Category Archives: The BOOKS etc. Club

Our fantastic book club! we’ll be putting monthly book reviews on here from our wonderful reviewer Becky.

July Book of the Month Review

 

The world is messing with our minds. Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.

– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?

– How do we stay human in a technological world?

– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the twenty-first century.


Review
By Becky Hinshelwood

I don’t go in for self help books, on account of the little anarchist inside refusing to take instruction. However, technology use is a subject that I – and a huge swathe of others – could do with some guidance on. Matt Haig shares and articulates wonderfully a lot of my own anxieties about social media and smartphone development. And more specifically my, and others’, lack of discipline in utilising this technology.

I suppose the reason that this book is so appealing to someone who hates being offered help is that Matt Haig’s meandering, thoughtful prose is so contemplative. He’s not always churning out solutions and instructions. Indeed a lot of the book is spent detailing all the bad things, leaving me briefly feeling pretty hopeless about the future before the text drifts once more onto the good things, humanity and potential.

The structure of the book is, intentionally, digital-media-user-friendly. Matt calls it messy. Lots of headings, short chapters, short paragraphs, bullet points, lists. Partly, this adds to the humanity of the text. The words feel like they’ve come straight from the author’s head (and the book has probably gone through a thorough and lengthy editing process to appear this way!) but in the main it mirrors the form of online content. It’s easy to read and to digest. So there’s no excuse not to give it a go!

In a timely way, while I’m writing this my mother just sent me a WhatsApp containing the words “this too will pass”… I’d been moaning to her about my children moaning to me! This is the connective, supportive side of social media. They are words that encompass the sentiment of this book. Get too fixated on the likes, retweets and notifications and you’ll feel your blood pressure rise. Let it pass.

Matt Haig’s story hangs on his experiences with anxiety and depression and how social media and online connectivity have intersected with these experiences. The one is not directly blamed on the other but they ebb and flow, feed and recede. So in addition to thoughts on how to cope with life online, this book is a revealing exploration of anxiety. How it feels (for Matt anyway) and how it forms part of a life. Lots of lives, actually.

The anecdotes and flights of fancy that feature in this book do not come at the expense of advice and solutions – there are lists and lists of those. And like any lifestyle text, in the main they are actions that are very straightforward. You already know you should be doing it but you’re not. Matt Haig is also not, which is why I love him! He writes so warmly and honestly, sandwiching each list of ‘solutions’ with evidence that of course he fails in these commandments. Because he is human. Which is the key to it all I guess.

We are implored in this book to accept ourselves as human, as individuals. To see the humans behind the profile pictures, the humans behind the filters. Perhaps we’d see a drop in online nastiness if we could all do this. It’s not a solution to the world’s ills: there will always be bullies with or without the internet. But for those feeling a nagging sense of imbalance or who are seeking to have a more positive relationship with their technology, this is a great place to start.

If I could, I’d post a copy of Notes on a Nervous Planet to every member of a couple of local town Facebook groups who can be inclined to nastiness. However, both my finances and data protection laws stand in the way of this particular course of action. So I’ll have to hope that they all read the BOOKS etc blog instead…!

If Becky’s review has inspired you to read more, then you can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery. Published by Canongate

Take a look at our July Book club

 If you love books then why not join our popular Book Club. See new titles, enter brilliant giveaways and if you write a short review of a book of your choice you can win this amazing bundle.

How to submit your own book review:

  • Type the title of the book that you want to write a review on into the search bar
  • At the bottom of the page click on the submit review and login to enter

At the end of July, you will be entered into a grand prize draw to win the complete set of books. Go on give it a go! you might surprise yourself.

You can join Here: The BOOKS etc.Club


The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela
By Nelson Mandela
Edited by Sahm Venter
Foreword by Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela

Arrested in 1962 as South Africa’s apartheid regime intensified its brutal campaign against political opponents, forty-four-year-old lawyer and African National Congress activist Nelson Mandela had no idea that he would spend the next twenty-seven years in jail. During his 10,052 days of incarceration, Mandela wrote hundreds of letters to unyielding prison authorities, fellow activists, government officials, and most memorably, to his wife Winnie and his five children.

