July Book Reads

I gave podcasts a bit of a break this month and guess what? It gives you a lot more time to read! Please send books 🙂

  1. Eggshell Skull, Bri Lee
  2. All that Remains: A Life in Death, Sue Black
  3. A Cook’s Tour: Anthony Bourdain
  4. Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer, Michael Mansfield
  5. Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
  6. Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie
  7. Shrill, Lindy West
  8. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
  9. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge
  10. On Writing, Stephen King
  11. I am Madala, Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
  12. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
  13. We Should all Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  14. The Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin
  15. Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed, Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes

Eggshell Skull, Bri Lee

Just read it. I was aware of this book but even before I purchased it I had three people recommend that I read it! Lee takes you on her journey for justice and takes you deep into her life and feelings. She does this in such a way that you can’t help but reflect on your own experiences. This is a powerful book which highlights so many issues with the criminal justice system which still continue today, having experienced it as a judge’s associate but also a survivor of sexual assault. Lee’s discussion of the government mental health services for staff members really highlights how ludicrous and lacking it is for those requiring assistance.

All that Remains: A Life in Death, Sue Black

I must admit that the first few chapters of this book were a little graphic for me, the description of autopsies while interesting are not something you want to do while eating! Black is a Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology and her knowledge and experience is very interesting. Black discusses her experiences overseas at scenes of violence, murder, natural disasters, and criminal dismemberment. For my own research her discussion and experience of Disaster Victim Identification was enlightening.

A Cook’s Tour: Anthony Bourdain

After reading Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential last month, he did not disappoint with A Cook’s Tour. Bourdain takes you on a journey around the world through the eyes of food. His storytelling is fantastic and graphic! So similar to Black’s All the Remains (above), not a book to read while eating and may make you consider become vegetarian. Bourdain has a great appreciation and respect for the people and the food he is served.

Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer, Michael Mansfield

This book was recommended to me. Mansfield QC is a British defence lawyer. He is focused on justice, developing forensic science in court and discusses issues with the English legal system. He was worked on a number of high-profile cases and his discussions of them are thought-provoking. In particular Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Angela Cannings, Jill Dando and Barry George, Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana, Stephen Lawrence, Arthur Scargill and the miners, and Jean Charles de Menezes. I found the discussion of the miners to be of particular interest as I was not that familiar with the issues for miners in the UK. Further, from a research perspective I found Mansfield’s discussion of forensic evidence and its use and development informative to providing some context to the UK system I was not aware of.

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell

Having listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History and thoroughly enjoying it, I finally got around to reading Outliers. Gladwell makes you think about issues very differently and it is a very enjoyable experience. Gladwell breaks down how opportunities really do make a huge impact on successful people. Small opportunities early in life can have such a lasting impact on people. He discusses people and groups like Bill Gates, Christopher Langan, J. Robert Oppenheimer, The Beatles, and hockey players – and how early opportunities continued on in their life’s. He frequently discusses the 10,000-hour rule – the key to expertise in any skill is largely based on a how much it is practiced.

Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie

Wow, I definitely needed a moment when I finished Shamsie’s book. The last page was everything. This book was a recommendation and is described as the modern-day Antigone. But I think it is a mix of Antigone and Romeo and Juliet. Shamsie places you in the life of many characters (not unlike Capote). Isma is in America she raised her younger twin siblings – Anneka in London (seeing a new boyfriend) and Parvaiz who has disappeared to become a jihadist. The story explores the conflict between the two families and the long reaching consequences.

Shrill, Lindy West

The first time I properly heard about West was through a This American Life podcast episode called “If you don’t have anything nice to say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS” – Act One ‘Ask Not For Whom the Bell Trolls; It Trolls for Thee.’ West was and is harassed by trolls online and she gets one to apologise and talk to her. The troll’s behaviour was disgusting and particularly upsetting as his comments related to her recently deceased father. West discusses her life from being shy to becoming fierce feminist. I really enjoyed her discussion on how as a journalist she has actively fought against those around her who perpetuate the discrimination which women experience. Her strength is inspiring and I’m looking forward to following her material more closely now.

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

A modern classic which I had never got around to finish reading, Glen and I had a couple of days away in Wales and I took it along. Capote reconstructs a 1959 murder of a Kansas farmer, his wife and two of their children – the Clutters. Capote jumps so seamlessly between the perspectives of each character from before the crime was committed, to during and then after, and pretty much without the use of chapters which you don’t even notice. He takes you into the life of the two murderers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock. They both have different motivations and rules and this conflict ultimately is their undoing.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge

Starting as a blog post, Eddo-Lodge’s moving post lead to this book. Her book is incredibly informative on racial issues in the UK. Much of the material I have read focuses more on the US and it is good to read this now that I’m in the UK. Her historical analyses of racism in the UK provides insight to a number of locations and cases – especially the murder of Stephen Lawrence. I know this is a book I will need to read again to keep taking in the messages she so thoughtfully conveys.

On Writing, Stephen King

I personally wasn’t aware that King had written this book and it came as an Instagram recommendation. King takes you through his childhood and career and discusses the key moments which impacted on his life and his writing. In addition to this, King discusses writing hints and tips. His book certainly gave me pause of thought as to how I might write things differently and more than anything though it was a fun read.

I am Madala, Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

I was gifted this book quite a while ago, had not finished it yet, but brought it over to the UK with me. Yousafzai’s story is incredible, most of us know this already, but to read it all in one book (and only her life up to 2014) is amazing. It makes you appreciate how lucky we are but how there is also so much more to do in the fight for feminism and freedom. I really enjoyed the relationship between Yousafzai and her father, without her father bucking the trend in the treatment of girls and women, this may have been a different story. Yousafzai takes her opportunity for education very seriously and she is an inspiration, we all need to do more.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

Honeyman’s book kept popping up on Instagram as a recommendation and I am so glad that I read it. I had no expectations for this book. Very quickly you are sucked into the life of Oliphant and you just want to know everything about her. Her perspective on life is entertaining and informative. Her life is very structured, but she is not living. Honeyman highlights that minor acts of kindness can change a person’s life so dramatically. As the book progresses you are taken on Oliphant’s journey to deal with her past issues. You will not be able to put this book down.

We Should all Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This personal essay is adapted from her Tedx talk. She discusses, analyses what it means to be a feminist. She includes anecdotes and how she came to understand and embrace what feminism is. She really highlights the need to do things differently – to not go with the status quo and ensure people are not falling into gender stereotyped roles. I really liked her discussion of quotas with recruitment strategies, it was personally something I was on the fence about until I read her work. Those against quotas state those without merit will get the position, but that jumps to the conclusion that those covered by the quota don’t have merit. Women are just as qualified but need to break through the long lasting (conscious and unconscious) discriminatory effects of the patriarchy.

The Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin has a podcast called Happier, which is where I first became familiar with her work. Rubin’s book discusses how there are four different tendencies – Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. While we might show aspect of the other tendencies, each person is supposed to fall into one of these tendencies – I am a Questioner and if you want to find out what you are click on this link. This is an interesting book to consider how you may deal with different people and you will start to categorise the people around you quite quickly.

Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed, Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes

I bought this book after I listened to the podcast Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder. Daniel Morgan was a private investigator who was murdered with an axe to the head in a London pub car park in 1987. The podcast and the book both discuss in detail five failed police investigations, weak politicians, the corruption and misconduct of the police service and News of the World. This murder had far reaching ramifications and it took over 30 years before starting to see any real justice. In addition to Morgan’s murder, the authors discuss the murder of Stephen Lawrence and how overlaps occurred in police corruption and misconduct.

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