Book review – Annie Lowry – “Give People Money” @EburyPublishing #GivePeopleMoney #NetGalley

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I’m shamefully late with this review – you can probably tell I’ve been delving away in the latter pages of my Kindle this week, as well as reading some of my newer acquisitions, as I felt I’d been neglecting my NetGalley wins. Thank you to Ebury Publishing for letting me read this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Annie Lowry – “Give People Money”

(4 July 2018, NetGalley)

A book discussing the principle of universal basic income – i.e. everyone gets it, it only covers the complete basics, a room, food and transport, and it’s income – how it would address employment, income and equality and what the pitfalls might be.

It’s not too dry (I mean, I don’t find economics dry but some people might do), as it looks at plenty of examples from around the world, although the discussion of the introduction of a UBI is US-centric. It throws into relief the differences of the US from Europe, etc. in terms of attitudes to poverty as being people’s own fault, and in spending on supporting its citizens and in institutional racism.

The basic tenet of the book is that what we think of as economic circumstances are actually a product of policy choices, using North and South Korea as a useful example. Looking at practical examples of UBIs, she points out that 130 of the world’s low and middle income countries provide some form of it, but more wealthy countries decide not to. But she is clear-sighted about the challenges, for example from her time spent studying the topic in India (people’s money being accessible through only one shop; frequent Internet outages …).

The book concludes with the statement that it’s not just a UBI that’s needed, but

A broader change in our understanding of worth and compensation, of work and labor, would also be necessary.”

Fascinating stuff, especially as this was an older book in the roster which obviously I must have been interested in in the first place, but could have been a dud!

 

Sedate lady running 02-08 March 2020 #amrunning #running

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Well here’s a surprise – I’ve been on holiday since I last posted (in fact, I pre-published my last Sunday’s post when I was already in Gran Canaria. So I had some lovely runs while I was there and having the marathon pressure reduced meant I just did 3-4 miles each time, enjoying a pre-breakfast run which didn’t get in the way of the main event of … um … lounging around and reading. Ha! I didn’t take many pics so not the longest post in the world this time, but we’re both feeling good for a burst of sun and although the kitties didn’t LOVE their time at the cattery (apparently spending all day squished into their bed together) they have settled back into home very well. We gave them some extra time in the cattery and did a lot of clearing out and cat-proofing, so the house feels lighter and nicer and safer and I hope I’ll be able to stay relaxed.

Monday – I had a lovely dawn run, watching the sun come up over the sea, something I love to do. I went all round the coast on this path with its interesting tiles (it’s a fertility figure called the Tara Idol, honest!)

Tara Idol Telde tiles

They did get a bit slippy in places but I managed. Oh, and this was our road from the level of the coastal path – GREAT for stretching out the backs of your legs as you walked back up!

Our street

We were staying in a completely non-touristy part of Telde in Gran Canaria, which was great for our Spanish, and we ate in our house or at local restaurants very healthily, fresh fish and veg and my favourite, Canarian potatoes.

OK, here’s the sunrise over a typical view across the lava rocks to the sea.

3.1 miles, 11:56 mins per mile

Tuesday – Another pre-breakfast run, this time less scenic as I ran inland to look for a supermarket we didn’t think was that far away (it was), past a wasteland that unnerved me a bit (I pretended I was a badass ultra runner running across the island: there actually was an ultra there the day after we got home!) and past a desalination plant, then back. Pics were too depressing!

3.7 miles, 12:41 mins per mile (lots of uphills!)

Thursday – Back along the sea front to La Garita again and the blowhole, El Bufadera (not a massively impressive blowhole so not great pics). I set off a bit earlier and unnerved myself by it being pretty well dark, however there were still lots of cheery folk out walking and running so all was fine. I pushed it on the way back to get a faster pace.

3.2 miles, 11:30 mins per mile

We did a lot of walking among all this, as the nearest supermarket was 1 mile away and we walked a good mile there and back to the local town for lunch, and 1.5 miles to a hypermarket where we had fun learning the Spanish words for lots of things. So a good active holiday and you’ll be seeing more book reviews in the coming week, too! We flew home Friday.

Sunday – I wanted to round my miles up for the week so a few of us went out to support Tracie and Tara in their marathon training (Tara is doing London: we have no idea if they’re going to cancel at the minute but I have committed to re-planning my round the 11 route marathon with Tara if she doesn’t get to do London) and Fay who has a half coming up. So Tracie and Tara did 15 and 16 miles (their longest yet), Fay did 10, Mary Ellen did 11 something and Caroline joined us for the first bit and got 5 in in total. Our usual sedate lady way of supporting our marathon trainers when we’re not all doing the distance.

