I grew up in Maryland, USA and have a degree in English and Religion from Hood College. I first came to England in 2003 as a study abroad student at the University of Reading and returned in 2005 to get an MA in Victorian Literature from the University of Leeds. Meeting my future husband in 2003 gave me a reason to keep coming back, and I’ve now lived in England continuously for nearly 14 years.
Jobs and circumstances have kept us circling around the southeast, but we’re currently based in Newbury, Berkshire. We maintain connections with nearby Reading, a name that always pleases me as a book-lover even though, of course, it’s actually pronounced ‘Redding’.
For six years I was a college library assistant in the States and then in London. Since July 2013 I’ve been a freelance proofreader and writer, focusing on book reviews.
Editing science journal articles for academic English is my bread and butter.
I regularly review books for BookBrowse, Bookmarks magazine (for which I am an associate editor), Foreword Reviews, Shelf Awareness, Shiny New Books, Times Literary Supplement, and Wasafiri literary magazine.
My writing has previously appeared in BlueInk Review, The Bookbag, BookTrib, Church Times, Fig Tree Books, For Books’ Sake, Glamour UK, Hakai Magazine, The Island Review, Kirkus, Literary Hub, Los Angeles Review of Books, Nudge/NB Magazine, [PANK], the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PN Review, Publishers Weekly, Quadrapheme, Stylist, and Third Way.
Blog History and Strategy
Bookish Beck started in March 2015. Since I review so many books through my work, it was intended as a fun space where I mostly talk about my leisure reading and the new books that I recommend.
I post frequently, with straightforward reviews, roundups of mini-reviews, and other bookish topics appearing on the blog every few days. You’ll notice that I alternate between British and American spellings and slang.
I also like to feature my reading from my own shelves and from my library borrowing (feel free to join in the “Library Checkout” meme, which runs on the last Monday of every month); explore thematic connections; report on my literary travels, bookshops I’ve visited, or events I’ve attended; and think more broadly and philosophically about my life – career, hobbies, and where it’s all going.
In 2017 and 2019 I ran “Doorstopper of the Month” and “Classic of the Month” features to encourage me to read some of the very long books that I own and to get through more classics. I’ve continued posting these occasionally, and I also join in regular blogger challenges like Reading Ireland Month, 20 Books of Summer, and author- or year-specific readalongs. In November I co-host the “Novellas in November” challenge.
I love following literary prizes such as the Booker and the Women’s Prize. In 2017 I also created an ongoing, unofficial Wellcome Book Prize (for health-themed books) shadow panel, and participated in the official Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award shadow panel. While the Wellcome Book Prize was on hiatus in 2020, I organized a #NotTheWellcomePrize blog tour to celebrate the best medical releases of 2019. In 2018 I helped judge the John Leonard Prize, awarded by the National Book Critics Circle, and I have recently served as a judge for the 2022 McKitterick Prize administered by the Society of Authors.