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Looking to find out something more about the world we live in, instead of gallivanting off into the realm of fiction? Have a look at our hand-picked non-fiction choices.
This lucid, rigorous, readable analysis of the employment experiences of 175 individuals who work in prestigious professions (such as TV, architecture and acting) reveals beyond doubt that Britain is far from a meritocracy. Rather, it still pays to be born privileged, and the working class still face multiple barriers that make it more difficult to get into such professions, and make it more difficult to get on if you’re in the minority who are appointed (the 16% pay gap revealed here is shocking and unacceptable). The research demonstrates that the reproduction of privilege remains a powerful factor: “about half the people in top jobs had parents who did similarly high-status work, while less than 20% come from working-class backgrounds”. One of theresounding themes emerging from the authors’ findings is the sense of entitlement felt by those born into privilege, and with that comes unflappable confidence and connections that see them progress much faster and further than their working class peers. The doors are already open. The Bank of Mum and Dad means they can take unpaid internships or, for example, live comfortably as an out-of-work-actor while their living expenses are covered. And then there are the introductions that lead to ways-in that are simply not accessible to the working class, and the unspoken codes about how to dress and how to speak that leave many working class employees out in the cold, still viewed as not one of “us”, not quite the part, unpolished, even. Many of the interviews make for deeply uncomfortable reading. Despite mentioning their paid-for flats, subsidised living expenses and vital introductions that lead to coveted jobs, the privileged interviewees don’t even see themselves as having any advantage. These are assumed to be the norm, which reveals the deep-rooted persistence of a class chasm in contemporary Britain, and an alarming ignorance that exacerbates divisions. With one exception, the interviewees believe their success is entirely down to merit, whereas in reality the old boys’ network is as strong as it ever was. With those in power still largely from privileged backgrounds, and the status quo very much not working, the authors’ ten suggestions for smashing this ceiling should be heeded by politicians and policy-makers, from publishing social mobility data, to banning unpaid, unadvertised internships that give the already privileged further advantage, while the less well-off don’t get a look in. Exposing the fallacy of meritocracy, this enlightening and powerfully engaging study should be essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of Britain in these turbulent times.
It does not follow, over time, that as a society gets wealthier and more secure, it’s people become happier. Do you find the goal posts are always moving; that no matter your degree of personal or professional achievement, you never quite reach satisfaction? Contentment, at least full contentment, is a myth? And is the pursuit of personal happiness in fact self indulgent and selfish? If we do an unselfish act for another in order that it provides us with a good feeling, is that not, in fact, a selfish act? The Happiness Problem is a book written to invite us to stand back and ask a question. What is happiness, and what is it we seek to achieve through its pursuit? Wren-Lewis's book is thought provoking, disturbing and at the same time reassuring. A good read for anyone wanting to re-assess their goals in life, to reconnect with it, and to explore the notion that all that glitters is not gold.
Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier, read by Peter Noble. Deep new rifts are tearing apart the fabric of Britain and other Western societies: thriving cities versus the provinces, the highly skilled elite versus the less educated, wealthy versus developing countries. As these divides deepen, we have lost the sense of ethical obligation to others that was crucial to the rise of post-war social democracy. So far these rifts have been answered only by the revivalist ideologies of populism and socialism, leading to the seismic upheavals of Trump, Brexit and the return of the far right in Germany. We have heard many critiques of capitalism but no one has laid out a realistic way to fix it, until now. In a passionate and polemical book, celebrated economist Paul Collier outlines brilliantly original and ethical ways of healing these rifts - economic, social and cultural - with the cool head of pragmatism, rather than the fervour of ideological revivalism. He reveals how he has personally lived across these three divides, moving from working-class Sheffield to hyper-competitive Oxford, and working between Britain and Africa, and acknowledges some of the failings of his profession. Drawing on his own solutions as well as ideas from some of the world's most distinguished social scientists, he shows us how to save capitalism from itself - and free ourselves from the intellectual baggage of the 20th century. 'In this bold work of intellectual trespass, Paul Collier, a distinguished economist, ventures onto the terrain of ethics to explain what's gone wrong with capitalism, and how to fix it. To heal the divide between metropolitan elites and the left-behind, he argues, we need to rediscover an ethic of belonging, patriotism, and reciprocity. Offering inventive solutions to our current impasse, Collier shows how economics at its best is inseparable from moral and political philosophy' Michael Sandel, author of What Money Can't Buy and Justice
An eye-opening wander (and sometimes adrenaline ride) down memory lane for a life-long hillwalker and mountaineer. John D. Burns has spent forty years trekking and climbing mountains, he grew up in industrial Merseyside and escaped to the wilds as often as he could. He opens by admitting a mistake that could have cost lives, his raw honesty hits home, this isn’t a playground. In his early years he learns through near catastrophes and calamitous events that he needs proper equipment and to never take the outdoors for granted. He basically learns through his mistakes - TAKE NOTE! As the author grows more experienced he later becomes a part of the rescue team and starts to really become aware of the beauty around him. The majority of this memoir runs in a straight line through time, occasionally though it deviates, and sometimes stories just stop, to carry on at a later point. This memoir is more about the thrills and escapades, than the beauty of where he is and yet that joy is also there. I would recommend reading The Last Hillwalker followed by his fictional Sky Dance, as once you have finished both, you get more of measure of this man. A fascinating read.
