Summertime! Time to grab a good book and jump on that sun lounger— learn something new, explore the world and imagine new ones.
June is officially the start of summer!
That means long evenings, picnics in the park and lazy sunny afternoons. My husband and I are spending a large part of the month surrounding ourselves with the golden fields of Tuscany. So I’ll certainly need a good book or two with me…
This is the perfect time of year to stock up on holiday reading material.
Here’s what I’ll be cracking into this month. Warning, it’s heavy on the non-fiction, but I tend to go through phases with this stuff:
Caroline Criado Perez’s new book Invisible Women is an eye opening account of how gender bias affects even the most minute details of our daily lives. Famous for her campaign to get a woman on the £10 note, Criado Perez has now turned her considerable energy to highlighting the lack of available data on women for use in medical studies, product prototyping and policy development. Ladies, ever wonder why your office is so cold?
I got this book as a birthday present, and can’t wait to get stuck in.
Private Lives, Public Spirit: Britain 1870–1914 by Jose Harris
I’ve had this book on the go for a while now. I came across it when I was doing some research for a book about my great-grandfather. He was a merchant sailor who travelled the world from 1897 until the late-1930s. I became fascinated with the early period of his life, up until the First World War, when we discovered a whole raft of diaries and letters he had written. Not only has it been incredible to delve into the family history, but also amazing to gain a deeper understanding of the rapid political, social, economic and technological change that shaped his life. The parallels between this period of British history, and its impact on our development as a country and society, and the world today are eery.
They say we should learn from history — and nothing feels so palpably relevant as this period of British history.
I’ve just finished working on a project for the African Development Bank, so have had my eyes firmly fixed on Africa’s challenges and progress. Through the years I’ve devoured a number of amazing books tracing the history of the continent and the impacts this has had on its present trajectory. Books like Wangari Matthai’s The Challenge for Africa or Martin Meredith’s The State of Africa.
I came across The Looting Machine in Stamford’s in Covent Garden and grabbed it quickly. The author, Tom Burgis, is an investigations correspondent for the Financial Times and has spent considerable time in the places he writes about. The book provides an insight into the tight web of business and political interests that conspire to control the vast wealth generated by Africa’s natural resources.
The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni
This is the first piece of fiction to have made it onto the list! I always try to read something relevant to the places I visit. So I was lucky enough to be given a copy of The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni by a friend as a wedding present. This book is credited with playing an important role in Italian unification and the standardisation of the Italian language. It is a story all students in Italy have to read and chronicles the adventures of Renzo and Lucia as they overcome obstacles to meet again and marry.
The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands edited by Huw Lewis Jones
Last but not least, this is a little bit of fun…I’ve been trying to spend more time writing over the past month and am intending to continue writing about the fabulous, weird and wonderful places I’ve visited. But every so often, even the most accomplished of writers needs just a little bit of inspiration.
This book contains beautifully crafted illustrations of the made-up worlds that have inspired generations of readers and writers. It includes contributions from Philip Pullman, David Mitchell and Joanne Harris, and explores some of the most famous made-up places like Treasure Island, Narnia and Asgard. A lovely bit of distraction!
Check out more of my recommendations on my Amazon shopfront here.
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