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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.
Paul Armstrong’s Why Are We Always Indoors? is a slam-dunk account of the COVID-19 pandemic from mid-March 2020 to 21st June that Boris Johnson devotees might want to avoid, but should definitely read. On the other hand, readers enraged by the likes of PPE shortages, Dominic Cummings’s Barnard Castle road-trip eye test, and track and trace bungles will find a kindred spirit in Armstrong. It certainly packs potent personal and political punch. This London lockdown diary began life “as a way of recording daily reflections on the most bizarre football close-season ever known, and to fill the long hours of lockdown” but, “as events beyond our four walls grew darker, so the focus drifted from whimsical musings on football, TV and music to a growing unease with how a dreadful pandemic was being handled.” As so much has shifted, flipped and flopped since the author began keeping this journal, reading his account of the experience some seven months later is a vital reminder of what we’ve been through collectively. Alongside prescient reactions to governmental decisions, the author recounts experiences many of us will relate to - being horrified by reports from Italy. Taking daily walks that felt “like the pre-titles sequence in a zombie apocalypse movie”. Clapping for carers. The existential strangeness of having to psyche ourselves up to go to the shop. Fans of the author’s memoir Why Are We Always on Last? will also love the football and music musings and anecdotes. While right now (October 2020), no one knows how or when the pandemic will end, Why Are We Always Indoors? ends on a fittingly bittersweet note, pointing out that while we don’t know “whether we’ll taste the true freedom we once knew ever again”, we can “take comfort where we can and hope for happier times. We know there’s trouble ahead but, as Irving Berlin said, ‘While there’s music and moonlight and love and romance. Let’s face the music and dance.’ And, for now at least, there’s football, too.”
An unsettling, thought-provoking read detailing the life, murder, and investigation of the murder of Beryl Evans and her young daughter during the 1940’s. Two men were separately found guilty and hanged, however this was not a simple case. The first conviction was thrown into doubt and here, Beryl’s younger brother, now in his 80’s tells what he believes is the true story of what happened to his sister. This is a murder that is still well known today, you may have heard of Timothy Evans and John Christie, much has been written and speculated about. Be aware, this isn’t an easy read, it is incredibly personal, traumatic, and I suggest it is read with respect for the families concerned. As Peter Thorley’s wife says in her foreword, they have been though tormenting times, the theories remain contentious and doubts linger. This is simply told, with Peter stating it is based on his: “own experiences, research, official documents and firm beliefs about what happened at 10 Rillington Place”. While presented as fact, this is, as the author states, his truth. From experiences of evacuation through the war, to the days of the murder and later investigation, there are occasions when this account is a little disjointed, it always though, rings with strong heartfelt emotion. This acts as a stark reminder as to who is actually writing the story, and that in times of violence, lives are forever altered. My heart breaks for the author who has spent his life gathering information to try to establish the truth. ** Please note: within the pages there is an extremely graphic and disturbing photo of Beryl’s body after it was found by police.**
'The Winding Road to Portugal' is Louise Ross's companion and comparison study to 'Women Who Walk: How 20 Women from 16 Countries Came to Live in Portugal'. This time 20 men from 11 countries share their stories of when, how and, above all, why they too came to up sticks and relocate to Portugal in particular. This is a fascinating and illuminating work, consisting of the words of the newcomers themselves, with analysis by the psychology trained author, the journalist and author Richard Zimler, who has also taken the winding road and Dr. Nigel Hall, a distinguished psychiatrist. If this all sounds a bit heavy, I assure you it's not. The whole book will stir such a gamut of emotions, that the reader cannot help but be curious about the causes of such upheaval. Though far from being simply down to one reason, for some, language must have been an important factor. Those from Angola or Brazil were already fluent, whilst those from UK, Ireland, Poland, Netherlands, Denmark or Germany may have been beguiled by the promise of the Mediterranean climate. Escaping political, economic or social hardship was also cited, as was being an 'accompanying spouse', supporting their partners in their new location. At the end of the day, we work abroad because we can. The free movement of labour in the EU and the rise of the digital workplace, means that, if we have the inclination and the incentive, we can work anywhere. However, the year 2020 brought a whole different scenario. The author decided to recontact her interviewees to see how the pandemic was affecting them and included an add-on to each section with their thoughts. Those working in tourism, such as taxi drivers and owners of hotels or guest houses, were not faring as well as, say, those working for international companies but most were optimistic that the future would be better. We all certainly hope that it won't be worse. The winding road by definition is not straight forward and not everyone interviewed saw Portugal as their final resting place. This study will surely make it's readers think carefully about their own life's journey, which can only be a therapeutic exercise. A very instructive and thought-provoking social observation. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
An absolutely fascinating and all-consuming read. Step into the past, and look to our future. Ross Barnett shows us some of the mammals that used to call Britain home but have since disappeared from our landscape. He features ten species that are extinct in the UK (and sometimes world), from the Sabretooth Cat, to Grey Wolves. He also discusses whether we could see some of these animals returning. I really enjoyed the tone set by the author. He is a palaeontologist with a PhD in Zoology and specialises in “seeking, analysing and interpreting ancient DNA”. Do take a look at the author section, he clearly knows his stuff, and discusses his thoughts with a straightforward, engaging, and often humorous way. He set my awareness buzzing by stating that we (humans) are usually the reason for extinction, “we can never appreciate what we are losing, even as we are losing it”, “lifespans are so short in comparison to the timescale of the effects that humans have”. Sobering indeed, yet this isn’t an exploration of doom and gloom. It is instead, a celebration of these animals, and an enticing look at what we could have. Backing his thoughts are case studies, beautiful photos, pictures, poetry, and quotations. Chosen as a Liz Pick of the Month, The Missing Lynx is a really special book I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Little Else is a character created by award winning international cartoonist Mike Payne. She was born out of lockdown, when there was indeed little else. At 4 years old going on 40, this is her take on the world as it is right now. Her wisdom and insight shine through in this book of the first 120 cartoons to be published. Else loves her parents, her grandparents, her teddy and even her baby brother. She has perceptive opinions about mental health, comfort eating, the NHS, red letter days and home deliveries, not to mention President Trump! As you can see, there's a serious side to these very funny drawings, which make the viewer laugh then stop and think. This is a must have for these pandemical times. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Curated and edited by Adam Kay (author of multi-million bestseller This is Going to Hurt), Dear NHS features 100 household names telling their personal stories of the health service. Contributors include: Paul McCartney, Emilia Clarke, Peter Kay, Stephen Fry, Dawn French, Sir Trevor McDonald, Graham Norton, Sir Michael Palin, Naomie Harris, Ricky Gervais, Sir David Jason, Dame Emma Thompson, Joanna Lumley, Miranda Hart, Dermot O'Leary, Jamie Oliver, Ed Sheeran, David Tennant, Dame Julie Walters, Emma Watson, Malala Yousafzai and many, many more. All profits from this book will go to NHS Charities Together to fund vital research and projects, and The Lullaby Trust which supports parents bereaved of babies and young children. Other writers include Chris O'Dowd, Johnny Vegas, Jack Whitehall, Chris Evans, Lorraine Kelly, Lee Mack, Jonathan Ross, Konnie Huq, Greg James, Frank Skinner, Louis Theroux, KT Tunstall, Sandi Toksvig and Kevin Bridges. The NHS is our single greatest achievement as a country. No matter who you are, no matter what your health needs