HarperCollins has won a multi-publisher auction for The Reading List by debut author and Harvill Secker commissioning editor Sara Nisha Adams in a two-book deal.
Charlotte Brabbin acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency, for publication in summer 2021. The book was pre-empted in Italy by Garzanti and US rights were pre-empted by executive editor Rachel Kahan of William Morrow.
“An unforgettable love letter to the power of storytelling, The Reading List explores an unlikely friendship that blossoms between two lonely souls, grandfather Mukesh and teenager Aleisha, at the local library on Harrow Road,” the publisher explained. “When Aleisha discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill A Mockingbird detailing a list of books that she’s never heard of before – let alone read – a whole new chapter begins. In turn, each story on the list gives up its magic, transporting Aleisha away from the painful realities she’s facing at home. And when widower Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to forge a connection with his bookworm of a granddaughter, Aleisha doesn’t yet know that the reading list will be a lifeline for him too.”
Adams said her debut was partly inspired by her grandfather who, unlike Mukesh, immediately found a connection with his granddaughter through books. She said: “I have been blown away by the response to The Reading List. It has been such a joy to work with my agent, Hayley, and I am delighted the book has found the perfect home with Charlotte and HarperCollins. Mukesh and Aleisha are two characters very close to my heart, and the team's passion and creative vision for their story completely won me over.”
Brabbin commented: “I’m over the moon to have acquired Sara’s debut for HarperCollins. The Reading List makes you fall in love with reading all over again, reinforcing the universal magic of stories – their ability to transport us away, to give us an opportunity to feel bigger than ourselves, and to forge powerful connections beyond the page. Sara’s story is a manifesto for book lovers and booksellers and – in the spirit of the message within its own pages – it’s a book I’m delighted to publish and press into the hands of others.”
Steed added: “I’ve lost count of the number of times The Reading List has made me cry since reading a partial manuscript earlier this year – it’s such a poignant, beautiful and stunningly written exploration of what it means to find family in the most unexpected of places, and a love letter to some wonderful books and the power in their pages.”