Meet the Team

After a quiet few months, the HIF headquarters are filled with new faces. So many, in fact, we’ve had to bring in a bigger coffee machine to get us all ready for the busy days ahead!

We want to introduce you to our new team, and in true You’re Booked fashion, what better way to get to know someone than from their reading habits. So we’ve been asking our new faces (and some familiar ones too) what they’ve been picking up lately and what they want to recommend to our You’re Booked readers.

Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive

The Comfort Book – Matt Haig

The Comfort Book is a collection of consolations learned in hard times and suggestions for making the bad days better. Drawing on maxims, memoir and the inspirational lives of others, these meditations offer new ways of seeing ourselves and the world. This is the book to pick up when you need the wisdom of a friend, the comfort of a hug or a reminder that hope comes from unexpected places.

Sharon says, “this has been a useful read over the last 12 months.”

Clemence Roux, Literature Festivals Manager

Six Tudor Queens – Alison Weir

Six Tudor Queens. Six Novels. Six Years. A spellbinding series about Henry VIII’s Queens. Alison takes you on an engrossing journey at the side of each of the wives of the infamous King, and shows sides to these women that history hasn’t shown us before.

Clemence is “a big fan of History, so this was an instant hit with her.”

Emma Lloyd, Marketing Manager

Sane New World – Ruby Wax

Ruby Wax – comedian, writer and mental health campaigner – shows us how our minds can jeopardize our sanity. With her own periods of depression and now a Masters from Oxford in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy to draw from, she explains how our busy, chattering, self-critical thoughts drive us to anxiety and stress. If we are to break the cycle, we need to understand how our brains work, rewire our thinking and find calm in a frenetic world.

Emma recommends this book because “understanding how we can all steer our brains to regulate and manage our emotions can help us to navigate this (at times) big scary world.”

Lisa McKiddie, Digital and Communications Coordinator

Journeys to Impossible Places – Simon Reeve

Best-selling author and presenter Simon Reeve takes us on the epic and thrilling adventures that followed, in beautiful, tricky and downright dangerous corners of the world, as he travelled through the Tropics, to remote paradise islands, jungles dripping with heat and life, and on nerve-wracking secret missions. Simon shares what his unique experiences and encounters have taught him, and encourages all of us to battle fear and negativity, and embrace life, risk, opportunities and the glory of our world.

Lisa says that, “like the arts, Simon’s journeys are a route to understanding the people and the world around us.”

Ellie Klouda, Events Coordinator

Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi

Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her, but she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised.

Ellie calls this book “a beautiful reflection on Gifty’s life growing up in Alabama and her Ghanian heritage, one that tenderly explores the impact of her family trauma whilst powerfully intersecting race, addiction, religion and science.”

Rosie Gilbertson, Events Coordinator

The Master And Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

Written in secret during the darkest days of Stalin’s reign, Bulgakov’s carnivalesque satire of Soviet life describes how the Devil weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow one Spring afternoon. Brimming with magic and incident, it is full of terrifying and wonderful characters, from witches, poets and Biblical tyrants to the beautiful, courageous Margarita, who will do anything to save the imprisoned writer she loves.

Rosie describes this “story of the devil arriving in Moscow one hot summer, and the chaos that ensues amongst the ‘literary elite’, as surreal and stunning in her opinion.”

Ellen Fletcher, Admin & Box Office Assistant

Clothes, Music, Boys – Viv Albertine

In 1975, Viv Albertine was obsessed with music but it never occurred to her she could be in a band as she couldn’t play an instrument and she’d never seen a girl play electric guitar. A year later, she was the guitarist in the hugely influential all-girl band the Slits, who fearlessly took on the male-dominated music scene and became part of a movement that changed music.

Ellen says that she “thoroughly enjoyed this brutally honest memoir about being a woman in the Seventies, exploring Albertine’s career as a punk rock goddess in The Slits.”

Sophie White, Literature Festivals Coordinator

Play it as it Lays – Joan Didion

Somewhere out beyond Hollywood, hollowed-out actress Maria Wyeth’s life plays out in a numbing routine of perpetual freeway driving. In her early thirties, divorced from her husband, dislocated from friends, and somehow detached from her past and future, Wyeth epitomises a generation made ill by too much freedom. Play It As It Lays is an immaculately wrought vision of Californian culture on the cusp of the 1970s.

Sophie says she is “a big Joan Didion fan girl and Play It As It Lays was the first one she read and, despite how bleak it is, was hooked.”

Marc Dunleavy, Freelance Producer & Programming Associate

The Empty Room – Brian McGilloway

Pandora – Dora – Condron wakes one morning to discover her 17-year old daughter Ellie, has not come home after a party. So begins Dora’s ordeal of waiting and not knowing what has become of her girl. Increasingly isolated and disillusioned with the police investigation, Dora feels her grip on reality slipping as she takes it upon herself to find her daughter – even if it means tearing apart everything and everybody she had ever loved, and taking justice into her own hands.

Mark says that “one of the benefits of working so closely with publishers across the UK is getting your hands on a good book before anyone else, such as The Empty Room by Brian McGilloway. It is an addictive, heart-breaking story that is well worth your time.”

Karen Sweeney, Freelance Admin Support

The Guest List – Lucy Foley

On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. Old friends. Past grudges. Happy families. Hidden jealousies. Thirteen guests. One body. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. All have a secret. All have a motive. One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .

Karen “loves reading, mainly crime and psychological thrillers, but isn’t quite sure what that says about her! But she does also love the occasional ‘chick lit’ novel and biographies. Other recent favourites to mention are Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh and Greenlights by Matthew McConaghey.”