Updates — New book on (most) Sundays!

The Woman In Me - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
November 5, 2023
by Britney Spears

This was interesting and sad, truthfully. I've read a few of these "high-profile female celebrity" life books, and the common theme is just how much of a "normal" life they want, and how people around them betray them. I also think it's such a shame for people who's professional dream just happens to be one which makes them famous (not something that is likely to happen to me!), and then they suffer the consequences.

Of course there is also the story of the conservatorship, which personally I can't begin to understand how it's legal.

Overall, a very interesting and worthwhile read, and just a reminder, for me, of the importance of building self-empowerment in all children, and just the appreciation for a caring and supportive upbringing that I have had.

music, personal
Sherpa - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 17, 2023
by Ankit Babu Adhikari, Pradeep Bashyal

I learned a lot from this book. I quite enjoyed how it covered a variety of experiences of people from the Sherpa community, and it seems to me that it did a pretty fair job. It's certainly interesting to see how the Sherpa's view climbing. Worth a read for the stories and if you're interested in climbing culture and how and why the Sherpa's participate.

economics, history, informative
My Work - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 27, 2023
by Olga Ravn, Sophia Hersi Smith & Jennifer Russell

Really an exceptional piece of writing. A friend bought this for me, and at the time I didn't realise I had already read another of her books. This one is of a totally different character; basically telling the story of a woman's engagement with pregnancy, and the way society encourages it be handled. Being myself now a partner and a witness to this, I found it a very interesting perspective and helped me relate to the birth parent more. It's a stressful read, but an amazing one I think. Highly recommended!

parenting, personal, philosophical, poetry, quirky, traumatic
The Joyful Environmentalist - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 23, 2023
by Isabel Losada

I quite enjoyed this book; but it's probably not for everyone. Losada has an engaging and friendly style; extremely readable and enjoyable. The way she engages with the topic is pretty generous I think; perhaps the main criticism is that it's occasionally a bit too optimistic; but after all, that's basically what it promises on the cover! Overall, if you're looking for a bit of optimism and happiness, then take a glance! I'll definitely be trying to read more of her books :)

activism, climate, fun, informative, personal
The Snakehead - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
July 24, 2023
by Patrick Radden Keefe

I picked this up because I've quite enjoyed his other books. This one was also pretty good; certainly compelling and readable. That said, it doesn't particularly challenge ideas about borders or immigration in any way that I would find agreeable. There's no doubt Keefe is a great story-teller, and I did enjoy reading this one, but you could be forgiven for passing it up for something else. That said, it did at least highlight to me some of the challenges building an effective immigration policy.

informative, non-fiction, traumatic
Rental Person Who Does Nothing - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
July 9, 2023
by Shoji Morimoto, Angus Turvill

This was a strange one. I didn't know anything about this person or service, and I was expecting the book to be mostly funny. But it was actually far more serious and thoughtful than I had anticipated. I probably wouldn't recommend it to everyone; but it's at least refreshing for it's alternative take on what it means to live and relate to people. I also found it, I think, to be an interesting insight into some parts of modern Japanese culture. Quirky, for sure, a little depressing, even, but a worthwhile read nevertheless.

personal, quirky
The Roads to Sata - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
June 20, 2023
by Alan Booth

Extremely readable and enjoyable. Booth managed to write in such a way that the atmosphere of the journey and the places was very well conveyed. Made me want to be there! Just some really nice story-telling. Highly recommended :)

adventurous, non-fiction, personal, travel
Regenesis - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 21, 2023
by George Monbiot

Amazing reading, ideas, and suggested actions for wildly revising how food is produced. I found this book particularly relevant because I have just started a new job that is in this space; but even otherwise it is a great, non-judgemental, and surprisingly inspiring, book about the climate crisis. It may even inspire you to start gardening :)

climate, economics, informative, non-fiction
Banzeiro Òkòtó - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 14, 2023
by Eliane Brum, Diane Grosklaus Whitty

Absolutely extraordinary book. Extremely informative, powerful, emotional, inspiring, and poetic. I was struck at first by the amazing writing (which comes across really well in translation, I think, not that I've read the original ...), but stayed for the amazing story-telling and information about various illegal practices in Brazil.

It's really an impressive piece of work, I can highly recommend it, but do note that it is also, in parts, quite traumatic. Still; one of those books that you feel sad when it ends; well worth reading!

activism, climate, economics, feminism, informative, language, long-read, non-fiction, personal, philosophical, poetry, politics, quirky, racism, traumatic, travel
The Candy House - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 7, 2023
by Jennifer Egan

An enjoyably rich read. I can't quite say what I got out of this other than simply the joy of reading. One thing I know for sure is that Egan is an amazing writer. I was reading this and another book, at the same time, and it was just incomparable how good her writing was ... in comparision :D. One memorable moment is that I read a lot of this book aloud, and the part where she writes as a teenager is just, for my mind, absolutely spot on. Anyway; highly recommend this one for some relaxing reading!

fiction, technology
No-Drama Discipline - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 30, 2023
by Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson

I liked this book. It discusses what seem to be some quite reasonable approaches for dealing with children. It's a bit too early for me to put in to practice, but a lot of the discussions seem quite good, and it'll probably be something I refer back to in a few years :)

non-fiction, parenting
Tokyo Vice - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 23, 2023
by Jake Adelstein

I picked this up after watching and enjoying the show. The book is quite different; and it's interesting actually to compare it with the show; the team that converted the book into the show have done an impressive job, I think! I like both. I really couldn't put the book down. It has compellingly written and just interesting. A great read for those interested in the workings of organised crime (and journalism!) in Japan. I loved it!

adventurous, informative, non-fiction, personal
The World We Make - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 16, 2023
by N.K. Jemisin

Not bad; just not mind-blowing like the rest of her work. She's set an extremely high bar for her work, and while this series is good for anyone else, for me it was just a bit lacking the brilliance of her earlier ones. But it's a bit of an unfair comparision. Her first few books were, for me, just absolutely amazing, and this series didn't quite compare. It's still good, and worth reading all the way to the end of the acknowledgements for an alternative title. But if you were compelled to read only one of her works, you would start with literally any other series.

fantasy, fiction
Feminism, Interrupted - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 3, 2023
by Lola Olufemi

Really a brilliant collection of insights and strong thoughts around feminism and it's connections to all aspects of society and life. The book is short but somehow packed with some much knowledge and beautiful connections to other works and writers/thinkers. Lola is a genius, really, of explaining practical ways to engage with feminism, and what it means for how we can engage it to bring about change. If you're ever at a loss for words when someone asks you "What is feminism?" then this book is for you!

activism, feminism, philosophical
Strong Female Character - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
March 24, 2023
by Fern Brady

Really quite interesting and good. I think I'd seen Fern Brady before, and she's clearly and interesting person, but this an enlightening book for me, in particular in building some empathy for how people with autism experience life and their emotions, and in particular women. Great reading!

non-fiction, personal
Persepolis - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
February 19, 2023
by Marjane Satrapi, Mattias Ripa, Blake Ferris, Anjali Singh

I've got mixed feelings about this book. Mostly, it was good; it was informative and I learned a lot. The graphic novel form is also just a nice way to convey a complicated topic with lots of personal feeling and information. On the other hand, I can't say I found the author totally likeable; but perhaps that just means she presented her story truly; after all, we all make mistakes and say things we regret. In any case, I'm glad I read this, and if you're at all curious about a personal perspective on Iran, I at least found it interesting and worthwhile.

informative, non-fiction, personal
Small Things Like These - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
February 5, 2023
by Claire Keegan

Loved this one. It's indeed beautifully written; extremely readable and interesting. It has a softness, and I really enjoyed my time with this one :) Also nice to learn some Irish words and culture!

fiction, informative, short-read
Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
January 29, 2023
by Emily R. Austin

Hilarious and brilliant. Very enjoyable reading; only note is that at the time I was reading this I was occasionally visiting a hospital, and I had to hide the cover :)

fiction, fun
How To Blow Up A Pipeline - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
January 15, 2023
by Andreas Malm

I quite liked this. It's a nice discussion of climate activism and the general connection between activism and resistance. It leaves a lot of food for thought about what is necessary in order to make people change their behaviours. A great, short, thoughtful, and inspiring read.

climate, philosophical, politics
Once Upon A Tome - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
January 8, 2023
by Oliver Darkshire

Just simply an extremely enjoyable and engaging read about life in a bookshop :) I loved it; I've been reading a few of these "real-life bookshop" stories, to get a sense of what it might be like to work in one, and I think this story is particularly interesting because of the history associated with this particular bookshop, and of course the author is just a great story teller. Highly recommended if you want to get a sense of the magic that it could be, to work in a rare bookshop!

books, fun, non-fiction, personal
Ice Rivers - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
December 18, 2022
by Jemma Wadham

This book will always have a special place in my heart now, given that it happened to be the book I was reading at the time our daughter arrived, and as a result I finished it by reading it to her in her first few days of being out and about :) That said, on it's own merit it is pretty good. I learned some interesting facts about glaciers; enjoyed learning about her life, and overall got inspired about this kind of career. Pretty good!

adventurous, climate, personal, travel
Peaces - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
November 20, 2022
by Helen Oyeyemi

A fairly strange but reasonably interesting story. I think in the end I liked it; perhaps I was hoping for a bit more of a feeling of "mysterious train journey", but what I got was more "confusing train journey"; but, I did find the ending worth-while; so I don't regret my time reading it. Worth picking up :)

fiction, quirky
Giving Back - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
October 30, 2022
by Derek A. Bardowell

This book wasn't what I expected, but it was still quite interesting. It's seems to be me to be roughly a biography of this persons life in the social sector, but is also an exploration of a whole bunch of "alternative" programs that focus the particular communities, marginalised groups, and aim to find solutions from within those groups, rather than "fixing" them from the outside, with metrics and impact reports, etc. I think it's a great source of inspiration on that front, and has some relevance for a project I'm part of in the climate space. Definitely worth a glance!

climate, feminism, informative, non-fiction, personal, philanthropy, politics, racism
Still Born - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
October 16, 2022
by Guadalupe Nettel, Rosalind Harvey

Picked this up after listening to the author talk about it during the a book festival in Edinburgh. I loved it. I'm excited also to try and read the Spanish version in Spanish; but that will probably be a bit of a challenge. In any case, a nice read about parenting, how to relate to people, and what our relationships could be like. It also almost made me cry on the first page, which I thought was impressive.

personal, philosophical
Girlcrush - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
October 9, 2022
by Florence Given

This was a real page-turner for me; I read it within two days of picking it up. I quite enjoyed it! A fun and thoughtful read and perspective.

feminism, fiction, fun, quirky
Natives - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
October 2, 2022
by Akala

