Category Archives: Non-Fiction

As it Happens, Jimmy Savile

Jimmy Savile autobiography, book review by Ruth LivingstoneI borrowed Jimmy Savile’s autobiography from our local library. Unsurprisingly, given his notoriety, it wasn’t on display. But I ordered a copy from the archives held in the warehouse.

For those few who don’t already know, Jimmy Savile was a flamboyant, eccentric, and a (once) much-loved celebrity, with a successful career as a DJ and his own long-running TV show, Jim’ll Fix It. But he was mainly revered for his astonishing ability to raise millions of pounds for charity. Continue reading As it Happens, Jimmy Savile

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Edgelands, by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts

Edgelands - book coverEdgelands:

is enticingly subtitled: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness and is an exploration of the in-between places on the edge of our towns.

The book is arranged into chapters, each with a punchy one-word title:

Cars, Dens, Containers, Retail, Pallets, Sewage, etc. Continue reading Edgelands, by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts

On Walking, by Phil Smith

On Walking, Phil SmithThis is one of those books you either love or hate.

It’s full title, On Walking:…and Stalking Sebald implies you will be following Phil Smith as he follows in the footsteps of the German author, W.G. Sebald, on a walking tour in Suffolk.

But the book is much more than a travelogue of the author’s trip. It incorporates a mix of poetry, philosophy, and reflections on walking. It is an entertaining, frustrating and challenging read. And is illustrated with photographs that both illuminate and mirror the scatological (in the urban-dictionary sense) nature of the writing. Continue reading On Walking, by Phil Smith

The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer

Believing Brain, Michael Shermer, book coverIn this book, Michael Shermer describes the way our brains function and how this leads us to construct beliefs.

Shermer starts by recounting the experiences of three people with strong beliefs. He then takes the reader through some neurological and psychological research findings.

The basic premise Shermer presents is that our brains are ‘programmed’ to find patterns and to make sense of our perceptions, Continue reading The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer

Stet, by Diana Athill

Stet, Diana Athill, Diana Athill was an influential editor who worked for several publishing houses in London. This memoir covers the 50 years she spent in the industry.

The book is remarkably interesting for far more than its insights into the world of literary publishing. Diana Athill is honest in her descriptions of her relationships with colleagues, competitors and writers. She also drops tantalising hints about her colourful personal life, the details of which are covered, I assume, in some of her other autobiographical books. Continue reading Stet, by Diana Athill

China since 1949, by Linda Benson

China since 1949, seminar studies in history, by Linda Benson, book review The Chinese regard their country as the centre of the Universe and the only truly civilised place to live.

But to us in the West, China is a strange place. An alien world.

Recently I wrote a novel set in 7th Century China, during the Tang Dynasty. In preparation, I began reading every book I could find in my local library with ‘China’ in the title. Continue reading China since 1949, by Linda Benson