Footnotes: Callum Manning, Instagram’s youngest books influencer

Authors rally to support a 13-year-old bullied over his love of books – turning him into an Instagram sensation.


What’s the story?

Most people will agree that adolescence is hardly plain sailing – especially when you’re willing to go out on a limb and stand by what you love. For teenager Callum Manning, a determination to express his love of reading has made the headlines after some best-selling authors stood up for him against school bullies. 

His Instagram account, @cals_book_account, swiftly attracted the wrong kind of attention and, after sister Ellis tweeted her disappointment at their behaviour, the online books community rallied round to make Manning’s Instagram account a riotous success: it has now gathered nearly quarter of a million followers overnight. 

What’s most cheering is that some of Manning’s favourite authors have championed his efforts. Noughts & Crosses author Malorie Blackman tweeted to say she had followed the account, while David Nichols and Matt Haig were among the bestsellers who offered to send Cal books, as was Manning’s favourite author, Caroline Kepnes, who called the bullying ‘devastating’. Neil Gaiman, meanwhile, posted: ‘I think the love from all around the world has probably let him know he isn't alone. But all the interesting people I know were once considered weird kids with books. Including me.’

What’s the book?

All sorts of great recommendations have cropped up on @cals_book_account in the eight days since Callum started it, from classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to beloved YA series The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. 

The first book Manning ever posted was Stephen King’s horror classic The Shining, which Manning described as one of his favourites. ‘This was the first book I read in one day,’ he captioned the post, ‘And I was like 10. So yeah, it scared me.’


Unsurprisingly, Manning’s been overwhelmed by the support he’s received from the online books community. ‘I just think it’s really nice that there’s still people in the world who are nice,’ he told The Guardian.

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