Tara, Fay, Caroline, Mary Ellen (next to my ear), me, Tracie

We did my 10 mile loop through Northfield and down the Bristol Road to the cricket ground – I haven’t done that route for ages as I got sick of it after the Birmingham marathon, and enjoyed telling tales of my life along the route when I was a student! Our ladies did well and it was a privilege to help them round, building resilience as they went.

10.6 miles, 14:06 mins per mile

weekly-run-down-final-300x300Weekly total 20.6 miles. Total this year 187 miles (I need to reach 250 this month to be on track for 1,000 miles in the year).

The Weekly Run Down is run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Kim’s weekly wrap is here and Deborah’s is here.

 

Book review – Libby Page – “The 24-hour Cafe” @orionbooks #The24hourCaf√© #NetGalley

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A lovely win from NetGalley which was published on 23 January – the second novel by the author of “The Lido” which both Matthew and I loved in 2018, and more of the same careful observation of London communities. Thank you to Orion Publishing for making it available via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Libby Page – “The 24-Hour Cafe”

(NetGalley, 28 November 2019)

In Page’s second novel, we meet Mona and Hannah, each working a double shift at the 24-hour cafe, conveniently getting half the book each, as we work our way from midnight to midnight, with them telling the story of their five-year friendship. So yes, in their lives there are careers, family and love interest, but the main point of the book is their friendship.

We visit singer Hannah’s life first and her realisation now that she sank too much of her life into her boyfriend at the expense of her friendship with Mona, a dancer, when what they have is really special, friends at first sight, even. Mona’s career is seeing some changes and these could threaten things, too. Meanwhile, we also look through the eyes of various characters who are customers of the cafe, some transient, some regulars. This builds on the little vignettes we had in The Lido and cover all sorts of state of the nation type issues, such as the difficulty of motherhood or worries about one’s immigration status after Brexit. The customers interact with the two women and they interact with their colleagues, sometimes growing closer to them.

The solidarity of the staff when there’s a threat is lovely to read; some of the pieces about the customers feel a tiny bit like writing exercises but I am very allergic to that kind of thing (e.g. could not BEAR “If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things”) and lots of people have been absolutely fine with them, so don’t let my curmudgeonly attitude put you off!

The narrative arc, as I say, being the life of a friendship is unusual and satisfying, and the main subplot around one of the customers adds depth and a nice dash of tension. A good read.

Book review – Craig Childs – “Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession” #amreading

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I’m finally onto the March reviews, but of course while I’ve been finishing February’s reads, I’ve been reading books and building up more! Where will it end? Anyway, this was the earliest book from the front of the TBR that was portable, as I have a slightly fragile book on Tahiti and a large one on the history of running which don’t fit easily into a handbag. So still working away at that Terrible TBR I shared on the 1st, as well as catching up with some NetGalley wins I’ve been neglecting …

Craig Childs – “Finders Keepers”

(23 August 2018 – BookCrossing, delivered in person by Cari)

In an avowed attempt to look at, accept where he could and present all the sides of the on-going and seemingly eternal struggle between the preservation and selling of artefacts, but also between those who advocate always removing archaeological fines from their direct context to keep them safe and those who – like Childs – advocate leaving them in place, Craig Childs travels across the US, with excursions into other countries’ situations, talking to looters, collectors, sellers of ancestral remains and archaeologists. It’s fairly obvious where his loyalties lie, but he does try to explain looters (and looting communities) and diggers and their motivations, which making a distinction between South-Western Americans who plunder the goods of unrelated civilisations and the people of Alaska who have always barely subsisted off the land and sea and are currently doing so by selling off the products of their own ancestral cultures.

Nuanced and full of personal anecdotes (and dilemmas), and indeed full of adventure and characters, it’s a good read. It shows the whole chain from looters to collectors and museums, and the shady links that make up this chain. It covers the effect of “population rebound”, when indigenous groups call for the return of their artefacts as well as the better-known inter-country requests.¬† The book includes an interesting interview with the author, extracts from his journals and sketchpads and questions for reading groups. Most movingly, near the end, the author describes a box of small artefacts – arrowheads and the like, which turns out to have been handed down from his great-grandfather.

Eric Newby – “A Small Place in Italy” and Tamsin Treverton Jones – “Windblown” #amreading

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A double review because I’m feeling like otherwise I will never get February’s books reviewed before something like May (this may be an over-reaction). Two travel books, anyway, one with a great story.

