them again. Three twenty-pees, two fifty-pees, four ten-pees and a solitary pound coin. Not enough. Barely enough to get out of the Southside, let alone all the way along the M80 and onto the M9. Actually, she’d probably run out of fuel again around Cumbernauld and then what? Beg outside that big Tesco Extra all night? Wander around the aisles to keep the cold off? She’d never make enough to get home that way.

We Tell Ourselves Stories


Rachel Tay Xi Boon writes a personal essay for TYCI on the power of fiction and escapism.


“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” writes Joan Didion in the seminal opening of her essay, “The White Album”, “We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.” Whilst Didion only meant, in her opening line, to illuminate the strands of causality we draw to connect the scattered events of our everyday lives, her words uncover a more ominous suggestion – that narratives are essential for us to live, that survival necessarily depends on the stories we tell ourselves.

The Power Of Fiction


Maria Moore tells us how fiction has taken over her life – in the best possible way.

Maria Moore 4

I’m not sure if it was a conscious thing at first, but at some point I began to escape into fictional worlds.

Spine #4


Today on the blog, Laura Waddell writes the latest article in our Spine series, a new regular book club feature for TYCI.

Short stories are having a bit of a moment. There are some striking collections being published at the moment, and buzz for the medium is emanating from short story competitions from the likes of The White Review literary magazine, Galley Beggar (one of my favourite indie publishers notably responsible for giving Eimear McBride’s extraordinary A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing its break) and the Bristol Short Story Prize, as well as publishers like Readux dedicating themselves entirely to printing the short form. You might have noticed finding time to read is a bit of a SPINE theme. Short story collections slot into busy lives like lunchboxes. Individual stories can be imbibed whole, satisfyingly, one by one; lessening the likelihood of reaching your stop before the end of the chapter.

For SPINE this month, from my recent reading I’ve chosen three debut collections from indie publishers.

The Power Of The Mockingbird


A tribute to the late Harper Lee by new TYCI contributor Stephanie Watson.


On the 19 February this year, beloved author Harper Lee passed away due to natural causes. The world lost a great author that day, and a powerful woman. Of course her main work almost needs no introduction; To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a staple of American literature, and the sequel Go Set a Watchman – which turned out to be essentially the first draft of Mockingbird – has quickly turned into a cult classic.