Staff Reads: The #cheltlitfest team's reading list

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Excitement for the ongoing The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is at its peak!

As ever, our brilliant literature festival team has come up with an exceptional programme. More than 500 events featuring a wide range of authors and a broad selection of books…among which every team member has their very own personal pick, from Allen Ginsberg’s fantastic biography to Jane Smiley’s final volume of The Last Hundred Years.

Get a glimpse behind the scenes and meet our book-loving team as they share their favourite reads from this year’s programme!

Nicola Tuxworth Head of Programming

“I have just finished reading Jane Smiley’s superb Last Hundred Years trilogy. The vast reach of these novels is stunning, and the many beguiling characters that Smiley brings so vividly to life stay with you after the last (wonderful) sentence. I can’t wait to meet Jane at the Festival.”


Sophie Hoult Programme Manager

“I’ve been reading Clive James’s Unreliable Memoirs, the first of five volumes of autobiography charting his early years in post-war Sydney suburbia. Achingly funny and yet poignant in places, he captures his imperfect self with unembarrassed honesty. What joy to be cocooned in the hands of a master storyteller! – we’ll be celebrating this gift in our event about Clive’s life and writing.”


Christina Poulton Operations Manager

I’m reading How to Be a Heroine. I love it because it’s a combination of autobiography and feminist non-fiction but because it’s about fictional heroines it’s as engrossing as reading a novel and makes you re-think your reactions to classic novels and characters and your own relationship with reading.


Jo James Festival Programmer

I’m currently re-reading the brilliant (and completely unputdownable) Riders by Jilly Cooper – the novel that spawned the phrase ‘bonkbuster’, and paved the way for a whole generation of female authors. Absolutely astonishing to think it’s now 30 years old!


Madeline Toy Programme Manager

I’ve just finished reading After You by Jojo Moyes. This is the sequel to the wonderful yet heart-breaking Me Before You which was a huge hit a few years ago and is currently being made into a film which will be released next summer. The book revisits main character Lou and is just as touching and poignant as the first. It is a fantastic summer read but also perfect for curling up with on a dark winter’s evening.


Lyndsey Fineran Festival Programmer

I’m currently reading Barry Miles’ brilliant biography, Allen Ginsberg: Beat Poet. Drawing on both his long friendship with Ginsberg and the poet’s journals and correspondence, Barry has created a fascinating account of Ginsberg’s extraordinary life – from his early days at Columbia, to meeting Kerouac, Burroughs and other key figures of the Beat scene, the drug usage, the wild travels… it’s an incredible life, powerfully told. I’m so excited to welcome Barry to the Festival as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the iconic first reading of “Howl” – complete with jazz, gin, spoken word and some very special archive recordings of Ginsberg’s last appearance at Cheltenham.