Loved this. Akala is a extremely knowledgable about history and politics, so this is an important and interesting read. Not being someone who has that much perspective on the UK, I also really valued learning more about how colonialism and racism have had an impact.

activism, history, informative, non-fiction, personal, philosophical, politics, racism
All We Can Save - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 25, 2022
by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Katharine Keeble Wilkinson, Sherri Mitchell, Catherine Pierce, Kate Marvel, Adrienne Maree Brown, Jacqueline Patterson, Janine M. Benyus, Camille T. Dungy, Mary Anne Hitt, Abigail Dillen, Leah C Stokes, Joy Harjo, Maggie Thomas, Marge Piercy, Varshini Prakash

I really enjoyed this one. It's a nice collection of short essays and writings on people motivated to work on the climate (and associated) crises; and it's inspiring to see so many people interacting so thoughtfully. Definitely recommend.

climate
Fifty Words for Snow - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 18, 2022
by Nancy Campbell

I love Nancy Campbell's writing style; so this one was already going to be enjoyable for me. But I did find it fun and informative. This book is also special because it's the first one than I've been reading to my partner and our little one, who is on her way :) ❤️

climate, fun, informative, language, non-fiction, quirky
For The Good Times - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 11, 2022
by David Keenan

Being a bit closer to Ireland these days I've been quite interested in learning about their history. I didn't quite expect what I got from this book, which is the viewpoint of (fictional?) people who were part of the IRA at the time. A quite interesting read, really, and a perspective that I haven't seen before. Worth a glance!

fiction, history, informative
The Production of Houses - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 4, 2022
by Christopher W. Alexander, Howard Davis, Julio Martinez, Don Corner

(A special holiday-edition of the book photo from sunny Italy). This is one in a long list of book written by Alexander and collaborators about building and architecture. This book is essentially a case study in his building process adopted by a community in Mexico. Ultimately I think it's fair to say the project failed; in part due to the government. The thing I liked about this book is it showed "real-world" issues with the adoption of his process; insofar as not everyone engaged in the patterns and building process as he expected.

One interesting thing it has is a discussion of how to achieve his particular kind of building in a decentralised way; and it's quite practical and interesting. I think it's fun to see this kind of discussion, which is topical now, in a work that is quite old. That said, this book is probably not for you unless you happen to be particularly obsessed with Christopher Alexander and community-focused building.

architecture, philosophical, urban-planning
The Value of a Whale - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 28, 2022
by Adrienne Buller

A truly exceptional piece of work. This book provided words and research behind the overall unease that I, and many others, feel towards so-called "green capitalism"; i.e. the idea that it's possible to make money in a growing economy while also "solving" the climate crisis. A must read for anyone interested in working in the climate space, in my view. Amazing.

climate, economics, politics
Against Borders - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 14, 2022
by Gracie Mae Bradley, Luke de Noronha

This is an nice introduction to the topic of abolition of borders. Maybe you're already familiar with the idea of defunding the police, or similar, but this work extends that to the idea of borders themselves. It's quite interesting to see this idea brought there; and moreover it's quite nice to see a challenging discussion about the damaging impact of deporting or otherwise removing citizenship of people on visas; i.e. how can we care about people even when they do something bad. Lots of good ideas in this book!

economics, history, informative, non-fiction, philosophical, politics
The Employees - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 7, 2022
by Olga Ravn, Martin Aitken

I've been trying to read more translated books recently, and this was one I picked up in Hay-on-Wye. I loved it; it's quite quirky and funny, but it's an interesting take on what work might ultimately mean, and at what cost we would pursue it. It's a quick read, but nevertheless is certainly worth picking up :)

economics, philosophical, quirky
Scattered All Over the Earth - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 1, 2022
by Yōko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani

I really enjoyed this book! It's a strange exploration of language and friendship. Moreover it was just a strange little group of people to follow and learn about. It was nice to read this following The Last Children of Tokyo. Recommended!

fiction, quirky
Quantum Listening - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
July 24, 2022
by Pauline Oliveros, Ione, Laurie Anderson, Aura Satz

A cute little book; it's a very "artsy" book, describing a particular project of an artist who, in my interpretation, was using listening as a way to connect with the broader world. Quirky, short, but I enjoyed it.

non-fiction, quirky
The Last Children of Tokyo - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
July 17, 2022
by Yōko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani

I read this as part of a local climate-fiction book club. I think, really, it's my first excursion into climate fiction, so it's hard to judge the entire genre from this example. Overall I think I enjoyed it; it certainly had some nice moments. Interestingly, I got a lot out of subsequently reading the authors next book, "Scattered All Over the Earth"; it helped me understand the author a bit more, and how she writes.

climate, fiction
Empire of Pain - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
July 10, 2022
by Patrick Radden Keefe

I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I enjoyed the last book by this author; but I certainly can't say I "enjoyed" this one. It covers the (horrible) story of one families drive to make money, in particular in the pharmaceutical industry. I think it's "good" to read it; but for me I think it just shows the dangers of incentives. In many ways I agree with one of the reviewers who said they felt guilty for enjoying it. Hopefully we can move beyond stories like this and into other kinds of analyses and understanding.

non-fiction, traumatic
The Cabinet - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
June 26, 2022
by Kim Un-su, Sean Lin Halbert

This was a really enjoyable book. Simple, thoughtful, funny, inventive, and really just a good way to spend some time :)

fun, quirky
Speaking and Being - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
June 19, 2022
by Kübra Gümüşay, Gesche Ipsen

