Category Archives: All Time Favourites

Amazing Books Discussed in Recent Podcasts

Oh how we love a good podcast, and we know you do too so imagine our crazy exciting geeking out levels when our favourite podcasts recommend a book! We have rounded up six must read books that have all been mentioned in recent episodes of some of our top podcasts. 

Buckle yourself in because once you’ve had a read you’ll want to pop your headphones on and have a good old podcast binge. 

From Will Anderson’s Wilosophy: Women and Leadership by Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

From their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatment of leaders. Women and Leadership takes a consistent and comprehensive approach to teasing out what is different for women leaders. Almost every year new findings are published about the way people see women leaders compared with their male counterparts. The authors have taken that academic work and tested it in the real world. The same set of interview questions were put to each leader in frank face-to-face interviews. Their responses were then used to examine each woman’s journey in leadership and whether their lived experiences were in line with or different from what the research would predict. Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women’s access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end. By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias. Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.

From No Such Thing as a Fish: The Book of the Year 2019 by No Such Thing As A Fish

In a year when South Korea announced that its new robotics museum will be built by robots, and French cheese terrorists put a camembert through every French MP’s letterbox, The Book of the Year returns with another dose of barely believable yet bona fide facts and stories from the past twelve months. Each week for the past five years, Dan, James, Anna and Andy, the creators of the award-winning, chart-topping comedy podcast No Such Thing as a Fish, have wowed each other and millions of listeners with the most astonishing trivia they have learned over the previous seven days. Now, once again, they have scoured the newspapers for hidden gems, and transformed another year’s worth of weird and wonderful happenings into one uplifting book that you won’t be able to put down. Discover how TV channel Hallmark has so many new Christmas movies that it will now start airing them from July. Be amused to learn that a thousand people were hired to attend a rally in Kiev to protest against the practice of hiring people to attend rallies. Share the excitement of the scientists who discovered that more attractive monkeys have smaller testicles. Revel in the news that Carlsberg launched a new advertising campaign admitting it is ‘probably not the best beer in the world’. Feel a little sympathy for Ariana Grande, who got a Japanese tattoo she intended to say ‘Seven Rings’ but that actually ended up reading ‘small charcoal grill’. From ecologically minded Birmingham drug dealers to dodgy Belgian petanque players, The Book of the Year 2019 is an eye-opening tour of yet another incredible year you didn’t know you’d lived through. Imagine what the 2020 version will be like!

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From No Such Thing As A Fish: Between the Stops by Sandi Toksvig

This long-awaited memoir from one of Britain’s best-loved celebrities (a writer, broadcaster, activist, comic on stage, screen and radio for nearly forty years, presenter of QI and Great British Bake Off star) is an autobiography with a difference: as only Sandi Toksvig can tell it. ‘Between the Stops is a sort of a memoir, my sort. It’s about a bus trip really, because it’s my view from the Number 12 bus (mostly top deck, the seat at the front on the right), a double-decker that plies its way from Dulwich, in South East London, where I was living, to where I sometimes work – at the BBC, in the heart of the capital. It’s not a sensible way to write a memoir at all, probably, but it’s the way things pop into your head as you travel, so it’s my way’. From London facts including where to find the blue plaque for Una Marson, ‘The first black woman programme maker at the BBC’, to discovering the best Spanish coffee under Southwark’s railway arches; from a brief history of lady gangsters at Elephant and Castle to memories of climbing Mount Sinai and, at the request of a fellow traveller, reading aloud the Ten Commandments; from the story behind Pissarro’s painting of Dulwich Station to performing in Footlights with Emma Thompson; from painful memoires of being sent to Coventry while at a British boarding school to thinking about how Wombells Travelling Circus of 1864 haunts Peckham Rye; from anecdotes about meeting Prince Charles, Monica Lewinsky and Grayson Perry to Bake-Off antics; from stories of a real and lasting friendship with John McCarthy to the importance of family and the daunting navigation of the Zambezi River in her father’s canoe, this Sandi Toksvig-style memoir is, as one would expect and hope, packed full of surprises. A funny and moving trip through memories, musings and the many delights on the Number 12 route, Between the Stops is also an inspiration to us all to get off our phones, look up and to talk to each other because as Sandi says: ‘some of the greatest trips lie on our own doorstep’.

