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5 Books to Read Instead of Watching Eurovision 2024 🇵🇸

Friday 3 May 2024

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I love Eurovision - I normally watch it either with family or friends. But this year, like thousands (if not millions) of others, I will not be tuning in due to the hypocrisy of Eurovision refusing the ban Israel from participating despite their continued bombardment of and genocide in Gaza while rightfully banning Russia days after they invaded Ukraine. 

My friend Anna-Marie made a YouTube video discussing 5 books you could read instead of watching Eurovision, and as a booknerd myself this got me thinking about some other books that could be relevant. So, if you think you’re going to be bored while Eurovision is on and need some distraction for solidarity, here are 5 books I recommend that you could read instead. 

There is still time for Eurovision to boycott Israel. I have put together a resource list with information about how you can contact performers, country representatives, hosts, sponsors and show-organisers about the boycott, petitions and other campaigns such as Queers for Palestine who are taking action. You can access that here.

Palestine +100 edited by Basma Ghalayini

I read this book as part of Shado Mag’s book club and I’m so happy I joined this year. This is a short story collection written entirely by Palestinian writers imagining life in Palestine 100 years after the first Nakba, so 2048. These stories are all science fiction, and vary a huge amount - from alternate realities and different dimensions for different states to inhospitable environments and haunting noises. Palestine +100 ultimately asks, will Palestine ever truly be free?

Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y Davis

Angela Davis is one of my favourite writers and this is the first book that really made me understand the connection between Israel's apartheid regime and police oppression and brutality across the world. This is a collection of Angela Davis’ speeches, interviews, and essays from throughout the years all focusing on the theme of freedom and state violence - from the legacies of previous liberation struggles and movements to the ones we fight now and their interconnectedness.  

Border Nation by Leah Cowan

In Border Nation, Leah Cowan looks at borders – how we interact with them on a daily basis, how they impact our movements, how they are monetized through the prison industrial complex and the colonial history of their formation. This is mostly from a UK perspective, which I think is really valuable as often a lot of these conversations can be US-centric, making it seem like Britain is innocent when we really are not. This book expertly breaks down so many myths around immigration, borders and freedom of movement. A must read. Leah Cowan has a new book coming out soon called Why Would Feminists Trust the Police? and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy.

Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde’s work is unbeatable. This collection encompasses some of her poetry and essays, all of which are beautifully crafted. While this whole collection is valuable and should be read, I would like to highlight two essays in particular that I think are especially relevant to liberation in Palestine: Poetry is Not a Luxury and The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. Poetry is Not a Luxury looks at how art is essential for survival and now makes me think of the poetry of Gazans and Palestinians fighting for survival over the decades such as ‘If I Must Die’ by Refaat Alareer and ‘Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People Are Dying’ by Noor Hindi. 

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Okay, major trigger warnings for this book. Sexual assault, violence, racist violence, murder, slavery, suicide and suicidal ideations. It’s a lot. But this book is also one of the best I’ve read recently. Octavia Butler is a mastermind, her writing is just incredible. Another science fiction story, Kindred is set in the 1970s and focuses on Dana, a young black woman who gets pulled back in time to save the life of a white boy in 1815. Turns out this white boy is her ancestor. Kindred is a fascinating look at hierarchies, dehumanisation, power, freedom, struggle and joy, as well as how those unjust systems are maintained. The characters have such complicated relationships and it’s fascinating to see how those change. Octavia Butler is such an incredible writer.

If you liked this post you might like: My Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2023

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5 Great Introductory Books to Intersectional Feminism

Friday 29 March 2024

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Feminism is a big topic. There’s so much more to it than ‘women should be equal to men’. That’s simply because inequality and injustice manifests in a huge variety of different ways. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years reading, researching, and listening to feminists from all kinds of different backgrounds sharing what feminism means to them or what it should be. To make it easier for you to know where to start, I’ve picked out some of the books that have had the biggest impact on my feminist journey and that I think help you understand the key tenets of intersectional feminism. I would love to hear about more texts I may not have included and may not have read! Our feminist learning journey is never over.

