Catherine Simpson’s 'One Body' Selected For World Book Night 2023

We should all support The Reading Agency - and we should all read this book
January 2, 2023

Lancashire-born author Catherine Simpson’s “exquisite” (Publishers Weekly) and “powerful” (Sunday Times) memoir One Body has been selected by The Reading Agency for the audiobook giveaway of World Book Night 2023. The full selection was announced by The Reading Agency in December and includes four audiobooks in addition to 24 other titles.

World Book Night, celebrated on April 23 and now in its thirteenth year, is an initiative to encourage more adults to read, by facilitating a giveaway of thousands of books through partner organisations such as libraries and charities to people who may need extra help to access books and reading. Since 2013, World Book Night has been a part of The Reading Agency, and is currently supported by Arts Council England.

One Body, which was also shortlisted for Non-Fiction Book of the Year at Scotland’s National Book Awards 2022, documents Catherine’s life journey within her body through experiences ranging from severe period pain and childbirth to early menopause. Alongside her career and family life, she’s dealt with misogyny and body-shaming, but also dieted, jogged, tanned, and plucked—attempting to conform to prevailing standards of "acceptable womanhood."

But when Catherine received a cancer diagnosis following a routine mammogram, she could no longer pummel her body into submission and was forced to take stock. From growing up on a farm where vets were more common than doctors, and where illness was “a nuisance,” she now faced the nuisance of a lifetime.

Throughout the book Catherine uses the 'retrospective lens' to look back at the (obviously) immensely personal relationship she's had with her own body since childhood.

"Shame seems to me to be a constant companion when you live in a woman's body" hit me like a train when I read the words - and the understanding that many women and girls still feel the same, makes this memoir an indispensable read, as we head towards World Book Night.

One Body - demystifying, often hilarious, and sometimes shocking, is the candid and hugely relatable story of how Catherine navigated her treatment and the emotions and reflections it provoked on episodes from her past. And how she came to drop the unattainable standards imposed on her body, until she could simply appreciate the skin she is in. The audiobook is narrated by Catherine herself and has drawn praise for its warmth, humour and directness.

Catherine Simpson says "It is a huge privilege to be involved in World Book Night. Books have brought such joy into my own life, so it is the greatest honour to be able to share my book with new readers in this way. My memoir One Body touches on themes of isolation, fear and loneliness and I hope it reaches people who feel comforted and less alone after reading it. How wonderful if my words and hard-won experiences can help lighten the load for others through this amazing festival of reading."

The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. The organisation works closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds; their vision is: for a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life.

The Reading Agency help 1.9 million people benefit from reading every year, through their programmes, tireless campaigning and excellent networks - together with their power to influence, challenge and make change happen.

Huge thanks to Sara Hunt, MD of Saraband for sending us Catherine's book - and for her ongoing commitment to the very best independent publishing.

Header Image: Catherine Simpson