Emily’s journalism: for the Spectator

You can see everything I’ve written for the Spectator by clicking here, or there are links to the various pieces below.

Review: All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison (25 August 2018) A powerful ‘nature novel’ that shows the dangers of having too blinkered a point-of-view.

Review: Crudo by Olivia Laing (20 June 2018) I adored this experimental, political, personal, energetic all-round-wow debut novel by this talented writer of non-fiction

Review: Short stories round up (31 March 2018) Some brilliant new collections of short stories: The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregor, Her Body & Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, Temptation: A User’s Guide by Vesna Main, Letti Park by Judith Herman.

Review: No Place to Lay One’s Head by Francoise Frenkel (27 January 2018) An astonishing memoir of a life in hiding in Occupied France, by a fascinating woman who opened Berlin’s first French-language bookshop.

Review: Debut fiction round up (21 October 2017) Thoughts on four excellent new novels – three of which offer affecting takes on the migrant’s experience: Black Rock White City by A.S. Patric; My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci; The Death of the Fronsac by Neal Ascherson; The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles.

Review: Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss (2 September 2017) Rather luke-warm review of this dense novel about two different journeys to  Israel and self-realisation.

Review: Eureka by Anthony Quinn (29 July 2017) Review of this fun frothy romp of a novel set in 1960s London, underpinned by serious ruminations on Henry James.

Review: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (29 April 2017) Review of this brilliant, poetic, strange, beautiful novel about a disappearance in a village.

Review: The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble (5 November 2016) Review of this honest, witty, moving and political novel about ageing.

Words on the street (15 October 2016) What do homeless people read? What do books mean to them? And what do their reading habits tell us about their situation? I spent a day with a mobile library, talking to homeless people about books … and, before long, about much more.

Notes On: The Hidden Rivers that Shape London’s Streets (17 September 2016) A little piece about a little obsession of mine – London’s lost rivers.

Review: Do Not Say we Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (13 August 2016) Review of this harrowing, compelling novel about China’s Cultural Revolution, which went on to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Notes on … Holiday Reading (16 July 2016) How to pack the perfect book (or two).

Books aren’t medicine. They’re more powerful than that. (30 April 2016) Underestimate the power of books at your peril – if literature can heal, we better accept that it can harm too.

Review: Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (26 March 2016) Review of this intense psychological, novel, which powerfully draws upon the Greek myths. It went on to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

A Bookseller’s Guide to Book Thieves (5 March 2016) Who nicks what, and where, and why?

Meet the librarians – and book borrowers – of the Calais Jungle (19 September 2015) I went to Calais and in the Jungle I found … a library! What were they reading, and why?

Review: Muse by Jonathan Galassi (15 August 2015) My review of this New Yorker literary agent and poet’s first foray into fiction – in which he celebrates the heyday of publishing and the poet Ida Perkins.

Finally! A Reason to feel good about buying so many books (13 June 2015) It’s not spending, it’s investing – why buying rare editions is actually good for your bank balance.

Review: Invisible Threads by Lucy Beresford (13 June 2015) My review of Lucy Beresford’s compelling novel about a woman investigating her husband’s death in India, and what she discovers about the plight of India’s women along the way.

Review: The Girl who Couldn’t Stop Arguing by Melissa Kite (4 April 2015) My review of Spectator columnist’s novel about an angry lawyer.

Long Live Bookshops (29 November 2014) A few wonderful independent bookshops are doing better than ever, in spite of the rise of ebooks.

The unexpected joys of working while pregnant (8 November 2014) How a bump behind the till sparked a great many smiles and conversations.

Early editions (6 September 2014) How contributing to a school magazine can foster a lifelong love of writing

By the Book: L.P. Hartley’s guide to coping with a heatwave Feeling horribly hot? Turn to The Go-Between for some sage advice.

By the Book: A La Recherche du tea perdu Some great literary tea parties, from Rebecca to The Go-Between, not forgetting Alice in Wonderland or indeed Proust’s tea-soaked madeleine.

Notes on … Book Clubs Why book clubs have become such a phenomenon – and why this is definitely a good thing.

Review: First Novels Reviews of Ghost Moth by Michele Forbes, Land Where I Flee by Prajwal Parajuly, and The People in the Photo by Helene Gestern.

By the Book: The NSA is behaving like a villain in a 1950s novel The NSA might find Dorothy Whipple’s Someone at a Distance rather unsettling

Rosh Hashanah Reading List Some of my favourite books about Jewish London.

By the Book: A Far Diet from Kensington How to lose weight the Muriel Spark way.

What a Tortoise can Teach Us Lessons from Daphne. This one made the front cover!

Review: Shire by Ali Smith A beautiful collection of short stories

Summer re-reading The joys of re-reading are many, and the summer is the perfect time to indulge.

By the Book: All Passion Rent What Vita Sackville-West can teach us, rather elegantly, about moving house.

Review: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner My review of this very well-written novel about the 1970s New York art scene.

Review: Things I Don’t Want to Know by Deborah Levy My first review for the magazine. One of the best books I’ve read in a very long time.

The Special power of the printed word Why we still need and trust the printed word – a case for Penguin Specials.

Life’s too short to read tedious books A woman walks into the bookshop and … makes me realise why you should definitely give up on a book you’re not enjoying. Life’s too short! This one really took off and even got me on Radio 4’s The World Tonight – you can listen to it here.

The Exiles Return: My review of The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Waal, Edmund de Waal’s grandmother, beautifully published by Persephone Books.

Walking Books: A feature about the Walking Book Club.

