Julia is a prolific reader. If you are looking for inspiration for your next read, check out her book reviews here.
A TIME OF BIRDS BY HELEN MOAT
7 August 2020
A Time of Birds records a woman’s journey across Europe on a bike, AKA The Tank. By and large, Helen Moat's writing is beautiful. Her references to birds throughout the book was an unusual thread that I felt worked really well. I also loved the idea of the challenge of cycling so far on an old, heavy bike, and enjoyed hearing about some of the challenges they faced and people they met.
The other half of the ‘they’ was her eighteen-year-old son – I would love to hear his account of the journey and compare the two!
I was not as convinced by the story of healing that also percolated the book. It felt more like a device to try to draw readers in than a truly critical element of the journey – and for me, the rest of the story was good enough to stand on its own.
I found A Time of Birds to be a light, easy read that flowed well and maintained my interest all the way to Istanbul.
SAPIENS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANKIND
by Yuval Noah Harari
Over the years, friends who have an interest in history have repeatedly told me that understanding history gives context to the world around us. In the past, I have never found this to be the case – I have zero interest in knowing which king or army invaded when and could not see any relevance to modern life.
In Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari tells the history of human beings, starting as an animal of no significance to becoming one that has a significant impact on every other living being on Earth. He explains how we moved from being hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists, how money has brought us all together and the role of science, technology and capitalism in our development.
In short, Sapiens is the history book that actually does provide context to our current position. It is a powerful book that has impacted on my world view, and I can highly recommend it.
THE SCIENCE OF STORYTELLING BY WILL STORR
10 July 2020
This book provides a fascinating insight into human psychology, whether or not you are interested in creative writing. It explains why change captures our attention, explores ways to stoke our curiosity and sheds light on people’s theories of control.
For those who are writing creatively, The Science of Storytelling provides practical advice on building your characters and using the plot to challenge them and their theory of control, drawing readers into the central dramatic question of who the character really is.
As I continue to develop my fiction and non-fiction writing skills, I anticipate that this is a book I will frequently refer back to.
THE WOLF: A TRUE STORY OF SURVIVAL BY NATE BLAKESLEE
22 June 2020
The re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park has been hailed as a conservation success story the world over. Their impact has been felt across the park, causing a trophic cascade of change across the whole ecosystem and highlighting the importance of apex predators for biological diversity.
Nate Blakeslee is a master storyteller. In The Wolf, he weaves together the stories of supporters, detractors and the wolves themselves into a narrative that keeps you wanting to know what happens next and how it all ends.
If you’re interested in wolves, the re-introduction of apex predators, rewilding or the interplay between politics and science, reading The Wolf will be a good investment of your time.