Book events are FUN. You get to hear people reading. You get to talk to interesting, like-minded folk. And most of the time, you get to drink booze. The only thing better than a book event is a book party. Especially one in the dim-lit basement of a pub with a well-stocked bar, an excellent playlist and lots of bookish weirdos who look like they just stepped off a page. This was where Turnaround spent our Friday night, showing off some books at the For Book’s Sake 5th Birthday bash.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with For Book’s Sake, it’s an amazing organisation that champions writing by women. As well as running a webzine, they also publish books, hold Write like a Grrrl workshops, host events and collaborate with other brilliant organisations, such as Rape Crisis and the London Rollergirls, to push for gender equality in the book industry. (Head over to their website to read more about what they do, and see how you can help.) Founded in 2010, For Book’s Sake has been a vibrant, fierce and vital form of internet brain-fuel for the last 5 years. And we were really happy to be invited to celebrate their birthday.
We arrived at the Star of Kings early to set up tables and arrange books while decorations were strung up and microphones tested. When the doors opened at seven, the basement filled up pretty quickly with writers and readers and book-fans; the atmosphere was part 90’s alternative disco, part 20’s literary salon, and was made even more awesome by people coming to look at our books and talk about their enthusiasm for said books. We hung out with friends and met a load of new people and drank a fair amount of beer before the readings started.
That’s another great thing about For Book’s Sake; as someone who has attended a few of their events, I can confirm that their readers are top notch. First up was spoken word poet Siana Bangura, who was a perfect bundle of humour and politics about feminism and race. And then came Cheryl Martin, whose jazz-singer voice made us all swoon before she launched into a set of poems about her hair, being queer, and doing rude things in public places. After a short break, in which we spoke to more people about the books and publishers on our table, the very excellent Cathi Unsworth read from her book Without the Moon, a piece of literary noir about a serial killer in 1940’s London.
It was great. There was a cake. There was singing. There was a really fantastic speech from Jane Bradley, For Book’s Sake’s founder. Everyone was merry, everyone was interested. And a few of us (ahem) even stayed until we were kicked out so we could dance around to a mix of Kate Bush, Peaches and Hole.
We’d like to say a big thanks to For Book’s Sake for inviting us to celebrate with them, and for giving us a platform to show off the great publishers and books we work with.
And (now our headaches have cleared), we’d also like to say keep up the good work and we hope to celebrate with you again next year!
Here’s a taster of the kind of books we took with us:
Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology (PM Press)
A selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Includes stories from the 1970s to the present day.
The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions)
As if these need any further introduction from us, quite simply the most remarkable work of fiction to have been published in decades from the elusive, brilliant Elena Ferrante. You can read our review of the quartet here.
Ms Marvel Volume 1 (Marvel)
Ms Marvel is amazing. A normal teenage girl from Jersey, a Muslim and a superhero, she has really taken the Marvel universe by storm. This edition collects Ms Marvel issues 1-11.
The Feminist Porn Book (The Feminist Press)
A collection of writings by feminists in the adult industry and feminist porn scholars. The Feminist Porn Book offers a thorough investigation into how feminists understand pornography and how they direct, produce, and act-in porn.
Murder in the Telephone Exchange by June Wright (Verse Chorus Press)
First published in 1948, when it was the best-selling mystery of the year in the author’s native Australia, Murder in the Telephone Exchange stars feisty young operator Maggie Byrnes who turns sleuth when a colleague is found murdered. A perfect suspense novel from Australia’s leading woman crime writer.
Craving by Esther Gerritsen (World Editions)
A powerful novel about the troubled relationship between a mother and daughter, about illness and the nature of human relationships.
$PREAD (The Feminist Press)
A collection of writings and photo-essays from $pread magazine, the only magazine produced by sex workers for sex workers.
We’d really recommend heading over to For Book’s Sake and seeing what they’ve been up to. And remember to #readwomen!