Quick Reads 2020 [Review]

An introduction to Quick Reads

Quick Reads is part of The Reading Agency. They aim to bring together the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, including the one in three adults in the UK who do not read for pleasure, and the one in six in the UK who find reading difficult.

This year, they are publishing six bitesize books priced at £1 each, to make reading accessible and engaging. The books are also available for free through libraries. They are also distributed through organisations such as further education institutions, prisons, and hospitals.*

I have read and reviewed all of the Quick Reads 2020 books (below) in the hope it will encourage others to read them and share the wonders that are Quick Reads by giving them to friends and family, or donating them to a local organisation.

*Thanks to Midas PR for providing this information.

Why is Quick Reads important?

Reading can be revolutionary and have a massive impact on people’s lives. However, many people struggle to access or afford books, and there are a myriad of reasons why some struggle to read, from a lack of time to health reasons. Quick Reads helps to breakdown those barriers.

Other important points

All of the paperback editions are formatted with a good font size with the writing well-spaced, so there is no dealing with tiny letters or too much packed into one page. However, if you prefer to read digitally or need a larger font size, they are also available as eBooks (Kindle).

The Donor by Clare Mackintosh is also available as an audiobook.

Title: This is Going to Hurt (Abridged)
Author: Adam Kay
Genre: Medical memoir, non-fiction
Formats: Paperback and eBook


Welcome to the life of a junior doctor. You work 97 hours a week. You make life and death decisions. You are often covered in blood (or worse) from head to toe. And the hospital parking meter earns more money than you do.

Adam Kay’s diary was written in secret after long days, sleepless nights and missed weekends. It is funny, moving and sometimes shocking. This is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.


I decided to read this book first as I’ve read the unabridged version twice and it’s one of my favourite books. It is a medical memoir of Adam Kay’s time as a junior doctor. It’s a great format for a quick read as it is split into short diary entries. It’s brutal, funny, and highly engaging.

This book is perfect for those who enjoy programmes such as Hospital and 24 Hours in A&E.

Title: The Donor
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Genre: Thriller, fiction
Formats: Paperback, eBook, and audiobook


When Lizzie’s daughter Meg is given a life-saving heart transplant, Lizzie feels hugely grateful to the nameless donor. Then she receives a letter from the donor’s mother, Karen, asking to meet, and it seems like the least she can do.

But as soon as Karen is welcomed into their lives, Lizzie feels something isn’t right. And before long, she can’t help but worry that by inviting Karen in, she might have put Meg in danger…


I’ll start by saying I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down; it is fast-paced and highly enjoyable. It’s really impressive how much Mackintosh packs into 101 pages. The book is split into short chapters and there are very few characters to keep track of, adding to its readability.

You’ll enjoy this book if you like thrilling stories and TV dramas such as Doctors.

Title: A Fresh Start
Author: Fanny Blake (ed.)
Genre: Short stories, fiction
Formats: Paperback and eBook


A collection of brilliant short stories from the best writers around.

This collections contains original stories from Fanny Blake, Louise Candlish, Mike Gayle, Mari Hannah, Sophie Kinsella, Jojo Moyes, Adele Parks, Ian Rankin, Mahsuda Snaith and Keith Stuart.


A Fresh Start contains ten short stories all based around the theme of a fresh start in life. This Quick Read is one of my particular favourites as the stories are very short but all pack a punch. If you or someone you know struggles to read, concentrate for long periods, or remember storylines, then this Quick Read would be an excellent starting point.

You’ll like this if you like shorter stories with dramatic storylines.

Title: Notting Hill Carnival: A Westside Story
Author: Candice Carty-Williams
Genre: Romance, fiction
Formats: Paperback and eBook


Sapphire is the hot-headed leader of the Red Roses in an area where gang loyalty is all that matters. But after a tragic event, Sapphire vows to leave her old life, friends and her gang behind. Life without the Red Roses and the violence that always followed them is certainly quieter.

When she meets a boy called Apollo on her way to Notting Hill Carnival, she forms an instant bond with him. She thinks he could be the one. Until she discovers he’s a member of rival gang, the Gold Teeth. Will she ever escape her past with the Red Roses, and how many lives will be ruined until she does?


From the author of the wonderful book Queenie comes this lovely modern twist on West Side Story. It features the rivalry of two gangs, from each of which two members fall in love. But Sapphire and Apollo find the path of true love never did run smooth. It look me a while to get into this book but once I did I was hooked. Suitable for all readers but will be a big hit with younger readers such as teenagers and young adults.

Perfect for fans of shows and musicals such as West Side Story.

Title: Darkness Rising
Author: A.A. Dhand
Genre: Crime, fiction
Formats: Paperback and eBook


Detective Inspector Harry Virdee has a lot on his plate. His team is facing government cuts, tensions are building between Bradford’s two rival drugs gangs and his wife Saima is due to give birth any day now.

So when bodies start turning up in the old industrial district, the pressure is on to get the case wrapped up as quickly as possible, or risk a full-scale gang war.

But the man behind the murders is ruthless and pushy. And things are getting personal. Harry must think fast and bend the rules if he wants to keep his city, and his family, safe…


I have to confess that I put off reading this one because I don’t read a lot of crime fiction – but I thoroughly enjoyed it! It has changed my perspective on crime fiction and I’d absolutely read more by A.A. Dhand in the future. The writing quality is fantastic and the plot left me wanting more.

Check out Rising Darkness if you love fast-paced crime with a darker side.

Title: The Little Dreams of Lara Cliffe
Author: Milly Johnson
Genre: Romance, contemporary fiction
Formats: Paperback and eBook


Lara Cliffe and her three friends are off on a mini break for her hen party.  It’s three weeks before her wedding to ’Steady Freddie’, one of the kindest men on the planet.  But something is worrying Lara. Her friends say it’s wedding jitters, but she isn’t so sure.  Fifteen years ago the love of her life, Danny Belfont, walked out on her three weeks before their wedding and she has never been able to fully get him out of her heart.
Then, on the overnight ferry, Lara finds out that Danny is playing in the onboard band and he spots her in the crowd. Will she meet him the next night to talk?
As the wonderful city of Amsterdam works its magic on Lara, she tries to sort out her thoughts.  And if fate has brought Lara and Danny back together… is it really for love or for something quite different? 


The Little Dreams of Lara Cliffe is a feel-good book that you can just settle into and enjoy. Lara goes on a journey of self-discovery after a series of disasterous relationships before finding the man of her dreams. It’s fun and relatable.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy happy endings and feel-good stories.

My Final Verdict

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Quick Reads 2020 collection. There is a great range of styles and genres to suit most people. I think what I’d like to see in the future is more central characters for a broader range of people to relate to, e.g. main characters who identify as LGBTQ+. It’s important people feel represented in books and this feels even more important when it comes to Quick Reads.

Where you can buy Quick Reads

You can order Quick Reads via your local bookshop, or if you don’t have one, check out Hive.co.uk. You can also purchase them at Waterstones and other major retailers.

Thank you!

Huge thanks to Teddy from The Reading Agency for supporting my enthusiasm for Quick Reads!

Just to note, I purchased these books myself and was not asked to review them.

Wishing you all a bookish week,

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