I recently spoke at a Libraries Unlimited and Arts Council England event in London, which looked at the social and financial value of libraries. I was invited to speak and be part of a panel discussion after someone came across this blog I wrote about how libraries and social entrepreneurs might mutually support each other. Books, community and ideas = my kind of event!

Date: 5th July 2018
Event: Talk: Libraries and Social Entrepreneurs

Out of the Shadow

A story

I had a seasonal image pop in to my mind the other day, and it turned itself into a short story. I thought I’d share it here…


The people were looking around for the next distraction from their routines. On the breeze, they caught the scent of the Creature, and followed.


Connecting libraries and startups to spark wonder and unite communities

I’m sitting in a library in a suburb of Manchester. It’s connected to a sport and leisure centre. There’s a ‘Kids Coding Club’ happening in the corner behind the bookshelves, young minds learning how to speak computer. They’ll create a future that we can’t yet imagine.

My more regular library hangouts are Exeter central library, and the small library in the Royal Society of Arts in London. Three very different libraries. And yet they contain a pulse and a rhythm that is unmistakable and distinct. Different organs operating to keep the same body alive.


Being Wise

Highlights from a conversation with Krista Tippett

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be in an audience at the RSA in London, watching Krista Tippett in conversation with Elizabeth Oldfield (who is Director of the think tank Theos).

Krista Tippett is a bit of a role model of mine. She’s a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times best-selling author. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal from Barack Obama for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence.”


The Writing Life (1990)

Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Dillard is one of my favourite authors. Her non-fiction narratives and explorations have helped me see things I would never have otherwise seen, and have given me ‘permission’ to probe deeper into my own wonderings and curiosity. If you’re into nature and discovery, I highly recommend her simultaneously beautiful and brutal book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

In The Writing Life, Dillard offers her nuanced thoughts and stories that will interest both non-writers and writers alike. Feeling her soul and light and quest for deep truth come at you page after page, like waves breaking, is both intimidating and illuminating; reassuring and provocative. Her mind and prose have inspired me to ‘shine my own light, and not hide it under a bushel’. Highly recommended for artists, creatives and seekers!

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994)

I love Anne Lamott’s writing. In Bird by Bird, she gives great writing advice told through the lens of her wisdom, experiences and funny stories.

I think good writing is about telling the truth, and telling what you know. Here, Lamott uses her truth and vulnerability, shares what she’s learned along the way and encourages and provokes the reader to just start writing! Highly recommended!

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013)

I read this book when I was in India co-hosting a community development forum. Being lucky enough to travel with the charity work I do, I am frequently and sadly reminded of the obvious forms of gender inequality around the world. But I’ve been reflecting too on more subtle and pervasive forms of female discrimination. The status quo in so many areas (women being paid less, not taking top jobs, feeling guilty for being a working mother, being reticent about going for promotions, etc) mean that women don’t sit at the table, and don’t take part in important conversations. And right now in our world, we really need thoughtful, real, strong women leading these conversations.

“Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Business – draws on her own experience of working in some of the world’s most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale.”

The book is an empowering and practical guide to sitting at the table (both dining room table and board room table) and being heard. Recommended!

Originals: How Non-conformists Change the World (2016)

I LOVED this book, which explores how people conceive and champion new ideas. It’s full of powerful ideas that will be useful whether you’re a leader, an artist, an entrepreneur, or a parent. Highly recommended.

“This extraordinary, wildly entertaining book sheds new light on the Age of Disruption. What does it take to make a meaningful difference? And how can you apply this insight to your own life? By debunking myths of success stories, challenging long-held beliefs of process, and finding commonality among those who are agents of profound change, Adam Grant gives us a powerful new perspective on not just our place in the world, but our potential to shake it up entirely.” – JJ Abrams, director of Star Wars

The Power of Silence (2014)

I highly recommend this book if you need to invite more space to think and just BE in the world. Author Graham Turner travels to India, Ireland, Egypt and elsewhere to spend time with people who regularly and deeply use the power of silence in their life, including contemplative Christians, Desert Fathers, writers, mountaineers, actors, Quakers and psychiatrists.

This book gave me clarity on how I could amplify the silent spaces in my life (running, bouldering, prayer, thinking) and make them into more powerful, alchemic and refreshing focus points. Enjoy!

Body of Work (2014)

This book was super-helpful in sifting through all the experiences, jobs and ideas I’ve had, and finding the threads that link it all together.

From Pamela’s website:

“The world of work is no longer predictable.  As it becomes increasingly rare to have a stable career in any field, we’re left with patchwork resumes and piecemeal lists of achievements.  How do we make sense of our diverse experiences—and how do we explain it?”

Pamela shows us how to join the dots, and pull the strands of our stories together. She re-examines how we define ourselves, our careers and our lives. Recommended!