A pretty good book. I love the idea that language informs our thoughts and feelings, and this book explored that topic well. Probably the most interesting thing I found in this book was the thought of the author that they can take ownership of a language by adding words to it, as a way to feel at home. Worth a read, if you enjoy the intersection of language, identity, and politics!

language, personal, philosophical
On Dialogue - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
June 12, 2022
by David Bohm

Extremely relevant and interesting reading. It's a discussion of the very present problem of polarisation; i.e. how we can easily paint ourselves into corners from which we can't escape, or deem certain people irredeemable, and just generally avoid difficult conversations. I like Bohm a lot because of his connection to quantum physics, and Buddhism; so I'm very partial to this kind of topic. But this is a really great book, full of nice bits of insight; and it's short! I read it slowly, just to try and absorb as much as I could. Highly recommended!

philosophical
Post Growth - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 29, 2022
by Tim Jackson

Not bad. This book attempts to give some arguments about why we might want to consider a "post growth" world; i.e. one not ruled by standard capitalism; by driving for more business growth, more money, etc, etc. I think, sadly, it lacked a bit of detail and technical arguments. Perhaps as an entry point into the post growth literature it's pretty good; but you don't come away with lots of good arguments, or even many practical tips. I certainly don't regret reading it; and I'm sure I've got something out of it, but I wouldn't suggest you drop everything and read it now.

climate, economics, philosophical
Experiments in Imagining Otherwise - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 16, 2022
by Lola Olufemi

I absolutely loved this book! It's an awesome collection of poetry and writings around capitalism, history, feminism, and other topics. In particular I really enjoyed the thoughts around how fictional histories can be a form of history; i.e. all we have is stories in any case, and lots of stories have been lost over the years; but what remains? Can things be learned, even if there is no "true" historical preservation?

Overall just a brilliant book, and I'm grateful to have been able to read it :)

activism, feminism, poetry
The Art of Patience - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 8, 2022
by Sylvain Tesson, Frank Wynne

Yet another book in a genre close to my heart: books featuring snow leopards in a poetic way. Naturally, I enjoyed this one. It has the feeling of a light and soft journey, filled with nice poetic titbits. One particular part of the book will, probably, blow your mind, just like it did mine. Recommended if you're into these poetic travel books.

non-fiction, personal, philosophical, poetry
The Invisible Actor - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 1, 2022
by Yoshi Oida

This was a fun read. It's targeted at actors, but is in fact a fascinating insight into a totally different cultural experience, at least for me. I really enjoyed the bits of wisdom; the most memorable being the idea that, if you are watching an actor and think "wow, this is great acting", then that's bad; the actor should be invisible. In any case, I really valued this book for the insight into what an actor thinks about, and the various ways the prepare their bodies and minds for the work.

non-fiction, personal, philosophical
Gone - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 24, 2022
by Min Kym

An unquestionably exceptional book. I've never seen writing like this before. It's so emotive and engaging and fast-paced; really, it felt like she was playing the violin with my emotions, and I loved it! Highly recommended; you'll never look at someone with a violin the same way again.

music, non-fiction, personal, quirky
I May Be Wrong - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 17, 2022
by Björn Natthiko Lindeblad, Caroline Bankeler, Navid Modiiri, Agnes Bromme

An interesting perspective on Buddhism and life. I'm not completely sure I agree with everything in it, but nevertheless I did find it thoughtful and emotional in some points, and overall I enjoyed reading it :)

buddhism, non-fiction, philosophical
Confessions of a Booksheller - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 10, 2022
by Shaun Bythell

As a hopefully-one-day bookshop owner, I picked this up hoping for insights into the day-to-day operations of a bookshop. I didn't quite get that; I instead I was presented with the diary of what you might consider a classical grumpy, yet funny, mate who just happened to sell books. It's definitely an entertaining read, but probably not one I'd widely recommend. As a bit of trivia, the author lists the daily sales for each diary entry. I was curious enough to take note of these on a spreadsheet, if you too are curious of the raw revenue that could be expected from just book sales.

Overall, I'm glad I read it, and while it doesn't contain much practical book-selling information or advice, it is an interesting slice of life!

books, fun, non-fiction
Skating to Antarctica - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 3, 2022
by Jenny Diski

This was picked out for me by my partner, and I absolutely loved it! It's very funny and personal and interesting. I really enjoyed the way she writes, and while it didn't have a great deal of content about Antarctica itself, it was a very interesting and engaging personal story. It is just nice to read about how she experiences life. Well worth the read!

personal, philosophical, quirky, traumatic, travel
The Final Girl Support Group - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
March 27, 2022
by Grady Hendrix

I loved this book; it was a just a very enjoyable, engaging, captivating, comedic book having a lot of fun with the "slasher" genre. It'll definitely be a movie some day soon. It was just a real pleasure to read; I had a great time!

fun, non-fiction, quirky
Terraformed - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
March 20, 2022
by Joy White

This is a very interesting book. In part it's a discussion about gentrification, and what that looks like in a certain community; but it's also a discussion of racism, and the experiences of the black families.

One thing that hit me particularly hard was the observation that must participation in the local neighbourhood revolves around consumption. What I found challenging was to imagine how else it could be. And in particular, made me thoughtful of how, if I were to open a physical bookshop (as is my dream), I could make space for participation that doesn't require consumption.

