Why I’ve started the East London Indie Book Club

Bookseller and fiction editor Sam Burt on a new monthly culture club at the Leyton Star

My name is Sam Burt, a bookseller and fiction editor residing in Leyton. Originally from Folkestone, I moved to east London five years ago – with a slight detour to Manchester to complete a Master’s in creative writing.

It was through that MA that I learned how contemporary UK publishing is increasingly dominated by the ‘Big Four’ publishing houses, plus a raft of smaller indie presses, and that the latter are often the ones taking real creative risks today.

After graduating, I wanted to stay immersed in the weird and wonderful worlds of writers like Brontez Purnell, Joanna Walsh and Eimear McBride, as well as do something to support the best of our vibrant indie presses. Which is all a roundabout way of explaining why I’ve decided to set up the East London Indie Book Club.

Leyton Star
Perfect for Book Club: Leyton Star. Photo: PR

If you’re similarly literary-minded, our inaugural meeting will be at The Leyton Star on 18th October and thereafter the third Monday of each month. The books we read are to be chosen by our members but always recently published (within the last 12 months), of reasonable length, and printed by a smaller, independent publisher.

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I’ve been in many book clubs over the years: while each is unique, we hope to embody some best practice principles. We aim to be inclusive (no prior knowledge required), welcoming, sociable, and democratically run. Most importantly, though – and in my experience, perhaps our USP – we will be choosing consistently great books to read and discuss.

I hope the club will continue to grow, getting more innovative writing into the hands of curious readers, and that it can be a forum not only for discussing books but also for starting conversations about the industry that sells them.

Our book for October is Yes Yes More More by Anna Wood, published by The Indigo Press. It’s a joyous set of stories, ‘booming with appetite’ in the words of one critic, that skips over the decades of a woman’s life and has a good roll around in life’s small pleasures.

Curious? Anyone is free to join: find us on Meetup and Facebook. Or catch me on Instagram @wordsburt. Or, in fact, just show up: it really is that laidback. Our first meeting will be at The Leyton Star, 116 High Road London E15, on Monday 18th October, 6.30-8.30pm.

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