A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner, by Chris Atkins (Atlantic Books, 2020)

The prison diaries of a fraudster, focusing on an initial nine months in HMP Wandsworth. A privileged perspective as the author notes (a middle-class documentarian), but a vivid account nevertheless, evidencing the UK penal system as chronically underfunded, dysfunctional, and counter-productive towards rehabilitation. Darkly funny throughout, though more focus on the regime mechanics would have been interesting.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Takeaway: Stories From a Childhood Behind the Counter, by Angela Hui (Trapeze Books, 2022)

An autobiography, focusing on childhood and adolescence as the daughter of Chinese takeaway owners in 00s South Wales. An engaging account, addressing stressful family relationships, the mechanics of independent fast food, being an outsider in an insular community, experiencing racism, and reconciling multiple identities. Plus recipes, both family and commercial. Plenty to appreciate and to think on, basically.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Put Your Ass [Where Your Heart Wants To Be], by Steven Pressfield (Sarsaparilla Media, 2022)

Another of Pressfield’s motivational books on creativity and overcoming barriers to getting work done, this time prioritising focus, place, and effort. The same but different: core messages from Pressfield’s other books are repeated, but the effect is cumulative. Plenty for those who think they’re struggling to be creative to reflect on.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life, by Hal Needham (Little, Brown, 2011).

The autobiography of the leading stuntman-turned-movie director. Packed full of anecdotes, this gung-ho version of events emphasises can-do attitude while giving plenty of insights into moviemaking and into what’s involved in executing high falls and car crashes. Lots of fun, even if you’re left wanting to know more about the stuff (and movies like Megaforce) that gets glossed over.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Field Notes: Walking the Territory, by Maxim Peter Griffin (Unbound, 2022)

A possible diary in images and words of a year in the East of Lincolnshire. Can’t say more than that – and this isn’t a review, ‘cos family – but if you’re familiar with Maxim Griffin’s work then this is the motherlode to date. If you haven’t, then this is your departure point. Get on it now before the inevitable Werner Herzog/Ben Wheatley/Johnny Nice bidding war begins. Onwards, as Maxim is wont to say.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Walking: One Step At A Time, by Erling Kagge [trans. Becky L Crook] (Penguin, 2019)

Philosophical musings on walking, drawing on both personal experiences (both poles and Everest included) and wider literature. Maybe a touch whimsical for some readers, but nevertheless a useful first-hand perspective about how and why walking is necessary for being both human and centred.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Paul At Home, by Michel Rabagliati [trans. Helge Dascher & Rob Aspinall] (Drawn & Quarterly, 2020)

A divorced graphic designer struggles with middle age. Charming, melancholy and well-observed quasi-autobiographical graphic novel, the most recent – to date – in the long-running Paul series. Plenty to appreciate both for newcomers and for those who are growing old alongside the protagonist.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Monologues of Shite, by Emily Cullen (no publisher indicated, 2022)

A young woman returns to her parental home for the first 2020 coronavirus lockdown. An excellent quirky little book, mostly documenting/diarising in graphic form her Dad’s rambles, both literal and linguistic. Lots of fun, and well-observed. A handy partner to Rachael Smith’s Quarantine Comix, taking a very different route through the same time. Recommended.

Not sure how widely available this is: I got my copy online from OK Comics.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict, by William Leith (Bloomsbury, 2006)

A shambolic writer investigates the diet industry while facing up to his own issues. Funny in places and well-written in confident journalese, this kinda autobiography is as 00s as it gets, dated in some respects (a reliance on James Frey), padded at times, but is good on self-loathing. The secret? Therapy: food and other substance issues are linked to unresolved psychological problems, per this account.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Strawberries To Pigs, by Michael Legge (Go Faster Stripe, 2021)

A collection of writings from the splenetic stand-up. And a pretty decent selection too. Mostly rejigged bits of bloggery, plus an extended short story (that feels a bit like padding in this context, to be fair). Plenty of fury, as fans might expect, and some strong writing to go along with that. A second volume would be something to look forward to.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.