In any case, I appreciated reading this for some interesting perspectives on how to think about urban planning and gentrification.

activism, racism, urban-planning
Unbound - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
March 13, 2022
by Tarana Burke

I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I think it was certainly interesting to learn about her life, and what lead her to start her "Me Too" movement. That said, I can't say I could really relate at all to her experiences and choices. This makes it at least interesting and out of my comfort zone, but it also makes it hard to judge whether or not I enjoyed it, and what I got out of it. At least it let me build some empathy and understanding for how she's lived her life.

Recommended reading for the history and backstory, and understanding what goes on the mind of someone with a totally different life experience from my own.

informative, personal
Bullshit Jobs - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
March 6, 2022
by David Graeber

I don't quite know why it took me so long to pick this book up, but I regret not doing it earlier. I love David Graeber's books; having read and really enjoyed Debt a few years ago. This is really a very thoughtful discussion about jobs and the point of work; and in particular the kinds of busywork we can end up doing and participating in. It made me be a bit more thoughtful about the things that I do, and what might be the reason that I do it. I really enjoyed it; but it's not the worlds most motivating book.

economics, informative, non-fiction, philosophical
The Library of Ice - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
February 27, 2022
by Nancy Campbell

Really an exceptional bit of writing. Nancy has a perfect writing style, engaging, soft, thoughtful and provocative. It's a really collection of stories of her journey into cold places; and how she and others engage with them. I loved reading this, it filled me with warmth.

climate, poetry
There Is No Planet B - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
February 25, 2022
by Mike Berners-Lee

This is a stressful book. Overall I'm glad I read it; but I wasn't left feeling as motivated or excited as other books in this space. I'm not totally convinced in everything the author says, and I think occasionally it lacks a bit of tact, but I do think it's full of very valuable and useful information, and I think his attitudes and feelings are totally understandable. It does contain nice advice for what to do personally; but it's probably not the best book to read if you're feeling a bit anxious.

activism, climate, informative
Osebol - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
February 6, 2022
by Marit Kapla

I loved this. Don't be put off by the number of pages; almost all of them only contain a few lines per page. It's a collection of stories told be the residents of a small town in Sweden. It's a real slice of life and culture; mostly quite relatable. For me I found it very interesting to "listen" to these stories that I would find hard to listen to in real life. It made me reflect a bit on why I would find listening to these conversations in real life a bit hard. In any case, I really enjoyed reading this; it's a real gem.

history, personal, philosophical, quirky, short-read
Children of Blood and Bone - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
January 30, 2022
by Tomi Adeyemi

This was a very enjoyable and engaging read. It's pretty interesting, has some nice characters and nice story development; I think it's also nice to see these kinds of fantasy stories from a different perspective. That said, I've also read the second book in this series, and that one I didn't enjoy quite as much. I will still follow the series to the end, but that has coloured my review. In any case, I still had a great time with this one!

feminism, fiction
On Time And Water - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
January 17, 2022
by Andri Snær Magnason, Lytton Smith

Just exceptional. I've not read another book that does so well at explaining different timescales and ways to communicate the impact of the climate crisis. Done in a very engaging poetic style; this book really motivated me to learn much more details and start to make a change. Overall a very enjoyable, rewarding, and inspiring reading experience!

activism, climate, poetry
Index, A History of the - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
January 9, 2022
by Dennis Duncan

A very fun and informative book. I really enjoyed learning about the different kinds of indexes, and have since been more motivated to read the indexes of other books (and, to be honest, been quite disappointed, knowing now what I could expect to find). Highly recommend this as a fun/quirky read about books and history.

books, fun, history, informative
Ending Fossil Fuels - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
January 2, 2022
by Holly Jean Buck

This gives a good selection of arguments and positions about why, naturally, it's not simply enough for policy makers and activists to focus on "net-zero" policies for carbon, but in fact we need to totally abolish fossil fuels. It makes a very strong argument, and is really quite good reading. Highly recommended!

activism, climate, economics
The Cat Who Saved Books - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
December 26, 2021
by Sōsuke Natsukawa, Louise Heal Kawai

I really loved this. It's a nice simple story about books, and how different people interact with them. I enjoyed the style, and how the different stories were introduced and resolved; it made me want to see more topics explored in this way! Just a great read :)

fiction, fun, philosophical, short-read
A Dutiful Boy - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
December 19, 2021
by Mohsin Zaidi

Recommended to me by a friend, I got hooked on this book immediately and read it in two days; I couldn't put it down. It's very well written; easy to read, fast paced and compelling. If you've read "Educated", it's a lot like that, only with a wildly different context. I loved it. Really well conveys the stress and impact of living with a lie from your family, and how that impacts your personal life. Also very positively show the power of therapy, and generally of friendship and support. Just amazing!

non-fiction, personal
Keats - A Brief Life In Nine Poems - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
December 12, 2021
by Lucasta Miller

I picked this up, being inspired by reading the Dan Simmons trilogy Hyperion. I've never read any "classic" poetry before, and I thought that this might be a nice entrypoint, because it promised to have some poems, but also some backstory about Keats and the context in which he wrote each poem. I loved this book. It's interesting for me personally, because for the longest time I haven't really "understood" poetry. But here, while I can't say I get everything, or even most things, I did start to get a feeling for why people enjoy it. And I also got a feeling of why people like Keats' poetry in particular. It's not a particularly short book, but I did find it quite accessible, and I think it's quite a nice way to engage with poetry. I'll probably try and find more books like this.

informative, non-fiction, personal, poetry
Three Women - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
December 5, 2021
by Lisa Taddeo

