Author Debate: Do We Need to Read the Classics?

Author Debate: Do We Need to Read the Classics?

What defines a classic piece of literature? What makes the written word stand the test of time? Can you be considered well-read if you’ve never conquered Moby Dick or survived War and Peace? Does reading classic books make you classy? Did studying books at school make you love or hate them? Have you ever pretended to read something you haven’t? Whether you prefer Henry James to EL James or Harry Potter to Hemingway, join podcaster and poet Leena Normington and bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink for a spirited debate dissecting classics, modern must-reads, and literary adventures.

Joining the debate are

Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love and A Manual for Heartache. She was born in Cornwall and grew up in Yorkshire. She won the Snaith and District Ladies’ Darts Championship when she was seventeen but is now sadly out of practice. She recently contributed to Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers, edited by Kit de Waal, which brings together sixteen well-known writers from working-class backgrounds with an equal number of debut writers from all over the UK.

Jess Richards – is a writer and performance artist who was born in Wales, grew up in Scotland and currently resides in New Zealand. Her debut novel, Snake Ropes (2012) was shortlisted for the Green Carnation Prize, the Costa First Novel Award and the Scottish Book Awards. After her second novel, Cooking with Bones (2013), she “ran away from home” and became transient for two years. During this time she taught with the Arvon Foundation and Moniack Mhor, and was awarded a Creative Scotland Artists’ Bursary. Her third novel City of Circles (2017) was shortlisted for the Kitschies Awards in 2018.

Leena Norms – is a podcaster, poet, presenter and book activist. She runs a beloved YouTube channel (JustKissMyFrog) and is a co-presenter on podcast “Banging Book Club”. She has been recognised as one of Youtube’s Creators for Change, and was a Booksellers Rising Star in 2016. Her chart-topping podcast “I’m Not Being Funny But-” aims to explore and attempt to answer questions that people “pretend to know the answers to or didn’t think to ask”, and covers a range of topics relating to social change and activism.

Sara Veal (chair) is the founder of Huhbub, a service for authors and publishers, which specialises in dynamic campaigns and events that contribute to the community, uniting literature, technology and performance. She has worked for newspapers and magazines in Tanzania, Cambodia and Indonesia, and at Atlantic Books and Harlequin/HarperCollins. She received the 2016 Women in Tech scholarship, funded by Thoughtworks, a global technology consultancy that strives for social justice. She co-organises Strong Women Squad events with author Lisa Dickenson and That Time of the Month with Emma Kosmin, screening period dramas to combat period poverty.