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Titles to make you laugh out loud. Or just smile. Or both.
Comedian Geoff Norcott’s Where Did I Go Right? How the Left Lost Me is an honest, amusing and thought-provoking account of how a working-class lad raised on a council estate by a unionised father and matriarchal mother ended up voting (wait for it…) Tory. Framed as his journey to discover how this unlikely turn of events came about (he was surely destined to be Labour red - how on earth did he turn blue?), this lively memoir is packed with engaging anecdotes and provocative reasoning. While I stand firmly at the other end of the political spectrum, it provided fascinating and well-considered insights into how the half think and, as such, should be read by both Reds and Blues. “Given my solid working-class background and performing arts job, it’s obvious to everyone I meet that I should be Labour through and through. I’m a comedian who grew up on a council estate with two disabled parents, and my dad was a trade union man. But that’s not how I voted.” So Norcott states near the beginning of the book, setting out his unusual stall before tracing his left-to-right swing back to his adolescence. “My dial was moving all the time”, he recognises amidst growing disillusionment with New Labour - though his first non-Labour vote didn’t go to “those Tory bastards”, to quote his dad. From the 2008 collapse of the Lehman Brothers and credit crunch, through to Brexit, Norcott’s funny (and moving) personal experiences are smartly woven into his political musings and analysis.
Shot-through with the kind of humour suggested by its title, All The Tw*ts I Met Along The Way is an engaging, chatty, no-holds-barred account of a woman’s experience of life’s challenges, to put it mildly. When it comes to suffering bad boyfriends, less-than-satisfactory sex, coercive partners and passionless marriage, Carolyn Hobdey has been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. She’s written the book on it too, and what blast of a book it is. Here she bares her soul with refreshing honesty, much like a witty best friend telling it like it is over a bottle of wine. While Carolyn has a flair for in-your-face, funny writing, the book is underpinned by a sense of resilience and hope; by a strong and vital thread about never blaming yourself for the flaws, misdemeanours and outright abominable behaviours of others. While this deeply personal memoir will no doubt resonate with the many, many women who’ve experienced similar, many men could learn plenty from it too, for it exposes how not to treat women, with razor-sharp wit to boot.
SH**GED Saturday nights out on the tiles, undying crushes, dating like it's a competitive sport, awkward tales of dating woes, one-night stands, the walk of shame, ghosting, tears and break-ups. MARRIED Finding 'the one', meeting their parents, first holidays and romantic weekends away, engagement rings, big moment proposals, wedding bells, the hen do, the stag, the much anticipated - and feared - best man speech, the honeymoon of a lifetime. ANNOYED Who stacks a dishwasher like this? Empty milk cartons placed back into the fridge, pregnancy, sleepless nights, toilet seats up, toothpaste everywhere, less and less frequent date nights, DIY weekends, divorce. Whether you're sh**ged, married, annoyed, or, all of the above, Chris and Rosie Ramsey, hosts of the number one podcast, write hilariously and with honesty about the ups and downs and ins and outs of love, sex and relationships.
Ant and Dec hold a special place in the hearts of TV viewers everywhere. This is their epic story, with never-before-seen photography and the very best tales from their 30 years in TV. Ant: As the old Chinese proverb says, 'Good things come in pairs'. Dec: And as another Chinese proverb says, 'If you've been in a double act with your best mate for thirty years, why not write a book about all your most memorable moments in three decades of showbusiness?' Ant: Less catchy that one, isn't it? Dec: But no less true. And after three decades together, we're writing that book. Covering everything from a pirate radio storyline in Byker Grove through to the biggest shows on telly, this is our story. Ant: Thirty years, eh? Amazing. Dec: Absolutely. Especially when you consider we are both still 27 years old. From their modest beginnings in Byker Grove through to their unique time as pop stars and an award-laden TV career, the last three decades have flown by in the blink of an eye. They've also featured an incredible cast of supporting characters, including their first scriptwriter (an unknown comedian called David Walliams), Saturday night fun and games with countless Hollywood A-listers, and celebrities they torture - sorry, work with - every year in the jungle. Told through the lens of every TV show they've made, as well as everything they've learnt along the way, this is the riotously funny journey of two ordinary lads from Newcastle who went on to achieve extraordinary things.
