“They Were Her Property” by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

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Thanks to Yale University Press and NetGalley for providing me with an Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is an important book in a much-overlooked topic. All too often in historical writing we see white women being given a free pass when it comes to their culpability for the horrors of slavery. This book seeks to set the record straight and change our assumptions about antebellum women slave-owners.

Continue reading ““They Were Her Property” by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers”

“Notes to Self” by Emilie Pine

Thanks to Penguin Books UK and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I actually finished this book a few weeks ago but felt I needed some time to ruminate about it before writing my review. This book deals with some really tough subjects and issues that have also affected me. It’s raw, unflinchingly honest and personal and I think many other women will feel the same affinity with the author whilst reading it. Continue reading ““Notes to Self” by Emilie Pine”

“Salt on Your Tongue” by Charlotte Runcie

 

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Thanks to Canongate and NetGalley for the review copy. 

I’m beginning to wonder if Canongate are even capable of publishing a bad book. 

Salt on Your Tongue by Charlotte Runcie is a wonderful exploration of women and the sea. Interspersed with Runcie’s personal experiences as a woman and her relationships with women in her life, in particular her grandmother, are writings about myths, folkore and superstitions linked to the sea as well as history, art, religion, literature, culture and the natural world. There is a Scottish focus for much of the book, particularly the East Coast of Scotland. I grew up in the Highlands of Scotland very close to the sea and have always felt its lure. Some of my ancestors were fishermen and many relatives both current and distant still live by the sea. The author explores other coastal settings in Scotland familiar to me such as Skye, the Scottish Islands, Edinburgh, and the coastal regions around Fife as well as other settings around the UK and the world.   Continue reading ““Salt on Your Tongue” by Charlotte Runcie”

“How Scotland Works” by Andrew Conway

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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy.

As someone who has worked as a Social Studies teacher and currently works for local government in Scotland I was keen to see what this book offered to supplement my existing knowledge.

It covers an impressively vast amount of factual information and statistics about subjects including demographics, geography, language, immigration, energy, wealth and poverty, education, public spending, employment, exports and imports and political systems. Please note – this is not an exhaustive list! Continue reading ““How Scotland Works” by Andrew Conway”

“Mastering Adulthood” by Lara E. Fielding

Thanks to New Harbinger and Netgalley for the Advance Review Copy.

The title of this intrigued me enough to request it. I work a lot with young people on the cusp of adulthood so thought this might be a useful resource for them. I think this book is more aimed at older people however, perhaps those in their mid twenties.

The book is written in simple, identifiable language and contains easily accessible exercises and explanations of the topics written about in each chapter. There are reflective exercises throughout the book and an element of interactivity with QR code links to videos.

The author is clearly very experienced and the topics discussed are relevant to young people today including subjects such as self awareness, relationship dynamics, anxiety and social media, I particularly liked the Castle vs Village metaphor. There are also some cute illustrations used to enhance the content.

All that said, I couldn’t really take to this book. It’s written in a perky style and I could almost imagine a California yoga loving, life guru type shouting in my ear as I read it. There is also a criminal overuse of exclamation marks and some of the language was grating e.g. using the word ‘peeps’ instead of people. I personally prefer a more dispassionate writing style in these kinds of books.

The book is also supposed to be about mastering adulthood but I found some of the advice quite patronising and childish at times. Some of the reflective exercises were quite good but there were just too many of them to really be able to develop something meaningful from them.

The peppy style will appeal to some readers I’m sure but it was just not my bag.

“Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?” by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

 

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Thanks to Harvard Business Review Press and Netgalley for the advance review copy. 

Once I read the title of this book, I knew I had to read it. Yes, it’s a little clickbait-y but it’s certain to grab attention and get people talking. In my current role my team and I work to develop leadership skills in our organisation, and we’re often left scratching our heads as to what these should be, how we can develop them and what the barriers to leadership are, particularly for women.  

This book is quite unusual as it throws out the “fake it till you make it” advice that is often given to aspiring female leaders and eschews the type of “lean in” approach suggested by Sheryl Sanberg. It is peppered with current examples used to illustrate the points made and covers a wide range of topics current in leadership thinking such as self-awareness, resilience and emotional intelligence. It also touches upon some less discussed themes such as narcissism and psychopathy and argues that for no good reason these traits have been valued for leaders to possess. 

The book is clearly well researched and draws from a wealth of evidence and studies. Particularly interesting was the research evidence around how there is really very little difference between the genders and the exploration around misunderstandings about confidence vs competence (“Competence is how good you are at something. Confidence is how good you think you are at something”) and how what is traditionally valued in business doesn’t actually translate into tangible results and in many cases leads to team dysfunction and poor outcomes. The author argues that for women there is a Catch 22 where “traditional” leadership characteristics such as assertiveness are seen as masculine and unappealing for women to possess yet when women fail to demonstrate these traits they are seen and not having leadership potential. 

The title will put some people off and anger others, it’s controversial. The book doesn’t really touch much on what the solutions might be, and it makes some bold claims e.g. “the best and most accurate measures of psychological capital are psychometric tests” but it certainly provides a lot of food for thought. If you take a look, you’ll see there is a lot of common sense here. I would particularly recommend this book for those involved in recruitment, leadership development and aspiring leaders both male and female.

“The Book of No Worries”

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Thanks to Quarto Publishing and Netgalley for the review copy.

This book is aimed squarely at the 10-14(ish) age group (but would work for older children too) and is a simple and effective guide to tackling some of the difficult situations and feelings that tweens are likely to experience. The book tackles a wide range of issues from puberty, school related issues such as homework and exams, mental health, bullying, social media and relationships. Some of the issues tackled may seem controversial to some, but in my opinion it’s important to educate young people about the realities of life so they can make informed decisions about topics they will experience whether you as a parent may like it or not.

The illustrations by Lizzie Cox are cute and engaging and serve to enhance the material contained within the book. The text is written is clear and concise language and practical tips are given to help young people deal with some of the issues discussed. It’s a short read that is easy to dip in and out of if the reader had questions about a particular topic.

This would be a good resource for young people aged 10 and over and would also be a useful resource for those working in Guidance or School Counsellor type positions.