Each of these texts should also be available as audiobooks. If you don’t know about it already, you can borrow audiobooks through your local library service (in the UK) using the app BorrowBox. Support your local libraries and learn more about feminism for free?! Pretty great. 

1. Feminism, Interrupted by Lola Olufemi

I have talked about this book so much already, but I will never shut up about it because frankly I need everyone to read it. When it was first published in 2020, a friend and I have a joke that we should be paid for doing publicity for Feminism, Interrupted as we were talking about it all the time. But there’s a reason for that. 
In Feminism, Interrupted Lola Olufemi expertly challenges the narratives of mainstream feminism and reveals how much these narratives are reliant on capitalism and white supremacy. Once you’ve read Feminism, Interrupted you can’t see the state the same ever again. This book is short – only 145 pages – but contains so much and is so easy to read. Lola does not use over-complicated or academic language, simply discussing a range of feminist issues in plain language. And she provides a brilliant resource list at the end to continue your learning too.  

2. Are Prisons Obsolete? By Angela Davis

Another short one, Are Prisons Obsolete? By Angela Davis may be slim but it is mighty. Published in 2003, some of its stats may be outdated but the principles and analysis still very much the same and are still astonishingly relevant. In this book, Angela Davis expertly breaks down the oppressive prison-industrial complex and how the prison system functions as an arm of white supremacy and patriarchy. Quite frankly all of Angela’s work could have been included on this list. She brilliantly connects so many issues together in all her work – from the prison system and police brutality to feminism and Palestinian liberation. I continue to learn so much from Angela Davis.  

The copy of Are Prisons Obsolete? I read was a library book. So here's a picture of another of Davis' books! I recommend them all. 

3.  Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks

I remember reading this while doing my A Levels, aged 17 or 18. bell hooks became a huge part of my early formation as a feminist, and I am ever thankful for her presence on this earth and her work. hooks sets forward a feminism that is accessible to all regardless of gender, sexuality or race – something that seems basic but is rarely a reality. She highlights that there is no love without justice and that both love and justice should be the founding principles of any kind of effective feminism. As feminism is for everybody, hooks is for everybody. 

4. “No Offence But…” by Gina Martin and others

The most recent [publication on this list. Gina Martin has been a powerful gender equality campaigner for years, and I know I have certainly seen her as someone who sets a great example as a campaigner who is willing to admit their mistakes, learn and grow.  Gina is best known for her campaign to criminalise upskirting – the act of secretly photographing underneath someone’s clothes without their permission. This campaign was successful, but Gina has since moved away from legal campaigns and focusing on cultural changes. 
In “No Offence But…” Gina tackles common sayings or rebukes to certain issues – such as “not all men”, “boys will be boys”, and “I don’t do politics” – and invites an incredible group of guest writers to look at other phrases such as “men aren’t doing anything to help feminism”, “I don’t see colour” and “we need fast fashion for poor people”. This book picks apart so many issues so brilliantly and equips us as readers to effectively challenge them in real life. 

5. The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye

Shon Faye’s The Transgender Issue is the fundamental text to understanding trans rights as they currently stand in the UK. It should be required reading. Attacks on trans rights is a crisis we as feminist should not ignore and should challenge those who attack trans people in the name of feminism or women’s ‘safety’. As a cis woman, I have never felt threatened by trans people. I have, however, felt threatened by those who attempt to define me by my reproductive capabilities or my biology (something feminist movements have previously fought against) and by male violence. None of these things have anything to do with trans people or their place in society. 
Shon Faye has done her research. She has so much evidence and so many horrifying stats that any reader cannot deny the danger trans people are placed under every day in the UK. This book makes me angry but it also makes me motivated. I hope it motivates you too. 


I have so many ideas for blog posts I would love to share with you and I hope to post more regularly in 2024. To help me have more time to spend on this blog, it would be amazing if you could buy me a cuppa or two to keep me going! It would mean the world to have your support and would also help keep my cat warm. 

