PLMR has a thriving Book Club, which is an opportunity for consultants to get together and discuss the hottest reads of the day, as well as some literary classics. Held either virtually or in person (drinks and snacks mandatory), it’s also a chance for people across the business to get to know each other.
Recent reads have included Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters; Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney; Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys; The Dead by James Joyce; and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.
Below, members share their favourite books in honour of World Book Day.
Rachael Dillon (Book Club Co-Chair) – NW by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith was catapulted into fame at just 24 following the publication of her debut novel, White Teeth, in 2000. I’ve loved her writing ever since I first came across her at 16, and over the years my admiration and enjoyment of her work has continued to grow.
In NW, Smith portrays the dichotomy between our interior and exteriors lives, which are often kept secret from those who know us best. She paints a picture of the many different versions of London its inhabitants experience, which overlap in unexpected ways. Her work is a celebration of the variety, complexities, and surprises of the city, which has become a home to people from all different walks of life. Smith shows how these people are brought together, often despite their best efforts, and she depicts the intimacies which develop over time between individuals who would never have imagined their paths would cross.
Nancy Laws (Book Club Co-Chair) – Stoner by John Williams
Described by the New York Times as ‘the greatest American novel you’ve never heard of’, Stoner gained critical acclaim after a resurgence back in 2013 – a cool sixty years after it was originally published. Fans of Sally Rooney and Hanya Yanagihara will enjoy Williams’ exploration of the seemingly mundane, as he demonstrates that it’s the rhythm of everyday life where real poignance, love, heartbreak and stoicism lie.
Mo Hussein – On The Road by Jack Kerouac
My favourite book is On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I’ve always thought perhaps in a previous life I was part of the Beat Generation.
Isabella Perales – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
I am sure having one of the Harry Potter series as my favourite book could be considered cliché, but I always find myself going back to this part of the saga. I love the relationship Harry establishes with Sirus and could read the scene where they meet over and over! Harry’s childhood is filled with grief and hardship, and this book provides light relief when he uncovers the truth about Sirus Black.
Sara Ghaffari – Educated by Tara Westover
A very moving and unique memoir, which I would recommend everyone to read. It’s a coming-of-age story, which shows triumph in the hardest of family circumstances and demonstrates the ability of education to change lives.
Hannah Tait – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice is a classic for a reason; Jane Austen’s original romantic comedy makes me laugh every time I re-read it, but it’s the social commentary on marriage, class and female autonomy in the 19th century which for me makes it such a fascinating and clever book.
Niamh Mercer – Less by Andrew Sean Greer
This beautiful Pulitzer Prize winning novel follows a writer, Arthur Less, as he travels around the world on a literary tour and heals from the heartbreak of his relationship with the man he loves ending. Nostalgic, clever and laugh out loud funny. It is a treat!
Luke Walpole – One Day by David Nicholls
One Day gloriously exhibits David Nicholls’ deft comedic, romantic, and observational skills, through a story which visits two central characters – Emma and Dexter – on a single day every year. Though their lives push them in different directions, there is an irresistible force which keeps pulling them together. But Nicholls’ genius is that, despite the swell of Richard Curtis-esque love and litany of supporting, comedic characters, to call One Day a RomCom is to underestimate its astute and perceptive evocation of all the emotion which simply goes in to growing up. While only visiting one day at a time, he pulls in the full spectrum of his character’s lives – from euphoric highs to devastating lows and everywhere in between.
Mara Antoce – Le village de l’Allemand by Boualem Sansal
Unfortunately, not yet translated into English but one of my recent favourites, read in translation in Romanian. It’s definitely a book that stays with you long after putting it down, and has left a lasting impression on me. Set in Paris in the mid-1990s, the book explores the past and current terrors of Nazism and Islamic fundamentalism through the diaries of two Algerian brothers, who are faced with a dark revelation: their dad being a former Nazi soldier. The book explores the impossibility and tragedy of the brothers coming to terms with this reality, as they explore their father’s past and revolt against extremism in its many forms.
