Saturday 31 October 2015

Make Mine an Indie: Icon Books

Another Saturday, another Make Mine an Indie! As you're reading this I'm off gallivanting in London with Katie and Laura and probably buying lots of books, at least some of which will be from independent bookshops & publishers. 

This coming week marks the beginning of Nonfiction November and in honour of it I'm going to feature a publisher of non-fiction each week during the month. To kick it all off we have Icon Books, publisher of non-fiction including the series originally entitled ...For Beginners (e.g Freud for Beginners) and now entitled Introducing.. You've probably seen them on those little twirling stands in bookshops and museum and gallery giftshops. I'm very tempted by them a lot of the time. However Icon also publish a lot of other titles!

Icon were founded in 1992 and have been publishing quality non-fiction since then. This being the first week of November I thought it made sense to focus on a non-fiction publisher, and I'll be keeping the focus towards the factual throughout the month.

As usual, here are some of their titles that I'm most excited about:

A Carpet Ride to Khiva: Seven Years on the Silk Road by Christopher Aslan Alexander
From the Icon website:

A Carpet Ride to Khiva jacket coverThe Silk Road conjures images of the exotic and the unknown. Most travellers simply pass along it. Brit Chris Alexander chose to live there. Ostensibly writing a guidebook, Alexander found life at the heart of the glittering madrassahs, mosques and minarets of the walled city of Khiva – a remote desert oasis in Uzbekistan – immensely alluring, and stayed. Immersing himself in the language and rich cultural traditions Alexander discovers a world torn between Marx and Mohammed – a place where veils and vodka, pork and polygamy freely mingle – against a backdrop of forgotten carpet designs, crumbling but magnificent Islamic architecture and scenes drawn straight from “The Arabian Nights”. Accompanied by a large green parrot, a ginger cat and his adoptive Uzbek family, Alexander recounts his efforts to rediscover the lost art of traditional weaving and dyeing, and the process establishing a self-sufficient carpet workshop, employing local women and disabled people to train as apprentices. “A Carpet Ride to Khiva” sees Alexander being stripped naked at a former Soviet youth camp, crawling through silkworm droppings in an attempt to record their life-cycle, holed up in the British Museum discovering carpet designs dormant for half a millennia, tackling a carpet-thieving mayor, distinguishing natural dyes from sacks of opium in Northern Afghanistan, bluffing his way through an impromptu version of “My Heart Will Go On” for national Uzbek TV and seeking sanctuary as an anti-Western riot consumed the Kabul carpet bazaar. It is an unforgettable true travel story of a journey to the heart of the unknown and the unexpected friendship one man found there.

Crunch Time: How Everyday Life is Killing the Future by Adrian Monck and Mike Hadley
From the Icon website:

Crunch Time jacket cover“Crunch Time” features two award-winning journalists arguing about the impact of our unthinking everyday actions on the future of our world. Every age and every generation thinks it’s special, that it’s on the cusp of something big. This time it’s true – it’s Crunch Time, and what we do now will make or break the future. The problem is that the things that we do every day – drive to work, buy toys for our kids, prepare our meals, have a cup of coffee – are conspiring to break it. Terrorism, poverty, ecological meltdown, climate change, pandemics – this is the background noise we have all learnt to live with. But what if all these things could be laid at our own feet? What if our civilisation is structurally, tragically flawed? What if we are using up tomorrow today? Our society is moving faster than ever, yet it’s also increasingly fragile and filled with risk. In “Crunch Time”, journalists Adrian Monck and Mike Hanley argue passionately with each other about the causes of these issues and what we can do about them. Believing that living in the 21st century means being answerable to the future, they help us to understand the critical decisions that we need to make now if we want to leave anything of value to future generations.

Man Up by Jack Unwin
From the Icon Website:

This won't be published until June 2016 but it sounds fantastic. It's by the guy who wrote this article and is all about masculinity and how it's in crisis and what it even means to be a man in today's society. I cannot wait to read it. 

Finding Home: Real Stories of Migrant Britain by Emily Dugan
From the Icon Website:

Award-winning reporter Emily Dugan’s Finding Home follows the tumultuous lives of a group of immigrants, all facing intense challenges in their quest to live in the UK.