There is good reason why some people don't want to talk about religion in polite company. Like conversations about politics, discussions about religion all too often set people at odds with each other in ways that are hard to predict and difficult to control. For all the controversy involved with such debate, this book invites the reader to engage with an ethical appraisal of religion(s) as they are practised today. It is written in the belief that this is an important dialogue for our time. It claims, despite the emotive character of the subject, that the free exchange of ideas and experience between people of differing views and commitments can with practice generate more light than heat. Particular effort is made to answer the question: how can we fairly evaluate the ethical character of religion(s)? It focuses especially but not at all exclusively on the religions of Christianity and Islam, being critical of them in many respects; but it also offers sharp rebuke to some of the perspectives of Richard Dawkins and others among the new atheists.
From iconic favourites like the Grand Canyon to up-and-coming destinations like Tiblisi, this stunning photography collection willl inspire even the most intrepid traveller. Over 150 high-quality images bring the 100 places to life, spanning atmospheric hilltop pagodas, dramatic mountain scenery, and sparkling urban citiscapes. Lively descriptive text accompanies each entry, capturing the destination's spirit and exactly what makes it so special. Organized geographically by region, the book reaches every corner of the world, with each place carefully selected by Rough Guides' experienced team of authors and editors. Features of the Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places on Earth - Uncovers the top places to visit in 2020 - Stylish coffee-table book with more than 150 inspiring photographs - Employs Rough Guides' "tell it like it is" ethos - Organised geographically by region - Carefully curated by Rough Guides' team of expert authors and editors
Rough Guides' bestselling inspirational coffee-table book draws upon the insider knowledge of in-the-know writers to share the 1000 ultimate travel experiences across the globe. Make the Most of your Time on Earth is a handpicked curation of personal recommendations, from retracing Odysseus's footsteps on Mljet and hippo-spotting in the Bijagós Islands, to wild camping on the Arabian Peninsula and defying gravity at China's Hanging Temple. It might even be something as simple as walking among Hockney's landscapes on the Yorkshire Wolds Way, or eating among locals in the perfect setting: the definitive gelato in Rome or a mopane worm in Zimbabwe. Every one is special, and authentic, and - above all - inspiring. This fourth edition has been fully revised, with a brand-new design and a collection of high-quality colour photographs spanning beautiful national parks, captivating wildlife and dramatic landscapes. Entries are divided into regions, so you can dip in and out of the different parts of the world you're interested in, whether that's a remote island in the Philippines, a stunning Swedish archipelago or an off-the-beaten-track pocket of Saskatchewan. Lively and engaging text captures the essence of the experience, while essential "Need to Know" sections at the end of each chapter make it easy for you to plan your trip. Packed full of ideas and take-you-there photography, Make the Most of your Time on Earth is pure escapism for active travellers and armchair fantasists alike.
Some people are born to be a certain thing. And I was a born fighter. At the age of eight, Michael Bisping began his training in martial arts. By the time he was 15, he was fighting in his first no holds barred competition. When he turned professional and joined the UFC he was sure about one thing: only a world championship title would do. A British underdog in the greatest fighting championship on earth, he spent the next decade winning some of the championship's most sensational contests to achieve his dream, becoming the first-ever British UFC world champion in 2016. From his boyhood years learning to fight in the gyms of Lancashire to his most shocking clashes in the cage, in Quitters Never Win Bisping tells the raw and unfiltered story behind his legendary career for the first time, including his greatest wins, his fiercest rivals and the harrowing injury that forced him into retirement. As audacious, entertaining and as candid as the man himself, it's a backstage pass to one of the world's most extreme sports and an unbridled account of what it really takes to become a champion, from sleeping in his own car to reaching the summit of the world's fastest-growing sport.