'Obscene Genes: The Ride of a Lifetime' is Steve O'Grady's third book of entertaining scientific theories. As a graduate in bio-science, the study of which he undertook as a mature student after a variety of jobs, the author uses his life experiences and great sense of humour to try to explain what it is that makes us tick. His conclusion is that our genes are the things that drive everything we do throughout our lives. They alone are responsible for our behaviour, whether that be deemed good (such as caring for babies, appreciating grandmas and being loyal friends), bad (from being greedy, inventing and using guns, to getting disgustingly drunk) or downright ugly (indulging in extreme pornography, racism and violent revenge). We should, therefore, not be surprised or shocked by nor too critical of any of these behaviours, as they are being forced upon us by our genes' relentless need to replicate themselves. Even the apparent disregard by many younger people of the current Covid-19 restrictions can be put down to this over-riding force compelling us to give in to basic instincts and share our genes. By the author's own admission, however, this was not the book he had set out to write, so, after discarding most of his original work, he amalgamated the remainder with the section just described. The following few pages then proceed to explain the very complex workings of the human gene replication system by way of an even more complex analogy of train carriages, passengers, platforms and timetables! The reader will soon get the gist though. The final section is a veritable romp through some very funny and/or poignant personal experiences from the author's childhood family life, his single-sex Catholic school career and from his work as a prison officer. It may seem that the author is condoning all manner of behaviours, as, according to him, we could rightly claim that 'it wasn't my fault, my genes made me do it'. But no. The reader is left in no doubt that Mr O'Grady believes in free will and urges us, at all costs, to use it as often as possible and thwart our genes, which would have us do things that, in the cold light of day, we know to be wrong. The world of education has long pondered the question of 'nature versus nurture', in which our genes' need to be copied is pitted against the society, shaped by laws, culture and religious beliefs, that we all have to live in. This extraordinary book provides much food for thought and should help the reader to a better understanding of him/herself and the world around. A very rewarding read. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
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
Radiant with an infectious enthusiasm for life, Scottish writer Iain Maloney has created a playful, powerful page-turner in The Only Gaijin in the Village, a brilliant blend of memoir and travel writing at its most edifyingly entertaining. Maloney’s post-uni TEFL work led him to fall in love with Japan and his future wife Minori. After moving to Scotland, the couple chose to return to Japan as a result of “racist and elitist” Tory government immigration rules that made it near impossible for them to live together in the UK. “I have embraced exile. I am home,” he says of living in Japan, first in a city, before he and Minori relocate to a rural environment. Fiercely funny, the author’s voice is akin to being regaled by a witty friend’s pub anecdotes, with observations moving between lyrical eulogies to nature’s beauty and outright hilarity, such as when he describes a wild typhoon as a “blowy bastard”. From deciphering the codes of Japanese rural culture, to navigating trials of the natural world (including snakes, centipedes and behemoth bees), Maloney takes everything in his stride with an exhilarating can-do spirit. “Humans can get used to anything”, he blithely - and sagely - remarks. Maloney comically covers cultural culinary differences when he describes encountering whale bacon and flame-grilled snakes, but true to form counterbalancing comes when he mentions haggis in the same context. There are similarly entertaining accounts of his farming endeavors, from uncovering digging myths the hard way (“Where is this ground made of tofu that’s easier to dig than a Miles Davies solo?”), to his superb description of growing peas that possess “a smell and taste so evocative Proust could have bored the arse off half of France for decades”. Honest, amusing, humble and informative, with prescient political underpinnings (“every immigrant story is also an emigrant story. This is what the Right want us to forget. They want us to believe it’s all about them coming here, not about them leaving there...the term ‘expat’ is encoded racsim”), I can’t praise this highly enough.
