Here’s what we’ve read and enjoyed recently: a mix of thrills and insight.
We Are Bellingcat by Eliot Higgins
We Are Bellingcat tells the inspiring story of how a college dropout pioneered a new category of reporting and galvanized citizen journalists – working together from their computer screens around the globe – to crack major cases, at a time when fact-based journalism is under assault from authoritarian forces. Founder Eliot Higgins introduces readers to the tools Bellingcat investigators use, tools available to anyone, from software that helps you pinpoint the location of an image, to an app that can nail down the time that photo was taken. This book digs deep into some of Bellingcat’s most important investigations with the drama and gripping detail of a spy novel.
Exit by Belinda Bauer
Felix Pink is retired. Widowed for more than a decade, a painfully literal thinker, he has led a life of routine and is, not unhappily, waiting to die a hopefully boring death. He occupies himself volunteering as an Exiteer: someone who sits with terminally ill people as they die by suicide, assisting with logistics and lending moral support, then removing the evidence so that family and friends are not implicated in the death. When Felix lets himself in to Number 3 Black Lane, he’s there to perform an act of kindness and charity: to keep a dying man company as he takes his final breath.
But just fifteen minutes later Felix is on the run from the police after making the biggest mistake of his life.
Work by James Suzman
Work defines who we are. It determines our status, and dictates how, where, and with whom we spend most of our time. It mediates our self-worth and molds our values. But are we hard-wired to work as hard as we do? Did our Stone Age ancestors also live to work and work to live? And what might a world where work plays a far less important role look like?
To answer these questions, James Suzman charts a grand history of “work” from the origins of life on Earth to our ever more automated present, challenging some of our deepest assumptions about who we are. Drawing insights from anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, zoology, physics, and economics, he shows that while we have evolved to find joy meaning and purpose in work, for most of human history our ancestors worked far less and thought very differently about work than we do now.
Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief by Maurice LeBlanc
The poor and the innocent have nothing to fear from Lupin; often they profit from his spontaneous generosity. The rich and powerful, and the detective who tries to spoil his fun, however, must beware. They are the target of Lupin’s mischief. With plans that frequently evolve into elaborate plots, Lupin is a gentleman burglar turned detective, and the most entertaining criminal genius in literature.
These stories – the best of the Lupin series– are outrageous and witty, for the full enjoyment of those who love masters of disguise, extraordinary heists, and the panache found with Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Ocean’s Eleven and Lupin.
Begin by Telling by Meg Remy
In Begin by Telling, experimental pop sensation Meg Remy spins a web out from her body to myriad corners of American hyper-culture. Through illustrated lyric essays depicting visceral memories from early childhood to present day, Remy paints a stark portrait of a spectacle-driven country.
Immersive and utterly compelling, the threads in Begin by Telling nimbly interweave with probing quotes and statistics, demonstrating the importance of personal storytelling, radical empathy, and the necessity of reflecting on society and one’s self within that construct.
Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler
.On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a young woman snoops through her boyfriend’s phone and makes a startling discovery: he’s an anonymous internet conspiracy theorist, and a popular one at that. Already fluent in internet fakery, irony, and outrage, she’s not exactly shocked by the revelation. Actually, she’s relieved–he was always a little distant–and she plots to end their floundering relationship while on a trip to the Women’s March in DC. But this is only the first in a series of bizarre twists that expose a world whose truths are shaped by online lies.
Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Noopiming is Anishinaabemowin for “in the bush,” and the title is a response to English Canadian settler and author Susanna Moodie’s 1852 memoir Roughing It in the Bush. To read Simpson’s work is an act of decolonization, degentrification, and willful resistance to the perpetuation and dissemination of centuries-old colonial myth-making. It is a lived experience. It is a breaking open of the self to a world alive with people, animals, ancestors, and spirits, who are all busy with the daily labours of healing — healing not only themselves, but their individual pieces of the network, of the web that connects them all together. Enter and be changed.
Dictée by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
Dictée is the best-known work of the versatile and important Korean American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. A classic work of autobiography that transcends the self, Dictée is the story of several women: the Korean revolutionary Yu Guan Soon, Joan of Arc, Demeter and Persephone, Cha’s mother Hyung Soon Huo (a Korean born in Manchuria to first-generation Korean exiles), and Cha herself. The elements that unite these women are suffering and the transcendence of suffering. The book is divided into nine parts structured around the Greek Muses. Cha deploys a variety of texts, documents, images, and forms of address and inquiry to explore issues of dislocation and the fragmentation of memory. The result is a work of power, complexity, and enduring beauty.
Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
Florence Darrow is a low-level publishing employee who believes that she’s destined to be a famous writer. When she stumbles into a job the assistant to the brilliant, enigmatic novelist known as Maud Dixon — whose true identity is a secret — it appears that the universe is finally providing Florence’s big chance.
The arrangement seems perfect. Maud Dixon can be prickly, but she is full of pointed wisdom. But when Florence wakes up in the hospital after a terrible car accident, with no memory of the previous night — and no sign of Helen — she’s tempted to take a shortcut. Instead of hiding in Helen’s shadow, why not upgrade into Helen’s life? Not to mention her bestselling pseudonym . . .
Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal
Paula’s apprenticeship is punctuated by hard work, sleepless nights, sore muscles, and saturnalian evenings. After completing her studies at the Institute, she continues to practise her art in Paris, in Moscow, and then in Italy at Cinécittà, on the sets of great films – dream factories! – as if rehearsing for the grand finale: Lascaux IV, a life-sized replica of the world’s most famous paleolithic cave art and a zenith of human cultural expression.
This exquisite and highly aesthetic coming-of-age novel by the author of Birth of a Bridge and Mend the Living uses a succession of trompe-l’oeil techniques to explore a young woman’s art apprenticeship. Maylis de Kerangal offers the key to the enchanted materialism of her writing.