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Talking Non-Fiction with Tom Rowley of Backstory • Episode #160

Listen in to our non-fiction book recommendations as we explore literary worlds outside of the fiction shelves.

Join Kate as she heads to South London to visit Backstory, a distinctive indie bookstore founded by former journalist Tom Rowley. Rowley shares his journey from journalism to opening a bookshop, the challenges and joys of running a bookstore, the importance of community engagement, and launching the second issue of the Backstory Magazine.

We then turn our attention to non-fiction book recommendations, pulling out some favourites, both backlist and new releases. As Tom says, ‘I want good stories, I don’t care whether they’re fact or fiction.’

Listen via the media player above or your preferred podcast player with this Podfollow link.

Podcast chapters

00:40 A visit to south London’s indie bookshop Backstory, and why Kate’s name is on the wall

01:53 From journalism to bookshop owner: Tom’s lockdown dream comes true

04:25 Embracing the community: the transition from market stall to bookshop

09:26 Launching Backstory Magazine: a new chapter in storytelling

14:54 Exploring non-fiction: feel the fear and read it anyway

17:49 Just what is deep backlist? Tom’s first recommendation is My War Gone By, I Miss it So by Anthony Lloyd (September Publishing)

20:18 Kate recommends Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston (Penguin)

22:46 Tom’s next pick: Maurice and Marilyn: A Whale, A Shipwreck, A Love Story by Sophie Elmhurst (Penguin)

25:52 Kate pulls out The Wager by David Grann (Simon & Schuster) (and we also talk about Devil in the White City by Erik Larson [Penguin])

29:08 Tom recommends The Trading Game by Gary Stevenson (Penguin)

31:15 Great minds think alike: Kate and Tom both recommend The Moth and the Mountain by Ed Caesar (Penguin), author and now DJ!

35:32 An aside from Kate about The Possessed by Elif Batuman (Granta)

37:17 Towards the end of the episode we reach ‘peak Tom’, with Little Englanders by Alwyn Turner (Profile)

41:17 Book club reads: Red Memory by Tania Branigan (Faber) and Close to Home by Michael Magee (Penguin)

42:25 Tom’s book of the summer: The Safe Keep by Yael van der Wouden (Penguin)

44:18 List of books, how to get support the pod and get extras via our Patreon account and details of our upcoming episode in which Phil and Laura join Kate to talk about books that make us laugh


Visit Backstory online at www.backstory.london


[coming soon]


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