From The Bill Simmons Podcast: Super Forecasting by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner

What if we could improve our ability to predict the future? Everything we do involves forecasts about how the future will unfold. Whether buying a new house or changing job, designing a new product or getting married, our decisions are governed by implicit predictions of how things are likely to turn out. The problem is, we’re not very good at it. In a landmark, twenty-year study, Wharton professor Philip Tetlock showed that the average expert was only slightly better at predicting the future than a layperson using random guesswork. Tetlock’s latest project – an unprecedented, government-funded forecasting tournament involving over a million individual predictions – has since shown that there are, however, some people with real, demonstrable foresight. These are ordinary people, from former ballroom dancers to retired computer programmers, who have an extraordinary ability to predict the future with a degree of accuracy 60% greater than average. They are superforecasters. In Superforecasting, Tetlock and his co-author Dan Gardner offer a fascinating insight into what we can learn from this elite group. They show the methods used by these superforecasters which enable them to outperform even professional intelligence analysts with access to classified data. And they offer practical advice on how we can all use these methods for our own benefit – whether in business, in international affairs, or in everyday life.

From Revisionist History: Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

In July 2015, a young black woman named Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic violation in rural Texas. Minutes later she was arrested and jailed. Three days later, she committed suicide in her cell. What went wrong? Talking to Strangers is all about what happens when we encounter people we don’t know, why it often goes awry, and what it says about us. How do we make sense of the unfamiliar? Why are we so bad at judging someone, reading a face, or detecting a lie? Why do we so often fail to ‘get’ other people? Through a series of puzzles, encounters and misunderstandings, from little-known stories to infamous legal cases, Gladwell takes us on a journey through the unexpected. You will read about the spy who spent years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the man who saw through the fraudster Bernie Madoff, the suicide of the poet Sylvia Plath and the false conviction of Amanda Knox. You will discover that strangers are never simple. No one shows us who we are like Malcolm Gladwell. Here he sets out to understand why we act the way we do, and how we all might know a little more about those we don’t.

From The Emma Guns Show: How to Survive the End of the World (When it’s in Your Own Head) by Aaron Gilles

There are plenty of books out there on how to survive a zombie apocalypse, all-out nuclear war, or Armageddon. But what happens when it feels like the world is ending every single time you wake up? That’s what having anxiety is like – and How to Survive the End of the World is here to help. Or at least make you feel like you’re not so alone. From helping readers identify the enemy, to safeguarding the vulnerable areas of their lives, Aaron Gillies examines the impact of anxiety, and gives readers some tools to fight back, whether with medication, therapy, CBT, coping techniques, or simply with a dark sense of humour.

And as promised…here’s your list of podcasts to happily binge.

Will Anderson’s Wilosophy

No Such Things as a Fish

The Bill Simmons Podcast

Revisionist History 

The Emma Guns Show

Enjoy!

Grow your general knowledge with Booko: A Brief History of Time

Today’s recommended book to help grow your general knowledge is one of the most fascinating glances into the mind of a genius. It’s Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.


Books that have come to life on the small screen

Which is better, the book, the mini series or the movie?

It’s an ongoing debate that pops up each time a story makes the transition from our bookshelves onto our screens. The beauty of books is that readers get to exercise their imagination beyond the descriptions of characters and settings created by the author. It’s when directors and actors add their own ‘twist’ to the characters in our heads that the debate begins.

There are a number of new adaptations that are being made and have either just launched, or will be gracing our screens in coming months. Today we’re having a look at some of the wonderful stories that either just have, or will be, coming to life. 

Be sure to share in the comments below which has been your favourite book-to-movie (or mini series) transition. 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Starring Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Samara Weaving, and Manny Jacinto, a great cast is coming together to bring Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers to our screens.