Honestly not too sure what to make of this book. Certainly it gives me a perspective into other lives that I would not normally get; the topic being the (quite differing) sex lives of three women. But the differing stories were all, for me, quite extreme, which made it a bit hard to relate. Nevertheless, it felt very raw and real and compelling. Not my usual thing, but I'm glad I read it.

non-fiction, personal, traumatic
Basic Income - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
November 28, 2021
by Philippe van Parijs, Yannick Vanderborght

This is the first book I've read on basic income, so I learned some quite interesting things. The most interesting, to my mind, was the history, and present, philosophical justification for a universal basic income. The justification they give is at first a Christian one; i.e. God gave the land to us all, so we should profit from it. I found this rough justification quite problematic really. I did find most of the way they presented their argument mostly pretty good; but I certainly found other parts of the book moderately problematic, especially some parts discussing immigration. Overall, I think it's a nice entrypoint into the theory and field; but I think we have a long way to go yet.

economics, non-fiction, philosophical
No Friend but the Mountains - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
November 21, 2021
by Behrouz Boochani, Omid Tofighian

Another amazing book, this one was written by a refugee who was imprisoned at the time. It is about his experience in the prison; something that had been totally covered up by the Australian government. At the time the book was published he was still in prison! It's exceptionally readable, interesting and engaging, but it does have some quite traumatic sections. It's has a beautifully written style interspersed with sections of poetry. You will certainly leave with very strong feelings for what people like this have been put through by our governments. I really gained a lot from reading it.

activism, non-fiction, personal, poetry, racism, traumatic
White Tears Brown Scars - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
November 19, 2021
by Ruby Hamad

Definitely the best book on "white feminism" that I've ever read. This book has a particular focus on Australia, but is astonishingly good at gathering together different reactions to racism, in particular in the feminist community, and showing the impact that this has had on people of colour. What remains particularly memorable for me is how white people (of which I'm one) get particularly upset at being *called* racist, and how this can oftentimes trump actual experienced racism on the part of people of colour. Many terrible examples are recounted. Read this book now if you are at all interested in feminism and racism more generally; but be prepared, it is not easy reading. It's an amazing book.

feminism, non-fiction, racism
The Mushroom at the End of the World - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
November 7, 2021
by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

Definitely a new favourite book. This one has a really nice, poetic, personal, engaging style and explores topics in economics through a very interesting lens: the mushroom. It presents lots of interesting conceptual discussions around commercial boundaries, what makes a product into something that can be sold, and has a nice journey into particular mushroom markets and what meaning they have for capitalism and communities in general. I wish more economics books were written in such a style! Certainly well worth reading if you're into challenging thoughts in this space!

economics, non-fiction, quirky
No One Is Talking About This - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
October 31, 2021
by Patricia Lockwood

This was interesting reading, but probably overall not quite my kind of thing. I found the style quite stressful; but I do think that was the intention. The idea, I suppose, is to convey the chaoticness of reading Twitter every second; and constant changing of attention. But this is something that I personally find a bit stressful, and this was conveyed very accurately through the writing. I do think it had some nice jokes, and variously interesting bits of social commentary; and, as one review I listened to, clearly this author is very familiar with social media. But it's not one I'll likely read again. Might be of interest to those who want another perspective on what engagement with social media can look like!

personal, quirky, short-read, traumatic
Outpost - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
October 24, 2021
by Dan Richards

It took a few chapters to get into this book, but once I did, I think it paid off. Dan has a nice friendly writing style, and the stories he tells are interesting and charming. There are also references to a few other books I am reading (The Importantance of Being Iceland, and The Living Mountain), so that helped me connect a bit more. Overall I think it's a nice entry in this genre, but lacks some of the philosophical punch of Barry Lopez in Horizon, say. Still worth reading, though, and certainly fun.

adventurous, travel
Piranesi - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
October 17, 2021
by Susanna Clarke

I really enjoyed this one. I had heard about it for a while, and finally decided to pick it up after I saw it picked up a prize. My only regret is I waited so long! It's a really nice story, quirky and interesting and compellingly-written. I read this quite fast, and although it's short I wasn't left feeling like I wanted more, or anything was unexplained. Just a great book!

fiction, fun, short-read
Becoming Bodhisattvas - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
October 10, 2021
by Pema Chödrön

Just an amazing book. Basically, it's about how to apply Buddhist-style thoughts to your life and actions more generally, with a particular view to trying to "reduce suffering" of those around you. Pema Chödrön is really just a great writer, and has a really accessible interpretation of "The Way of the Boddhisattvas". I personally got a lot of inspiration and encouragement from this book; and while I might not agree with absolutely everything, there's plenty in here to like and explore.

buddhism, philosophical
A World Without Police - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
October 3, 2021
by Geo Maher

This is a very legitimate and intense book, with a strong American focus. It argues that the police are actively harmful, and points out all sorts of issues with "improvement" programs, and more generally the structure that supports the policing apparatus. I went in to this book probably being open-minded; I would've argued, before reading it, that police are generally good and useful, but of course that comes from my perspective as a white man. I see now the other perspective, and while I'm not fully convinced by all the examples in this book; I do think that in general, the message of using communities and local-supporting systems over the state-managed "violence workers", is certainly attractive. While this book does have *some* practical ideas for how communities can self-organise in this way, I would've liked to see more. But I suppose this idea is just developing, and this was my first entrypoint into this kind of thinking. Overall, I do recommend this book; I think it's very passionately written and contains a lot of good arguments. But it's also quite confronting, so be prepared!

activism
I Am a Strange Loop - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 26, 2021
by Douglas R. Hofstadter

