January 2022 | Monthly Wrap Up

Monday 31 January 2022

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January, you were overall quite a good way to kickstart 2022. 

Favourite part?

I spent the first few days of 2022 in isolation with Covid. I was eventually able to get out and travel back home after seeing my family over Christmas. It was nice to be outside again but also just very weird being around people. I got very paranoid I was going to infect people even though I wasn’t infectious anymore. 


Quite quickly I had to start cracking on deadlines which were looming. I feel like I’m getting into more of a swing with my masters with a routine and habits, and I’m certainly getting more comfortable with what I’m doing and settling in for the next (nearly) 2 years I have left. 


I may have had a slight resurgence in my book-buying addiction recently, mostly because I’ve been getting excited at the prospect of reading more novels just for the fun of it. It doesn’t help when there have been lots of sales on by publishers of radical non-fiction books I want to read anyway. Book buying and book reading are two completely different hobbies…


Half way through January I was part of a Green New Deal Rising action challenging her championing of the Policing Bill that is currently in its final stages in Parliament. I spoke to her directly and many others flooded the Zoom chat with challenges and held up Kill the Bill signs. It all feels a bit like a fever dream now. And seeing a video with my voice so prominently shared by thousands of people, including big name groups and individuals, felt a bit surreal. I felt like some of the pressure or credit for the action was on me when I did very very little for the actual action itself, I just turned up and said some words then left and drank half a bottle of prosecco while jumping up and down in my kitchen. If there’s one thing I was wish people knew more about actions and political organising, it would be that there is so much that goes in to one action, even if it looks like a couple of people just doing one thing one day and filming it. Yes, people do turn up. But there’s also many planning meeting, admin to make sure it runs smoothly, role assigning, filmers, writing out what’s going to be said, finding opportunities for actions, editing the film, captioning… There are so many roles and so many people involved with every single action. That’s what creates a movement and impact: people showing up and doing something. If you haven’t already, watch and share the video (it’s incredibly well edited) and learn about how you can get involved with GNDR here


I’ve loved being able to spend more time with friends. It feels hard trying to see each other now that everyone is on different schedules and in different parts of the country, so I value seeing them more now when I do. Whether that’s going for coffee or lunch, or walks around a park, or having a games night, it makes me so happy to see them. 


I spent a great weekend celebrating some friends’ engagement. It was great for us all to be reunited and to just have fun dancing together. 

Best read?

I’ve been getting back into reading fiction for fun recently, and I am loving it. Let’s hope I am able to continue this for the rest of the year! I first read A Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer on my train back home after Christmas and in my first few days back before I started working again. 


I then read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins-Reid in about 24 hours and absolutely loved it. My favourite book of the month (if not favourite fiction book for a lot longer than that). I was a little bit skeptical because of the amount of hype around this book but honestly it’s worth it. I couldn’t put it down. It’s so gripping and the characters are brilliant. And I was not expecting the final twist. Read it. 


I then read Sabotage by Emma Gannon (mostly while I was in the hairdressers having my hair re-dyed). It’s one I need to re-read because I’m not sure I fully took in everything she was saying, but it definitely had a lot I need to hear about in.


I also read Esio Trot by Roald Dahl and Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan. I read those for my tutoring, but honestly I actually found it quite fun re-reading some nostalgic favourites. I also finished reading How to Be an Anti-Capitalist in the 21st Century by Erik Olin Wright after having started it in December. 


I finished reading Lovers and Writers by Lily King yesterday evening. I heard good things about this book but it’s been a bit of a slow-burner for me. It picked up a bit more after about 100 pages and became faster paced at the end. I think there's a lot you could say about the pacing of the novel linking with the main character's state of mind, but in general I thought it was okay but nothing incredible. 

Favourite listen?

I had a great time listening to Emily Stochl and Venetia La Manna’s discussion on Pre-Loved podcast. It was interesting and a joy to listen to!

Favourite watch?

When I got back up to Newcastle, I rewatched The People v OJ Simpson and Black and British. I have now seen Black and British several times and it always makes me feel emotional. 


I also stumbled upon the series Black is the New Black from a few years ago, and spent an afternoon watching that.


