Twitter might seem a curious place to turn to for book lovers. What use, after all, is 280 characters when you're used to 500,000 or more? It’s noisy and brash and unruly but, amid the maelstrom of political trash-talking and hyperactive celebrity fandom, Twitter can also still be brilliant – especially when it comes to books. Here are 18 of our favourite feeds, from authors to libraries to sources of inspiration for you next read.
Why, you could not be blamed for asking, has a company that helps schoolchildren prepare for exams got more than 230,000 followers? Because they’re bonkers and clever and totally hilarious. It’s mainly a lot of book-related memes and oblique literary jokes. Like this, just before Christmas: ‘Give your significant other what they really want this holiday season: a cursed portrait in the attic that will grant them eternal youth and beauty, all at the expense of their soul.’
Black Girls Book Club
In 2014, the Pew Research Centre published data that revealed that the most likely person to read a book was a black woman with a degree. You need look no further for proof of this than London’s own Black Girls’ Book Club, founded in 2016 by friends Melissa Cummings-Quarry and Natalie Carter. They regularly host huge events with headliners such as Roxanne Gay and Malorie Blackman. Plus, their gif-heavy Twitter feed is pure joy.
Foul-mouthed, straight-talking and with his Leith accent stubbornly undented by his move to America, this is the Irvine Welsh that you can read between the lines in Trainspotting. His Twitter rants have become – to his army of followers, at least – legendary, whether they’re about politics, Scotland or the state of sandwiches on trains. He also tweets about books.
If you’re a writer, or want to be one, Susan Orlean has the Twitter feed you need. The New Yorker writer and bestselling author (The Orchid Thief and The Library Book) dispenses writing hacks and advice to her 313,000 followers and discusses her own writing process and literary musings – with plenty of humour bundled in.
American book writer and satirist (and consultant on TV hit Succession) has a reputation for getting beneath the skin of his homeland, reading its hypocrisies, insecurities and ironies with alarmingly hilarious accuracy. On Twitter, the Lake Success author is smart, funny and occasionally, quite political.
London Review of Books
The most successful literary publication in Europe, the LRB has been covering books, culture and ideas since 1979. It’s mostly a portal through which to find the magazine’s best long-form essays which, honestly, can be a minefield because they’re pretty much all exquisite, which is why the publication has lasted so long.
The two-time Man Booker Prize winner is a poet, novelist, critic, essayist, inventor, teacher and environmental activist. So expect all that in her tweets, as well as book recommendations, crisp reflections and, occasionally, helping young literature students with school essays about her books.
Irish novelist Marian Keyes is as warm, witty and insightful on Twitter as she is on the page. Follow for a glimpse into the humourist’s life and mind – as well as some great book recommendations.
Reese’s Book Club
Yes, the actress Reese Witherspoon. Since she launched her book club in 2017 it has become an industry phenomenon. Like Oprah in the US and Richard and Judy in the UK before her, Witherspoon is fast becoming one of the few tastemakers who can catapult a book into the bestseller lists. It has also become an essential space for stories about women, by women.
On Twitter, as in his books, Macfarlane writes gorgeously about nature and climate, people and places. Each morning the Underland author expounds a new ‘word of the day’ (do you know what a ‘caesura’ is? Or a ‘blashie’?), and recommends articles and books for anyone with a soft spot for the natural world.
New Yorker Fiction
The New Yorker has been publishing short stories from the world’s best writers for more than sxity years. From John Cheever to Roald Dahl, Dorothy Parker to Shirley Jackson, it is the world’s pre-eminent playground for modern short fiction (serious, humorous, experimental, the lot). This is where to indulge your short story compulsion.
The Big Green Bookshop
The Big Green Bookshop is a little independent bookshop in Hastings. But for what it lacks in size it makes up in voice – it’s a Twitter giant. Co-owned by Simon Key, its primary function is to sell books by post, so expect plenty of deals and promotions framed by Key’s cuddly sense of humour. They also host a wildly-popular book club while every Wednesday is ‘Buy a Stranger a Book Day’ in which followers are offered the chance to either ask for a book or offer to buy one for somebody else.
Dolly Alderton is one half of the wildly-popular pop-culture podcast The High Low and author of the hit memoir Everything I Know About Love. On Twitter, she's consistently hilarious on everything from dating apps to pop culture to her allergy to The Queen’s speeches.
Penguin Random House
Not one, but seven feeds to follow from the Penguin Random House family. Ebury, Michael Joseph, Penguin General, Allen Lane, Penguin Random House Children’s (Puffin and Ladybird), Transworld and Vintage are our publishing houses, each creatively and editorially independent but all with the same goal: to seek out and publish the best writing talent from around the world. Follow to stay up to date with what they have planned.