I thought I knew of / had read all of Newby’s books, as he’s a real favourite of mine, so was excited to come across this one in a charity shop in Penzance the time before last that we visited (yes, still on October 2018’s books – that seems to have been a bumper month for acquisitions!). And a very nice bit of linking came in when I opened it up. I’d picked up a postcard to use as a bookmark, then discovered it had a marketing postcard from a company in St Agnes on the Isles of Scilly called Twisted bobbins slipped into the back. “Aha,” thought I, and yes, indeed, one of my West Penwith and the Isles of Scilly representative in our Project 365 photo-a-day group both knew her! Of course I don’t know whether it was her book or someone who took her card, but do pop and look at the lovely weaving on the link there while you’re here!

Eric Newby – “A Small Place in Italy”

(12 October 2018 charity shop in Penzance)

One of Newby’s smaller works, a lovely story of the dilapidated farmhouse he and the redoubtable Wanda bought in Italy and slowly refurbished and lived in but only during their holidays from work, and their neighbours, friends and, it turns out, occasional enemies.

What would be a standard expat in crumbling farmhouse in Europe with idiosyncratic neighbours book, of which there are of course legion and which I’ve been reading forever is transformed, of course, but Newby’s lovely, funny voice and self-deprecating descriptions.

I loved the update at the end on the families they were close to, although this was also quite sad, given they were there for 25 years. There’s not much I can really say about it: they help with the wine harvest, they go fungus-hunting, Eric walks along some paths where he was in hiding in the Second World War, but it’s a lovely world in which to absorb yourself for a few hours. You get to learn a bit of Italian, too!

Tamsin Treverton Jones – “Windblown”

(08 August 2018)

Interesting and lyrical book about the Great Storm of 1987, thirty (what??) years ago when the book was published. Visceral and shocking descriptions of the events of the storm gave me a real jolt (not that usefully, as I was travelling to London by train at the time!) with accounts of the destruction of Wakehurst Place, etc. – I was living in Kent at the time, right in the middle of it all, and aged 15, so it left a huge impression on me. But it then goes on to look at the regeneration that took place at Wakehurst Place and Kew, etc., including new ways of planting trees to allow deeper root systems to develop, and the different tactics landowners took (it seems it was best to leave fallen trees as they were).

The arc of the book is linked with Jones’ father’s death, but it’s an appropriate link as he made wonderful art about the places they lived and designed an amazing wooden memorial mural which another craftsman (who she tracks down) made. She also goes on a long journey to track down the one almost unknown victim of the storm, a homeless man in central London, going to great lengths to find his family.

I loved little points like the fact that the giant redwood trees at Wakehurst survived the storm unscathed – a good friend of mine at the other end of our village lived surrounded by these, and the days we were cut off from the world were anxious ones, but hers didn’t fall, either!

There are a few epilogues which tell in detail the Zebrugge Disaster (the ship involved was being towed away when the storm happened) and the story of Sri Lankan refugees and the lawyer who helped them (in two chapters; they were on a holding ship that was decommissioned after the storm) as well as the holding ship itself. I can see she did the research and wanted to honour these stories but it seemed a bit too much, trying to include everything. The notes and bibliography were great, though.


Who’s your favourite travel writer? For me, it’s Newby, sulky old Paul Theroux and those brilliant women who trek all over the place like Dervla Murphy.

Book review – Sarah Reinertsen – “In a Single Bound” #amreading

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My friend Cari has been a book friend for well over a decade: we met through BookCrossing but only actually met in August 2018 when she came over to the UK and spent a couple of days up here – and she’s also a running friend now, so we went for a run then and swap inspiration and support in that area of our lives, too. Cari’s excellent at sending book parcels over here, or bringing piles of books in person, it turns out (I am less good though have sent her some real crackers, and did ‘enable’ her doing some good purchasing in charity shops. So this book was the ideal cross-over of a BookCrossing registered book about a runner, passed to me with a few others when we met!

Sarah Reinertsen (with Alan Goldsher) – “In a Single Bound”

(BookCrossing/Cari 23 August 2018)

Sarah had a congenital defect which left her with one smaller leg, and made the decision to have it amputated to give a better chance of using more useful prosthetics. After a few false starts, she was introduced to a disability sport mentor then took up athletics, first as a sprinter (and a world-record-winning one) and then, when she became frustrated with the lack of numbers in the sport whihc led to farcical races between a field with too many different categorisations at the Paralympics, triathlon and marathon.

