Happy New Year. You are reading this, so: Good.
I hope it is a universal resolution to read more in the New Year. To take your mind and expand it, to share what you learn or feel with someone else (in your family or your office or your classroom). Reading opens up the synapses and lets the creative juice flow. Here are fourteen books I recommend for reading in 2014 in one go, or in odd snatches. On an e-reader. On a tablet or in your hands on beautiful bound paper. Read Lying down or sitting up on the bus.
My resolution is to regularly recommend not just books but blogs, podcasts, white papers and articles, YouTube videos. But for now, 7 non fiction and 7 fiction/memoir:
1) Networked: The New Social Operating System by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman – `’networked individualism’ in every corner of life explained from the respected US Academics with stacks of useful stats from Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.
3) Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adram Grant Probably my favourite read of 2013, this book became *the* read for business zeitgeisters, earning Adam Grant a coveted ‘Influencer’ status on LinkedIn and countless speaking gigs around the globe from the World Economic Forum to Goldman Sachs.
4) Emmy Andriesse: Hidden Lens by Louise Baring. If you buy one photographic art book make it this one: brings back the forgotten photograph of the 20th century’s most profound women photographers and her chronicle of Amsterdam’s Hunger Winter of 1944-5 in unforgettable clarity and haunting beauty.
6) Working – Studs Terkel. This book may be forty two years old in 2014 but it is the one of the greatest oral histories ever committed to paper by the late great Chicago radio legend, Studs Terkel at the encouragement of his publisher, the late great giant, Andre Schiffrin (R.I.P).
7) Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World – Noreena Hertz. Ahead of the curve as ever, a sophisticated self-help guide to navigate through the age of overload and decide how to proceed in everyday decisions large and small.
Fiction, Memoir, & Compendium
1) The Hired Man – Aminatta Forna. Can a woman write a man’s part convincingly? Yes, the character of Duro Kolak reads like inner autobiography. And you can feel the dry heat of Croatia just thinking about this mesmerising novel.
2) Anything by Doris Lessing but you could do worse than her reportage as I stumbled across her essay ‘Going Home’ after she died in 2013 and was reminded of her unerring observation and wit: ” Each country has its own type of rogue. Britain, for instance, has the spiv, and one only has to write the word to see him standing there’
3) The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones. This novel reminded me of the best of about ten Virago Modern Classics put together. Other-wordly but contemporary, funny but terrible. And a guest appearance by a horse has never made a better entrance in fiction.
4) After the War: Granta. As we enter the centenary year of The Great War this collection of new writing and photography is gripping, poignant, diverse. Features A.K.Kennedy. Hari Krunzu, Lindsey Hilsum.
5) Maggie & Me by Damian Barr – I read this book in one sitting, and knew it would be a huge hit even without the coincidence of Margaret Thatcher dying the week before publication. It turns a searing ‘misery memoir’ into something profound, warm, and politically challenging for anyone who belongs to “The Left” and assumed that a gay working class boy growing up in Glasgow in the 1980’s could ever admire The Iron Lady.
6) The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto I was lucky to be given a proof of this book by the author and read it on holiday, instantly transported to the troubling landscape of Pakistan’s Tribal Areas close to the Afghan borders and a contemporary story of many kinds unfolds – politics, love, family, and above all, the pointlessness of civil war and war itself.
7) Viv Groskop: I Laughed, I Cried: How One Woman Took on Stand-Up and (Almost) ruined her life) Two words sum up this book: Chutzpah (go look it up) and Wonderful. As a fellow Multiple Mother I recognise the tremendous pull Viv Groskop feels between being a mum and being her other self (discuss) and in her case, someone who does continuous stand-up comedy, in front of strangers, on the road for nearly a year. #
So. These should keep you busy. Let me know if you get round to any of them and what you think. That’s the most important bit: What you feel and what you think