Non-Fiction / Activism / Current Affairs: "Amidst war, economic meltdown, and ecological crisis, a “new spirit of radicalism is blooming” from New York to Cairo".
One of the most engaging books on activism that I've read in a long time and one that's up to date with the main grassroots organisations that have caused some noise in the media recently (this edition was only published last year). Dixon offers an interesting analysis and insight into these radical movements which are taking place across the world (though I have to say the text is more based on the ones found in the USA and Canada). He looks at the reasons why they form, how they get together and how these groups can take things to the next level to achieve their goals and change the political arena. I found his views on the Occupy movement particularly poignant.
Another Politics is inspiring and thought-provoking without being naive - a must read for anyone into activism and grassroots politics. [4/5]
(2) Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
Non-Fiction / Feminism: "This book is a call to arms in a new wave of feminism and it proves sexism is endemic - socially, politically and economically."
Like many, I first heard about Bates' Everyday Sexism project via Twitter when the #ShoutingBack hashtag was gaining momentum, and I thought it was a great idea to have an online platform where women can share their daily experiences of sexism. I picked up the accompanying book, yet I had no idea of the emotional impact it was going to have on me.
Reading other women's experiences in the Everyday Sexism book made me incredibly depressed because I never realised how wide a problem it was, but it also made me feel angry and empowered to want to 'do' something about it as well. Interspersed with the factual accounts are shocking statistics and Bates' does a fantastic job of addressing the issues of why we all need to learn and respect the values of consent and personal boundaries and we need to recognise that assault can come in any form where you have not consented to it happening to you.
The chapters are themed around a certain subject (e.g Women in Media, Young Women Learning, Women in Politics etc), very accessible to read, concise and to the point, whilst at the same time offering enough information to get your blood boiling. There's also a good chapter on men and what they can do to call out sexism when they see it and be part of the change because it's not going to happen on just one side. Things are certainly improving from when I was much younger and that was only 10 or 20 years ago, but there's so much more that needs to be done, so this is a book I would recommend to everyone. (For a longer review with personal experiences, check out my Goodreads page here). [5/5]
(3) The Rebel's Sketchbook by Rupert Dreyfus
Contemporary / Satire / Transgressive Fiction: "Maniac world leaders; talentless boybands; Westminster politicians; social media idiots; zero-hour contracts. Rupert's first collection of short stories uses transgressive fiction, black comedy and satire as a weapon for shooting down all of these and more."
Most of my favourite satirical authors are American which has always surprised me, because no one really quite does satire as well as the British. Thankfully, this little island now has an emerging new voice rising up amongst all the mindless clatter and it's pretty pissed off about how shit things have gotten for the 99% of us who seem to only exist to serve those high and mighty 1 percenters. The Rebel's Sketchbook is a series of 13 short stories by Rupert Dreyfus which could have been called something like 'Life in Britain as We Know It Today' (but that's a shit title), as Dreyfus expertly showcases the very worst of what has happened to our society in a hilariously dark context.
All of the stories were vividly entertaining in a grotesque, black comedy way. Some of my favourites were Eat Nasty, a sickening but comedic account of how far some people will go to become famous on Youtube, Outrage, a hilariously bleak story about a virus that infects people who aren't on benefits so that they want to eat those who are on them, Hatchet Job, the tale of a man who runs out of money and decides to become a hit man on the Deep Web because he loves the video game of the same name, Mo's Lesson, a bitterly short coming-of-age story where a young man learns that work just doesn't pay, and Sentenced, a full on attack on the meaningless nature of social media, but one that demonstrates how easily the tables can be turned on those who waste so much time on them.
Dreyfus exposes the perpetrators who often hide behind the scenes, whilst giving a voice to the victims of zero hour contracts, benefit sanctions and menial jobs through a range of colourful, awkward and often utterly fucked up characters. Some of the stories will make you feel physically sick (in a weird, good way as satire often does), but they will also make you think about why everything is so rubbish and who's really to blame. I look forward to reading more from Dreyfus in the future! Check out his website here. [4/5]
I also completed my 2015 reading challenge - I read 50 books this year! :)