Americana (and The Act of Getting Over it), by Luke Healy (Nobrow, 2019)

A journal of an attempt to complete the Pacific Crest Trail, a hiking route through from Mexico to Canada. And an excellent thing it is too, detailing Healy’s fascination with the US and the Trail, and the challenges faced and friendships made on the route. Plenty to appreciate, not least the blend of simple illustrations and occasional prose sections. Recommended.

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

Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide, by John Cleese (Hutchinson, 2020)

A brisk overview of creativity as a concept and as part of writing and related practices. Straightforward and accessible (if geared to Cleese fans and to folk who know who William Goldman is) but undeniably brief, scarcely stretching to anything approaching book length. Still, some useful insights and experiences are noted.

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

The Organised Writer: How To Stay On Top Of All Your Projects And Never Miss A Deadline, by Antony Johnston (Bloomsbury, 2020)

A seasoned pro’s guide to structuring your writing life, to managing workload, and to tackling administration. A clear and detailed approach (with accompanying downloadable forms etc) that works both as a study of professional practice and as a practical how-to book. Even if you don’t put Johnston’s system into operation, there’s plenty of tips and ideas to support focus and direction.

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

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.

Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales, by Penn Gillette (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

A stage magician’s account of his weight loss, and the unorthodox methods used to achieve this. A forceful, loquacious, funny and quite possibly at times too-salty-for-some diet memoir. Interesting and a fun read into the bargain, even if the approach used might not translate. As the author notes, though, this is a case study, not a recipe to follow.

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

A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind, by Shoukei Matsumoto [trans. Ian Samhammer] (Penguin Books, 2018)

A Buddhist monk’s guide to keeping home, head and heart clean. A clear and simple guide to living frugally, respectfully, and peacefully, though consideration of daily and other rituals of cleaning, care, order, and respect for one’s possessions and environments. A beguiling mix of household tips and zen philosophy; 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.

Landscapes of Detectorists, edited by Innes M Keighren & Joanne Norcup (Uniform Books, 2020)

Academic essays on the BBC single-camera comedy Detectorists, plus context from writer/star/director Mackenzie Crook, and original producer Adam Tandy. Focusing on the programme’s engagements with landscape, history, and gender relations, this is a fine introduction to the thematic richness and blokeish pleasures of the series. Volume II, please!

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