If you liked this post you might like: Book Review: Burnt - Fighting for Climate Justice by Chris Saltmarsh

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Why We Can’t Have a Green Economy Without Well-Paid Bus Drivers

Friday 15 March 2024

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This article was first written in November 2023, commissioned by a publication to discuss the connection between the Go North East bus strike and a sustainable economy. In the end it wasn’t published due to the strike ending earlier than expected (which is a win!). Although the strike ended some issues resolved – including and importantly a backdated pay rise for bus drivers – there are still larger systemic issues existing. For this piece I went down to my local picket line and talked with some amazing workers. They were so open to discussion, sharing their experiences, hearing mine and sharing ideas for change. It’s those guys who know how to make transport work for everyone, not the people at the top.


All names have been changed for anonymity.

Workers in this image gave their permission to be photographed. They are not the workers quoted in this piece.



We all know the feeling of waiting on the side of the road in the freezing cold for a bus that should have turned up 20 minutes ago. Checking your watch, late for work, late to meet a friend. It would have been so much easier if we’d driven, got a lift, or even walked. But that’s not possible for so many of us. Maybe we can’t afford a car, can’t drive, or have disabilities that mean public transport is our only option.


Our public transport system - whether bus, rail, tube or local metro networks– is crumbling. You only have to look at the extortionate prices of train tickets, unreliable and cancelled services, and seemingly constant strikes to see that. This is not only damaging to the day-to-day lives of ordinary people, but is also a huge barrier to a truly sustainable economy.


From October to early December 2023, more than 1,300 bus drivers operating Go North East routes have been on indefinite strike over pay and working conditions. The strike has brought the North East to a standstill and prompted questions over the state of our public services and the treatment of the North East in comparison to other areas of the country. I live in Gateshead and work at a pub in the East End of Newcastle. Since I moved to Gateshead, I’ve been reliant on the buses getting me to and from work, often leaving much earlier than should be necessary to compensate for late or missing buses to make sure I get to work on time. During the strike, I cycled as much as I could, walked, or used the metro and taxis when that’s not possible. It was frustrating but is manageable. However, for many people further away from the city and in more rural areas, the lack of buses left them isolated.


If anything, the level of disruption caused by this strike proves how important bus drivers and other public transport workers are to our daily lives. During lockdown, bus drivers were classed as ‘key workers’ and now, according to Andrew, a striking driver, “many are reliant on food banks.” From being viewed as vital to our society, bus drivers have now come to be seen as dispensable. Thom Campion, councillor for Castle in Newcastle City Council and Transport Spokesperson for Newcastle Liberal Democrats, says that “almost a third of [his] ward is solely reliant on one Great North East service, [and the strike] has occupied a lot of [his] work as a local councillor.” He tells me that “residents in Newcastle Great Park only have one bus service and that was a Great North East service. [The strike] completely cut them off and has a huge impact.” However, Campion emphasises his support for the workers, highlighting how “public transport workers are the lifeblood of our network across both [Newcastle] and the country.” According to Campion, the immense disruption caused by this bus driver strike has led to residents having “a greater understanding of why the bus drivers are so important and why they should be supported.”


In order to achieve a truly green economy, we need a shift of focus from the individual to the collective. That means drastically reducing the number of cars on the road in favour of public transport that can carry large groups of people at a time. In other words, we need effective, reliable and cheap buses, trains, trams and metros. Simple, right? Barry, another striking bus driver, told me how, across the sector, the problems all come back to the same root cause: “It’s all the same, it’s all about the profit. We need a massive restructure of all public transport. It’s not just us, that’s why the train drivers are upset [too].” Chris, a colleague of Andrew and Barry, told me how the pursuit of profit has decimated bus services in the North East – “they have stripped all the meat from the bone.”


One of the reasons why Go North East bus drivers were striking was over pay. The striking drivers were paid £12.83 an hour, while bus drivers at Go North West are paid £15.53 an hour for the same job. Andrew said “it’s only a couple of pound here and there but a couple of pound on 40 hours a week is a substantial amount.” However, as much as the he would “like a decent pay rise”, for Andrew “money isn’t everything, it’s about the conditions” too. The end deal of the strike results in a rise to £14.27 per hour from January to July, rising to £14.84 from July and a 10.5% pay rise backdated from July 2023.