are, and no matter how much money you have, the NHS is there for you. In Dear NHS, 100 inspirational people come together to share their stories of how the national health service has been there for them, and changed their lives in the process. By turns deeply moving, hilarious, hopeful and impassioned, these stories together become a love letter to the NHS and the 1.4 million people who go above and beyond the call of duty every single day - selflessly, generously, putting others before themselves, never more so than now. They are all heroes, and this book is our way of saying thank you. Contributors include: Dolly Alderton, Monica Ali, Kate Atkinson, Pam Ayres, David Baddiel, Johanna Basford, Mary Beard, William Boyd, Frankie Boyle, Jo Brand, Kevin Bridges, Alex Brooker, Charlie Brooker, Rob Brydon, Bill Bryson, Kathy Burke, Peter Capaldi, Jimmy Carr, Candice Carty-Williams, Lauren Child, Lee Child, Bridget Christie, Emilia Clarke, Rev Richard Coles, Daisy May Cooper, Jilly Cooper, Fearne Cotton, Juno Dawson, Kit de Waal, Victoria Derbyshire, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Chris Evans, Anne Fine, Martin Freeman, Dawn French, Stephen Fry, Mark Gatiss, Ricky Gervais, Professor Green, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Mark Haddon, Matt Haig, The Hairy Bikers, Naomie Harris, Miranda Hart, Victoria Hislop, Nick Hornby, Sali Hughes, Konnie Huq, Marina Hyde, E L James, Greg James, Sir David Jason, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Jackie Kay, Peter Kay, Lorraine Kelly, Marian Keyes, Shappi Khorsandi, Nish Kumar, Stewart Lee, Joanna Lumley, Lee Mack, Emily Maitlis, Andrew Marr, Catherine Mayer, Alexander McCall Smith, Paul McCartney, Sir Trevor McDonald, Caitlin Moran, Kate Mosse, Jojo Moyes, David Nicholls, John Niven, Graham Norton, Chris O'Dowd, Dermot O'Leary, Jamie Oliver, Sir Michael Palin, Maxine Peake, Sue Perkins, Katie Piper, Ian Rankin, Jonathan Ross, Ed Sheeran, Paul Sinha, Frank Skinner, Matthew Syed, Kate Tempest, David Tennant, Louis Theroux, Dame Emma Thompson, Sandi Toksvig, Stanley Tucci, KT Tunstall, Johnny Vegas, Danny Wallace, Dame Julie Walters, Phil Wang, Emma Watson, Mark Watson, Robert Webb, Irvine Welsh, Jack Whitehall, Josh Widdicombe, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Greg Wise, Malala Yousafzai, Benjamin Zephaniah. A minimum of GBP3.00 from the sale of each book will be paid to NHS Charities Together and GBP0.15 will be paid to The Lullaby Trust.
JOHN BOLTON READS THE EPILOGUE! As President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton spent many of his 453 days in the room where it happened, and the facts speak for themselves. The result is a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the President, John Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office. What Bolton saw astonished him: a President for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” he writes. In fact, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy—and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them. He shows a President addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government. In Bolton’s telling, all this helped put Trump on the bizarre road to impeachment. “The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning,” writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43. He discovered a President who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal—about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship, and advancing his own interests. As a result, the US lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place. Bolton’s account starts with his long march to the West Wing as Trump and others woo him for the National Security job. The minute he lands, he has to deal with Syria’s chemical attack on the city of Douma, and the crises after that never stop. As he writes in the opening pages, “If you don’t like turmoil, uncertainty, and risk—all the while being constantly overwhelmed with information, decisions to be made, and sheer amount of work—and enlivened by international and domestic personality and ego conflicts beyond description, try something else.” The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there—from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic and manipulative moves of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, the crazy plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. But this seasoned public servant also has a great eye for the Washington inside game, and his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played.
