City of stories: How Norwich penned and read their way through the pandemic

What has Norwich been reading and writing?

What has Norwich been reading and writing? - Credit: Getty/Julie Hunt/ Henry Layte

The pandemic saw Norwich folk being shut in with no more adventures out of doors.

And it seems though many of the creative people living within the city turned to reading and writing. 

And as the weather turns colder, what books are the city folk more likely to buy and read? 

Julie Hunt, 44, is an admin for The Norwich Book Club and is also one of the creative city people who accomplished a published book from the lockdown. 

“As a book club, we have seen a large increase in members, people have taken the pandemic as a chance to read more,” said Julie.  

She has also seen more local writers emerging.  

“I think the increase in writers is due to not only having more time, but the escapism from the reality that we were given during the lockdown.” 

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Julie said until the pandemic presented her with the notion of time, she had never even thought about writing a book.  

Julie Hunt used her time during the first pandemic to write her debut book. 

Julie Hunt used her time during the first pandemic to write her debut book. - Credit: Julie Hunt

“I joined an online course during the pandemic, writing a book was part of that programme.  

“The lockdown gave me more time to commit to the writing of the book,” said Julie.  

Julie has written about what she does for work – helping people to be more financially savvy.  

“This was much more relevant with lockdown, and is a topic I feel very passionate about,” she said.  

Julie’s book was launched on October 21 and was an Amazon bestseller  

It’s called The Money Compass: An insider’s guide to financial success 

It’s described as an easy-to-follow guide which takes you through all the steps you need to build a clear picture of your finances. 

Harry Layte from Book Hive Norwich said that the book sales don’t really change until after Christmas.  

Henry Layte thinks that Norwich is full of writers.

Henry Layte thinks that Norwich is full of writers. - Credit: Andy Sapey

“Before then, people are just buying Christmas presents - which has started in earnest already," said Harry.  

He thinks that lots of people still have their summer books to finish.  

“After Christmas, people begin to buy books for themselves to get them through the rest of winter.” 

He continued “we have been selling a lot of fiction through the winter – people are escaping to other worlds.” 

The Book Hive on London Street in Norwich which is getting ready to re-open. Picture: Danielle Boode

The Book Hive on London Street in Norwich which is getting ready to re-open. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden


Harry said: “Almost everyone in Norwich is a writer anyway! But perhaps more people have had a chance to finish that novel they've been thinking of for years!” 

He shared with this paper's readers, the top five local books that should be read to escape the autumn and winter blues. 

Playtime's Over by James Kinsley - brilliant debut fiction, local author 

This Hollow Land by Peter Tollhurst - nonfiction - local author 

O Caledonia by Elspeth Barker - Reissue of a classic novel, local author 

Burntcoat by Sarah Hall - new novel from brilliant writer who wrote it whilst living in Norwich 

Jack Joliffe Goes Forth by Henry Chancellor - big new kids adventure by Suffolk author for 9–12-year-olds 

Have you read any of these or do you have any to add? 

If you'd like to join the Norwich Book Club, first join the Facebook group.

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