Book of the Week, 24th June 2018

Home Fires

Kamila Shamsie

Home Fires

Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie is a confident and provocative writer. Home Fire, her 7th novel, is a sharp examination of Muslims living in a hostile environment. The hostility doesn’t come from a far-off war zone; instead, it is contemporary London with familiar settings. The story opens with a central character, Isma, struggling unfairly, to be admitted to … Continue reading Book of the Week, 24th June 2018

Kamila Shamsie is a confident and provocative writer. Home Fire, her 7th novel, is a sharp examination of Muslims living in a hostile environment. The hostility doesn’t come from a far-off war zone; instead, it is contemporary London with familiar settings. The story opens with a central character, Isma, struggling unfairly, to be admitted to the US on a student visa. She is questioned for so long in an interrogation room that she misses her flight.

This is a powerful story about three siblings who are the children of a dead, radicalised Jihadist. Loosely based on the Greek myth, Antigone, it explores family loyalty, political motive and sexual manipulation, pitched against ‘what it is to be Muslim’.

Karamat, the fictional British Home Secretary appears self-assured in his position saying, “I hate the Muslims who make people hate Muslims” but his beliefs are pushed and prodded towards an explosive ending.

Previously longlisted for the Man Booker prize we chose HOME FIRE for our June Book Club discussion so we were thrilled when it won the 2018’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, earlier this month.

Bloomsbury paperback,  £8.99

Book of the Week, 17th June 2018

Colchester's Historic High Street

Dave Stenning, Richard Shackle and Jane Greatorex

Colchester's Historic High Street

Dave Stenning, Richard Shackle and Jane Greatorex

Walking down the High Street, it is the enticing displays in the shop windows and the colourful cafes and restaurants that tend to attract our attention. But look up and you will see some really characterful architecture. In fact, hidden behind some of the rebuilt frontages are centuries old timber framed buildings. This little book … Continue reading Book of the Week, 17th June 2018

Walking down the High Street, it is the enticing displays in the shop windows and the colourful cafes and restaurants that tend to attract our attention. But look up and you will see some really characterful architecture. In fact, hidden behind some of the rebuilt frontages are centuries old timber framed buildings. This little book peels away the modern facades and allows a glimpse back through the centuries to see what the High Street would have been like a few hundred years ago. The Red Lion Hotel and the George are the most well-known survivors from the period but this book draws on old documents and maps to recreate some lost buildings such as the ancient Moot Hall, and St Runwald’s Church that once stood in the middle of the High Street surrounded by stalls.  Focussing on the period 1100 to 1700 it recreates a High Street that was ‘much more than a thoroughfare; more an external room full of a wide range of activities’. With artisans, merchants and market traders it would have been busy, noisy and, yes, smelly – traders needed regular reminders to clear the dung heaps!

Colchester Civic Society, paperback, £4.99

A Thought for Fathers Day.

Forget the socks and aftershave, the gadgets for reluctant cooks. Show you care on Fathers Day and give your Dad some books!  

Forget the socks and aftershave,
the gadgets for reluctant cooks.
Show you care on Fathers Day
and give your Dad some books!

 

Book of the Week, 9th June 2018

The World's Worst Children Three

David Walliams

The World's Worst Children Three

David Walliams

The list of entertainers who have tried their hand at writing for children is really quite long –  but the number who have been successful is very short. Top of that list is David Walliams who has just released his third collection of stories about the World’s Worst Children! Within these pages we meet Bonnie … Continue reading Book of the Week, 9th June 2018

The list of entertainers who have tried their hand at writing for children is really quite long –  but the number who have been successful is very short. Top of that list is David Walliams who has just released his third collection of stories about the World’s Worst Children!

Within these pages we meet Bonnie Bossypants who bosses everyone around. She sends her father to his room for not finishing his peas and her mother for speaking without putting her hand up first. Pretty soon she’s bossing her teachers at school until ‘Wonder nanny’ arrives to sort her out.

There’s Fanny who loves to shock, appal and terrify people with the horrible faces she pulls. But when she scares the guards on sentry duty at Buckingham Palace it turns out to be a step too far.

Worst of the bunch is boastful Barnabus who goes to the poshest school in the country. Each time he boasts his head swells until something pricks his inflated self-importance – literally.

These laugh out loud tales reach a satisfying conclusion as each child gets their deserved comeuppance.  

HarperCollins Hardback, £14.99

Book of the Week, May 26th 2018

Factfulness

Hans Rosling

Factfulness

Hans Rosling

They say no news is good news.  But what that means, of course, is that the stories in our newspapers and TV bulletins tend mostly to be bad news. And in turn our view of the world is coloured by this tendency. This book analyses that negative influence on our world view – and it … Continue reading Book of the Week, May 26th 2018

They say no news is good news.  But what that means, of course, is that the stories in our newspapers and TV bulletins tend mostly to be bad news. And in turn our view of the world is coloured by this tendency.

This book analyses that negative influence on our world view – and it is a dramatic bias. In a survey people were asked a series of questions about such important issues as levels of child poverty, disease, deaths from natural disasters and many other important world trends. Most people believed the world to be in a much worse state than it really is. And the difference was so great that even journalists, scientists and politicians were less accurate in answering these questions than chimpanzees picking answers at random!

The bias runs through all the media. The unusual and dramatic always attract the most attention. One death from a bear attack in Sweden, for example, generates acres of news print while numerous deaths resulting from domestic violence are barely mentioned. When such distortions affect political decision-making and budgeting the result can affect every one of us.

This book is both a call to look more carefully at the world and manifesto for rationality and good sense in all walks of life.

Sceptre hardback, £12.99

Book of the Week, May 19th 2018

This is Going to Hurt

Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt

Adam Kay

After six gruelling years working as a junior doctor Adam Kay’s medical career ended abruptly after a particularly traumatic experience.  He had recorded his journey from House Officer through to Senior Registrar in dairies and, discovering a talent for writing and performing, he turned his experiences first into a stand-up musical comedy show and eventually … Continue reading Book of the Week, May 19th 2018

After six gruelling years working as a junior doctor Adam Kay’s medical career ended abruptly after a particularly traumatic experience.  He had recorded his journey from House Officer through to Senior Registrar in dairies and, discovering a talent for writing and performing, he turned his experiences first into a stand-up musical comedy show and eventually into this award-winning book.

It is by turns both shockingly funny and heart breaking as he describes the people and situations that are faced daily by junior doctors.  As his speciality he chose obstetrics and gynaecology, known in medical school as “brats and twats”.  And he has some hilarious stories to tell, some involving extremely unusual objects and his patient’s most private parts! But there is also the pain and loss when things don’t go to plan and the drama of emergency operations.

The book also documents the effect that working a 97-hour week can have on the lives of our young doctors; the stress, the cancelled holidays and the fractured relationships. Written as mass demonstrations against recent NHS ‘reforms’ were taking place he observes that in fact that the £3 an hour parking meter outside was actually earning more than he was!

Picador paperback, £8.99