Unbowed: One woman’s story

0099493098.01._sx180_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 27/07/2020-13/08/2020

Rating 3 stars

Book 9 in my 10 Books of Summer reading challenge, a substitution in the original list.

Unbowed is the memoir of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Muta Maathai. This remarkable Kenyan woman was a child during the period of the British war against the Kikuyu people. She became a scientist, educated in Kenya, the US and Germany. She joined the environmental movement and campaigned for the re-establishment of forest in Kenya and fairer representation of women in agricultural production. She was a powerful advocate for democracy in Kenya. Her ideologies put her in conflict with Daniel Arup Moi’s government, and placed her life in danger. She was the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This is what I gleaned from Maathai’s Wikipedia entry, after my best friend sent me a card printed by her sister, one in a series of inspirational women she had designed. Continue reading

Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers

1783527455.01._sx180_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 07/06/2020-14/06/2020

Rating 4 stars

Book 2 in my 10 Books of Summer reading challenge.

Common People is a book I pledged for on Unbound in 2018. It grew from a radio documentary by Kit de Waal called “Where Are All the Working Class Writers?“, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2017.

As well as securing high profile, established authors like Malorie Blackman, Louise Doughty, Lisa McInerney and Anita Sethi, de Waal as editor commissioned a search through regional writer development agencies for new working class voices to be included in the anthology. Continue reading

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

1846141818.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 26/01/2020-14/02/2020

Rating 3 stars

Jonathan Haidt wrote The Righteous Mind in 2012, four years before many of us finally became aware that the political world had tilted on its axis and everything we thought we understood about the democratic process had unravelled. Haidt, it’s true, had pinpointed the change as starting in the 1990s, but for many of us, 2016 was Year Zero. Continue reading

Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men

1784741728.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 14/12/2019-04/01/2020

Rating 4 stars

I found Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women a difficult read. It’s essential in its content and the topics Perez shines a light on, but I found its wide ranging subject and the approach Perez takes in evidencing and unpicking the topics she focuses on resulted in a somewhat dense, exhausting book. It relentlessly raises lots of issues across 300+ pages but leaves any possible solutions to the final dozen. It felt at times like one woman railing against injustice rather than a practical call to arms across society.

The book begins with a simple statement. Continue reading

The Diary of a Bookseller

1781258635.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 06/09/2019-08/09/2019

Rating 5 stars

Weezelle at Words and Leaves recommended Shaun Bythell’s memoir of running The Book Shop in Wigtown before I’d been to Wigtown or knew The Book Shop existed. Indeed, when I visited by accident in 2018 on the way home from a holiday the other side of the Galloway Forest, diverted by the Misogynist in Chief sojourning at his gaudy golf shack, I didn’t even realise that the book Weezelle had recommended was about that shop. Continue reading

Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials and the Meaning of Grime

191031241x.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 06/07/2019-16/07/2019

Rating 4 stars

Read as part of the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

I read Hold Tight as someone who isn’t strictly a fan but who likes the Grime I’ve heard and wanted to know more about its artists and evolution. I’m aware that this review might not be of interest to most of the readers who regularly follow my meandering thoughts on what I’m reading. However, if you’re even vaguely interested in the sociology of working class culture and the music genres that emerge from it, then give this review and the book it’s about a chance. For anyone black, urban and millennial dropping by, please be aware that this review is going to be a bit like the bromance between Michael Buerke and Tinchy Stryder on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Continue reading

This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else

0571345379.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

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

Convenience Store Woman

1846276837.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 28/02/2019

Rating 4 stars

I went to a Japan Foundation event at my local Waterstone’s bookshop last week to hear Sayaka Murata interviewed about her novella Convenience Store Woman. Another author, Yuya Sato, was also interviewed about his novel Dendera.

Both are prize-winning authors in Japan with many titles to their names. As ever, though, few have been translated into English.

I found the event strange but enjoyable. The interviewer seemed more comfortable talking about Sato’s novel and his approach to writing and asking Sato more probing questions than he did engaging with Murata. There was an awkwardness about his interactions with her. Fortunately, the audience seemed more interested in her writing and ideas, so the Q&A made up for the interviewer’s deficiency.

There was also an inbuilt awkwardness about the interview being conducted through a translator, with all its attendant pauses and whispers. The translator did an incredible job, making me realise that my own Japanese skills are far from adequate, never mind good.

I came away wanting to read both books, but more intrigued by the premise of Murata’s.

As luck would have it, when I started to tell my husband about the event when I got home, he revealed that he owns a copy of Convenience Store Woman and it hopped straight to the top of my list of what to read next. Continue reading

Above Sugar Hill

0992765528.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 17/02/2019-19/02/2019

Rating 4 stars

Above Sugar Hill is a collection of short stories by Linda Mannheim, set in the Washington Heights area of Upper Manhattan. I picked it up from the Influx Press stall at the Manchester Indie Book Fair at the start of the month because I have a good friend who used to live near Sugar Hill, in Hamilton Heights, and I visited her twice when she lived on St Nicholas Ave. Continue reading

Towards Mellbreak

b01gh07d8i.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 13/02/2019-16/02/2019

Rating 4 stars

Towards Mellbreak is Marie-Elsa Bragg’s first novel. It’s set in a part of the Lake District that we love to visit, by Crummock Water and Buttermere.

IMG_20171105_161811783_HDR
Crummock Water November 2017
IMG_20180324_154844006
Buttermere March 2018

Continue reading