Verriin Kaur – Loved Clothes Last by Orsola de Castro
A former fashion designer who drives the upcycling movement in the industry, Castro co-founded and leads Fashion Revolution, an NGO working to drive ethical practices within the industry. Her book covers the ways fashion could change to become more environmentally conscious. She shares practical hints and tips on caring for clothes and learning to crochet or stitch with friends. But, the bits a reader goes back for are the memories she ascribes to old clothes, particularly the ones she passes on to her family members.
Ben Farmer – In It Together by Matthew d’Ancona
In It Together provides a unique, fly-on-the-wall insight into the first few years of the Coalition government. Whilst so much has changed in the world and politics since Cameron and Clegg hammered out their deal and walked into Number 10, the book still remains relevant and a handy reference point. D’ancona’s accounts, featuring a range of ‘insider sources’ and perspectives make you feel like you’re at the heart of the action and helps you understand the pressure faced by politicians as they make major decisions. I love the way the book charts the rise and fall of so many key ‘characters,’ both those in the public eye and those who remained firmly behind the door of Number 10. Re-reading sections recently, d’Ancona’s wit and perspectives seem all the more fascinating given what came next, especially on Europe and the collapse of the Liberal Democrats.
Rebecca Sharples – Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez
It opened my eyes to the bias in our everyday lives, giving me real life ammunition for discussions regarding gender bias. It made me laugh and it made me angry, and for me, a good book is one that has a lasting emotional impact. It was the first non-fiction book that moved me in such a significant way, and it remains the favourite to this day.
An honourable mention: This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. If you’re enjoying the BBC series give the book a read.
Rachel Allerton – What A Time To Be Alone by Chidera Eggerue
This was one of my favourite books of 2020, balancing interesting content with a great reading experience. It offered uplifting and inspiring guidance, feeling particularly relevant to read in my mid-20s, without straying into the typical self-help jargon. Chidera reflects on her experiences and emotions and soothes them with warming antidotes and phrases from her mother. This book provided the gentle read I needed during the first lockdown, light enough to read before bed and engaging enough to want to go back for more. I also loved the artwork, which helped bring the book to life and now acts as beautiful coffee-table book that I return to from time to time. Four out of five for me and a strong recommend for anyone feeling at a crossroads.
Esther Magrath – The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
Following a mysterious incident involving her husband, a woman dyes her hairs, cashes in her credit cards and heads on the run. The book is an exciting dive into what it takes to live off the grid and how long a person can survive without having to access help from those she left behind.
The Passenger is great for anyone looking for a book with different and unexpected twists and turns, while also looking to explore what it takes to disappear.
Brett Waldron – The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
I’d describe this novel as a Netflix series in words. The book is unique in that you enjoy both the talents of a writer, and the insights and experience of a former US President. A brilliant book to take away on your holidays but take a second read because you’ll need it after a couple of days.
Madeleine Wright – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter series as a whole was probably the one that began my love of reading as the Philosopher’s Stone was the first proper book I read as a child – it took me ages, and my mum helped a lot but it’s one of my first memories of reading.
I’ve chosen the Goblet of Fire specifically because of how fascinated I felt when reading more wizarding society beyond just Hogwarts. I think this book expanded the series from just another fictional story, into entirely new world, one that gives me a huge sense of comfort and nostalgia, and one that I consistently go back to no matter my age.
Jade Pallister – Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
The story is an intimate and at times raunchy telling of unrequited love, trauma, and loneliness in London. For me it epitomises the change that occurred in Irish literature, from 20th century authors who ignored the intimacies and physicality’s of love, to the ‘awakening’ that you see in the likes of Sally Rooney. McBride writes in the same way that my brain works– disjointed, chaotic, and hopelessly romantic. It is writing that will make you perceive the world in a completely new way.