The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

Subtitled ‘Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness’, this wonderful book describes the truly shocking level of imprisonment in the USA, brought about by the ‘war on drugs’, and of how African-Americans have been most affected. It’s an eye-opening analysis and shatters any illusions that America has a healthy political or judicial system. Is it any wonder that someone like Trump can get elected! I’ve had my eyes opened. It’s a stunning read and highly recommended.

A full review can be found in this Guardian article.

This short article “19 Actual Statistics About America’s Prison System” by Laura Dimon succinctly shows how shocking it is.

Let's Kill Uncle – Rohan O'Grady

Let’s Kill Uncle is an absolutely charming tale of two 10-year-olds as they holiday on a Canadian island. There’s a lot of child naughtiness, a lot of humour, and the possibility of a very serious crime.

Suitable for adults and children alike, I hope that in a few years’ time five-year-old, granddaughter Chloe will enjoy it too.

Delightful and highly recommended.

Airhead – Emily Maitlis

Subtitled “The Imperfect Art of Making News”, this is a fascinating look at the Newsnight presenter’s best interviews, showing how the news gets to our screens.

It’s an easy read and highly recommended.

Shut Up and Deal – Jesse May

Shut Up and Deal, by Jesse May, is a gritty, relentless exploration of what it’s like to be an addicted, professional, poker player. Sometimes it got a bit wearing but I kept on being drawn back into this fascinating tale of hopelessness and addiction.

Recommended, for some.

Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy – Serhii Plokhy

Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy is a magnificent examination of the World’s worst nuclear accident, covering the technicalities, the people involved and the politics of the old Soviet Union.

A history book that reads as easily as a good novel – I read it in a couple of days. Highly recommended.

The Tiger – John Vaillant

What a magnificent read The Tiger by John Vaillant is.

A long, detailed examination of everything to do with tigers in their natural habitat. But more than that it’s an investigation of tiger killings, the communities affected, life in the Soviet Union and animal conservation.

There’s so much in this book. I’ll probably read it again in future years. A great read.

Affliction – Russell Banks

What a great read this is! A violent, childhood-brutalised man, fumes in an American, snow-covered, rural town. Superb.

At the end of last year I read another of Russell Banks’s novels, Lost Memory of Skin, which I described as a fantastic novel about a young sex offender in America.

Clearly a writer I should read more of.

Face-Time – Erik Tarloff

What a terrific novel this is – I raced through it in a couple of days.
A first novel, written 20 years ago, it’s the story of a US president’s extra-marital affair involving a young couple working in the White House. It’s about power rather than politics and is an easy, well-written tale. Fabulous.
I’m on the lookout for his two later novels – I think I’ve tracked down one of them.

Fire and Fury – Michael Wolff

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff is a gob-smacking account of the shambles in the White House during the first year of the Trump presidency and of the unsuitability of Trump for the position of president. What a monster!

Highly recommended for anyone interested in American politics.

In Extremis – Tim Parks

In Extremis by Tim Parks is a wonderful novel. Centred around a dying mother and a son’s angst, it’s very, very funny.

My mum died just 3 months ago and the son’s indecision, his relationships with his mother and family, and dealing with death and funerals clearly resonated with me.

Religion and anal massage are also covered! A book to be read again.

The Prophet – Michael Koryta

The Prophet, by Michael Koryta, is a terrific thriller / crime novel. Although centred around American football, (I know nothing of this strange sport), it’s a gripping tale of brotherly guilt which also made me want to try to understand the game. It’s a well written and plotted story and highly recommended. Some might find the football details a bit annoying – I didn’t. I’ve noted Michael Koryta as an author worth seeking out for  his other novels.

Alongside Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen, this has been a promising start to March’s reading.

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