Adam Kay has created a special Quick Reads version of his bestselling This is Going to Hurt (Picador) for the first intake of the bitesize book range since Jojo Moyes saved the scheme from closure. Candice Carty-Williams is also featured alongside other high-profile names such as Ian Rankin, Sophie Kinsella and Moyes herself.
The six books featured in the Reading Agency literacy scheme are due to be published on 20th February 2020, containing arguably the starriest line-up of authors since its launch. Boasting a new brand identity by Here Design, a London-based studio, the “engaging and accessible books by best-selling authors will help bring the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, by inspiring emerging readers as well as those who have little time or have fallen out of the habit,” the Reading Agency said.
“Showcasing the very best contemporary writing with everything on offer from comedy to crime”, the standalone titles include a psychological thriller from Clare Mackintosh (Lock Up and Leave, Simon & Schuster UK); Candice Carty-Williams’ retelling of the West Side Story to a carnival backdrop for Notting Hill Carnival: A West Side Story (Trapeze, Orion) along with This is Going to Hurt: a specially adapted version (Picador) by Kay. The bestselling original version by Kay recently spent 20 weeks ranking number one in the e-book charts.
Also featured is a story of a life-changing hen weekend from Milly Johnson, The Little Dreams of Lara Cliffe (S&S UK) and an introduction to Detective Inspector Harry Virdee from crime author A A Dhand in Darkness Rising (Transworld). There is also an anthology, A Fresh Start (Orion), edited by writer and Quick Reads commissioning editor Fanny Blake, containing short stories from 10 authors including Adele Parks, Ian Rankin, Sophie Kinsella and Moyes herself (whose story is titled "The Makeover").
The titles have an r.r.p. of £1 and are available at bookshops or are free to borrow from libraries. They are used across the country in colleges, prisons, trade unions, hospitals and adult learning organisations.
Kay said: “Literacy and healthcare have much in common; they are among our fundamental rights as individuals. They both require sustained funding, governments who believe in the possibilities they offer, and outspoken champions. [Quick Reads] has restored the joy of storytelling and opened new worlds to thousands of readers left behind by the huge, unfair cuts to libraries.”
Carty-Williams revealed her personal investment in the project. “I got into publishing to make sure that the people who didn’t think reading was ‘for them’ were able to pick up a book and see themselves," she said. "But Quick Reads goes one step further; it allows people who don’t think that reading is accessible to them at all, for a whole host of reasons, to engage in stories in a way comfortable to them. As someone who comes from a family of non-readers, and someone whose mum is dyslexic, Quick Reads is such an important resource.”
Moyes stumped up £360,000 in May 2018 to save Quick Reads from closure and has been working closely on the range of books over the past year. Her intervention came after The Bookseller revealed that Quick Reads was to be scrapped after 12 years, due to a lack of funding when an 18-month search for sponsorship had failed. The scheme was founded in 2005 by Baroness Gail Rebuck.
Moyes said: “I've seen first-hand the real impact of Quick Reads and I believe these books are more important than ever. I’m thrilled that this life-changing programme is re-launching in 2020 and proud to be in the company of such a stellar list of authors with the same goal: to show that a love of reading is for everyone.”
Debbie Hicks, creative director at The Reading Agency, added: “We are delighted that Quick Reads is returning with such an impressive list of titles. We are so grateful to all the authors who have given their words and time to support this life-changing programme, and of course to Jojo Moyes who has made this all possible."
Organisers have also exclusively revealed the planning behind the rebrand, which aims to give the scheme “a contemporary, playful aesthetic,” according to the Reading Agency.
Blake told The Bookseller: “When considering the relaunch of Quick Reads in 2020, The Reading Agency felt it was the right time for a fresh new look for the books that would make them stand out on the shelves. We wanted to mark the start of a new phase in Quick Reads’ development, but also to signal something contemporary and exciting. We needed a design that could be used across the very different cover images that arise with each author to create a coherent piece of branding.”
Harry Bingham, design associate at Here Design, said: “We were thrilled to be approached by The Reading Agency to help with the Quick Reads brand identity. A brief rarely resonates with the entire studio as much as this one did, books are a pivotal part of our culture and, for us, the value of reading cannot be overstated. To help encourage emergent readers was an opportunity we couldn’t resist.”