For me there's really no better book on what it means to be conscious and how to think about consciousness. As always, I like books that connect back to Buddhism in some what, and I found that this one really does; even though I don't think the author makes that connection explicitly. In any case, if you're interested in quite a different perspective on how to think of personhood and what makes you you, I really recommend this book!

philosophical
Old Path White Clouds - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 19, 2021
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Written by Thich Nhat Hanh, of "How To Walk, How To Love, How To Eat, ..." fame, this is quite a large book but nevertheless, very engaging. Consisting of several stories related to the life of the "historical" Buddha. I think this book is a particularly good entrypoint to this particular variant of Buddhist writing: namely stories that have a bit of magical character, but also attempt to be somewhat historical accuracy. One thing I found particularly interesting was to learn that early Buddhism, in this telling, was quite sexist. I really appreciated this detail being included; it helped me see that Buddhism, much like any approach, isn't perfect and needs a process of self-correction; which in my interpretation it does have. Overall, I loved this book. It's simple, easy, reading, has some nice messages and stories. But it's certainly not full of practical advice for mindfulness, but if you're keen on that you can you can check out the authors many other offerings!

buddhism, history, long-read
Lev's Violin - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 5, 2021
by Helena Attlee

This book was enjoyable, easy, reading. I got fully immersed in the feeling of the violin culture; in the history and the way the author is follows the story through different towns and countries. This idea of just taking a journey dictated entirely by a spontaneous interest is very appealing. Really enjoyed it!

adventurous, informative, music, personal, quirky, travel
Diary of a Young Naturalist - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 29, 2021
by Dara McAnulty

I really loved this book. I think it's interesting for a few reasons. One is that I haven't read many books where an autistic person is describing their feelings and experiences. It's really interesting to learn. Another part that really impacted me was his discussion of how young people are being forced to be more active and outspoken, but, ultimately, are excluded from important decision making, and that adults praise them, but inevitably continue doing whatever they were doing before. That comment hit me quite strongly, and I'm not sure what to do about it yet. Overall, an exceptional read, and will help you appreciate nature!

adventurous, climate, informative, personal, philosophical, short-read
Feminist Antifascism - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 22, 2021
by Ewa Majewska

I found this book very interesting. One concept it introduced to me was the idea of "solidarity" instead of "support", in social causes. She makes the argument that it's better to stand in "solidarity" with one other, and for "me" to "support" you. Her argument, in part, is because relationships don't work strictly one-directionally. This spoke to me a lot. The bulk of the book is concerned with looking at how "counter-publics" - places where the public can be involved politically, but not necessarily supported by the government - work, examples of them, and how we can and should embrace them. I really like it; but it might be a bit "theory"-dense for some. Recommended reading, though, if you're interested in how people are being politically-active and how feminism should sit at the center of anti-fascism; also particularly interesting to get a Polish perspective on this idea; as it's not one I've heard before.

feminism, informative, non-fiction, philosophical
Circe - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 15, 2021
by Madeline Miller

Not knowing anything about the Greek mythology around Circe is not a pre-requisite for this book. I really quite enjoyed it; it's a simple, interesting story and a nice excursion around this particular set of Greek characters. I'll definitely read more by Madelline Miller.

feminism, fun, non-fiction
Mexican Gothic - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 8, 2021
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I picked this book up in part because my partner is Mexican, and I was curious to see what kind of Mexican culture would be included in a book like this One aspect that I found interesting was how Mexican culture relates to ghosts. I found this book a nice, simple, and compelling read.

fiction, fun
Semicolon - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
August 1, 2021
by Cecelia Watson

I absolutely loved this book. I love semicolons and I use them all the time. But the important things I learned from this book was how malleable grammar used to be; and that people used to think of grammar as a form of self-expression, instead of a strict set of rules, as we consider it now. It's also written in a very fun and engaging way with plenty of jokes. The best book you're ever likely to read on grammar!

history, informative, non-fiction, short-read
The Mere Wife - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
July 24, 2021
by Maria Dahvana Headley

I loved Beowulf, by the same author; and this book promised to be a "modern" version of Beowulf. I have to say, I quite enjoyed it. I think I'm glad I read Beowulf by her *first*, as it gave me context for understanding this story. That said, I don't think that context is necessary; and this is a great read on it's own. If you could pick only one, I'd say read her version of Beowulf; but for a nice modern feminist retelling, you can't go wrong with this book!

feminism, fiction, history
The Girl With The Louding Voice - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
July 11, 2021
by Abi Daré

I enjoyed this book. The development of the main character was interesting to read, and it certainly challenged me a bit because I would've preferred a story that had less problematic things happen to the character; or made her story of self-actualisation a bit more self-determined than luck; but it probably is more realistic as it is. Overall I think it nicely shows the difficulty faced by people in this position, and that was interesting to me to learn through this novel. Definitely recommend it!

feminism
The Midnight Library - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
July 8, 2021
by Matt Haig

I really enjoyed this book, a lot. I can't say the ending was a surprise, but there were little bits of joy and insight to be had in the middle, and overall reading the book left me feeling uplifted and positive. A great book!

fun, personal, short-read
My Name Is Red - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
June 27, 2021
by Orhan Pamuk, Erdağ M. Göknar

This was a bit of a long read that took me a while to get into, but I did get their eventually. I certainly found it had some nice thoughts, but I found parts of the book to be oddly unnecessary. As a murder-mystery I can't say I enjoyed it (maybe because I didn't guess who the killer would be...) because I found all the voices to be a bit same-y; but maybe that was poor reading on my part. I think I'd probably recommend this book, and do agree with the essence of the assessments on the front. Worth reading just for the quirky telling.

