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.

Downsizing, by Tom Watson & Jo Lake (Kyle Books, 2020)

The former Labour politician’s account of his eight-stone weight loss, and the reversal of Type 2 diabetes. A scrappy book: equal parts name-droptastic autobiography, diet book (keto, basically), and Big Sugar polemic. While the core messages are sound, the scattershot approach – which reads as padding –  might be frustrating for some looking for focus.

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.

Coal Town, by Mik Critchlow (Bluecoat Press, 2019)

A documentary record in photographs of mining communities in 1980s Northumberland. Epic and elegiac without being sentimental, the end of an era, an industry and to some extent a community captured in these compelling black-and-white images. A storming social history neither glamorizing nor criticising its subjects. Hugely recommended.

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

No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference, by Greta Thunberg (Penguin, 2019)

A collection of short speeches made in 2018 and 2019 by the teen climate change activist. The same ideas, repeated in different ways; a series of pleas for meaningful action against global warming to be prioritised over pointless rhetoric or ignoring the issues. Clear, straightforward and accessible.

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

Prison: A Survival Guide, by Carl Cattermole and others (Ebury/Penguin, 2019)

Prisoners’ perspectives of the UK penal system; what it’s really like on the inside, and where to get help. An invigorating, detailed and illuminating read, that’s critical but fair-minded in its assessment of what life in jail is like, and on what works (not much) and what doesn’t. Recommended.

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