One of the most pressing issues bus drivers face is toilet breaks. Barry recalls that they “used to have a sitting time every time we got to a terminus, where you could get out and stretch your legs and [go to the toilet]” but these have been cut to reduce the time between bus stops, create a quicker service and increase profit. Additionally, to save money more bus stations have been closed or reduced and bus stops without facilities prioritised. This lack of ability to take toilet breaks is tougher on the increasing number of women drivers. The drivers I spoke to were all men, and said they “could nip behind the bus” to relieve themselves if they needed. This in itself is degrading and something they shouldn’t have to do. However, for people with periods and who can’t stand up to go to the toilet, even this option is not available – and it only gets worse if the workers are already disabled or have bowel issues. The drivers briefly suggested the lack of breaks or sitting time causes water infections and bowel problems.


After hours and hours on the road, with little breaks in the cold and often in the dark, bus drivers only have a minimum 8.5 hours between shifts, compared to the usual mandatory 11 hours. So, according to Cheis, “you could finish at midnight and be back in at 8:45am and that doesn’t include your travelling time.” If you live 30 minutes’ drive from the depot, you could have closer to 7.5 hours of so-called rest. In that time, you need to eat, sleep, check in with or take care of family and friends, do housework and allow for relaxation. As Chris put it: “I cannot go home, take my coat off and go to bed. I’ve got to unwind. There’s not time for that.” Sleep-deprived and burned out drivers ultimately leads to less safe journeys, at no fault of the drivers themselves. The combination of low pay and damaging working conditions has led to an exodus of bus drivers from the sector and meant difficulty recruiting. The shortage of drivers adds further to pressures with fewer buses on the roads.


Increased pressure is being added to drivers as the time between stops is being shortened and is taking a great mental toll on the drivers. This shortening of timetables means there is no time to wait for stragglers (remember that time the bus pulled away while you were running), there’s no time for regular safety checks of the bus, and there’s little time to assist disabled or elderly passengers, all because, as Andrew says, “there’s always the panic in [the driver’s] head of ‘I’m going to get wrong if I’m late, I don’t like to be late’.”


Time pressures also reduce the drivers’ capacity for another crucial part of their job: community care. Each of the drivers I spoke to had attended the funeral of a passenger. They share stories of regular passengers who use the buses “like clockwork” to go get a pint of milk from the shop. Bus drivers are sometimes the only other person that passenger might speak to that day. Drivers look out for school kids and young women making sure they get off safely. Drivers are the first port of call for those in danger or with medical issues. That’s “the other side of the job, the actual side of the job that we all do as drivers is looking after people,” Andrew tells me - “it’s never reflected by the hierarchy of the businesses cause all they want is the money. It’s more than just driving a bus.” A crucial part of bus drivers’ jobs is keeping us safe.


While some people may say that the strike is environmentally damaging by forcing more people to drive or use taxis (what about those of us who are cycling too?), however, strikes like these are necessary if we are going to achieve a sustainable public transport system in the long-term. People drive because there is no other option. Because buses are few and far between, because they don’t know when the buses will arrive. To make the sustainable economy we all know is desperately needed, we need more than just a few electric buses. We need, as Barry said, “a massive restructure of all public transport.” It’s striking bus drivers who are “trying to fight back by having people back on the [public] transport.”


If we had functioning public transport in all areas, including and especially in rural areas, cars could become obsolete. Bus drivers know this better than anyone else. “Even in Gateshead,” Chris shares, “if you live somewhere like Chopwell, where it’s pretty rural, there’s next to no bus services because it’s not bringing in profit.” Similarly, in places like Jarrow and Hebburn elsewhere in South Tyneside, there used to be “nine bus services [but] now has only got two because the heavy industry isn’t there [anymore] but people are still there. They close the shipyards down and build houses, surely [the residents] need to be travelling [to work]. It’s been a knock on effect from quite a few years.” As Andrew says, “if you want people to travel on public transport you need to have that link working properly.” These transport links in the North East have been taken away with the shutdown of the region’s heavy industry. The needs of the people left behind have been forgotten. These areas deprived of public transport also have high levels of poverty. For instance, in Jarrow 34.3 per cent of children are living in poverty. The reason rural communities are struggling as a result of the strike is not because of the bus drivers, but because private transport companies like Go North East don’t see them as profitable enough to bother with – as a consequence, communities are left isolated.


