Futurekind: Design by and for the People by Robert Phillips

Review by Liz Dexter, 17 September 2019 Robert Phillips is a senior tutor on the Design Products course at the Royal College of Art, as well as being an award-winning product designer in his own right.  He researches open design and citizen science and all this means he’s the ideal person to introduce the world…

The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds by Stephen Rutt

Review by Liz Dexter, 8 Aug 2019 This charming and perceptive book opens with a gut-wrenching account of taking off in a very small plane from Kirkwall in Orkney, travelling to North Ronaldsay. But how has the author got to this point? Well, he got into birdwatching through his father seeing his first Cetti’s warbler:…

Birds in the Ancient World: Winged Words by Jeremy Mynott

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Jeremy Mynott is both a classical scholar and a writer on birds, and his love and deep knowledge of both areas shine through in this fascinating and rather wonderful book. From the preface, where he describes the variety of birds to be found in Athens and Rome, to the epilogue, which…

Chromatopia: An Illustrated History of Colour by David Coles

Reviewed by Liz Dexter This truly spectacular book would grace any coffee table with ease, but it’s more than just a pretty face, with fascinating facts in abundance and offers a good read to anyone interested in art, colour or indeed chemistry. After an introduction to the author, who runs a small paint-making company in…

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Reviewed by Liz Dexter I felt a little overwhelmed facing up to reviewing this book, as there have been many reviews published since it came out in March this year. But then, looking at those reviews, you notice something: most of them are by women. Because, inevitably it seems, this will have been ‘othered’, passed…

The Women’s Atlas by Joni Seager

Reviewed by Liz Dexter On this book there’s a quote from Catherine Mayer, Co-Founder of the Women’s Equality Party: “The most important book that will be published this year” and it’s probably one of the most important books to be published EVERY year. All the information we maybe turn our faces away from, not wanting…

Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy Newman

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Cathy Newman is one of Channel 4 News’ main studio presenters and specialises in investigative journalism too. Here she brings her feminism and writing talents to bear on, as she puts it in the subtitle of the book, some women that people might not have heard of, bringing their stories to…

Viking Britain: A History by Thomas Williams

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Williams opens this wonderful, absorbing book with a big statement about how the Vikings are not afforded the same respect as, say, the Romans, having become almost a cartoonish stereotype, equated just about with pirates, cavemen and dinosaurs. He shares a rather ridiculous review of the British Museum’s Vikings: Life and…

Sacred Britannia by Miranda Aldhouse-Green

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Miranda Aldhouse-Green is a specialist in Romano-British studies and Iron Age archaeology and has written other books on myth and religion in this period, so you know you’re in safe hands as she draws together a wealth of information from archaeological finds dating from the 18th century to 2015 in this…

The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah: The Autobiography

Reviewed by Liz Dexter “I hate autobiographies. They’re so fake”. That’s an astounding opening sentence but one that doesn’t really surprise, given that it’s written by a man who’s spent his life so far pushing against fakeness and politics, ploughing his own furrow, choosing to do things before he even knows the name for them…

Souvenir by Rolf Potts

Reviewed by Liz Dexter This book is part of the Object Lessons series, which exists to highlight the hidden lives of ordinary things. This one is about travel souvenirs brought home by fairly standard people; other volumes consider, for example, rust, dust, traffic and luggage. If they’re anything like Souvenir, they’re a series to rush…

Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan

Reviewed by Liz Dexter This is a truly delightful book which is a MUST if you’re a 35-55 year old British person and a great read for everyone else, too. Enjoy a lovely journey through children’s books as Mangan takes you through her reading childhood from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Judy Blume, with stops…

My Life, Our Times by Gordon Brown

Reviewed by Liz Dexter It’s the book everyone’s been waiting for that fills in the gaps left by Tony Blair’s autobiography and the various books on the financial crisis, the 2010 election and the fortunes of Labour. If you’re looking for a quick and easy read, this, to be fair, isn’t it: if you’re looking…

Eastern Horizons: Hitchhiking the Silk Road by Levison Wood

Reviewed by Liz Dexter It’s worth noting from the off that this is not a ‘new’ travel book by the popular explorer, but a revisiting of a journey he made in his early 20s, in the early part of this century. He hadn’t published on it before and apparently enjoyed revisiting his notebooks; it also…

Icebreaker by Horatio Clare

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Horatio Clare, who is quite an accomplished nature and travel writer, having a book on container ships and several on birds to his name, takes a journey to the far North, going out with an icebreaker ship for a working trip in the Bay of Bothnia, setting off from Finland and…

Women and Power by Mary Beard

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Mary Beard is described as being ‘Britain’s best–known classicist’ on the inside front flap of this book. She’s also known for having experienced her unfair share of vileness and opprobrium from internet trolls seeking to silence her both for being an expert and, in particular, for having views on gender-related issues.…