I finally watched Cruella, which I enjoyed a lot more than I was expecting to. I mean, if something has Emma Thompson of course I’ll enjoy it. 


I then watched Afterlife (and had the occasional cry at it), bits of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and a full rewatch of Bridgerton in preparation for the new series. 


I’ve been watching more book related videos on YouTube and TikTok too, but still watching mostly my usual faves Jack Edwards and Leena Norms.

Image source

What did I learn?

It’s not a great idea to have cards that make up most of my life in one bus-pass holder. And it’s also not a good idea to leave that bus-pass holder on the bus, and especially not on a Friday afternoon. 

What’s happening next month?

Getting my next essay in then relaxing! Taking a well-deserved break. 

What’s been on my mind?

Essays, resting after having Covid.

Favourite post?

I think 10 Best Non-Fiction Books I Read in 2021. I read some incredible non-fiction books last year and it was fun to look back at those books as well as to think about the books I’m going to read this year. 

Biggest inspiration?

Honestly, enjoying what I’m doing. I’m loving what I’m studying, I’m loving what I’m writing, I’m loving the organising work I’m part of, and the prospect of being able to spend more time doing those things. 

Any other favourites?


Having downloaded it while in isolation over Christmas, I am now slightly obsessed with TikTok. It’s becoming a problem. My For You page is now 90% Taylor Swift and cat videos, sometimes both at the same time. 

If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa

If you liked this post you might like: December 2021 | Monthly Wrap Up

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5 Best Fiction Books I Read in 2021

Friday 21 January 2022

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 While my Storygraph has confirmed that I read more non-fiction in 2021, I still read some cracking fiction books too! Most of those were for my degree (particularly for the end of my undergrad), but most of the books I’ve included here aren’t ones I studied (although one is!). I would love to read some more fiction in 2022 (aside from the 1920s detective fiction and Victorian sensation fiction I’ll be reading for my university research), so if you have any novels you think I would like please recommend them in the comments! 

1. Home Stretch by Graham Norton

This is the first fiction book I read in 2021 and it set the bar high. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Graham Norton’s fiction but I heard lots of high praise for this book and asked for it for Christmas and I could not put it down. I will definitely be reading more by Graham Norton in the future!


This novel centres around a car crash that happens on the eve of the wedding of two people involved. It then follows those affected 20 years after the accident and truths unfurl. I got through Home Stretch so quickly and could neither wait to see what happened next or guess what was going to happen next. It is written with so much love and I would highly recommend it!

2. Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Ugh, I love this book so much. It’s my favourite of all the books I read in my undergraduate degree – I know, big claim for an English Lit and Politics student but what can I say – and it’s basically the reason I’m doing the research Master’s I’m doing. 


The story is a kind of murder mystery/detective story, following Robert Audley as he reunites with his old friend George then tries to track him down once he goes missing, with revelations coming out as he carries out his investigation. It didn’t feel like I was studying reading this book and honestly couldn’t put it down. Some of the ‘secrets’ weren’t really a surprise to me but I was still gripped the whole way through. There’s a whole lot you can say about prisons and gender in this book and I just love it. 

3. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett is great at worldbuilding, and brings colourism to the extreme in a town that has deliberately bred itself so that while Black in their heritage, its inhabitants can are so pale they can ‘pass’ as white outside of the town. The Vanishing Half follows the stories of twins Desiree and Stella as they run away from their home town to New Orleans as teenagers, and then as their lives diverge and they become wives and mothers but nevertheless estranged sisters and daughters. It is beautifully written, heartbreaking at times, funny at times, with characters who seem real. Bennett touches on so many issues such as colourism, classism, access to trans healthcare, hate crimes, and domestic abuse.


This book has been hyped up so much and it is definitely deserved. I Would highly recommend and can’t wait to see what Brit Bennet writes next! 

4. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Kawaguchi uses a simple concept (limited time travel no less) to expand on the different characters who use or work in a small family-run coffee shop. The result is honestly gorgeous. This book is absolutely beautiful. It is so simple and so heartbreaking and all of the characters are so gorgeously human and felt so real. It’s short and easy to read, so won’t take long, and it could actually be treated almost like a collection of short stories, just all set in the same place. I’ve not read much Japanese fiction before, but after reading this I certainly want to explore the work of Kawaguchi and other Japanese writers more. I highly, highly recommend if you want something wholesome yet heartbreaking – in a good way!

5. Olive by Emma Gannon

I was addicted to this book. If I hadn’t had to sleep and work I would probably have read it in one sitting. Instead, it took me 2 days but I was glued to it whenever I had a spare minute (my flatmates can attest to this). I think Olive is my favourite fiction book of the year. Yep, you heard that right. I may have been slightly late to the game, but honestly Olive is SO good. 


Olive follows a group of friends as they leave their university shared house and grow through their 20s and 30s, focusing on a period in their early twenties where families and children are taking centre stage. It is told from the point of view of Olive (you may have guessed from the title) and her struggles around not wanting children in a friendship group where that seems the only topic of conversation. All of the characters are s beautifully written and I absolutely loved listening in on Olive’s thoughts. I have so many friends I want to specifically recommend this book to so if you’re my pal IRL don’t be surprised if you get this as a present from me at some point!   


What were your favourite novels of 2021?

If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa

If you liked this post you might like: 10 Best Non-Fiction Books I Read in 2021

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10 Best Non-Fiction Books I Read in 2021

Friday 7 January 2022

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2021 for me was definitely the year of incredible non-fiction books. Don’t get me wrong, I read some great fiction too, but it was so so hard trying to decide which titles to include in my top 10 non-fiction this year. I could probably have made a top 20 but who has the time for that. Instead, I thought I’d include my top 10 plus an honourable mentions section – because we all need more incredible books in our lives. All of these are, in my opinion, must reads, just to save me from repeating that over and over again as I discuss each book. 

1. Are Prisons Obsolete? By Angela Davis

I’ve read (and listened to) a fair bit by Angela Davis this year and will be making my way through more of her works in 2022 too I’m sure. 
If you’re unsure on why prisons (or the police for that matter) are a bad things or kind of get why but couldn’t really articulate it to someone else, this book will help you understand it. Are Prisons Obsolete? breaks down a complex and daunting topic and makes it actually okay to understand. That’s what I love about Angela Davis: that although she is an academic, her writing is accessible and understandable, rather than deliberately vague and elitist in language. She looks at who is most affected by the prison system, the origins of the prison industrial complex, what the prison industrial complex is, how it intersects with other justice issues, how it is upheld culturally and economically globally. A game-changing read. 

2. Consumed by Aja Barber 

Consumed is the book I was most excited to get this year. And I was not disappointed. Aja has created an incredible and comprehensive guide to consumption’s climate impact and its colonial roots.
There is so much of value in Consumed, from both Aja and the many experts she brings in to comment on the topics the book covers. Some topics are particularly pertinent and need to be discussed, such as the issue of the words ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ and who constitutes each especially in the Global North. Aja focuses on fashion and clothes consumption here but also expands to look at the macro picture of climate justice and how capitalism and colonialism combine forces to create the climate crisis. This would make such a great present for anyone who wants to learn more about sustainability!

3. We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer

Ugh this book gave me a crisis about the climate crisis. I might have read it too quickly and made that panic and anxiety worse by doing so, but it is quite an addictive read (and I literally had nothing else to do as I was on holiday visiting my grandparents and isolating having been pinged at the time. All I did was read books in the sun, it was great). Be prepared to be slightly overwhelmed with lots of climate facts being thrown at you by this book, especially in the middle. It is intense, I won’t lie to you. But it does get sandwiched between deeply personal narratives that show what is really at the heart of climate justice – personal stories and caring. If I met Jonathan Safran Foer in person we might have a debate about effective solutions (he focuses on just one quite a lot in this book and think that one solution is part of a coalition of many strategies), this book is certainly motivating.