history, philosophical, quirky
Reasons To Stay Alive - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
June 21, 2021
by Matt Haig

I'm not sure how to feel about this. I read this *after* The Midnight Library (which I really really enjoyed), so perhaps that meant I had very high expectations. I think this book is probably good because of how personal it is, and how honest and open the author is about his life and his feelings. I think while I don't agree with everything in it (for example my view would be a bit more Buddhist than what the author says they are comfortable with), I do think it adds some useful thoughts to keep in mind when you're feeling depressed and hopeless.

personal
Alive - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
June 13, 2021
by Piers Paul Read

An amazing story and great reading. I picked up this particular second-hand copy in Hay-on-Wye, a self-proclaimed "Book Town", and in it we found a photo of someone, probably the loved-one of a previous reader! The book itself is highly readable; in fact I could barely put it down and read it in just two days!

adventurous, history, traumatic
Beowulf - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
June 6, 2021
by Maria Dahvana Headley

I loved this. I've never read Beowulf before, and am very very happy this is translation was the first. Highly readable, with very fun and enjoyable language, and some nice comments from the author at the start. I'll definitely be reading this again, and am now keen to read more books by her! Highly recommended.

adventurous, feminism, fun, short-read
Lean Fall Stand - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 30, 2021
by Jon McGregor

This books wasn't what I thought it would be. I admit I thought it was going to be about some kind of adventure in Antarctica; but in fact it's a novel about a stroke. I found it very very stressful for read, but I think that's the intention. To some degree I think it managed to convey the difficulties with having a stroke, and the impact on people around you. But mostly I was stressed because of how I felt the characters would be feeling, and because I think I could get a raw feeling of how it would be if *I* had a stroke, and that caused me a lot of anxiety. Probably an interesting book for some, but not one that I would read again in a hurry.

quirky, traumatic
See What You Made Me Do - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 23, 2021
by Jess Hill

This is a very hard book to read; and it contains some very traumatic stories. Nevertheless, I feel better having read it. I learned a lot about what domestic abuse looks like, and what people suffering from it have to deal with, and how to support them. Highly recommended.

informative, traumatic
The Rules Do Not Apply - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 16, 2021
by Ariel Levy

I was really surprised and amazed by this book. I saw Ariel Levy talk at the amazing festival in Melbourne. I didn't know anything about her, but the image I did form didn't match what was revealed in this book. Very thoughtful and captivating, and a relatable account of one persons life and dreams. Definitely recommended reading for an insight into a life that is quite different from my own.

personal, traumatic
Feminist City - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 10, 2021
by Leslie Kern

An interesting discussion around how cities are not constructed for the enjoyment of everyone, and are gendered in various ways. Also raises some interesting arguments around how hard it is to balance privileging different groups when deciding on improvements to urban infrastructure. Overall, I was left a bit unsatisfied and was hoping for a bit more exploration of some possible answers; but certainly would still recommend it to get motivated and understand the space of problems to solve!

feminism, informative, urban-planning
Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
May 2, 2021
by Katherine Angel

A thought-provoking analysis of the culture around consent and ability-to-know-ones feelings. Discusses the differences in how (heterosexual) sex and desire is talked about and researched. In particular the discussion centers around impersonal "objective" measurements of arousal and the conclusions from that; and what people can and should know about their desires; and how to manage expressing that to other people. Not conclusive; but a good contribution to a complex topic!

informative, short-read
Perfect Sound Whatever - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 25, 2021
by James Acaster

I love James Acasters comedy; his show Repertoire is one of the funniest I've ever seen; I also read his earlier book - Classic Scapes - which I really enjoyed, so I was already primed to like this one. It's quite different from Classic Scrapes; it's much more personal and vulnerable, which I really enjoyed; and it has a huge list of interesting music, which is great if you're like me and struggle to think of new artists to listen to! Great reading.

fun, music, personal, short-read
Lost Pianos of Siberia - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 18, 2021
by Sophy Roberts

An amazing read about a journey through various towns in Siberia where the author is in principle searching for a piano, but in reality just enjoying the discover of history and connection through pianos. One of the best books I've read. Will definitely read again!

adventurous, music, travel
Say Nothing - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
April 11, 2021
by Patrick Radden Keefe

Exciting read! This is the first book I read on The Troubles, and while it doesn't cover the much of the background or the start, it does cover one the period of time by following a few quite interesting characters. I particularly enjoyed learning about the process some academics covered in the story used in order to try and record the history and details of the troubles, and the associated difficulty of doing that. Very interesting!

history, informative
Capital and Ideology - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 17, 2020
by Thomas Piketty

An incredibly detailed journey through various political regimes through the lens of understanding how they were structured and how that structure affects social inequality. Concludes with some very strong and interesting ideas about how we can move towards a global social democracy, and how to finance a substantial social state.

democracy, economics, long-read
Altruism - Cover Find on Bookshop.org
September 1, 2020
by Matthieu Ricard

An exploration into compassion, kindness, empathy, innate goodness and how these concepts relate to the idea of being altruistic. Comes from a Buddhist point of view, but has a very broad approach and generally-applicable advice and thoughts. Particularly good comments around the idea of emotional burn-out and (Buddhist) techniques for managing it.

buddhism, compassion, economics, empathy, ethics, long-read