This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else

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Read 28/04/2019-03/04/2019

Rating 5 stars

This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else is a history of the Manchester band Joy Division, drawn from oral history interviews compiled by Jon Savage and from music press reviews and interviews, and fanzines. It made me nostalgic for a moment in my childhood where I could only ever have been an observer. Continue reading

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Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

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Read 08/03/2019-10/03/2019

Rating 3 stars

Claudia Rankine’s reflections on American society and the advent of loneliness is a strange and wonderful thing. I have no recollection of why I reserved it at the library other than that I read an article that I can’t now find in which the writer of the article referred to Don’t Let Me Be Lonely in a way that made me want to read it. Continue reading

Black Tudors: The untold story

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Read 25/01/2019-03/02/2019

Rating 3 stars

Miranda Kaufmann’s re-examination of Tudor society in relation to the place black people occupied in it is described on the cover, in a quote from David Olusoga, as cutting edge as well as accessible and human.

I didn’t get off to a great start with it. It certainly had an edge to it that threatened to cut my willingness to engage with it, as well as an aspect of accessibility that grated. I considered abandoning it after the first chapter and again 60 pages from the end, when it sent me to sleep three times in as many paragraphs. I did finish it, but not soon enough. Continue reading

BRIT(ish)

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Read 17/01/2019-26/01/2019

Rating 4 stars

In BRIT(ish), Afua Hirsch has written a sort of memoir, sort of political appraisal, sort of social history of race and racism in the UK. There’s a bit of travelog in there as well. I struggled to get to grips with it at first, finding it a little piecemeal in its approach, jumping from personal experience peppered with historical context to historiography peppered with personal experience to journalistic investigation of specific aspects of racism in Britain. Each piece had its merits, but for me they didn’t always hang together as a whole. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. It’s articulate, it draws out different strands of the issue, there were lots of things that I learnt from reading it. Hirsch clearly has something she wants to say, and has struggled to understand her own existence, and there is value in what she extracts and shares from that personal struggle. Continue reading

The Secret Life of Cows

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Read 09/01/2019-12/01/2019

Rating 5 stars

Oh, my heart! Rosamund Young expresses everything that I have ever thought about the intensive farming practice in the UK. She has more knowledge than I possess, because Rosamund is a farmer and has chosen a very particular way of raising livestock. The Secret Life of Cows is a chronicle of the adventures of her bovine livestock and their interactions with the other animals who live on the farm, including the humans. Continue reading

Dear Ijeawele: A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

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Read 14/11/2018-16/11/2018

Rating: 3 stars

This letter written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to her friend doesn’t say anything new. It doesn’t, as the blurb on the back states, start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today. That conversation is ongoing. Women are having it every day. The book is part of that conversation, though, perhaps in a way Adichie didn’t intend and the publishers didn’t recognise. Continue reading