Society and culture: general

Women: DOWN through the Ages

Women: DOWN through the Ages

Author: Jerry Schaefer Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/12/2007

‘Women: DOWN Through the Ages, How Lies Have Shaped Our Lives’ by Jerry Schaefer takes us from the very creation of humanity (both evolutionary and religious origins) through to recent times, describing human life at each stage and the consequences of the slow development of the patriarchy had on women. Powerfully written and, both cynical and scathing at times in tone, The author picks out how “Once men took over the plow, they buried any memory of women’s former egalitarian days”. Alongside this the author also points out that throughout history men are also harmed by the patriarchy, always having to pretend to be something their not: the stereotype of the strong, stoic figure. A satire in the way it uses a light-hearted tone to point out the absurd realities of women’s history, I found this equally interesting and infuriating: entertaining while also fueling my frustrations at the patriarchy and its impact on women. In between each section there’s a quiz, meant to be taken in the same vein as the rest of the book; the multiple choice answers may induce a reaction, even if it’s a snort of derision. Ending on a rallying cry to start over, to move away from the civilisation we have that’s left us “on the brink of self-destruction”. This book explores, pokes fun at absurdity and highlights trauma. It’s a conversation starter about our past, that could open the floor for a discussion about how to move forward.

Indie Books We Love
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.

What We Owe Each Other

What We Owe Each Other

Author: Minouche Shafik Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/03/2021

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 FT / McKinsey BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD  The social contract shapes everything: our political institutions, legal systems and material conditions, but also the organisation of family and community, our well-being, relationships and life prospects. And yet everywhere, the social contract is failing. Accelerating changes in technology, demography and climate will reshape our world in ways many of us have yet to grasp. In this landmark study, Minouche Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics, draws on evidence from across the globe to identify the key principles every society must adopt if it is to meet the challenges of the coming century, with profound implications for gender equality, education, healthcare provision, the role of business and the future of work. How should society pool risks, share resources and balance individual with collective responsibility? Brilliantly lucid and accessible, What We Owe Each Other offers new answers to these age-old questions and equips every reader to understand and play their part in the urgent and necessary transformation ahead.

Trans

Trans

Author: Juliet Jacques Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/11/2016

In July 2012, aged thirty, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery—a process she chronicled with unflinching honesty in a serialised national newspaper column. Trans tells of her life to the present moment: a story of growing up, of defining yourself, and of the rapidly changing world of gender politics. Fresh from university, eager to escape a dead-end job, she launches a career as a writer in a publishing culture dominated by London cliques and still figuring out the impact of the Internet. She navigates the treacherous waters of a world where, even in the liberal and feminist media, transgender identities go unacknowledged, misunderstood or worse. Yet through art, film, music, politics and football, Jacques starts to become the person she had only imagined, and begins the process of transition. Interweaving the personal with the political, her memoir is a powerful exploration of debates that comprise trans politics, issues which promise to redefine our understanding of what it means to be alive. Revealing, honest, humorous, and self-deprecating, Trans includes an epilogue with Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?, in which Jacques and Heti discuss the cruxes of writing and identity.

This is the Canon

This is the Canon

Author: Joan Anim-Addo, Deirdre Osborne Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

Highlighting reads that encourage you to explore new beliefs, ideas, and opinions, this was an eye-opening read for me. Recommending a collection of 50 novellas and novels from around the world, with voices from all backgrounds and races, the reader is encouraged to rethink the novels that are considered the classics of literature. It is explained as: “an intervention that offers opportunities for readers to explore a broader reach of works than those that are perennially taught and examined, or promoted”. Prior to reading this I believed that I read far and wide, across genres, continents, and authors, and yet and yet, I’ve only read books by four of these authors. It really brought me up short and has made me rethink my reading lists. I know that some of my LoveReading reviewing colleagues have already read many of these books, but for me, the majority will be new. Joan Anim-Addo, Deidre Osborne, and Kadija Sesay are well respected and explain their thoughts, reasoning, and hold their arms wide in welcoming you to This is the Canon. Each of the 50 books is introduced and includes details of publishing, the author, and other recommended books. The Afterword encourages you, as a reader, to make a difference in the literary world, to make your voice heard. Sitting as a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, This is the Canon offers a huge opportunity to the reader, and one that I will be taking up.

Star Books
The Power of Geography

The Power of Geography

Author: Tim Marshall Format: Audiobook Release Date: 22/04/2021

Tim Marshall's global bestseller Prisoners of Geography showed how every nation’s choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas and concrete. Since then, the geography hasn’t changed. But the world has.** In this revelatory new book, Marshall explores ten regions that are set to shape global politics in a new age of great-power rivalry: Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Greece, Turkey, the Sahel, Ethiopia, Spain and Space. Find out why Europe’s next refugee crisis is closer than it thinks as trouble brews in the Sahel; why the Middle East must look beyond oil and sand to secure its future; why the eastern Mediterranean is one of the most volatile flashpoints of the twenty-first century; and why the Earth’s atmosphere is set to become the world’s next battleground. Delivered with Marshall’s trademark wit and insight, this is a lucid and gripping exploration of the power of geography to shape humanity’s past, present – and future. ‘Another outstanding guide to the modern world. Marshall is a master at explaining what you need to know and why.’ Peter Frankopan AS READ BY THE AUTHOR Includes pdf with maps.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Other Black Girl

