Thursday, 14 June 2018

Readabilitea's Essential Reads: Nonfiction

Now that I work in the nonfiction hub of a bookshop, the quantity and type of nonfiction I read has been more on my mind than usual. As well as compiling lists of nonfiction I want to read in the future, I’ve been thinking of staple nonfiction reads that I would happily recommend to anyone and everyone. Whatever your particular interests, I think these are books that you can gain a lot from, and they might even lead you down a new path of thought that would have otherwise been ignored.

Everyday Sexism - Laura Bates

I don’t think I had realised the true scale of sexism until I read this book. Made up of actual encounters of sexism tweeted by people, it really does show how pervasive an issue it is and how it’s a problem that doesn’t just come in one form, for example catcalling, but rather is more complex, more ingrained into society than you might expect. It’s broken down into sensible chapters and is also equipped with vital statistics to arm yourself with. If you’re looking for a book to get you into gender studies/feminism, this is the perfect gateway.

The Establishment - Owen Jones

I only finished The Establishment very recently but it quickly shot up on this list because of its depth, accessibility, and utterly shocking nature. I always knew something was up with the British government, but hadn’t quite realised just how much was going on behind the scenes that is, to put it plainly, incredibly corrupt. Whilst this is a book that is getting increasingly outdated due to changing governments and various scandals and current issues, the thing spurring it along, i.e. the Establishment, sadly still exists so the ideas and arguments continue to be relevant.

Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt

Even though I studied German history at school and went on to study for a degree in German, the true extent of the Holocaust was never something I had come across. Until, that is, a final year project led me down the route of Hannah Arendt. This book is a harrowing analysis of both the mechanisms of the Holocaust and a more philosophical approach to the concept of evil, through Eichmann. It is an uncomfortable read (as it should be) but it is also enlightening and incredibly thought-provoking. I also highly recommend the film The Eichmann Show to go alongside it.

When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air is that rare kind of book which I feel I can recommend to anyone, be they light or heavy readers, nonfiction lovers or avid fantasy fans, because I truly believe there is something for everyone in it. It is utterly enthralling: the way Kalanithi draws on the arts, philosophy, and science to present his ruminations on life and death is compulsive and his writing is gorgeous. He could well have been a very successful author in his life had he not pursued medicine. Do be warned though: tissues are required.

Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari

This is another book I find myself recommending to all manner of people when I’m at work and customers are searching for a nonfiction read because I think it is the best kind of nonfiction: it’s accessible, informative, and it makes you go away and really think about the world and how you fit in it. The follow-up, Homo Deus, is also a good read.

Which nonfiction books do you think are essential reads? What kind of nonfiction do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy reading,

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Book Review: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Title: Our Kind of Cruelty

Author: Araminta Hall

Pages: 368 pages

Publication: 3rd May 2018 by Century

1 line synopsis: Mike and Verity’s game of obsessive love gets out of hand and ends in murder.

*Thank you to Century for providing me with a proof copy in exchange for an honest review*

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Publishing Masters: Semester 2 Reflection

And just like that, my Masters is over (aside from my dissertation which I’m deliberately not mentioning). Can you believe that? Can you believe that I now have to be a fully-functioning adult? Help!

Friday, 6 April 2018

Why I Organise My Bookshelves by Publisher (and why you should give it a go too)

There are many ways to organise your bookshelves: A-Z by author, colour-coded for those #shelfiesunday ‘grams, separated by genre or just plonked on the shelves. At some point in my life, my shelves have been organised in all of these ways, but I’ve never been happy with them. Until now.

After watching a video on Leena Norms’ YouTube channel, I decided to take the rogue option of organising my bookshelves by publisher, and I haven’t looked back since. For me, it is the best way to sort my books and I’m here to tell you why you should give it go a too.

It helps you align your tastes with certain publishers

As an aspiring member of the publishing industry, it is really helpful to have a knowledge of different publishing imprints and what kind of stuff they publish. As a reader, it is very helpful to know who is publishing the kind of books I like to read. Looking at my shelves in my publisher-oriented organisational method, I can tell you that I like the crime fiction that comes out of Avon (HarperCollins) and when I look for my recent favourite books, I see Faber & Faber is the home of Lullaby and Conversations with Friends.

Not only is this method incredibly helpful if you’re applying for publishing jobs at specific publishers and you want to find something you have in common with them, but it can also give you guidance when finding your next enjoyable read. I have a number of Picador titles unread on my shelves, but with the recent successes of The Miniaturist and The Muse, I’m a bit more likely to head towards the other titles next to them.

It makes you realise who you’re giving money to

The Big Publishers in the UK are Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Pan Macmillan, but each of these is home to a host of imprints with individual identities and unique lists. By getting to grips with the imprints of each big publisher and organising my shelf in such a way I can see who I’m buying the majority of books from, I have come to realise how much of an imbalance there is between the money I’m giving to conglomerates compared to the money I’m supporting smaller/indie presses with.

Something ridiculous like 1 in 4 books bought in the UK is published by Penguin Random House, which is HUGE, and it definitely plays out on my shelves because I had to dedicate an entire bookcase to books published by PRH imprints. Now, the majority of these are classics in beautiful editions like the Penguin English Library collection of the new Penguin Modern, but even so, the amount of money I’ve spent on (sometimes mediocre) PRH titles is astonishing. By rearranging my shelves and seeing where my spending lies, I’ve been inspired to hunt for books by smaller publishers and put my money where my mouth is when it comes to diversity.

It’s fun to re-organise your bookshelves!

I don’t know about you when but when I get used to my bookshelf layout, I forget to actually look at what’s on my shelves. When you have to take all of them down and put them up in a new order, you often re-discover books that you had forgotten about. Additionally, giving them a new place on the bookshelf might inspire you to read them sooner. In the end, re-organising bookshelves is just a fun activity for a rainy day and you can learn a lot of things about yourself and your reading habits from doing so.

So as part of your spring cleaning, I highly suggest you have a go at rearranging your bookshelves by publisher, even if you don't keep them that way. You can learn a lot about the publishing industry, your reading tastes, and your spending habits just by looking at the books you already own with a closer eye.

How do you arrange your bookshelves? Let me know if you decide to give this method a go!
Happy reading,

Monday, 2 April 2018

Book Review: Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

Title: Conversations With Friends

Author: Sally Rooney

Pages: 321

Publication: 25th May 2017 by Faber and Faber

1 line synopsis: Frances, a 21 year old writer, gets entangled with an older married couple along with her best friend/ex-girlfriend

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Book Review: When I Hit You, Or A Portrait of a Writer as a Young Wife

Title: When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as Young Wife

Author: Meena Kandasamy

Pages: 256

Publication: 4th May 2017 by Atlantic Books

1 line synopsis: a brutal look at domestic abuse within a marriage

TW: domestic abuse, rape

Monday, 12 March 2018

Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist 2018: Thoughts, Feelings, Plans of Action

I love the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Every year, I find books I would never have even heard of had it not been for the prize, and I tend to find some of my new favourite reads. Last year was the first year I properly followed the prize from beginning to end, even going to the Bailey’s Book Bar events with my friends at Waterstones TCR. This year, I’m avidly following along once again.

In case you don’t already know, the longlist is as follows:

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward