What We're Reading

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Neil

Normal People, by Sally Rooney (Faber 2018)

This is Sally Rooney's second novel (Conversations With Friends was published in 2017), and has been long listed for the Man Booker Prize. Sally Rooney was born in 1991.

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Neil

Born of the Sun, by Joseph Diescho (Friendship Press 1988)

In preparation for our recent trip to Namibia, this formed part of my preparatory reading. It's widely seen as a contender for the 'Great Namibian Novel', and deservedly so. It's set in the lead up to Namibia's independence from South Africa in 1990, and follows the experiences of Muronga, a rather naive young, newly married man living a traditional village life in rural Namibia. His life changes radically when the village is visited by commissioners from South Africa requiring villagers to pay taxes.

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Neil

Hellholes of the World: A Love Story (Archetype, April 2018)

This is the first book Archetype have ever published in over 20 years, and it will probably be the last! It's by my brother, who died in 2015. He had prepared the manuscript of a travel memoir before he died, but hadn't managed to arrange publication. So here it is, forgive me if I'm biased!

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Neil

Ill Fares the Land, by Tony Judt (Penguin 2010)

Historian, writer, intellectual and philosopher Tony Judt has previously written a dozen or so award-winning books. He died in 2010, the year this book was published. It's a brilliantly written, elegant call to arms about our current politics and pursuit of material self-interest. He focuses mostly on America, where he lived later in his life. He sets out what has been lost since Reagan/Thatcher, and calls for a return to social democratic ideals. It's a remarkable, thought provoking book, which seems more urgent now than it did even when it was published a mere 8 years ago.

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Neil

Lost Connections, by Johann Hari (Bloomsbury 2018)

The rather long subtitle for this book is: Uncovering the real causes of depression and the unexpected solutions. Journalist Johann Hari has suffered from depression since he was 18. He has been medicated for it since then - he is now 39. In this book he travels the world finding social scientists who believe that depression and anxiety are not caused by a chemical imbalance in our brains, and thus can't be fixed by medication.

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Neil

The Anomaly, by Michael Rutger (Zaffre July 2018)

The Anomaly is a thriller, and a very good one, that combines elements of Indiana Jones, Michael Crichton and The X Files. A TV crew, led by Nolan Moore, an amateur archaeologist and conspiracy theorist, arrives at The Grand Canyon in search of a hidden cave full of great treasure which was referred to in a historical report by an explorer at the beginning of the 20th Century. They become trapped underground, and from that moment the book never lets up. There are betrayals, horrors, weird stuff galore, but Nolan as narrator has an excellent, self-effacing humour.