Lowborn, by Kerry Hudson (Vintage, 2020)

A writer revisits her younger life and self. Excellent autobiographical exploration of how class, gender, substance abuse, poor mental health, homelessness, poverty and related issues may intersect and inform each other. Neither sentimental nor sensationalist, but clear and compassionate throughout. Plus, a Proustian moment (involving banana-flavoured vitamin drops) for me. Recommended.

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

Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss (WH Allen, 2013)

An exploration of processed foods, in product formulation and marketing terms, and the health implications of reliance on prepackaged convenience eating. This US-centric discussion is detailed and clear on the ways major companies structure desire (the “bliss points” of food) through chemistry and psychological manipulation. Recommended.

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

Billionaires: The Lives of the Rich and Powerful, by Darryl Cunningham (Myriad Editions, 2019)

Three case studies of extreme wealth and power: Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Jeff Bezos. A confident blend of biography and polemic, clearly making the argument that power corrupts, and that money distorts. Lots to ponder on here, rendered in a  chirpy and accessible graphic format. Recommended.

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

The Trick, by William Leith (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020)

The journalist explores the secret to making money, through reflecting on his parlous financial life and on his wealthy interview subjects. Typically self-absorbed and confident, Leith’s third book is a zippy treat, even if you might not want to spend time with anyone featured in it. The trick itself is revealed on p.198.

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

Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef, by Mark Schatzker (Periscope Books, 2015)

An investigation into what makes for the best steak. Jolly travelogue-cum-popular science book that relies a touch too much on stereotypes to get its points across, but nevertheless has much to say about cattle, compassion in farming, and in the relationship between process and product in an era of increasingly-mechanised and volume-driven production.

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

The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, by Mark Schatzker (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

An exploration of the relationship between food flavour, nutritional qualities and diet, and the ways in which processed food industries work to substitute quality for flavour. A smart, clear overview of the topic area. Accessible and informative, even if its conclusions are straightforward.

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