One house. Nine strangers. Ten days that will change everything. The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.

Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.

Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined. For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda. These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere has been made into a tv series staring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, both of whom also executive produced the show, alongside Liz Tigelaar, Lauren Neustadter, and Pilar Savone. 

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down. In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned, from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother,  who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants.  All four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family, and Mia’s. 

The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider is an American horror crime drama mini series based on the novel by Stephen King. It stars Ben Mendelsohn, Bill Camp, Paddy Considine, Julianne Nicholson, Jason Bateman (who also happened to direct the first two episodes) and Cynthia Erivo.

When an eleven year old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man. Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day. As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

Survive by Alex Morel 

Love is a force of nature. What makes you fight to stay alive? The movie version of Survive stars Sophie Turner and is a gripping adventure story that will have you on the edge of your seat from the first chapter. Jane is running away from everything. From the facility she’s been living in, from her pain, from her guilt, from life. She boards a plane to Montclair, New Jersey, though her destination does not matter she doesn’t plan to be alive when the plane lands. Jane has planned the perfect suicide. She’ll fall asleep on the plane and never wake up. But as she’s reaching for her pills in the tiny bathroom, the plane hits turbulence. Another jolt, the engine’s down. The plane crashes into the cold, remote mountains of Montana, and Jane and a boy named Paul are the only two survivors. It took a brush with death to make Jane realise that she didn’t want to die. But now there is snow, mountains, cliffs, little food and no water standing between life and death. And suddenly it’s not just Jane. There is another person in the equation and she needs to get them both to safety. She needs them both to survive.

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery star in the mini series version of this gripping story by Willian Landay.

When a teenaged boy is discovered stabbed to death in the woods adjoining the local high school, a wave of shock ripples through the suburban community of Newton, outside of Boston. Assistant district attorney Andy Barber is used to dealing with murder and its after efffects, but with his own son, Jacob, also a student at the school, he too is anxious for a swift arrest and conviction. But as the kids appear to be stonewalling the cops and the investigation stalls, evidence emerges that ties Jacob to the crime and suddenly Andy faces a very different challenge: preventing his son from being convicted of murder. Together with his wife, Laurie, the family closes ranks in the midst of an increasingly hostile community as Andy prepares for the trial of his life, the one trial he cannot afford to lose. Especially when the emergence of his own dark family secrets threatens to undermine Jacob’s defence. And as the drama reaches its climax, Andy and Laurie have to face every parent’s toughest questions: how well do you really know your own child, and how far would you go to save them?

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

Around the world, millions of readers have been captivated by Wally Lamb’s incredible talent in representing the lost and the lonely. It’s the story of Dominick Birdsey, whose entire life has been shaped by anger and fear, by the paranoid schizophrenic twin brother that he deeply loves and resents. The two brothers share a family history that includes an adoptive father, Ray, and a long-suffering mother, Concettina, a timid woman with a harelip and a huge desire to protect her troubled son, Thomas, as the demons of his schizophrenia become increasingly apparent. But as Thomas commits an act which sends him to strict confinement for the mentally ill, Dominick’s life spins even further out of control. He attempts to come to terms with the desire to rescue his brother and fears about his own psychological health and his inability to love. Dominick’s journey is illuminated, and further complicated, by a fable-like account of his grandfather Domenico Onofrio Tempesta’s life. As Dominick continues to face the pain of loss, he must rebuild himself in the shadow of his twin, and come to grips with his anger in order to forgive. 

On screen you’ll see Mark Ruffalo play both Dominick and his brother Thomas in the mini series adaptation. 

Of course, there is one other new addition to our screens, which has been eagerly awaited in our household…The Babysitters Club. The Babysitters Club books have been treasured stories for many generations and have undergone adaptations to graphic novels (you can check those out here) along with launching on Netflix in the past few weeks. 


Enjoy!

Books of the World: The Joy Luck Club

Today’s Book of the World is The Joy Luck Club by Any Tan. With wit and sensitivity, it is now widely regarded as a modern classic examining the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between four women and their American-born daughters.