And we’re back with more great books to read!
*Disclaimer: I’m not a professional book critic, nor a writer. I’m just a book lover who likes to share her favourite reads and if we can get a discussion going on one of them, I’m up for it*
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell. How successful you are in life is determined by a myriad of factors, some of which are down to pure luck. Of course, hard work is what is going to get you far, but according to Gladwell, so are other factors that you have no control over, including the month and year you were born in and your cultural and family heritage, such as your mother tongue and religion. Although I personally found the 10,000 hours rule quite debatable and would have loved more in-depth discussion about the impact of gender and race, I really enjoyed the book and learnt a lot from it.
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders. Whether you suffer from digestive issues, or just want to know more about the most underrated of our organs, this book is what you need! Enders brings the gut back in the spotlight where it belongs and tells us everything about the bacteria it houses and the incredible work they do for us every single day, which not only helps with our digestion, but with our mental health too. What I loved about Gut is that it’s been written with a layperson in mind, so no need to be a microbiologist or a doctor to get the most out of it.
A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions by Muhammad Yunus. In A World of Three Zeros, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and creator of microcredit Prof. Muhammad Yunus shares his vision of a world where a new kind of economic system replaces the currently broken “capitalist engine” to finally tackle poverty, inequality, unemployment and environmental destruction. Yunus argues that we need to focus on social businesses that “serve human needs rather than accumulate wealth” and encourage more people to become entrepreneurs and create socially-driven solutions that are going to serve their local communities. The book also gives examples of big companies such as McCain and Danone that already got involved with Yunus’ vision and created their own social action groups. It also describes ways in which businesses, individuals, especially young people, and political leaders can join the social business movement.
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies): Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them by Scarlett Curtis. Feminists Don’t Wear Pink is a collection of essays from actors, writers and activists about what feminism means to them through personal anecdotes, poetry, short essays and much more. By sharing such diverse experiences, the book embraces intersectional feminism and explores how complex of a movement it is. Contributors include Jameela Jamil, Emma Watson, Tasha Bishop, Alicia Garza and even Bridget Jones (aka Helen Fielding)!
Under Solomon Skies by Berni Sorga-Millwood. This novel is about two childhood schoolmates living in the Solomon Islands who find themselves stranded at sea after a routine boat trip to a neighbouring island. As they realise that they’re aren’t going to be rescued anytime soon, the friends start sharing personal stories and recalling their time at school together, taking the reader with them on a journey through the beautiful landscapes of the Solomon Islands but also the devastating consequences that decades of overfishing and logging and the rising sea levels have on the local communities. Based on a true story.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. Queenie is the story of a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman who feels like she’s not quite fitting either of her two cultures’ expectations and who finds herself in numerous misadventures. Carty-Williams uses Queenie’s funny and attaching character to raises issues about race, class, anxiety, depression, abuse, complicated families and mixed-race relationships. Reading this, you’ll definitely want to laugh, cry and scream at Queenie, even sometimes all at once.
A Spark of Light by Jodie Picoult. In A Spark of Life, a gunman open fires in a women’s reproductive health services clinic and holds everyone hostage, including the doctors, nurses and patients. As she often does, Picoult gives a voice to the different characters directly or indirectly affected by the hostage-taking, from the girl who wanted to get the pill and the young woman who came to terminate her pregnancy to the police hostage negotiator and the pro-life protester disguised as a patient.
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan. So, this one is rather controversial. We discussed it at our PhD SSN book club in June, and I was the only one who actually liked it… The novel is about Eva, a young Irish woman who moves to Hong-Kong to teach English to privileged kids. She then engages in a sexual relationship with a wealthy English banker, before falling for a Hong Kong–born lawyer. Eva’s character is quite pessimistic and detached from pretty much everything, but I liked her sharpness, over-analysing mind and matter-of-fact way of thinking. The novel touches on issues such as power dynamic, class, culture, sexuality and identity.
Becoming by Michelle Obama. This autobiography is truly inspiring and gives us the chance to understand what made Michelle Obama the extraordinary woman that she is, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago and her dad suffering from multiple sclerosis to her unstoppable will to learn and do well at school and university to her years as a junior associate for a law firm where she mentored a summer intern named Barack Obama. She touches on the compromises Barack and she had to make as a couple to balance their very demanding careers and personal life both before and after Barack’s involvement with politics. With honesty, she shares the good and bad moments, the successes and disappointments of both her public and personal life.
The Little Big Things: A young man’s belief that every day can be a good day by Henry Fraser. In his memoir, Frazer tells us about the tragic accident he went through at 17 which left him paralysed from the shoulders down, with its fair load of incredibly difficult moments. But in this challenge, he also found the opportunity to renew with his love for art and to change his vision of life by appreciating progress, however small and acknowledging and accepting his emotions.
If you end up reading, or have already read, any of these books, please let me know in the comments below or drop me an email at T.M.P.Deydier@lboro.ac.uk! Would love to know what you thought about them! 😊
We’re also running a monthly book club, so if you like reading and would like to have a chat and a little bit of a debate, let me know.
As always, it’s worth mentioning the different options available to you when looking for books (not only good for your wallet but for the planet too):
- Independent bookshops
- Charity shops
- Online second-hand shops
- Audio books
PhD SSN Chair 2020-21
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