We speak to Alice about her favourite self-help books and her journey into the publishing industry.
I’m Alice Priestley and I’m the editorial assistant at Hachette Partworks.
How did you get into the publishing industry?
Short answer: by not giving up! Long answer: by submitting job applications with the mindset of quality over quantity. As soon as I started taking the time to really work hard on each individual application (rather than flinging out 72 a day thinking it was productive), I managed to wangle myself my dream job.
Has your attitude to reading changed since working in the publishing industry? How has it changed your reading taste or the genre of books you usually read?
It’s been super interesting to get to know people in the industry and learn about the trends that people are interested in reading about.
Is there a project or book that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of?
I’m not sure I’m actually allowed to mention any of these yet!
Where do you buy or access your books?
Amazon mostly. SORRY. But when we’re allowed, I can spend hours in independent bookshops/Waterstones. They’re some of my favourite places to just get totally lost in thought and inspiration. There’s a lovely one on Columbia Road and one just off Brick Lane. AbeBooks is good too for second hand stuff.
What books have you been reading in lockdown? Do these books typify your usual reading taste, or have you found yourself reading other genres and authors?
A lot of self-help, not surprisingly… You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero I’ve read twice now (and taken notes), Byron Katie’s Loving What Is, Glennon Doyle’s Untamed; stuff that’s basically keeping me sane!
I’ve also read about things from stoicism, to attachment theory, to memoirs by an Auschwitz survivor (Edith Eger’s The Gift), but then also a bit of fiction in the mix too. More recently Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, Hanya Yanighara’s A Little Life, Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge and Olive, Again. So a good melting pot of subjects really! I will admit that I caved and read Midnight Sun too.
What is your most beautiful book?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. It’s fiction but still recounts the life in a memoir-style of a girl separated from her family and sold to the Geisha industry in post-war Japan. The story is beautiful, but the prose will move you and at times, shake you. I read it every summer and I urge everyone to experience this truly beautiful book, too.
What surprises you about your bookshelves? Is there a book that you were surprised to love as much as you did?
Yes! Before reading Eat, Pray, Love, I thought oh Christ, there’s not a chance I’m wasting my time on that. But it turns out I fell headfirst in love with Elizabeth Gilbert and her writing style/outlook on life and sense of humour and have read everything she’s ever published since. A perfect example of not judging a book by any kind of external influence!
What are your most anticipated reads for 2021 and do you have any reading goals?
I have a pile as big as my student debt and my goal is to just get through that! It keeps growing, but I am more determined this year to make more time for reading and spending less time behind a screen. Reading really is one of the many under-appreciated gifts that we humans have.
What are your ultimate book recommendations?
Oof. It’s gotta be Massimo Pigliucci’s How to be a Stoic, simply because of how much it shifted my mindset and how powerful his writing is, because he simplifies life’s anxieties so effortlessly. Call Me By Your Name, too, is a beautiful illustration of anguish, love, pain and loss in the most deliciously passionate fictional universe. I thoroughly enjoyed Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love, too - a heartfelt, raw depiction of modern relationships highlighting the importance of sisterhood.
Where can readers find you online?