The drivers tell me how Go North East “under-estimates how much support the public have for [the strike]. Because they’ve realised we’re fed up with the way [the bus network’s] being run [too]. They know how bad it is when that bus doesn’t turn up, the reason the bus doesn’t turn up is because they can’t get drivers because they’re not paying a good enough wage to keep drivers.” Andrew believes that “the travelling public are on [their] side because they don’t want change. People don’t like change. They want a bus that comes every day at that [same] time.” Ben, 24 from Sunderland, echoes those sentiments. He says “most of the people [he’s] spoken to feel similarly in terms of siding with the drivers on this. We interact with them in our daily lives and can relate to them more than Go North East as a faceless company in charge. The frustration [of late and cancelled bus services] is definitely directed at the company.”


Ultimately, we need a public transport system that is sustainable for both our communities and our planet. Regular, reliable bus services that we can count on to get us safely where we need to go without requiring a car. A world with few cars, cheap and reliable buses driven by people who are well-rested, happy and are able to chat and even wait for you when you’re running late is not a fanciful dream. It’s a reality that is entirely within our reach. However, it’s only possible when workers have decent pay and working conditions. Without the worker, there is no public transport system at all.


This blog has been neglected somewhat while I completed my Master’s, but now I have so many ideas for blog posts I would love to share with you and I hope to post more regularly in 2024. To help me have more time to spend on this blog, it would be amazing if you could buy me a cuppa or two to keep me going! It would mean the world to have your support and would also help keep my cat warm. 

If you liked this post you might like: AD | Is Hemp a Sustainable Fabric?

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My Top 10 Non-Fiction Reads of 2023

Friday 19 January 2024

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A new year is upon us and you know what that means?! MORE BOOKS! Okay I should calm down. I’ve already shared my top 10 fiction books of 2023, and you can see what those were here. However, I also love a good non-fiction read. Whether that’s a book on climate justice, a personal story or memoir, or a deep dive into a particular topic, I love getting stuck in. Here are some of my favourites from this year! I’d love to know your recommendation too. 

An Extra Pair of Hands: A story of caring and everyday acts of love by Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse’s portrayal of care and love is deeply touching. My heart ached when I finished this book, it was beautiful. Mosse shares her experiences living with and caring for her parents and her mother-in-law in their elderly years and of losing both her mother and father. In some ways this is a sad book, and I did get teary every now and again, but wow it’s so full of hope and joy. I especially loved when Mosse discussed the close friendship between her mother and mother-in-law developed particularly after her father died, and of the companionship her and her mother-in-law found in each other in lockdown. It’s a truly gorgeous look at love and connection. But Mosse doesn’t view her experiences in isolation. The Covid-19 pandemic looms large in the background of this book, as it still does in many if not all of our lives. When looking at the concept of caring, Mosse highlights the systemic inequalities that face paid and unpaid carers in the UK, including working conditions and exposure to disease. 

“No Offence But…”: How to have difficult conversations for meaningful change by Gina Martin & co.

“No Offence But…” is one of the most useful books I’ve read this year. Gina Martin highlights the importance of individual conversations in social change and equips us as readers in how to undertake them in an impactful way. Each chapter begins with a problematic phrase such as “Boys Will Be Boys”, “To Play Devil’s Advocate”, “Men Aren’t Doing Anything to Help Feminism”, “I Don’t See Colour” and “It Was a Different Time”, which are subsequently unpicked and debunked it such as a way that you can never see them as valid ever again. Gina and her guest writers are incredible at doing this. In Martin’s chapters, she shares experiences from her own life, such as her first memory of experiencing misogyny as a child or a friend’s sexist behaviour. The situations described by Martin (and her guest contributors) are so every day and really share the frustrations of regular and normalized discrimination. However each chapter highlights the exact arguments that can be used to counter this kind of behaviour, certain key facts to remember and tips on how to challenge these situations. “No Offence But…” is a crucial read for anyone wanting to make the world a better place.


