Society and culture: general

A Shot to Save the World

A Shot to Save the World

Author: Gregory Zuckerman Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

'Thrilling, inspiring and informative page-turner.' Walter Isaacson, author of The Code Breaker You know what went wrong. This is the untold story of what went right. Few were ready when a mysterious respiratory illness emerged in Wuhan, China, in January 2020. Politicians, government officials, business leaders and public-health professionals were unprepared for the most devastating pandemic in a century. Many of the world''s biggest drug and vaccine makers were slow to react or couldn't muster an effective response. It was up to a small group of unlikely and untested scientists and executives to save civilization. A French businessman dismissed by many as a fabulist. A Turkish immigrant with little virus experience. A quirky Midwesterner obsessed with insect cells. A Boston scientist employing questionable techniques. A British scientist despised by his peers. Far from the limelight, each had spent years developing innovative vaccine approaches. Their work was met with scepticism and scorn. By 2020, these individuals had little proof of progress. Yet they and their colleagues wanted to be the ones to stop a virulent virus holding the world hostage. They scrambled to turn their life's work into life-saving vaccines in a matter of months, each gunning to make the big breakthrough - and to beat each other for the glory that a vaccine guaranteed. A number-one New York Times bestselling author and award-winning Wall Street Journal investigative journalist, Zuckerman takes us inside the top-secret laboratories, corporate clashes and high-stakes government negotiations that led to effective shots. Deeply reported and endlessly gripping, this is a dazzling, blow-by-blow chronicle of the most consequential scientific breakthrough of our time. It's a story of courage, genius and heroism. It's also a tale of heated rivalries, unbridled ambitions, crippling insecurities and unexpected drama. A Shot to Save the World is the story of how science saved the world. ***LONGLISTED FOR THE FT MCKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2021***

Medusa

Medusa

Author: Jessie Burton Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

Jessie Burton’s fiery feminist re-telling of the Greek myth of Medusa blazes with intrigue and beauty courtesy of author’s elegant style and Olivia Lomenech Gill’s fabulously evocative colour illustrations. It’s an incredible feat of intellect and imagination that takes down toxic masculinity and victim-blaming culture through an ingenious reframing, reclaiming of Medusa. The gods have exiled Medusa to a remote island, with no one for company but the snakes she has for hair. That is, until impossibly beautiful Perseus arrives and transfixes her: “I know a lot about beauty. Too much in fact. But I’d never seen anything like him…I wanted to eat him up like honey cake.” Desires awoken, Medusa won’t reveal her name, or let him see her: “I was just going to sit on the other side of this entrance rock and pretend that boys like him washed up on desert islands all the time.” This excerpt encapsulates one of the many marvellous things about this book. The writing - cleverly, and compellingly - feels both timeless and modern. Medusa’s narrative, and the dialogue, is laced with wit, and infused with tremendous detail. But betrayal swoops in the wake of desire, and all-too familiar mechanisms of patriarchy come into play with ferocity. Ultimately, though, and with a magnificent sense of sisterhood, Medusa comes to a new state of being: “Self-awareness is a great banisher of loneliness. And my sisters, the immortals, are with me.” This is terrifically inspiring and empowering in the ways of timeless myths, but also in ways that are very, very real - “you will find me when you need me, when the wind hears a woman’s cry and fills my sails forward. And I will whisper on the water that one must never fear the raised shield, the reflection caught in an office window, or the mirror in a bathroom.”

Renegades

Renegades

Author: Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/10/2021

Two long-time friends share an intimate and urgent conversation about life, music and their enduring love of America, with all its challenges and contradictions, in this stunningly-produced expansion of their ground-breaking Higher Ground podcast, featuring more than 350 photographs, exclusive bonus content, and never-before-seen archival material. Renegades: Born in the USA is a candid, revealing, and entertaining dialogue between President Barack Obama and legendary musician Bruce Springsteen that explores everything from their origin stories and career-defining moments to their country's polarized politics and the growing distance between the American Dream and the American reality. Filled with full-colour photographs and rare archival material, it is a compelling and beautifully illustrated portrait of two outsiders-one Black and one white-looking for a way to connect their unconventional searches for meaning, identity, and community with the American story itself. It includes: · Original introductions by President Obama and Bruce Springsteen · Exclusive new material from the Renegades podcast recording sessions · Obama's never-before-seen annotated speeches, including his "Remarks at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches · Springsteen's handwritten lyrics for songs spanning his 50-year-long career · Rare and exclusive photographs from the authors' personal archives · Historical photographs and documents that provide rich visual context for their conversation. In a recording studio stocked with dozens of guitars, and on at least one Corvette ride, Obama and Springsteen discuss marriage and fatherhood, race and masculinity, the lure of the open road and the call back to home. They also compare notes on their favourite protest songs, the most inspiring American heroes of all time, and more. Along the way, they reveal their passion for-and the occasional toll of-telling a bigger, truer story about America throughout their careers, and explore how their fractured country might begin to find its way back toward unity.

