Category Archives: Five Books

Ongoing output

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With a big book deadline approaching on the horizon, I’ll be cutting down my freelancing in an attempt to focus the mind. But I still maintain a trickle of regular publications which you might be interested in.

As well as my Prospect columns (entries passim), I continue to conduct literary interviews and edit for Five Books, a fast-growing book recommendation site that I’ve contributed to on and off since its launch in 2009. We have around 300,000 readers a month, from both sides of the Atlantic. Last year I became a director of the company. I love this work – it’s consistently fascinating, and has come to form a very useful resource for autodidacts. Recent highlights include a discussion of forensic psychology with the criminal profiling expert Prof David Canter, a snappy chat with marketing guru Seth Godin about the best books on his industry – and how marketers deeply impact our way of thinking about and talking about the world around us, plus a vivifying discussion of the Booker International Prize shortlist with chair of the judging panel Bettany Hughes.  There’s more: have a browse of my interview feed here.

I also still write my monthly column on wildlife for the glossy lifestyle magazine Scottish Field. Recently I’ve covered subjects including the regeneration of oyster beds in east coast firths and west coast glens; the annual descent of gannets upon the Bass Rock, the largest colony in the world; the wacky racers dashing across the island in search of orcas in Shetland; and conservationists’ attempts to return golden eagles to the soaring updrafts of the Southern Uplands in the borderland between Scotland and England. These are not available online, so find the text of some of my latest articles after the fold. Continue reading

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Five Books: The best books on everything

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I’m currently the deputy editor and a director of Five Books, a literary website that asks authors, academics and public figures for book recommendations in their specialist fields. Conducting these interviews is always fascinating, and it’s been a real pleasure to see our audience growing and growing over the past few years. (Last month we had a transatlantic audience of just under 280,000 readers.)

Recently I’ve particularly enjoyed a conversation about autofiction with Olivia Laing (Crudo, The Lonely City); a discussion of the best of contemporary trans literature, with Susan Stryker; and an inspiring chat with Emma Gannon (Ctrl-Alt-Delete, The Multi-Hyphen Method) about building a portfolio career around work that you love.

Before Christmas I worked on a series selecting the best books of 2018. Fiammetta Rocco (of The Economist and chair of the Baillie Gifford Prize) discussed the best general nonfiction; Charles Foster (Being a Beast) picked out five of the best new nature books; and Stephen Bush (of the New Statesman) selected five excellent politics books. I also wrote a short summary of some of the best books I read last year, which you can find here.

We have more than 1300 interviews on the site, gathered together in our archives. So, browse to your heart’s content, and please consider supporting us by way of a donation.

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