Strong Female Character by Fern Brady


This copy of Strong Female has gone through many different hands as it has been passed around a friendship group and beyond. Strong Female Character has many reviews saying that it’s incredibly funny and has been marketed in that way too, which makes sense as Brady is a well-known comedian. However, (and I know friends of mine who’ve also read the book agree with me) that is not the word I would use to describe this book. Of course there are moments of humour, but oh my god this book is heartbreaking and intense and stressful. There is so much trauma in this book I don’t think it’s really fair to call it funny. It is, though, a brilliant portrayal of undiagnosed neurodivergence, poverty, mental illness, addiction, and harmful relationships. It’s a lot and I would through a ton of trigger warnings in there. But it’s so incredibly raw and honest – perhaps one of the most open memoirs I’ve ever read.   


A Trans Man Walks Into a Gay Bar by Harry Nicholas

A Trans Man Walks Into a Gay Bar is a beautifully written story of self (and sexual) discovery. Harry Nicholas charts his experiences figuring out his gender and sexuality (or as he puts it ‘The Lesbian to Straight Man to Gay Man Timeline’), navigating Grindr and the gay dating scene as a trans man as well as figuring out the rest of life. Nicholas states at the beginning that this is not in any way a guidebook or ‘how-to’ of being trans or gay (not that there is any one way of being either those things anyway) but that he wanted his story to be out there as he had only seen memoirs or accounts of being either gay or trans, very rarely being both gay and trans. This book is intimate and tender, with Nicholas showing amazing vulnerability and openness. It shows the duality of the difficulties that come with being trans in a transphobic society and trans joy. I loved it. 


Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

As I’ve been trying to understand my own brain and mental illness, I’ve been trying to read more stories about OCD and people’s experiences with living with it. Bryony Gordon’s experiences with OCD are intense. It’s a lot. But it also felt like she was not holding back and was being very raw in bearing her all – the good, the bad and the ugly. I want to widen my perspective and read the experiences of other people with OCD and also those with other mental illnesses. A good and interesting read, but a lot. 


Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit

This is potentially my favourite non-fiction books of the year. It’s one of those books where I feel like I grunt with enthusiasm when I try to describe it rather than using my words. However, that’s not really helpful when I’m trying to describe it to you using the written word. But rest assured if I’ve already made some strange noises trying to figure out how to tell you how much I loved this book.


In a sentence, this book is a biography of George Orwell, centring on his relationship to nature. But it’s so much more than that.  Solnit uses Orwell as a springboard to discuss a whole range of topics including beauty, joy, aestheticism, workers’ rights, the rise to fascism, our connection to nature, Stalin’s lemons, colonialism, slavery and gender inequality. There’s so much in this book it feels like it spills from the pages. I read this as I was studying nature and power in Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier for my Master’s dissertation, and although she focusses on a completely different author, so much of Solnit’s writing here felt relevant. Orwell’s Roses heavily influenced my dissertation and brilliantly highlights the connection to human action, nature and systemic power structures. To say I adored it would be an understatement. 

Radical Intimacy by Sophie K. Rosa

This book was everywhere on my social media at the beginning of the year, and it looked fascinating so of course I crumbled to the inevitability of advertising. It was worth it though. Radical Intimacy looks at the relationship between capitalism and well, our relationships, of all kinds, our physical and mental health and our outlook on social connections. I have made notes, underlines and scribbles all over this book, which is always a good sign. Sophie K. Rosa covers all sorts of relationships in this book - from friendships, romantic and sexual relationships, family, and even our relationships with strangers, all of our interactions are impacted by capitalist ideology, which separates and isolates us from each other. Rosa breaks this down brilliantly. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.


Tell Me the Truth About Love: 13 Tales from the Therapist’s Couch by Susanna Abse

I love books about love, relationships and human connection. I also love books that analyse the way our brains work and how we think. Tell Me the Truth About Love is a combination of all of those things. Abse’s laid back writing style draws you in and the compelling stories keep you there. Each chapter plays on a fairy tale and shares a different story of a couple Abse has worked with (with names changed and other identifying characteristics removed). Let’s admit it, it’s entertaining reading about other people’s struggles, but it’s also fascinating delving into understanding behaviour.  


Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is a theme on this list. I absolutely adore her work. It really resonates with me and gets my mind whirring. 


Hope in the Dark should be mandatory reading for anyone involved with climate activism, anyone who deals with eco-anxiety or climate doomism – basically anyone who is worried about the climate crisis and wants to make the world better. So much of this book also applies to so many other social justice movements too – basically anywhere that we need hope. Solnit characterises hope not as a passive feeling that happens to us but an active one which needs effort and action to sustain it. This book helped me feel so much better about the world, about climate activism and really informs a lot of what I do. Where there is no action, there is no hope. 


Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing by Clayton Thomas-Müller

I read Life in the City of Dirty Water at the beginning of the year as part of Shado Mag’s Book Club. Thomas-Müller came to speak to us as part of our book club and it was amazing to hear him speak. His words and his story is beautiful and touching and I’m so grateful that he took the time to speak to us.


A Life in the City of Dirty Water is Clayton’s memoir, following him throughout his childhood in Winnpeg and the systemic discrimination facing indigenous people in the land colonially known as Canada. At times, this book is difficult to read as we look back at Clayton’s experiences. He covers incidents of sexual assault and rape, domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, drug use, gang violence, suicide and suicidal ideation and environmental racism. Heavy as the subject matter might be, it is also profound and raw, yet inspirational and comforting. It is a warning against burnout and hustle culture as is so prevalent in activist spaces. It is a lesson that we are all part of one ecosystem. It is a reminder to reconnect to the earth, to ourselves, and our heritage, in whatever that may mean to us. It is also reminder that if we are fuelled purely by anger we will burn up ourselves and those around us - that when hatred drives your work, you eventually turn into the thing you’re fighting against. 


This blog has been neglected somewhat while I completed my Master’s, but now I have so many ideas for blog posts I would love to share with you and I hope to post more regularly in 2024. To help me have more time to spend on this blog, it would be amazing if you could buy me a cuppa or two to keep me going! It would mean the world to have your support and would also help keep my cat warm. 


See you soon,


If you liked this post you might like: My Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2022

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My Top 10 Fiction Books of 2023

Friday 12 January 2024

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Happy 2024! I’m so excited about what this year could bring. It’s my first full year outside of education, having finished my Master’s back in September, and I’m just now fully getting into the swing of reading whatever I want to for fun. Despite completing my dissertation last year, I still managed to have some good non-uni-related reads (although several books I mention here are uni-related, but I really loved them otherwise they wouldn’t be included). I also ended up revisiting a lot of old favourites, particularly in the second half of the year. I decided not to include these in my top reads of this year, just to include books that were new to me. Some of these books have also appeared on previous editions of these lists before and kind of thought it was unfair to include established faves amongst new ones. 


I reread all of The Hunger Games series and rewatched the films about a week during the summer and fully returned to my 13/14-year-old obsessive state. This series never gets old and still has so much for us today. Seeing parallels between the Capitol and Israel at the moment has been chilling. 


I also reread The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein whilst I was ill with Covid, and just before Christmas, Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern (also known as Where Rainbows End). All of these books are so comforting to me – the characters just feel like coming home. Something I want to prioritise when it comes to reading this year is fun and ease. I don’t need to be reading hard-hitting serious things all the time. I want silly and fluffy love stories in with discussions about justice and power. I’ve already read 2 books this year and I’m just so excited about stories again.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie


An Agatha Christie classic. I have seen the most recent film adaption of this book several times and I love it. The story is so intriguing and complicated. There’s so much about human desires, connections and power in there. Ugh I love it. I got so into this book. I read it while I was in Sweden in October and ended up reading most of it whilst I had an evening to myself. I love it when I completely get fully absorbed in a story. 


Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson


God this book healed my heart and then broke it again. This novel focuses on the romantic relationship between two young Black British people in South East London trying to make their way in creative industries. I won’t say anymore otherwise I will discuss the whole plot. It is gorgeous and raw. I don’t really know how else to describe it to be quite honest with you, but wow Caleb Azumah Nelson is just such a brilliant writer. I know he’s written a few other things as well and I would love to read more of his work.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell


Hamnet made me baby cry. It follows the story of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne, and his children. It is, afterall, named after his only son. I love any book that flips perspective to lift up the voices of the most marginalised in history and Maggie O’Farrell did this beautifully. A loving tale of family, care, isolation and grief. 


Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler


Parable of the Sower is THE climate novel. I’d been meaning to read it for ages but had got prompted to do so by studying ecocriticism at uni. I really enjoyed it and think it feels like a much more contemporary novel than it is, having been published in 1993. A post-apocalyptic world (starting in 2024, lol), we follow Lauren, a 16-year-old girl, as she navigates family, religion, and survival in a world and society that is crumbling into chaos.


I’d also add trigger warnings for sexual assault and murder. 


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins


As self-proclaimed Hunger Games girlie, I was very nervous about reading the prequel in case it didn’t live up to the original trilogy. However, after my re-read of the series I decided it was time to finally give President Snow’s story a crack. And I did really enjoy it. I loved the way she built up and hinted at how different elements of the society had progressed and become more extreme. I also thought the characters were really interesting too. Don’t get me wrong though, I do still prefer the originals. 


Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier


I spent a lot of time with Rebecca this year, mostly due to the fact I wrote about it for my dissertation. The title of my dissertation was “For Manderley was ours no longer”: power, control and the natural world in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca” and I absolutely loved working on it. Despite spending around nine months of the year with this book, I still love it. There’s so much nuance, the characters are so interesting, and the world descriptions for fascinating. It’s a tale of intrigue, murder, deception, patriarchy, class and power struggles.

Weyward by Emilia Hart


Weyward was actually the first book I read last year, and I started the year off very well indeed. The story follows three women across three different time periods: 1619, 1942 and 2019. However, each of these women has some connection to nature they can’t quite explain. Emilia Hart completely sucked me in and made me feel involved in these women’s experiences. It’s a powerful story of female solidarity, women’s power, connecting to nature and our history. 


There are however several trigger warnings I would bear in mind before you read. These are for domestic violence and abuse, sexual assault, pregnancy loss and suicidal ideation. 


Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence 


Lady Chatterly’s Lover is known as a smutty book, as controversial and as, well, post-WW1 porn. I didn’t exactly think it was the smut-fest history and popular culture has made it out to be. It does however have a fair bit of problematic language and that can’t be excused. There’s a lot that I think is still so valuable about this this book however, particularly by looking at this novel as climate fiction. In fact, there’s more discussion and depiction of nature than there is of sex. I very nearly wrote about this book while at uni but didn’t end up doing so. There’s so much to say about capitalism, class, gender and the environment in this book. I think it’s fascinating. 


The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie 


Another Agatha Christie! Her books are so easy to read and plots so gripping. I read The Body in the Library very quickly. I was absorbed and didn’t figure out whodunit. I just enjoy a good Christie murder story. This is probably lower down on my faves rankings, closer to 10 to be honest. It didn't blow my mind or make me feel incredible things but it was fun and engaging.


Variations by Juliet Jacques


In this beautiful collection of short stories, Juliet Jacques tells stories of trans people in Britain throughout history. I nearly went to put this book in my non-fiction faves post but remembered partway through that it’s actually fiction. The characters feel so real, I guess because they’re based on real people and are supposed to portray real experiences. Each story uses a different form, such as blog posts, diary entry, film script, and is set in different areas of the UK in different time periods. Each is brilliant and I love Jacques’ way of writing. She is so skilled. If you want brilliant well-written stories to dip into, Variations is for you. 


I am so excited about reading more novels this year. I’d love to hear your recommendations and your favourite reads of 2023!


This blog has been neglected somewhat while I completed my Master’s, but now I have so many ideas for blog posts I would love to share with you and I hope to post more regularly in 2024. To help me have more time to spend on this blog, it would be amazing if you could buy me a cuppa or two to keep me going! It would mean the world to have your support and would also help keep my cat warm. 


See you soon and Happy New Year!


If you liked this post you might like: Me at 23

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