The shelves of the Library have taken a lot more weight this year, with plentiful and varied reads added — and many of the writers behind what's new visiting to share their work in person.

Back in March we welcomed journalist and author Sam Leith to YCN, where he explained his reasons for writing his third book, Write to the Point. Sam is one of the country’s most respected writers, as a serial broadsheet contributor and columnist, novelist and broadcaster. In Write to the Point he combines years of writing experience with witty observations and practical advice to create a comprehensive guide to effective writing. Unlike other writing guides, of which there are many, Write to the Point is less an exercise in pedantry and more a straightforward approach to the rules for writing in the 21st century. With this book, he saw an opportunity to "take advantage of the fact that we are experiencing a period of extraordinary linguistic change", and to “vent [his] own prejudices about comma splices and make silly jokes.”

In June we broke with convention, escaped the heatwave and hosted Sam Conniff Allende on the roof of YCN, in keeping with the spirit of his book, Be More Pirate. If you aren't familiar with Sam's philosophy of constructive rulebreaking, Be More Pirate is more than a book – it's a movement. Sam is the multi-award winning social entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of youth-led creative network Livity, whose book led him to research, devise and act upon a new manifesto inspired by history's great pirates. He applies their rebellious, innovative and disruptive strategies to modern day situations, and advocates rule-breaking as "a legitimate 21st century skill." In his words, "the only thing more stupid than stupid rules are the people that follow them.” Over a year of research into reputable, historical sources went into writing Be More Pirate, and since it was first published, hundreds of readers have joined the movement, to Sam's delight.

Another of 2018's library highlights was an exciting talk from three of the authors of Creative Superpowers, written by Founder of The Boom!, Scott Morrison, author of Copy Copy Copy, Mark Earls, co-founder of Utopia, Daniele Fiandaca and co-founder of Mr President, Laura Jordan Bambach. Scott, Mark and Daniele came to share their areas of expertise around which the book is structured, and engaged us in a discussion about creativity as a skill, the impact of tech and the importance of neuroplasticity in the workplace of the future. Creative Superpowers is about rediscovering the skills we have as children, such as curiosity and "unlearning to relearn". The book proposes a four-part skillset for creative problem-solving – hacking (used to tackle problems in different ways), making (opening up new parts of your brain), teaching (to consolidate yours and others' experience) and thieving (by looking to what already exists as a tool for solving problems). The authors believe that everyone possesses at least one of these creative superpowers.

In October, we had an exciting opportunity to meet and hear from June Sarpong MBE, author of Diversify. The book combines anecdotal and statistical research (gathered by Nuffield College, Oxford), which June uses to argue the social, moral and economic benefits of diversity and explore the limitations caused by social division. Emma Gannon was our host, and she and June addressed the effects of social stereotyping and the importance of sharing stories and experiences in order to encourage readers to confront, challenge and conquer discriminative behaviours. Less a book talk and more an intimate discussion around the issues in our society which have an impact on all of us, it was a memorable and inspiring evening that left us with plenty to think about. The concluding message was one that we could all take on board: the only way forward is together, and it’s more important than ever that we are all part of the conversation. “The minute we stop talking is when we start pretending it’s not happening."

Shortly after hosting June Sarpong in the library, Emma Gannon was back to talk us through her own book, The Multi-Hyphen Method, which she wrote "on iPhone notes" and published this year. The book tackles traditional perceptions of work, the relationships we have with our jobs ("it’s embedded in our identity”) and the new definitions of success in a hyper-hybrid world of work. Her own multi-hyphenate career as an author, columnist, speaker, lecturer and podcaster began when she traded in her first job for the freelancing life, a move which has given her more independence, financial security and creative and personal freedom than ever before. Whether you're a staunch 9-5er or millennial side-hustler, The Multi-Hyphen Method is not a "flexible working manifesto" or “a book saying quit your job”, but "just another way of doing things": it's a testament to the varied and fulfilling career Emma has carved out – on her own terms – over the last ten years.

To round off a year of fresh perspectives on the modern world of work was consultant, writer and creator of the platform Women WhoOtegha Uwagba, who joined us for breakfast at Dishoom to share the new edition of her Sunday Times bestselling career guide, Little Black Book, a practical toolkit for working women based on her own experience. Otegha's time at Vice and creative agency AMV BBDO revealed to her a lack of women in the workplace, which inspired her to combine "creativity, women, and work" into Women Who, "a platform that could provide support and inspiration for working women everywhere." Her Little Black Book, which she wrote in just three months (while working full-time) and self-published with her own money, was something “to make the platform stand out”. Now republished in a pocket sized, gold covered edition, this book of concise and informative advice is "something practical for the digital age", and its no-nonsense approach to everyday skills like negotiation, asking for feedback and setting professional goals sets it apart from other career guides. Money, the focus of two of the book's chapters, is the theme for Otegha's next book, eagerly anticipated and expected in 2020.

All photography Sam Bush.

It's all in the Library...


Find all the reading referenced in this story in the Lending Library at 72 Rivington Street. Email us to keep something safely aside for you.

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