Now, 255 of these letters, the majority of which were previously unseen, provide the most intimate portrait of Mandela since Long Walk to Freedom. Painstakingly researched, authenticated and catalogued by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the letters have been drawn from the Foundation’s archive as well as from public and private collections held by the Mandela family and South African government archives.

Mandela’s letters are organised chronologically and divided by the four prisons in which he was incarcerated. Each section opens with a short introduction to provide a historical overview of each of these periods and the collection features a foreword by Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela. Whether writing about the death of his son Thembi after a request to attend the funeral was ignored, providing unwavering support to his also-imprisoned wife or outlining a human-rights philosophy that resonates today, The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela reveals the heroism of a man who refused to compromise his moral values in the face of extraordinary human punishment. Ultimately, they confirm Mandela’s position among the most inspiring historical figures of the twentieth century.

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery


Notes on a Nervous Planet
By Matt Haig

The world is messing with our minds. Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.

– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? – How do we stay human in a technological world? – How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious? After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.

Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the twenty-first century.

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery


The Curry Guy Easy
100 fuss-free British Indian Restaurant classics to make at home
By Dan Toombs

Dan Toombs, The Curry Guy, has perfected the art of British Indian Restaurant (BIR) cooking. In his highly anticipated new book, Curry Guy Easy, Dan shares the secrets of fuss-free curries, ones that can be made in half the time but still taste as good as the takeaway.

Dan has been besieged by requests for more curry house favourites, ones that can be cooked with very little equipment and faff, and without all the need for complex restaurant preparation. Here he shares long-awaited recipes for the likes of Chicken 65, Black Dhal, Aloo Chaat, Simple Dosas, Prawn Balti, Lamb Keema Saag, and many more. Whether it’s getting your curry cooked and on the table speedily, or doing minimal chopping and mixing before popping into a pan to simmer away happily, Dan’s dishes mean you spend less time on the washing-up and more on the enjoyment of eating.

For BIR food lovers all over the world, this is an essential guide to making their favourite recipes at home. Dan has spent years researching the methods and secrets of Indian chefs and here he distills that knowledge into a fabulous collection of 100 simple, delectable dishes.

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery


  Perfect English TownhouseBy Ros Byam Shaw

Continuing her exploration of English interiors, Ros Byam Shaw visits 14 distinctive townhouses full of charm, character and style. In Perfect English Townhouse, Ros Byam Shaw examines the timeless English style of decoration in a variety of Georgian, Victorian and contemporary townhouses. Architecturally, these tall, narrow properties present challenges.

How do you make the best of a basement kitchen with a low ceiling and limited light? Or allocate space when you live on five floors? And how do you maximize any precious outdoor space? Perfect English Townhouse features case studies of such homes, not only in London but also in the provincial towns and cities of England. Some feel like little pockets of countryside surrounded by pavements, others have a more sophisticated, metropolitan allure; some are endearingly eccentric, others more classical.

All the interiors featured are inspiring, and reflect the personalities of the people who inhabit them. These are the kinds of space that most of us are familiar with, and that many of us occupy. What is unusual is how cleverly and creatively these examples have been decorated and designed.

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery


It Takes One to Know One
By Isla Dewar

Charlie Gavin was abducted as a baby. He didn’t know who he was or where he came from. His mission was to find himself. And when he did, he decided to spend his life finding other lost souls by opening the Be Kindly Missing Persons Bureau. Martha Walters, his assistant, has had her fifteen minutes of almost fame and failed. Now, dealing with her guilt and pain, she lives with her mum and dotes on her young daughter. Charlie appears to be a man who is a loser and dreamer, but, hey, his office is near her house, she can lie in of a morning, take her kid to school and the work isn’t too heart-breaking. Or is it . . . ?

