And I’m back with Part 2 of my favourite books!
*Disclaimer: I am not a professional book critic, nor a writer. I am 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*
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Dr Jennifer Eberhardt. In her book, Dr Eberhardt uses the extensive amount of data she gathered as a researcher and a consultant to law enforcement as well as her own personal experiences to tell us about implicit racial biases that can lead to discrepancies at different stages of life from education to employment and to the criminal justice system. Even with the best attentions to genuinely regard everybody as equal, our deep-rooted unconscious biases influence our behaviours, decisions and even visual perceptions. But Dr Eberhardt reminds that is it not an unsolvable problem, rather an issue that we should all work together to tackle.
The Guilty Feminist: From our noble goals to our worst hypocrisies by Deborah Frances-White. “I’m a feminist but I’ve imagined a future where I win the lottery more than a future without the patriarchy”. If you consider yourself a feminist (which I hope you do), chances are that you are a guilty one. And Deborah France-White is here to tell us that’s completely fine. With the help of inspiring and brilliant women, she uses humour to tackle our current system’s gender-based inequalities as well as the lack of intersectionality within the feminism movement. If you’ve listened to The Guilty Feminist podcast, you will love the book (you probably will anyway, even if you’ve never heard of the podcast).
The Brain: The Story of You by David Eagleman. In his book, Eagleman takes us on a fun and informative journey through understanding how our brain works, how malleable it is and how our experiences can shape it and how decisions and memories are made. I would say it is perfect for someone who generally wants to know a little more about that debatably beautiful organ sitting in their skull, but it might be a little too “basic” for you if you’re a neurology specialist (definitely wasn’t for me, I found it very informative and learned many things I had no idea about).
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. Home Fire is the story of three English siblings who have to live with the consequences of their now passed-away dad’s decision to join a terrorist militant group in Syria years ago. Throughout the book, the reader shares the experiences of the main characters and how each of them deals with their own believes and troubled history. Shamsie beautifully explores timely subjects such as love, religion, stigma, politics, suspicion, corruption and justice in a modern version of the classic Antigone.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. The novel is about the unexcepted relationship two best friends and college students develop with a married couple. The main character, Frances, 21 years old, finds herself juggling between her desire to become a writer, nurturing her relationship with her best friend and dealing with this new burgeoning intimacy that emerged between her and her new older friend’s husband. Rooney’s writing is beautiful and smart, and the complexity of the characters and their relationships makes it harder to write a summary that actually does the book justice.
The Diary of a Young Girl (Het Achterhuis) by Anne Frank. This is the diary kept by Anne Frank, a 13-year-old Jewish girl, while she was hiding with her family in the annex at the back of her father’s company building in Amsterdam during WWII. It is so touching because her journal was Anne’s only way to express what she felt during this horrible time. And although she was only a teenager and as such, the problems she is sometimes describing can seem a little trivial, especially regarding the circumstances at the time, you can tell that she was much more mature, well-spoken and wiser than most teenagers her age. Although she recognises herself as “privileged” to even be able to hide from the Nazi, she also describes the difficulties of living with 7 other people in a house without being able to get out for 2 years and without ever knowing if they will manage to stay hidden for much longer.
If you ever wanted to learn Spanish, German, Italian or French, I highly recommend the Language Hacking collection by Benny Lewis from Teach Yourself. The books are well written, rather engaging and they come with audio files you can listen to online. And it actually teaches you the language as it is spoken now (and not a hundred years ago) with common expressions. Most importantly, it encourages you to try, even if you make mistakes at first, because that’s how learning a language works, and that’s how you did it when you learnt your mother tongue.
As I already mentioned in Part 1, I personally bought most of these books second-hand (cheaper and has a lesser impact on the environment*), either in charity shops or on online second-hand bookstores such as worldofbooks.com. What I forgot to say, however (though briefly mentioned in the article) is that I also listened to some of these books using Audible rather than read their printed versions, although I know that listening to books isn’t for everyone.
When it comes to non-fictions, I personally like reading them better than listening to them, because I can go back to the previous pages when I resume my reading if I need to and because I find it easier to remember facts when I see them than when I just hear them. But for novels or biographies, I love listening to them as much as I love reading them. Just my personal preferences. You can also get them in a Kindle format.
You can also get them from your local or uni library.
If you end up reading or have already read, any of these books, please let me know in the comments below! Would love to know what you thought about them! 😊 And if you have any recommendations, please share them!
*Paper production leads to deforestation, air and water pollution (Few references: https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Paper-Waste-Facts, https://environmentalprofessionalsnetwork.com/the-environmental-impacts-of-using-paper/, WWF)
PhD SSN Chair 2020-21
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