As a trained journalist, she notices and describes all aspects of competitions, from the officials to the media surrounding them, as well as her own trials and tribulations and those of the people around her, which gives an extra depth to her descriptions.

I liked her honesty most, from her descriptions of her dysfunctional family and the hard work they put in to mend (or not) to her tales of her wilder student days (and mention of the band The Violent Femmes, which doesn’t happen often!) and her thoughts and thought processes on re-encountering her old football coach, whose behaviour she’d talked about in lots of presentations and in the book. I also loved her comparison of a triathlon to a wedding day (the expense, it lasting approx 18 hours, your family seeing you whizz by for about 6 minutes during the whole day …)!

I’ll be sharing this on with other running readers who I’m sure will appreciate it as much as I did.

Sedate lady running 24 Feb – 01 March 2020 #amrunning #running

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After a bit of a sad post last week, I’m back up to running properly and reasonably freely and happily, and back up to a decent distance again after some fairly weak and weedy attempts. And of course I feel better for it. I haven’t been recording my steps every day or trying to get to 70,000 for the week every week because sometimes you have to let go of some stuff and be kind to yourself – right? US readers, please have a look at the end of this post, just above my mileage stats, in case you’re anywhere near Ben the 401 Marathons Runner’s challenge.

Tuesday – Went the long way round to running club, to drop some cheese off to Ruth first. We ran to the meet-up point together but I ended up running with Caroline for a lot of the way. It was very cold and wet, with rain turning into great big snowflakes just when we were at one of the furthest points from my house – it was like running into a snowglobe for a bit. My glasses seemed to catch snow and rain inside and out, and even though I was wearing my fairly powerful chest light, I got a bit panicky at one point that I just Could Not See, and I had to stop and wipe the inside of my glasses! It felt a bit better after that, and then I ran part of the way home with Ruth then off on my own for the last bit. I was home alone at the start of the week, with Matthew in Romania for work, so things were a bit challenging (sole control of the cats, though with a cat sitter friend coming in to help with the midday feed as she was covering the evening feed on Thursday) but I slept well once I’d got warm! No photographs, oddly enough! 6.2 miles was quite a lot for me for an evening run!

1.5 miles, 11:45 mins per mile / 4.7 miles, 12:41 mins per mile

Friday – Got in a lunchtime run with Claire, during which we got very cross that it was so very, very puddly and muddy. We did the 4 mile canal route and skipped the bit in the wood where we knew there’d be a flood but there was so much water everywhere else, with lots of sighing and getting soggy socks.

We stopped to take a selfie at the end, and as I adjusted my RED January buff to show the pattern off better, soaking wet, freezing material slapped against my neck and freezing water ran inside my top – and I jumped and pressed the button for what is basically my photo of the year so far.

Liz and Claire4.1 miles, 13:25 mins per mile

Saturday – This had to be long run day for various reasons and I wanted to get out early, so I met Mary Ellen at 7.30 am then we ran up to fetch Jenny, who we haven’t run with for ages – lovely to see her again. We ran her down to yoga then picked up Ruth, who we ran back down to Kings Heath. Then we had about 7 miles to do so ran up to the park – in fact, we managed to run in Kings Heath, Swanshurst and Highbury parks, so got some good nature and birdsong in, which was lovely. Conditions were challenging though – damp underfoot and cold, with wind and rain (I did say, “At least it’s not hailing” and it DID actually hail just after we got home). But soooo typical, we got back and the sun came out, with blue skies. I managed 10 miles to round up my week to the usual, and Mary Ellen did 10.5 to get over 18 for the week – good work!

Mary Ellen and Liz - blue skies

Blue skies! Photo by Mary Ellen.

10 miles, 13:13 mins per mile.

That was the furthest I’d run for weeks and weeks, so I was happy with the distance and the pace and not feeling too bad for it. Even better, my weekly total tipped my yearly total for Ben the 401 Runner’s USA challenge distance challenge over 1,000 miles for March-March, so I will get the 1,000 mile t-shirt. I wasn’t sure I’d make it for a while, so very pleased. More info on Ben’s own challenge here. If you’re in the US, maybe you’re on one of his cycle routes or in one of the cities he’s running in!

weekly-run-down-final-300x300Weekly total 20.3 miles. Total this year 166.4 miles (I have said goodbye to my 2020 km plan for the year but am only 2 miles off track for 1,000 miles in the calendar year).

The Weekly Run Down is run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Kim’s weekly wrap is here and Deborah’s is here.

 

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