Sandor Katz's Fermentation Journeys

Sandor Katz's Fermentation Journeys

Author: Sandor Katz Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

Fermentation Journeys of the World is a cookbook which advocates fermented food not only as a sustainable source of tasty dishes but as a means to explore the world from your kitchen. The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on the 9th August - a coincidence that did not go unnoticed by the International Panel for Climate Change on the day it released its starkest report yet. The IPCC acknowledged that indigenous knowledge of food processes could help us tackle the crisis. So what are fermented foods? Most people would probably not get past alcoholic beverages when thinking of fermentation but Sandor Katz delivers recipes in every department. Vegetables, meat and fish are all in there, but so are beans and seeds, mold cultures and milk. Dishes such as Mexican-Inspired Kimchi, Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake and Koji may sound experimental and edgy but they are in fact very easy to put together. Some recipes take as little as thirty minutes, but in other cases the food can take weeks to ferment before it is ready. I love this simplicity - allowing time and nature to do its thing, producing these wonderful and rich flavours from across the globe where they have been at the core of culinary practice for centuries, if not millennia. Fermentation Journeys is a return to the roots of cooking and a brilliant guide for adventurous foodies ready to join the fermentation revolution!

The Library

The Library

Author: Arthur der Weduwen, Andrew Pettegree Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

A fascinating in-depth history of the library, this book weaves its way through time and is overflowing with tidbits and facts. The Library calls itself a: “fragile history”, and as beleaguered as our public libraries are today, you can see their past suffering too. This isn’t a light and breezy offering, it is serious, and seriously epic in its scope. I took my time, and soaked up the information, from learning about the gathering of baked clay tablets in Mesopotamia, how Popes, Kings, and Monasteries affected Libraries, the arrival of vertical shelving rather than trunks, all the way through and past the Second World War. I have always supported the idea of the library, but never before really thought about how they came into being, how books are selected, the discrimination and censorship that has taken place. Libraries should be a safe welcoming place for everyone, but that of course depends on a huge range of factors, all of which are detailed here. Arthur der Weduwen and Andrew Pettegree have spent time in over 300 libraries and archives, their acknowledgements and research material is listed. If you are interested in a detailed thought-provoking look into the history of the library, then The Library will answer your call. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Innovation in Real Places

Innovation in Real Places

Author: Dan Breznitz Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2021

A challenge to prevailing ideas about innovation and a guide to identifying the best growth strategy for your community. Across the world, cities and regions have wasted trillions of dollars on blindly copying the Silicon Valley model of growth creation. Since the early years of the information age, we've been told that economic growth derives from harnessing technological innovation. To do this, places must create good education systems, partner with local research universities, and attract innovative hi-tech firms. We have lived with this system for decades, and the result is clear: a small number of regions and cities at the top of the high-tech industry but many more fighting a losing battle to retain economic dynamism. But are there other models that don't rely on a flourishing high-tech industry? In Innovation in Real Places, Dan Breznitz argues that there are. The purveyors of the dominant ideas on innovation have a feeble understanding of the big picture on global production and innovation. They conflate innovation with invention and suffer from techno-fetishism. In their devotion to start-ups, they refuse to admit that the real obstacle to growth for most cities is the overwhelming power of the real hubs, which siphon up vast amounts of talent and money. Communities waste time, money, and energy pursuing this road to nowhere. Breznitz proposes that communities instead focus on where they fit in the four stages in the global production process. Some are at the highest end, and that is where the Clevelands, Sheffields, and Baltimores are being pushed toward. But that is bad advice. Success lies in understanding the changed structure of the global system of production and then using those insights to enable communities to recognize their own advantages, which in turn allows to them to foster surprising forms of specialized innovation. As he stresses, all localities have certain advantages relative to at least one stage of the global production process, and the trick is in recognizing it. Leaders might think the answer lies in high-tech or high-end manufacturing, but more often than not, they're wrong. Innovation in Real Places is an essential corrective to a mythology of innovation and growth that too many places have bought into in recent years. Best of all, it has the potential to prod local leaders into pursuing realistic and regionally appropriate models for growth and innovation.

Crying in H Mart

Crying in H Mart

Author: Michelle Zauner Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2021

From the indie rockstar Japanese Breakfast, an unflinching, powerful, deeply moving memoir about growing up mixed-race, Korean food, losing her Korean mother, and forging her own identity. In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humour and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian-American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. As she grew up, moving to the east coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, performing gigs with her fledgling band - and meeting the man who would become her husband - her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her. Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Michelle Zauner's voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.