The stresses of the digital world mean that it's more important than ever to engage with the natural world. And no matter where you are, looking up at the clouds is good for the soul. The sky is the most dramatic and evocative aspect of nature. Ever-changing and ephemeral, clouds reflect the shifting moods of the atmosphere in limitless compositions and combinations. Gavin Pretor-Pinney started the Cloud Appreciation Society in 2005. Since then, he's been encouraging people to 'look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and always remember to live life with your head in the clouds.' Membership to the Society now includes over 47,000 cloudspotters. Together, they capture and share the most remarkable skies, from sublime thunderstorms and perfect sunsets to hilarious clouds that look like things. A Cloud A Day is a beautifully illustrated book containing 365 skies selected by the Cloud Appreciation Society. There are photographs by sky enthusiasts around the world, satellite images and photographs of clouds in space, as well as skies depicted by great artists over the centuries. The clouds are accompanied by enlightening explanations, fascinating snippets of cloud science, poetry and uplifting quotations. The perfect dip-in-and-out book for anyone who wants to de-stress and reconnect with nature, A Cloud A Day will inspire you to open your eyes to the everyday beauty above and to spend a moment each day with your head in the clouds.
Award winning author Katherine Rundell is as passionate about reading children’s books as she is about writing them. In this brief but and perfectly structured handbook she encourages all readers to think about the particular qualities of children’s books and about the special experience of reading as a child – which she remembers clearly. Drawing on her deep knowledge of children’s stories and supporting her arguments with endorsing quotes from writers of all kinds she sets out her defence of the book’s title in brief sections. She is as much at home in the factual – ‘On how children’s fiction came to be’ and ‘On children’s fiction today’ as the more personal which reflect her own views including ‘On wild hunger and heroic optimism’ and ‘The galvanic kick of children’s books’.
Brought to you by Penguin. 'Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.' In August 2018 a 15-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, decided not to go to school one day. Her actions ended up sparking a global movement for action against the climate crisis, inspiring millions of pupils to go on strike for our planet, forcing governments to listen, and earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. This book brings you Greta in her own words. Collecting her speeches that have made history across Europe, from the UN to mass street protests, No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel. Our future depends upon it.
Founded on fables, feminism and reconnecting with the land, this is a strident call for women to re-root themselves in nature in order to take flight in themselves. “The world which men have made isn’t working. Something needs to change. To change the world, we women need first to change ourselves and then we need to change the stories we tell about who we are.” This statement perhaps best encapsulates the core and purpose of this book: to expose how centuries of patriarchy and humanity’s disengagement from nature has been to the detriment of women, and to offer insights into how to change this status quo. Throughout, the author shares many personal experiences and her own “rewilding” process, with examples from other women too. Drawing on ancient mythology and ways of life, especially those of the Celtic tradition, she interweaves ancient wisdom – stories of The Selkie’s New Skin, Ceridwen and the Cauldron of Transformation, and The Lady of Llyn-y-Fan Fach, to name a few - with contemporary contexts to create a richly interesting perspective on other ways of living.
Cartoonist, Robert Crumb said; “When I come up against the Real World, I just vacillate”. Well, he can happily vacillate here for a while. This section features a whole host of books covering subjects as diverse as Mankind’s place in the Universe (Human Universe by Brian Cox), the history of the human journey to work (Rush Hour by Iain Gateley) and the real business of reading books (Bookworms, Dogears and Squashy Big Armchairs by Heather Reyes). This is the ‘Human’ section in our book lovers’ journey.
If you love reading, then you’ll find something here to fascinate you. There are new and interest-piquing passages here from science, philosophy, politics, history, religion, and all of the things that occupy the lives of humans. And we mean ALL of them. The fight against Cancer, the fight for freedom, feminism, fatality, frailty and fame. It’s too big to list. Have a browse through the titles by using our monthly recommendations past and present. We guarantee you’ll be hooked in minutes!