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.


  1. Finding Home and Carpet Ride to Khiva both look great! I've added them to my already-outrageous TBR list! Thanks!

  2. A Carpet Ride to Khiva sounds like my kind thing.
    I'll wait for your review of Finding Home as I often find these kind of books can be really, really good or really, really bad!