Syrian refugee Emad set up the Free Syrian League and worked illegally in the UK to pay for his mother to be smuggled across the Mediterranean on a perilous trip from Turkey. Even if she survives the journey, Emad knows it will be an uphill struggle to get her into Britain.

Australian therapist Harley risks deportation despite serving the NHS for ten years and being told by the Home Office she could stay. Teaching assistant Klaudia is one of thousands of Polish people now living in Boston, Lincolnshire – a microcosm of poorly managed migration. Aderonke, a leading Manchester LGBT activist, lives in a tiny B&B room in Salford with her girlfriend, Happiness, and faces deportation and persecution.
Dugan’s timely and acutely observed book reveals the intense personal dramas of ordinary men and women as they struggle to find somewhere to call home. It shows that migration is not about numbers, votes or opinions: it is about people.

This book sounds incredible, and such an important read given what's going on in the world right now. I've actually just had a look and it's in my library so I've ordered it in to read during Nonfiction November!
Find Icon at their website, on twitter, facebook and Pinterest.

Catch up with the rest of the Make Mine an Indie series here.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Moby Dick Readalong: Week Two

I meant to write this post on Monday but instead I wrote about Nonfiction November. I almost forgot to write it today because I got caught up in NaNoWriMo research, but finally here we are! I am intensely proud of myself for not having fallen behind with the reading yet. This week was tougher going than last week but it still wasn't anything like as awful as the experience of reading The Pickwick Papers last year *shudder*. 

Because Hanna is lovely and helpful she has provided us with questions which prevent me from having to formulate coherent paragraphs. Here they are!

1) We've met Captain Ahab now. What do you think of him? Did he meet your expectations? Who would you cast to play him in a movie?

Honestly, so far he's a lot less angry and a fair bit less mad than I was expecting. I know he paces a lot and is unnaturally fixated with a whale but he seems to know what he's doing, which is pretty much what you want from the captain of your ship I guess? I feel like he's only going to get madder as prospects of the white whale get closer though...

As for the movie, I'd have to agree with Hanna that Geoffrey Rush would be a good call (and yes I am just basing that on Captain Barbosa). Otherwise maybe someone like Ian McKellen? (Gandalf Ian McKellen, not Magneto) Or we could make it an entirely different interpretation of the text and go for Brian Blessed, the king of big - bearded madness...

2) Some chapters seem to focus on action and attempt to move the story along, whilst others seem to ponder the concept of a whaling and life. Do you find one type easier to follow than the other?

All of this week was kind of a trial for me if I'm honest. Not that I disliked it, I just kept finding that I'd read half a page without taking anything in or having any idea of what was going on. The chapter which defined all the different types of whales was my favourite (with heavy sarcasm) this week, although it was made better by the fact of reading it sitting on a bench staring at the sea with a large number of big fishing boats in it. Atmosphere can do a lot for a book. 

Also, what was up with some of the chapters being written as if they were plays? I kept having major flashbacks to secondary school Shakespeare classes...

3) Keeping in mind everything we've learned about whaling this week, has it changed your views on it at all?

I didn't really have any knowledge about whaling prior to reading this book beyond that it was bad and I loved the Free Willy films as a kid and did various campaigning to stop people treating whales badly in my younger years. From that perspective I'm actually finding it quite interesting to learn about the realities of whaling. I can't remember now where week 2 left off and week 3 began but there's been some pretty intense stuff happening in the last couple of chapters which has pulled me right back into the book. 

4) Why do you think Herman Melville suddenly branches off into lectures about how acceptable/difficult/clean whaling is? 

I feel like Melville had probably had people telling him their views on whaling a lot and this was him being like 'look, shut up, you don't know anything'. Because obviously Melville would say that. I kind of a get a bit of a 'stop saying what I do/am writing a book about is unacceptable/easy/dirty' feeling from it, which is more mature than what I would do in his shoes, which is pretty much to put my fingers in my ears and sing...

5) Do the scientific misconceptions bother you at all? i.e. that whales are fishes etc. 