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery


British Airways
100 Years of Aviation Posters
By Paul Jarvis

This collection of 200 posters from the archives of British Airways provides a stunning visual history of air travel from the earliest days to the present. Airline posters often evoked the glamour of air travel at a time when it was a novelty and the height of sophistication. In more recent years the very best creative talents of marketeers and designers have been employed to produce some memorable modern artwork.

This richly illustrated collection is a must for anyone interested in aviation and anyone who appreciates design.

 You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery


Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris
Claris 1
By Megan Hess

This is the tale of an adorable mouse who dreams of moving to Paris to follow her fashion dreams. One day, she bravely takes the leap – only to find a mean little girl with a horrible-looking cat standing in the way of her perfect Parisian apartment! Can Claris use all her wit, warmth and of course style to make her dreams come true?

Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris is the first story book from international fashion illustration star, Megan Hess, and will delight fashion-obsessed readers of all ages!

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery


Lonely Planet Greek Islands
Travel Guide

Lonely Planet: The world’s leading travel guide publisher Lonely Planet Greek Islands is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Marvel at clifftop sunsets in Santorini; get lost in the twisting, cobbled alleyways of Rhodes’ Old Town; and indulge in Crete’s unique cuisine; all with your trusted travel companion.

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery

 


Jungle Sounds
Touchy-Feely Books
By Sam Taplin
Illustrated by Federica Iossa

Little children can press the buttons on the pages of this book to hear the wonderful sounds of a jungle, a hungry tiger roaring, tropical birds singing and a noisy orang-utan who isn’t yet ready for bed. The colourful pages show the jungle at night, the sun rising and more, with simple text, delightful illustrations and cut-out shapes to discover.

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery


Mowgli Street Food
Stories and recipes from the Mowgli Street Food restaurants
By Nisha Katona

In 2014, barrister Nisha Katona had a nagging obsession to build a restaurant serving the kind of food Indians eat at home and on the street. The first Mowgli restaurant opened in Liverpool in late 2014, blowing away the critics and forming legions of fans.

The simple dishes of a Mowgli menu are a million miles away from the curry stereotype. This unique collection of recipes and stories from the Mowgli Street Food restaurants brings you the best of their beloved menu, and much more. Try delicious snacks such as Fenugreek Kissed Fries or a Masala Wrap, and spice up your dinner with a whole host of delicious dahls. Discover how to recreate the iconic Angry Bird, the signature flavours of the House Lamb Curry, and of course, the secrets of the taste explosion that are Chat Bombs. And indulge in desserts, drinks and cocktails such as the Cardamom Custard Tart or a Sweet Delhi Diazepam.

From the Mowgli Chip Butty to the iconic Yogurt Chat Bombs, Mother Butter Chicken to Calcutta Tangled Greens, this is the definitive collection of Mowgli’s signature street food dishes to recreate at home.

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery


Abide With Me
By Elizabeth Strout

From the Man Booker Prize longlisted author of My Name is Lucy Barton Katherine is only five-years-old. Struck dumb with grief at her mother’s death, it is down to her father, the heartbroken minister Tyler Caskey, to bring his daughter out of silence she has observed in the wake of the family’s tragedy. But Tyler Caskey is barely surviving himself. His cold, church-assigned home is colder still since Lauren’s death, and he struggles to find the right words for his sermons; struggles to be a leader to his congregation when he himself is lost.

When Katherine’s schoolteacher calls to discuss his daughter’s anti-social behaviour, it sparks a chain of events that begins to tear down Tyler’s defences. The small-town rumour-mill has much to make of Katherine’s odd behaviour, and even more to say about Tyler’s relationship with his housekeeper, Connie Hatch. And in Tyler’s darkest hour, a startling discovery will test his congregation’s humanity – and his own will to endure the kinds of trials that sooner or later test us all. From the Orange Prize-shortlisted author of Amy & Isabelle, this is a startlingly beautiful novel about love and abandonment, faith and hypocrisy; and the peril of family secrets…

You can buy your copy HERE + free UK delivery