As President Trump's National Security Advisor, John Bolton spent many of his 453 days in the room where it happened, and the facts speak for themselves. The result is a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the President, John Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office. What Bolton saw astonished him: a President for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn't driven by reelection calculations, he writes. In fact, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump's Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy-and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them. He shows a President addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government. In Bolton's telling, all this helped put Trump on the bizarre road to impeachment. The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning, writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43. He discovered a President who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal-about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship, and advancing his own interests. As a result, the US lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place. Bolton's account starts with his long march to the West Wing as Trump and others woo him for the National Security job. The minute he lands, he has to deal with Syria's chemical attack on the city of Douma, and the crises after that never stop. As he writes in the opening pages, "If you don't like turmoil, uncertainty, and risk-all the while being constantly overwhelmed with information, decisions to be made, and sheer amount of work-and enlivened by international and domestic personality and ego conflicts beyond description, try something else." The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there-from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic and manipulative moves of North Korea's Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, the crazy plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. But this seasoned public servant also has a great eye for the Washington inside game, and his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played.
A fascinating and provocative read documenting the author’s experience as a remanded prisoner at the largest female prison in the UK, HMP Bronzefield. It hovers between a memoir of her time within and beyond the prison system, her thoughts and feelings about the failures in the system, and her documenting facts and figures regarding research, education and rehabilitation. Just to note, Sophie has independently published this book, this really is her book, her words, her viewpoint, and therefore is all the more powerful. The author’s note states that some names, identifying details and order of events have been changed to protect privacy, plus: “This is a work of creative non-fiction. The events are portrayed to the best of the author’s memory.” Personally, I would have liked to know a little more about Sophie before we entered the prison. It feels as though she has taken a necessary step outside of herself in her recounting of events within the prison walls. Towards the end when we see what happens after Bronzefield, I feel her voice really fills the pages with passion and feeling. This isn’t a memoir filled with atonement and regret, rather real frustration at a system that she clearly feels needs reform. Most women leave prison homeless and only 8% enter the workforce. There is a lot to take on board, the major thing that I have come away with, is that a one size fits all attempt at rehabilitation just doesn’t work. Demanding, confrontational, and eye-opening, Breakfast at Bronzefield is one of my Liz Picks of the Month.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE JAMES TAIT BLACK PRIZE | THE JHALAK PRIZE | THE BREAD AND ROSES AWARD & LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers - race and class have shaped Akala's life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today. Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Nativesspeaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire. Natives is the searing modern polemic and Sunday Times bestseller from the BAFTA and MOBO award-winning musician and political commentator, Akala.
Modern life is full of choices. We're told that happiness lies within and we can be whoever we want to be. But with endless possibility comes a feeling of restlessness; like we're somehow failing to live our best life. What does doing it right even look like? And why do so many women feel like they're getting it wrong? From faster-than-fast fashion to millennial burnout, the explosion of wellness to the rise of cancel culture, Pandora Sykes interrogates the stories we've been sold and the ones we tell ourselves. Wide-ranging, thoughtful and witty, How Do We Know We're Doing It Right? explores the anxieties and myths that consume our lives and the tools we use to muddle through. So sit back and take a breath. It's time to stop worrying about the answers - and start delighting in the questions.
Eye-opening, amusing, and heart-warming, this is the personal as well as professional memoir of a health visitor. Rachael Hearson joined the National Health Service as a student nurse in 1979 and has spent time as a nurse, midwife, health visitor, and community practice teacher. As a health visitor she says she has a: “privileged and unique access to all families with children under five; our office is your living room.” Boy, does the introduction really spell it out, from the strange and dangerous through to the wonderful, she’s truly seen it all. I felt as though I was sat listening to a friend, she has a lovely light, bright, chatty style which helps provide a vivid and vibrant picture of her experiences. She clearly has huge empathy and adores her job (yes there are downsides too). The epilogue at the end titled ‘Love in the Time of Corona’ is a fascinating insight into the thoughts of an NHS worker as we all learn to live with Covid. She makes some striking points about the importance of the NHS, stating: “We must continue to bang the drum for the NHS.” In other words, now is the time to make the right changes to ensure our NHS continues. Handle With Care is a wonderful insight into a world that the majority of us are thankful for, and it has been chosen as one of our LoveReading Books of the Month.
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!