Hanna, I love that you are clearly so upset by the whole 'whales are fish' thing that you wrote a question about it so we can all share our annoyance. Whales are mammals! I was also extremely proud of knowing this as a child and I feel like every time he talks about whales as fish he's trying to take that childhood pride away from me. Dammit, Melville, whales aren't fish

 Yeah so week two was a bit rubbish, but I'm already fairly far into week three's reading and it's muuuuuuch better. Queequeg is back, and so's the action! Yay! 

Monday 26 October 2015

Nonfiction November!

You may have seen that a couple of weeks ago I posted about the Nonfiction Book Swap I'm organising to coincide with Nonfiction November, but I realised I never actually posted about Nonfiction November itself which is a definite oversight. 

Nonfiction November 2015

I've been excited about Nonfiction November since the last event ended, pretty much. Hosted by Kim, Leslie, Katie and Becca it's a month long event dedicated to nonfiction. Reading it, blogging about it, recommending it. Last year I got a ridiculous amount of great recommendations and discovered some amazing new blogs through it plus got a couple of great books via the first swap I ran! 

Each Monday there will be a post to link up your discussion topic blogs and/or reviews or any other nonfiction related posts on that weeks hosts blog. If you're interested, here are the weekly topics:

Week 1: November 2 to 6 (Hosted by Kim)
Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Week 2: November 9 to 13 (Hosted by Leslie)

Book Pairing: Match a fiction book with a nonfiction book that you would recommend.

Week 3: November 16 to 20 (Hosted by Becca)

Nontraditional Nonfiction: This week we will be focusing on the nontraditional side of reading nonfiction. Nonfiction comes in many forms. There are the traditional hardcover or paperback print books, of course, but then you also have e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, and enhanced books complete with artifacts. So many choices! Do you find yourself drawn to or away from nontraditional nonfiction? Do you enjoy some nontraditional formats, but not others? Perhaps you have recommendations for readers who want to dive into nontraditional formats.  We want to hear all about it this week!  

i am malalaWeek 4: November 23 to 27 (Hosted by Katie)

Readalong Discussion: This week we’ll be wrapping up Nonfiction November with a discussion of our read-along book, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. Discussion questions will be posted at the beginning of the week on November 23. In your post, you can answer these questions and/or write about your own response to the book. As you read throughout the month, you can share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #NonficNov.

I already started reading I Am Malala because it came into the library and I couldn't resist and it is just so great If you've been on the fence about whether to join in with the readalong you absolutely should. 
Of course I have to also post a few titles I'm hoping to get to during the month, because I always need a list so that I can completely change my mind and only read a million library holds instead.... Here are some books I already own and want to get to 
Image result for quiet susan cainQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
People have been talking about this for years and my friend Rachelle bought it for my for my birthday because she's amazing (she also bought a copy for herself, because she's that kind of friend. The awesome kind) and now I absolutely have to read it. I'm going to start with it, for sure. 
Image result for not that kind of girl
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham 
Lots of people liked this, lots of other people hated it. I know nothing about Lena Dunham but it's safe to say that I'm fairly curious...
Image result for the devil in the white cityThe Devil in the White City by Erik Larson 
Nahree sent this to me in the Ninja Swap package that's basically responsible for our friendship and I still haven't read it. In fairness this is partly because my sister currently has it, but providing I can get it back from her in time I do want to get to this one. It's about architecture and murder, obvious companions?

Image result for yes please amy poehlerYes Please by Amy Poehler
A book I've heard basically nothing bad about and another I received in a Ninja Swap parcel (well done Ninja Swap people). I read Tina Fey's Bossypants a while back and it seems wrong that I own this and haven't read it yet. 
Image result for one summer americaOne summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson
I put this on my list of books to read this autumn because it seems wrong that I have unread Bill Bryson and because it genuinely sounds fascinating. Hmmm, maybe I'll start with this instead... 

Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
Image result for displacement lucy knisleyBecause it would feel wrong not to have any graphic nonfiction on this list, and because Charlotte bought me this for my birthday and it's silly that I haven't read it yet. Lucy Knisley rocks. 
I have about thirty other things I could read instead but these are the ones that immediately jump out at me. I'm also going to be posting about my favourite nonfiction titles during the month so look out for that!
If you want to take part in the nonfiction book swap you have until November 8th to sign up. It's open internationally and you don't have to be taking part in Nonfiction November to join in, although if you're not, why not??