Writing of Walking: Some of my favourite fictional walks, and why writers write them in.

By the Book: A tale of HS2 Cities What would Dickens have made of HS2?

Some literary thirteens for 2013 How to find 13 a source of literary inspiration, rather than be crippled by superstition

By the Book: The Wizard of Oz Lynton Crosby is the Conservatives’ new campaign manager, but how much does he merit the literary nickname ‘The Wizard of Oz’?

Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling and the albatross of success The problem of writing something new and different when you’re earlier successes hang like an albatross around your neck.

When ‘boycott’ isn’t quite the right word Where the word ‘boycott’ comes from and why it won’t work against Amazon

Poppy Appeal Some literary poppies, in the spirit of Remembrance Sunday

Everyone Loves a Penguin Why the Random House-Penguin merger is really all about Amazon

Girls’ Own Why we still need a women’s prize for fiction

Something Wholesale Just who or what is ‘Bertram’s’ and why should we care?

China Bans Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 Awful news that 1Q84 is being taken off the Beijing bookshelves leads me to think that at least Orwell might have seen the irony.

By the Book: Last Orders Young people should read about some wonderful fictional pubs in order to stop these great British establishments closing down.

What Comes After Fifty Shades? What do publishers think we will all want to read next?

By the Book: The Tortoise and the Lib Dems What Nick Clegg could learn from Elizabeth Jenkins.

Second to the right and straight on till morning Spot the literary mistake in Danny Boyle’s Olympics Opening Ceremony

Inside Books: Staycation reading Staying in England this summer? Here are some ideas for good books to read in various locations all over England.

By the Book: Gone with the Corsets Corsets are back in fashion, but Scarlett O’Hara tells us we should be happy to wear the trousers

Inside Books: Out of the Ashes These days, books go out of print heartbreakingly quickly. Lucky we have some wonderful little publishers who are determined to bring the good ones back.

Inside Books: Fiction by Subscription A great new publishing outfit, And Other Stories, has a unique and very clever way of doing things

By the Book: Monsieur Hollande and Madame Bovary Why Francois Hollande should reread this French classic.

Inside Books: Travelling tales The joy of travelling with a paper book, not a Kindle.

By the Book: Brideshead Re-elected The first of my columns for the magazine  on lessons from literature. This time, what David Cameron and George Osborne could learn from Sebastian Flyte.

Inside Books: Rainy Day Reading There is rather a lot of rain in English literature. How can this prove to be inspiring?

Inside Books: Long Live the Classics! Classics are here to stay – they are positively flourishing and more beautiful than ever, in spite of ebooks. Here are some thoughts about why.

Inside Books: Feeding on The Hunger Games I thought The Hunger Games was fascinating – not least for what it can teach us about behaviour around CCTV.

Inside Books: In Praise of Paperbacks Why I love paperback books so much – and why the humble paperback beats the hardback or ebook hands down. This one even got a little mention from Nicola Beauman, Queen of Persephone Books – which was quite exciting.

Inside Books: Mum’s the Word Some Literary Mums – good ones are few and far between.

Inside Books: A Literary Spring Awakening What happens to books in Spring. This is when all the interesting things are published. And there’s World Book Day. Plus 3 great books about hares…

Inside Books: Special Bookshops A link to some incredible bookshops and why publishers should realise how brilliant bookshops are, rather than focussing their attention on ‘special sales’ ventures.

What was the Best Book you read last year? Inspired by the Costa Prize, is it easy to pick out the best book across different genres?

Inside Books: Is Oxfam the Amazon of the High Street? Oxfam is the third biggest book retailer in the UK. How has this happened? And why might it not be a good thing?

Inside Books: New Year Reading Resolutions Some fun, and admittedly somewhat eccentric, ways to change your reading habits this year.

Inside Books: A Poetic Licence for Hedge Funds My take on the furore over Alice Oswald and John Kinsella withdrawing from the TS Eliot Prize, due to its being sponsored by a hedge fund. A bit controversial this one.

Inside Books: Beauty in the Hands of the Beholder Is the future of printed books, beautiful ones? How much does it cost to print a paperback? Why is it that books from independent publishers and small presses tend to be more beautiful than the ones from the big publishing houses?

Inside Books: What’s in a Name? What makes a good title for a book? What is it about ‘Inheritance’? Why ‘Catch 22’ not ‘Catch 18’?

Inside Books: The Bother of Embargoes The first of my fortnightly columns for the Spectator Book Blog.

Three Great Books to Read in Spain Some brilliant books for Spain. Particularly loved the Laurie Lee…

Three Great Books to Read in Italy Some of my favourite books to take on holiday with you to Italy.

Three Great Books to Read in France The benefits of reading the right books in the right place. Beginning with France.

Death of the Woman’s Hardback Why are so many novels written by women published straight into trade paperback, whereas novels by men seem to merit the full, expensive hardback treatment?

What Price World Book Night? What does this giveaway of a million books really mean, and how might it affect people’s perceptions of the value of books?

Why I Love … The Hare with Amber Eyes What it is about Edmund de Waal’s strikingly original masterpiece that I find so entrancing.

2010’s Top Ten Books from Small Publishers My favourite books of the year from independent publishers and tiny presses.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover 50 Years on Reflections on DH Lawrence’s classic, 50 years after it was first, amidst so much controversy, published.

The Man Booker Prize What does the Booker mean. Who decides it and why does it matter?

Jonathan Franzen – The Corrections to Freedom All the furore over a few typos. What happened with Franzen’s much-hyped follow-up to The Corrections, and how did we react?


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