The beautiful collection of personal letters from the No.1 bestselling author and podcast host of Happy Mum Happy Baby Letters on Motherhood is a collection of heartfelt and deeply personal letters written by Giovanna to her three young sons Buzz, Buddy and Max, husband, Tom, and the family and friends who have inspired and supported her to become the mother that she is today. In this beautiful book she shares the funny and moving personal tales of her own family life whilst also talking about the deeper universal truths of parenting - coping with mum guilt, finding a work/family life balance, positive body image, rediscovering a sense of identity, and a parent's hopes, fears and expectations for their child's future. Honest, heartwarming and hilarious, her own experiences of motherhood and the lessons she has learned along the way will resonate with parents everywhere.
488 Rules for Life is Kitty Flanagan's way of making the world a more pleasant place to live. Providing you with the antidote to every annoying little thing, these rules are not made to be broken. 488 Rules for Life is not a self-help book, because it's not you who needs help, it's other people. Whether they're walking and texting, asphyxiating you on public transport with their noxious perfume cloud, or leaving one useless square of toilet paper on the roll, a lot of people just don't know the rules. But thanks to Kitty Flanagan's comprehensive guide to modern behaviour, our world will soon be a much better place. A place where people don't ruin the fruit salad by putting banana in it ... where your co-workers respect your olfactory system and don't reheat their fish curry in the office microwave ... where middle-aged men don't have ponytails ... Other rules to live by include: 1. Men must wear shorts over leggings The gym is no place for people to discover whether or not you are circumcised. That's a private discussion for another place and time. 2. Team bonding activities should be optional Some people love it when management decides that an afternoon of bowling or paintballing or (god forbid) karaoke will help everyone work better as a team. Others would rather be dead. 3. Don't ever mention your 'happy place' To me, this sounds less like a pleasant, fun state of mind and more like some kind of utopian wank palace you've had built in the basement. What started as a personal joke is now a quintessential reference book with the power to change society. (Or, at least, make it a bit less irritating.)
A surgical-stocking-filler from the author of record-breaking million copy bestseller This Is Going To Hurt Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat . . . but 1.4 million NHS staff are heading off to work. In this perfect present for anyone who has ever set foot in a hospital, Adam Kay delves back into his diaries for a hilarious, horrifying and sometimes heartbreaking peek behind the blue curtain at Christmastime. Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.
A stimulating, fresh, and thoughtful read that ponders and wanders through some of the big questions in philosophy. When I initially picked this book up, I did wonder whether it was a quirky guide to training your dog, I very quickly realised that it is in fact an interesting introduction to philosophy (for humans). The author Anthony McGowan is an award winning writer for children and young adults, and has lectured widely on creative writing and philosophy (he has a BA, Mphil and PhD in philosophy). He has joined the two together to produce the most fabulous book for anyone who has questions about the way we humans think and act. The author and his dog Monty chat about philosophy on their daily walks. And so we join them as they take a humorous light stroll through some really pretty big subjects, including happiness and ethics. It made me consider and think about some of the things I take for granted, the discussion between the two helps stimulate thoughts. There is one part where I simultaneously wanted to berate and hug the pair, you’ll know what I mean when you get there! At the end there are suggestions for further reading, including on logic, and the meaning of life. If you’re at all curious about philosophy and want a fascinating introduction, then look no further than How To Teach Philosophy to Your Dog as it is a wonderfully inspiring read.
Modern Toss: Work is Shit is a book of hilarious cartoons by Jon Link and Mick Bunnage, who together make up Modern Toss. Some of the cartoons have appeared previously in The Guardian or Private Eye but most are to be seen here for the first time. Set in the workplace, as the title suggests, and containing some bad language, they are extremely funny because they are so true, putting into words what so many of us are thinking and have wanted to say on finding ourselves in similar situations. So well-drawn too, with expressions and body language conveyed in just a few pen strokes. My very favourite takes place at the water cooler (as so much does!), where a male colleague is telling his female counterpart that he has 'been really enjoying working here since I started pretending it was some ropey reality TV show'. On a slightly more serious note, the changes brought about by the introduction of more technology and issues like sexual harassment, health and safety and stress are also addressed in a humorous way. Utterly irreverent and often absurd, these clever satirical cartoons will have you in stitches...I just wish there were more of them. Guess I'll just have to wait for the next edition. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador