I’ve been reading a bit more non-fiction books across the book clubs in the last few months (to be fair, 2 of them were my suggestions!).
I think the given the state of the political world, I’ve been craving more adult discussions about difficult topics.
Don’t get me wrong, the people in my life are fantastic and informed conversationalists (particularly my book clubbers) but the national discourse around Brexit, immigration, the economy and so on has been woeful. And the tone has been so shrill and – frankly – bitchy that I’ve found I’m loath to attempt talking or indeed thinking about it.
These books allowed me to hear the perspectives of experts within their fields and I’m so glad to have read them!
(I will – eventually – try to write these up for LeedsBookClub so these are very miniature reviews).
This is going to hurt – Adam Kay
It’s difficult not to describe this as one of the funniest books I’ve ever picked up. Because it is indeed hilarious! I expressed no surprise whatsoever to discover that the author was an experienced comic. Because it’s hilarious.
The flow, the anecdotes picked, the pathos, the rhythm…they are all close to damn near perfect. I read this slowly, with a conscious and deliberate appreciation. I also became that ass that insists on reading excerpts out loud to whichever poor sucker was in the room with me. Like..
Right up to the slow realisation of how deliberate the destruction of the NHS is. How political it is. This funny, laugh out loud account then SUCKER-PUNCHES you in its final section. And it’s devastating.
I’ve asked some friends who work in obstetrics about the accuracy. Two (junior doctors) felt that Kay had fudged the hierarchy a bit but was spot on about the deteriorating condition of the NHS. If anything, they thought that he had left the field before it the cuts were really felt.
Excuse me, I’m just going to weep for a moment now.
Stories of the Law (and how it’s broken) – The Secret Barrister
So…this is a terrific book; but it left may of us at book club – including myself – so depressed about the state of the legal sphere across England and Wales and furious as to the evident funding gaps causing it. AGAIN!
That’s not entirely the books fault – though it pulls no punches with regards to how utterly deprived the courts have been – as we read this immediately after ‘This is going to hurt’. Literally the following month.
Though they cover different topics entirely; they both use humour, personal reflections and hard facts to portray a very bleak state. This book is by necessity more detailed and has to work harder to challenge misconceptions than Adam Kays – we all have bodies, but the vast majority of us only encounter the legal system via fiction or the newspaper (is it low hanging fruit to imply that newspapers legal reporting is more fiction than fact?) – but the writing managed to keep me intrigued, no matter how daft…I mean dense the legalese.
However, without any gap between them, we were all fuming before the conversation, livid during it and deflated by the end.
Which doesn’t sound like a recommendation, but I really did rate this very highly! If you’re interested in learning more about the law – do check it out!!
And follow @BarristerSecret because they are awesome.
Why we Sleep – Matthew Walker
This is a bit of a cheat as I’ve only just begun, but so far, I’m very impressed.
My whole life, I’ve deeply resented sleep – as a kid, I was always afraid of missing out and now I’m an adult – and fully aware nothing exciting is going to happen – I fight the impulse to sleep out of a pure, determined and daft obstinacy. And I’ve always felt more nocturnal than diurnal, which doesn’t help!
Turns out…sleep is suspected to be kinda vital…
I look forward to finding out more. For what should be a yawn of a topic (sorry), the author has found the perfect tone – wry, funny and informative.
(Though the book comes with a warning. Apparently, some people with disordered sleep have read this; become deeply stressed about the negative impacts of sleep deprivation and ended up in greater stress than they began!!! Aaargh)