Planet Slop Book Club #1: Under My Thumb, The Beat Makers, How to Be a Craftivist & Watling Street
We’ve teamed up with News From Nowhere to bring you some reading recommendations that may have missed your radar.
Seven. I have seven unread books sitting waiting my attention at the moment and to be honest, that’s probably the least it’s been in a long while. You know what’s worse? It’s not enough.
Seven unread books isn’t nearly enough of a buffer should a suborn cold hit, a power cut strike or a holiday cometh. Especially when interesting Twitter folk bring race-reading to your attention, a practice that stops you seeing seven books at all and just one race what would leave you *gasp* book-less.
To help with this and a multitude of other things we’ve asked the team at News From Nowhere to slide a few expertly selected releases across the desk to us every now and then, from things we may have missed or new releases to relevant reads or personal favourites so that we may never been in the unfortunate position of finding ourselves short of a good book.
Enjoy their first selection of recommendations below, you can order any that peak your interest directly from them to be delivered or collected in store at the links provided, or pop in and pay them a visit next time you’re on Bold Street.
Under My Thumb: Songs That Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them
edited by Rhian E. Jones & Eli Davies
(£9.99, Repeater Books, ISBN 9781910924617)
Women in music are frequently fetishised and objectified both in song lyrics and in real life, viewed purely in relation to men and through their impact on the male ego. But this hasn’t stopped generations of women from loving, being moved by and critically appreciating music – however that music may feel about them.
Under My Thumb: The Songs that Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them is a study of misogyny in music through the eyes of women. It brings together stories from music writers and fans about artists or songs they love despite their questionable or troubling gender politics, as well as looking at how these issues intersect with race, class and sexuality. The collection explores the joys of loving music and the tensions, contradictions and complexities it can involve – as much celebration as critique.
The Beat Makers: The Unsung Heroes of the Mersey Sound
by Anthony Hogan
(£17.99, Amberley Publishing, ISBN 9781445672083)
The Beat Makers describes the often-overlooked black music scene in Liverpool and its importance to Merseybeat, as well as the amazing story of the Liverbirds, who became the first all-girl beat band, and Derry Wilkie, the black singer who fronted a number of different bands and was the first Merseybeat artist to play in Hamburg and to release a record along with the Seniors. And with chapters on the great names such as Ted Kingsize Taylor, Johnny Guitar and Geoff Nugent, The Beat Makers is essential reading for all self-respecting lovers of rock ’n’ roll history.
Alexei Sayle’s Imaginary Sandwich Bar
by Alexei Sayle
(£9.99, Bloomsbury, ISBN 9781408895825)
Alexei Sayle has been telling people he runs a sandwich bar on Gray’s Inn Road that doesn’t exist since the mid-1970s. From behind this imaginary counter Alexei dispenses wisdom and focaccia to his famous customers as he explores his love of pretending, reveals why he disappeared from our TV screens in the 1990’s, lobbies for eleven-hour long episodes of Newsnight and discusses rampant nepotism in coveted careers. From drawing striking comparisons between capitalism and all-you-can-eat buffets to discussing the hidden depths of Taylor Swift, this flight of fancy packs a surprising punch and will leave you hungry for more.
How to Be a Craftivist: the Art of Gentle Protest
by Sarah Corbett
(£12.99, Unbound, ISBN 9781783524075)
If we want our world to be more beautiful, kind and fair, then shouldn’t some of our activism be beautiful, kind and fair? The word ‘activism’ can conjure up connotations of quick signings of petitions, clicktivism, or loud and aggressive ways to demand justice. But activism can be different.
Sarah Corbett believes that Craftivism – activism through craft – can be an effective tool in the activism toolkit. She grew up in a low-income area of Liverpool, and aged just three was joining her parents and community in their campaigning. She went on to become a professional campaigner but as an introvert many traditional forms of activism drained her. One day she began to leave small pieces of provocative street art in her area, which started conversations on and offline, and in 2009, she set up the Craftivist Collective. This isn’t just another book of craftivism projects – instead it aims to get to the heart of what Craftivism is about, the purpose, process and pitfalls. Learn how to use the process of making to engage thoughtfully in the issues you care about, and how Craftivism can create conversations and action in places where social justice isn’t often discussed.
Watling Street: Travels Through Britain and Its Ever-Present Past
by John Higgs
(£18.99, Orion Books, ISBN 9781474603478)
Long ago a path was created by the passage of feet tramping through endless forests. Gradually that path became a track, and the track became a road. It connected the White Cliffs of Dover to the Druid groves of the Welsh island of Anglesey, across a land that was first called Albion then Britain, Mercia and eventually England and Wales. Armies from Rome arrived and straightened this 444 kilometres of meandering track, which in the Dark Ages gained the name Watling Street. Today, this ancient road goes by many different names: the A2, the A5 and the M6 Toll. It is a palimpsest that is always being rewritten.
Watling Street is a road of witches and ghosts, of queens and highwaymen, of history and myth, of Chaucer, Dickens and James Bond. Along this route Boudicca met her end, the Battle of Bosworth changed royal history, Bletchley Park code breakers cracked Nazi transmissions and Capability Brown remodelled the English landscape. The myriad people who use this road every day might think it unremarkable, but, as John Higgs (author of The KLF: Chaos, Magic And The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds, and Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense Of The Twentieth Century) shows, it hides its secrets in plain sight. Watling Street is not just the story of a route across our island, but an acutely observed, unexpected exploration of Britain and who we are today, told with wit and flair, and an unerring eye for the curious and surprising.
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