New Words for North West libraries, thanks to independent publishers

Issued on behalf of the Time to Read North West Reader Development Partnership

The New Words project, supported by Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants, will see new books from five of the region’s independent publishing houses housed in North West libraries. 

The project has been organised by Time to Read, a partnership of 22 public library authorities in North West England collaborating to help encourage reading, with coordination from Manchester City Council.  The region covers Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Greater Merseyside.

Time to Read has partnered with Comma Press (Manchester), Carcanet (Manchester), Dead Ink (Liverpool), Saraband (Salford) and Knives, Forks and Spoons (Newton Le Willows). 

The five publishers supplied Time to Read with a longlist of books featuring fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Librarians selected a list of ten books, which have been bought for every library authority in the North West. They include a history of British protest, a study of Anne Bronte, poetry, short stories, and fiction set in 1920s Ireland and the heatwave of 1976.

As part of the project, 22 author and publisher events will be held across the region between March and September 2020, including workshops on publishing, writing and poetry.  

Artist and designer Kim Hubball, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, has been commissioned to create striking new artwork to accompany the book collections plus posters, leaflets, bookmarks and tote bags. 

Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said:  "Independent publishing is thriving in the North West and Time to Read wants to support the publishers by bringing their work to the attention of library members across the region.

"Libraries and publishers are working together to present these fantastic new books, plus a brilliant programme of events and workshops and striking new artwork for public libraries in the North West".

Becca Parkinson, Engagement Manager for Comma Press, said: “'It has been such a pleasure being involved in this project and getting to know the fantastic librarians championing literature around the North West. We're really looking forward to collaborating on future events, and continuing to build on the relationships that Time to Read has fostered with the New Words scheme.”

Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England said “I’m delighted that we are supporting this fascinating project which brings 22 libraries in the North West together. The project will help deepen relationships between the library services, independent publishers, writers and readers. The books on the list span a great range of genres that will inspire interesting events and talks at the libraries.”

To more information about the books, publishers and forthcoming events being held as part of the New Words project, visit

The ten books selected for the New Words Project are as follows:-

Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucie McKnight Hardy
The heatwave of 1976. Following the accidental drowning of her sister, sixteen-year-old Nif and her family move to a small village on the Welsh borders to escape their grief. But rural seclusion doesn't bring any relief. As her family unravels, Nif begins to put together her own form of witchcraft collecting talismans from the sun-starved land. That is, until she meets Mally, a teen boy who takes a keen interest in her, and has his own secret rites to divulge.  Reminiscent of the suspense of Shirley Jackson and soaked in the folkhorror of English heritage, Water Shall Refuse Them is an atmospheric coming-of-age novel and a thrilling debut.

Please Read This Leaflet Carefully by Karen Havlin
Written in first person and following a reverse chronology which subverts the typical illness story, Please Read This Leaflet Carefully follows Laura Fjellstad in her struggles to live a normal life. Having been diagnosed with severe endometriosis in her twenties, she believes that the only way to survive her painful and debilitating illness is to be completely self-reliant. In between doctors’ appointments and in and out of hospitals, Laura confronts single parenting after her divorce, leading a life her own teenage self would be in awe of.

Protest: Stories of Resistance edited by Ra Page
Whatever happened to British protest? For a nation that brought the world Chartism, the Suffragettes, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and so many other grassroots social movements, Britain rarely celebrates its long, great tradition of people power. In this timely and evocative collection, twenty authors have assembled to re-imagine key moments of British protest, from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to the anti-Iraq War demo of 2003.

Letters Home by Martyn Bedford
Many of the characters in Martyn Bedford's stories find themselves at a point of redefinition, trading in their old identity for something new. Whether it is an act of retreat or escape fantasising about storming out of a thankless job, or just avoiding a bad-tempered husband for a few moments on Christmas day they each understand the first step in changing a reality, is to reconstruct it.

Anne Bronte Reimagined: A View from the Twenty-first Century by Adelle Hay
Anne: the boring Bronte? Or talented author, feminist, pioneer? Anne's writing has often been compared harshly with that of Charlotte and Emily - used as a measure of her sisters' genius. But her literary and personal reputations have changed drastically since she was first published in 1846.

Incandescent by Anna Levin
We need to talk about light. Light is changing, dramatically. Our world is getting brighter – you can see it from space. But is brighter always better? Artificial light is voracious and spreading. Vanquishing precious darkness across the planet, when we are supposed to be using less energy. The quality of light has altered as well. Technology and legislation have crushed warm incandescent lighting in favour of harsher, often glaring alternatives.

Many Red Fish by Steve Spence
Many Red Fish is a kind of absurd diary, a contemplation of the world out there and the world in here, produced through a mixing of word association, montage techniques and strange juxtapositions. Extreme weather, food – whether gathered from bins or prepared in restaurants – art, the city and the country, music, colour and the human body are all subjects which are brought together and reconsidered in this new poetry collection. 

Riverrun by Alan Baker
Poets have their rivers – Charlotte Smith has the Arun, Michael Drayton the Ankor – and like these precursors, Alan Baker has picked the sonnet as the vehicle to translate the ever-changing fluvial reality of water at its riverrine transformations into a stop-go sequence, that changes perspective with each fresh look, each new thought.

Now We Can Talk Openly About Men by Martina Evans
Martina Evans's Now We Can Talk Openly about Men is a pair of dramatic monologues, snapshots of the lives of two women in 1920s Ireland. The first, Kitty Donovan, is a dressmaker in the time of the Irish War of Independence. The second, Babe Cronin, is set in 1924, shortly after the Irish Civil War. Kitty is a dressmaker with a taste for laudanum. Babe is a stenographer who has fallen in love with a young revolutionary. Through their separate, overlapping stories, Evans colours an era and a culture seldom voiced in verse.

Girl by Rebecca Goss
In Girl, Rebecca Goss considers the emotional and physical connections women make to the world around them. The poems interrogate and celebrate female identity and experience, and the dynamics of family and friendship. From a woman struck by lightning to a baby who understands shadows, Goss navigates the real and the imagined with equal flair.

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