The Other Black Girl

Author: Zakiya Dalila Harris Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/06/2021

Whip-smart, incisive and incredibly gripping, Zakiya Dalila Harris’s The Other Black Girl presents a powerful exposé of publishing’s unpleasant underbelly - the elitism, nepotism, poor pay, and petty power-play some senior editors exert over their assistants. Think The Devil Wear Prada with edge - its young editor protagonist wants to publish writers whose voices matter. It’s a world of white gatekeepers, white privilege, with displays of (cue tiny violin) white affront when poor behaviour is called out. And all this is done through twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers, the only Black employee at New York’s prestigious Wagner Books publishing house. After feeling isolated and exhausted by the everyday micro-aggressions of her workplace, Nella is delighted when Hazel, the “Other Black Girl”, starts working next to her - until Nella starts receiving threatening notes telling her to leave the company, while having to deal with increasingly problematic office politics. Though the novel is set in the publishing world, it will resonate with anyone, for example, who’s doubted the authenticity of their workplace’s commitment to diversity. In Nella’s case, she was part of Wagner Books’ diversity group, but company interest soon waned, with no one really getting the point, or understanding why representation matters - why it matters to get it right. The brutal reality of the company’s lip service attitude to equality and representation is exposed when Nella speaks out about a white male author’s offensively clichéd portrayal of a Black female character. When he (cue another tiny violin) gets upset, feeling accused of racism, she’s expected to apologise. Never mind about his lazy, dubious characterisation - the poor man’s feelings have been hurt, goddammit! That this is nothing new is revealed through the interwoven story of Kendra Rae, Nella’s editorial heroine who blazed inspirational trails before her - but what happened to Kendra after editing a huge bestseller, she wonders? It turns out that as Nella faced a backlash after (gently) calling out her author’s caricature, Kendra’s “sin” was also telling it like it is, being “someone who rejected what was expected of her as a Black woman in a predominantly white industry.” Chiming with wit and vital commentary, this debut is a thrilling feat of fiction, with twists that are impossible to see coming.

Debut Books of the Month
The Mutant Project

The Mutant Project

Author: Eben Kirksey Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2021

An anthropologist visits the frontiers of genetics, medicine, and technology to ask: whose values are guiding gene-editing experiments, and what are the implications for humanity? At a conference in Hong Kong in November 2018, Dr. Jiankui He announced that he had created the first genetically modified babies-twin girls named Lulu and Nana-sending shockwaves around the world. A year later, a Chinese court sentenced Dr. He to three years in prison for illegal medical practice. As scientists elsewhere start to catch up with China's vast genetic research programme, gene editing is fuelling an innovation economy that threatens to widen racial and economic inequality. Fundamental questions about science, health, and social justice are at stake. Who gets access to gene-editing technologies? As countries loosen regulations around the globe, can we shape research agendas to promote an ethical and fair society? Professor Eben Kirksey takes us on a groundbreaking journey to meet the key scientists, lobbyists, and entrepreneurs who are bringing cutting-edge genetic modification tools like CRISPR to your local clinic. He also ventures beyond the scientific echo chamber, talking to doctors, hackers, chronically ill patients, disabled scholars, and activists and who have alternative visions of a genetically modified future for humanity. The Mutant Project empowers us to ask the right questions, uncover the truth, and navigate this new era of scientific enquiry.

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
The Hill We Climb

The Hill We Climb

Author: Amanda Gorman Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/03/2021

On 20 January 2021, Amanda Gorman spoke a message of truth and hope to millions. Aged twenty-two, she delivered a poetry reading at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden. Her poem, 'The Hill We Climb', addressed the country and reached across the world: a call for a brave future. This special edition, which includes an enduring foreword by Oprah Winfrey, marks that poem and offers us courage, consolation and the inspiration to make change.

The Fortune Men

The Fortune Men

Author: Nadifa Mohamed Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/05/2021

Shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize - A Reader's Review Set in 1952 and based on a true story, this features a fabulous cast of vivid characters, painted against a background so atmospheric that it made me want to go walk those very streets around the Cardiff docks. A poignant tale, told with wit and compassion, of race and multiculturalism, love and loss. Highly recommend. - Tanya Carus Find out more about the 2021 Booker Prize Winner & Shortlist

The Death of Vivek Oji

The Death of Vivek Oji

Author: Akwaeke Emezi Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/05/2021

SHORTLISTED FOR THE DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE  They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died. One afternoon, a mother opens her front door to find the length of her son's body stretched out on the veranda, swaddled in akwete material, his head on her welcome mat. The Death of Vivek Oji transports us to the day of Vivek's birth, the day his grandmother Ahunna died. It is the story of an over protective mother and a distant father, and the heart-wrenching tale of one family's struggle to understand their child, just as Vivek learns to recognize himself. Teeming with unforgettable characters whose lives have been shaped by Vivek's gentle and enigmatic spirit, it shares with us a Nigerian childhood that challenges expectations. This novel, and its celebration of the innocence and optimism of youth, will touch all those who embrace it.