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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.
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.**
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.
This is NOT a history book. This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are. A book about race. The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited. Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas--and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.
Tani Adewumi’s life-affirming memoir is a “dare to dream” story with the power to make souls sing. As he and his parents relate their extraordinary experiences from living under Boko Haram in Nigeria to forging a new life in America, eight-year-old Tani’s voice is unfailingly endearing, with his parents’ narratives providing enlightening context, underpinned by their Christian faith. The tone is set in the introduction, in which Tani tells us that while he’s not sure what he’ll do when he grows up (maybe become a chess grandmaster, maybe a pilot, or maybe both), “I do know this much. I believe in miracles.” The story begins when Tani’s printer father is visited by Boko Haram and he evades their order to print posters that declare “No to Western Education” and “Kill all Christians”. When this makes the family a target, they flee to another area of Nigeria, then to Dallas after it becomes clear they’re not safe in their homeland. But their first experiences in America are from the life they’d hoped for. They stay with Tani’s great uncle, whose American wife becomes hostile, which compels them to move again. Thanks to the kindness of an old Nigerian friend, they’re able to move to New York where a pastor finds them a place in a shelter. Here Tani is given the opportunity to join a chess club, where meeting Coach Shawn proves to be life-changing. Tani’s natural talent for chess coupled with hard work, family support, and the kindness of coaches who give him a scholarship, sees him make fast progress. Within months he’s crowned State Chess Champion. But it doesn’t end there – when Coach Shawn suggests the family tell the national press their story to help them secure a place to live, the coverage leads to even bigger things. Alongside the overarching story, Tani’s mother shares fascinating detail about her Yoruba heritage, and this memoir is also poignant in showing the hard realities of migrant life. This comes recommended for readers who love discovering human stories that don’t shirk from the truth, but still radiate a feel-good message of hope.
Edited by trailblazing broadcaster, editor and critic Margaret Busby OBE - Britain’s first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison and Busby in the 1960s - New Daughters of Africa is an extraordinary feat of publishing, presenting as it does the diverse work of 200+ women of African heritage across more than 900 pages. In 1992, Busby published Daughters of Africa, and this epically-proportioned - and realised - re-visitation duplicates none of the writers featured in the first incarnation. Busby hopes in her introduction, “may all who find their way to this anthology, regardless of gender, class or race, feast well on its banquet of words.” And I defy any reader not to do just that. This rich feast presents all kinds of writers – academics and activists; critics and curators; fiction writers and filmmakers; poets and politicians, to name but a few - from all parts of the world. There are wise words to chew on from familiar figures, among them Diane Abbott, Angela Levy, Bernardine Evaristo, Malorie Blackman, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Afua Hirsch. And there are individuals and pieces I was grateful to discover for the first time, such as Bermudian Angela Barry’s Without Prejudice story, and Yvette Edwards, a London writer of Montserratian origin. The collection’s historical entries are engrossing too, among them Sarah Parker Remond’s (1815-1894) “Why Slavery is Still Rampant” piece, and Meta Davis Cumberbatch’s (1900-1978) powerfully rousing poem, “A Child of Nature (Negro of the Caribbean)”. This is an exceptional anthology to savour - a uniquely nourishing banquet for mind and heart.
Over his 30-year police and forensic psychology career, Dr Kris Mohandie has come face-to-face with kidnappers, serial killers, stalkers, and terrorists. With his expertise and insight, Dr Mohandie analyses and evaluates the thought processes that motivate the most dangerous people who have ever walked among us. This is the first-hand account of his work, covering shocking cases like the 'Angel of Death' serial killer, racist serial assassin Joseph Paul Franklin, and even the O.J. Simpson case. Learn shocking new revelations about hostage takers, serial killers, mass murderers, violent 'true-believers', terrorists, and some of the worst predators on the planet. ***Previously published in the US as Evil Thoughts, Wicked Deeds.
Victor Chandler: In The Blood, the authorised biography by Jamie Reid Victor Chandler, the most recognisable face in bookmaking, tells his story. Gambling was in his blood from birth. Discover how his grandfather dealt with Darby Sabini’s Italian Mob, Alfie Solomons and the real Peaky Blinders. How his father, Victor senior, built up the firm only for illness to force ‘Young Victor’ into the fray at the age of 23 - the start of a high life and fast times. To begin with he found the going tough. He almost accepted an offer to sell up from Playboy Bookmakers. But fortunately he stuck with it just in time to enjoy his first profitable Royal Ascot and from then on there was no going back. Victor was ahead of his time and always adaptable. In the face of the UK recession in the 1990s he went out to the Far East and began duelling audaciously with colossal Asian punters while dodging the attentions of the Triads in Hong Kong and Macau. Then at the end of the decade he sparked a revolution by moving his entire business offshore to Gibraltar; he is often credited with being the first to take gambling online. Victor shares his often hilarious memories of 40 years of a high-octane racing and bookmaking life, populated by a huge cast of colourful characters including the artist Lucian Freud, who painted 'VC' as well as betting with him.
This is a totally unique and breathtaking introduction to what lies beneath us, to the earth below our feet. Let this very special and beautiful book take you by the hand and lead you through the sunlit fields to the place where the underland begins, a place most human thoughts shy from in fear and confusion. This is a sequel to The Old Ways, yet you can begin here without concern, you can trust and join Robert Macfarlane as he explores the underland. I will admit that I am in love with the writing, the words, the vision that allows you to see and feel in darkness. I haven’t ever considered our deep connection to this stunning underworld in the way you are encouraged to here. Robert Macfarlane meets and shares experiences with people who have chosen to explore, to look beyond the obvious. I absolutely adored how much he shares, how accessible Underland is, his words reached out and connected with my thoughts and feelings, altering, reshaping, transforming. While there is plenty to fear for our future, all the time there are humans with this amount of love for our natural world, there is also hope. Underland is one of my picks of the month, and also one of our star books - it is quite simply stunning.
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.
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.
Open your hearts and minds to the world of seabirds and the wild landscape of the British Isles in this thoughtful and eloquently written book. Stephen Rutt travels the British Isles and tells of his love for birds that spend much of their life out at sea. Even if not previously entranced by seabirds or nature, Stephen Rutt’s words cast a spell to draw you in. If like me, nature is part and parcel of your inner soul, then this is simply magical, but also holds a warning for our future. One huge reminder from The Seafarers is that it proves just how important nature is for our mental health and wellbeing. The introduction really spoke to me, we learn a little about Stephen before he moves on to ten chapters focusing on different seabirds. From the thrill of meeting a Lech’s storm petrel, to the declining population of the skua, he travels from Lundy to Shetland and we learn as much about the islands as we do seabirds. His thoughts on: “the Anthropocene - defined as the era in which the majority of things on earth have been altered by the actions of humans” and that: “We are losing our seabirds. I fear that what we are seeing with plastics is perhaps the beginning of another death spiral” really hit home. Winner of the Saltire First Book of the Year 2019, The Seafarers is not only a beautiful book to read, it acts as a reminder of the importance of our natural world.
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!