4. Make Bosses Pay: Why We Need Unions by Eve Livingston

Part of the ever-incredible Outspoken series but Pluto Press, this book taught me so much about how unions have been attacked and disempowered in the past century and how they are fighting back in a work environment of increasing casualization and gig-work. She also goes into detail on how union issues intersecting with all other liberation/justice movements that are so urgent right now. Gender, racial, migrant and climate justice are all workers’ issues and workers’ justice is a gender, racial, migrant, and climate issue. They cannot be separated and is one fight - all injustices are so deeply linked.  
It left me feeling so fired up and energised in the fight for workers’ rights, as well as better equipped to take a stand against that disempowerment through understanding of its history. 

5. We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba

This book is a fascinating unpicking of our society’s relationship with money and how that intertwines with other justice issues such as patriarchy and white supremacy. Part memoir, part essay collection, Otegha reflects on her experiences of money growing up attending private school and Oxford as a young Black woman living in a council house, as well as looking back on her early experiences in the workplace before her self-employment. We Need to Talk About Money includes insightful commentary on the Girlboss (and its roots in upper/middle class white supremacy), the commodification of feminism, how we internalise capitalism, and the beauty tax. 

6. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

This collection of essays is an iconic, if not legendary, work of Black feminist writing. There is so much in there, it is so rich, and so amazingly written. It’s also not a book that can really be read quickly. It’s one that needs to be savoured and taken slowly, read in chunks to be processed properly. I read it for a feminist book club I ran last academic year and I know it’s one I’m going to go over again and again. I learned so much from Audre Lorde in these essays and will continue to learn whatever I can from her I am sure. There’s so much to say about Lorde’s works, there’s no way I can cover everything in a short paragraph. Favourite essays of mine include Poetry is Not a Luxury, The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action and The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. 

7. Loved Clothes Last by Orsola de Castro

This book should be read in combination with Consumed. They genuinely make such a great pairing and feed into each other so well. While some things in this book weren’t new to me (they might be to you!), I did learn a lot about specific fabrics and production practices that was really valuable to my understanding of sustainability in fashion, as well as learning about new DIYs and upcycling ideas to week out the lives of garments we love! It’s full of so much love, hope, and joy for clothes and for the fashion industry, whilst equipping the reader with tools for change.

8. Those Who Can, Teach by Andria Zafirakou

This is potentially my favourite book of the year. I know, that’s a lot to say about a book, but wow it really deserves more hype (I genuinely haven’t seen it talked about outside of one podcast episode where I first heard about it). A combination of memoir, exposé, lesson in teaching, and political manifesto, Zafirakou looks back over her teaching career from her first days leading a classroom to the day she won the Global Teacher of the Year Award, and what her life has been like since. As someone who is also a teacher outside of the formal education system, I found myself relating to many things she was saying as well as learning a whole lot. I finished this book in a day and it left me with so much hope.

9. What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri

This book is one of the most insightful and impactful books I have ever read. I made so many notes and had to take many breaks just to let some of the things I read in it sink in. I also know it is a book I will be re-reading for a very long time to come.
Emma Dabiri goes through the construction of race and whiteness and how capitalism is at the core of racialization and white supremacy. She explains everything in such a comprehensive and concise way, and so many paragraphs and sentences are so impactful I had to keep putting my book down to just think about them for a little bit before continuing reading. Emma also reflects on anti-racist activism in its forms today, especially looking at how it is entwined with capitalism, individualism, and performativity, and how we need to move beyond that to achieve coalition. A must read (especially if you posted a square on Black Out Tuesday and haven’t done much since).

10. A Curious History of Sex by Kate Lister

People who know me in real life know I get really nerdy about sex education and sex history, and just generally facts about sex. It’s so fascinating, and there’s so much that we just aren’t taught in mainstream education. Kate Lister brings us through so many aspects of sex history, from vulvas, penises, sex toys, bicycles, and the creation of Viagra…there are so many fun facts! It’s also one of the funniest books I’ve read this year – Kate’s writing is a joy to read. 
There are also so many amazing images which make readng this book in public all the more fun as passersby will likely get ambushed with a close-up image of a Victorian vulva. 

Honourable Mentions

I Wish I Knew This Earlier by Toni Tone
Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins
I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa

If you liked this post you might like: 25 Ways to Take Climate Action After the IPCC Report

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