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An Introduction to our LoveReading Managing Director Deborah Maclaren

By Liz Robinson on 18th September 2018

We’d like to introduce you all to Deborah Maclaren, our new (well perhaps not so new) Managing Director. Deborah started with the new team after LoveReading was bought last year. She has the most incredible energy and enthusiasm for books and LoveReading. I’ve been so thrilled and excited to watch her ideas grow and become reality. The new LoveReading site looks fabulous, and the updated LoveReading4Kids site is following shortly. Debs understands LoveReading, the inclusive community feel of it, in fact, I’ll let her answer my questions and you can see for yourself:

What do you think makes LoveReading special?

Its sense of community and the way that our readers and members feel part of a family of fellow book lovers. Our people, too. I feel very privileged to be part of a team who feel as passionately about books as I do, and in fact who have re-ignited my own love of reading. I’ve always been a bookworm but there have been times over the years when I have become a less than prolific reader – at University, and because of the kids and work juggle! However, I am now the most excited ambassador for LoveReading. I love what we do and what we stand for – as a user of our websites, an avid follower of our book recommendations and as a member of the senior leadership team.

What do you personally bring to LoveReading?

I have spent the whole of my career in media, mostly on consumer magazines and websites working in senior management roles but always with a remit on commercialising products. I feel like LoveReading was serendipity, and that the last 22 years of work have brought me to this spot. I feel that it’s where I’m meant to be, where I can celebrate my love of books whilst capitalising on my experience to date.

What changes to LoveReading since you started have you been most excited about?

I’m not sure where to start as there have been SO many. The re-launch of the LoveReading site in July and the re-launch of the LoveReading4Kids site this month have been huge landmarks. Having launched in 2005, the brands paved the way but were in need of a much-needed facelift. We are very proud of the fresh branding, the added functionality of our sites and the new products being developed as extensions of the LoveReading brand. The launch of the LoveReading Podcast has been instrumental in showing the publishing industry and our members that we mean business, and that we are very ambitious as a brand. Our talented Podcast team led by the wonderful Elena Lappin continue to blow me away each month with the quality of the broadcasting and the calibre of our guests. I am particularly excited about the interview with Sebastian Faulks in our forthcoming October episode. He is a beautiful storyteller with Birdsong in particular being one of my fave books of all time and I am totally stoked that he chose our podcast to talk about his new book Paris Echo, which is next on my list to read! We also last week announced the launch of our first awards which is incredibly exciting – The LoveReading Very Short Story Award and it’s thrilling to see the submissions flying in from writers telling their stories.

What was your favourite childhood book, what did you love about it, have you read it since being an adult, if so what do you think of it now?

I have tons actually that bring back many happy memories and I am absolutely loving re-reading them with my kids. The Secret Garden is an absolute classic. It’s one of my favourite children’s books as it’s such a magical, enchanting story of Mary and her deserted garden. It transported me right there back then, and did recently when I picked it up again to re-read it with my son. It’s a magical story that passes the test of time in spite of it first being published as a book in 1911. The author’s ability to be truthful about her characters is compelling and this is the same for me with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s other fabulous book A Little Princess, which I also remember with such fondness. I also think the message that flows throughout about the power of positivity is a wonderful one and one that had me welling up at the end. My son who is 10 has read it, and he really enjoyed it. It’s on the list for me to read with my daughter (near the top with Ballet Shoes!) She’s six and we recently finished Pippi Longstocking together which is another beloved book of mine from my youth. It’s just a pleasure reading these classic stories again and seeing them transfix my kids as they did me.

Book shelfie: tell us about your favourite shelf of books.

We have hundreds of books in our home and this shelf is the one that houses the books for grown ups! It’s not huge, and I would love a library in my forever home, but it does make me happy every day as I walk past it. I have a “cull” every few months due to lack of space to house them all and also because I’m reading so many at the moment. I always have such good intentions on categorising the books neatly on the shelves – all crime, thriller, biographies, relationship stories together – but I never quite make it happen!

What draws you to a book, what are the most important things you look for when browsing for a book?

Historically, the author, the cover, a recommendation from a friend. Now it’s the LoveReading recommendations, and that is the absolute truth! I have now read so many amazing books since I joined the team. I have always been a voracious reader but we have all read a few duds over the years. LoveReading gives me advice, those credible recommendations, the integrity that I trust. The newly designed website has functionality that absolutely helps support my reading list. Our wonderful experts select books and we only publish reviews of books we love. I scour the reviews, save them to my bookshelf on the website so I can keep track of the books I want to buy next and tick them off once I have read them. It’s a perfect log of everything – and I adore it, so helpful when I’m shopping for my next batch of reading fodder.

What are you reading right now? 

I have just come back from my Summer holidays where I read some absolute crackers. The Possible World, Jar of Hearts, My Absolute Darling, Pieces of Her are all books that have been published over the last few months and that our editorial experts have loved – and I did too. I would happily recommend them all. Last night I finished Why Mummy Drinks which is a hilarious take on modern mummyhood. I belly-laughed my way through it which resulted in some very funny looks on the tube! This evening I’m excited about starting Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse…I think, although Rhiannon sounds a little bit scary! Our reviews Editor Liz Robinson loved both Sweetpea and her new book In Bloom so they are must-reads for me as I trust Liz implicitly – who doesn’t?!

What is your favourite quote from a book?

Sorry, I have a few!

"Words are life" The Book Thief, Markus Zusak.

"It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then" Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Caroll.

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it" To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

"For to have faith is to have wings" Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie.

Sum up LoveReading in three words.

Passionate, trustworthy, informative

Thank you Debs, what wonderful answers, I now want to read The Secret Garden again...

PS Rhiannon is completely wonderful (and yes just an incy-wincy bit scary!).

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