Everything You Really Need to Know About Politics

Everything You Really Need to Know About Politics

Author: Jess Phillips Format: Audiobook Release Date: 22/07/2021

‘This book is here to take you inside the daily realities of Westminster. I don’t mean that it’s going to bore you to death with a blow by blow account of what it’s like to sit on the Statutory Instrument Debate on Naval regulations 1968-2020 – but to demystify the places and practice of politics.’ From agonising decisions on foreign air strikes to making headlines about orgasms, from sitting in on history-making moments at the UN to eating McCain potato smiles at a black-tie banquet in China, the life of a politician is never dull. And it’s also never been more important. But politics is far bigger than Westminster, and in this book Jess Phillips makes the compelling case for why now, more than ever, we all need to be a part of it. With trademark humour and honesty, Jess Phillips lifts the lid on what a career in politics is really like and why it matters – to all of us. This is the inside story of what’s really going on.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Cult of We

The Cult of We

Author: Eliot Brown, Maureen Farrell Format: Hardback Release Date: 22/07/2021

'An amazing portrait of how grifters came to be called visionaries and high finance lost its mind.' Charles Duhigg, bestselling author of The Power of Habit The definitive inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and the company's epic unravelling from the journalists who first broke the story wide open. In 2001, Adam Neumann arrived in New York after five years as a conscript in the Israeli navy. Just over fifteen years later, he had transformed himself into the charismatic CEO of a company worth $47 billion. With his long hair and feel-good mantras, the six-foot-five Neumann looked the part of a messianic Silicon Valley entrepreneur. The vision he offered was mesmerizing: a radical reimagining of work space for a new generation. He called it WeWork. As billions of funding dollars poured in, Neumann's ambitions grew limitless. WeWork wasn't just an office space provider; it would build schools, create cities, even colonize Mars. In pursuit of its founder's vision, the company spent money faster than it could bring it in. From his private jet, sometimes clouded with marijuana smoke, the CEO scoured the globe for more capital but in late 2019, just weeks before WeWork's highly publicized IPO, everything fell apart. Neumann was ousted from his company, but still was poised to walk away a billionaire. Calling to mind the recent demise of Theranos and the hubris of the dotcom era bust, WeWork's extraordinary rise and staggering implosion were fueled by disparate characters in a financial system blind to its risks. Why did some of the biggest names in banking and venture capital buy the hype? And what does the future hold for Silicon Valley 'unicorns'? Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell explore these questions in this definitive, rollicking account of WeWork's boom and bust.

Black Teacher

Black Teacher

Author: Beryl Gilroy Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/07/2021

What a voice, what a story, what experiences, and what a vital record of the Windrush Generation experience, as told by a skilled teacher who came to Britain to be confronted with racist colour bars in place of the anticipated welcoming arms of the colonial Motherland. Black Teacher is an important, engaging and eye-opening piece of social history, and its author, Beryl Gilroy, has outstanding literary flair - her dialogue and evocation of character is first-class. Born in British Guyana in 1924, Beryl Gilroy arrived in Britain as an experienced, respected teacher and yet, “Here I was, over twenty years later, feeling and acting like a novice. I was afraid to go to school.” So Beryl said to her husband ahead of beginning her second term as the Headmistress of a North London infants school (in 1969, she was Camden’s first black headteacher). And the reason for her trepidation? The school was “full of tense, fighting people,” its pupils disruptive due to boredom and a lack of purpose, with parents who mutter that there’s “nothing but blacks everywhere.” And all this followed years of battling to secure a teaching position - Beryl moved to Britain in 1958 to study Child Development, but found herself continually overlooked for teaching positions. As a result, she took work as in an office, then as a lady’s maid, while never giving up on her vocation. Throughout the author is an inspiration - a loveable, valiant pioneer whose story, resilience and dedication had me enthralled from start to finish.

Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide

Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide

Author: Kate Charlesworth Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/06/2021

Included in our '35 LGBTQ books to read this Pride Month and every month' collecton.

When We Become Strangers

When We Become Strangers

Author: Maggie Hamilton Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

Loneliness has become a significant health risk in the UK. When We Become Strangers explores the impact of loneliness, isolation, disconnection and estrangement on our lives, and our (over)reliance on devices and the impact of social media. We live in a society where we don’t need to see another human for days but can still remain connected to the world. Sending a message to family and friends isn’t the same as a face-to-face encounter, though, and many relationships are struggling. We don’t even need to live alone to feel lonely. People can feel isolated in a busy household, surrounded by technology and retreating from the world around them. Loneliness may be caused by feeling little, or no, sense of belonging in a crowded room. When We Become Strangers is a thought-provoking look at the modern world. It’s an easy read and makes a lot of sense, with practical suggestions to combat loneliness, not just as individuals but as a society, connecting with nature, better building and city design, and more. This is a book of hope – that making changes to our lives now can reduce the impact of loneliness in the future.