Books to look back on and books to look forward to

Friday December 17, 2021 5:15 am

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT – AUG 31: Shelves of library books are reflected in the Newfield Elementary School media center on August 31, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. The school library, like many in the United States, will largely be closed to students due to the coronavirus pandemic. Stamford Public Schools are opening the fall semester using a hybrid model, although many families have chosen the distance learning option. (Photo by John Moore / Getty Images)

Central Bank 101 by Joseph Wang

Central Bank 101 by Joseph Wang

If you didn’t know what yesterday’s Bank of England rate hike meant, this book is for you. Over the past year, words like quantitative easing have been used with surprising regularity, as has happened to other concepts normally relegated to financial pages. Central Banking 101 aims to put much of this into context and make sense of these mysterious institutions – central banks.

Joseph Wang, a former trader with the US Federal Reserve’s Open Markets Office, provided an easy-to-digest introduction to the role of central banks in guiding the economic direction of their respective countries. Wang provides an update on the impact of rising or falling interest rates on households, businesses and financial markets. He provides clear examples throughout the book to help the reader grasp difficult concepts.

As the Covid-19 crisis continues, Wang’s field experience at the heart of the world’s most powerful central bank is a crucial resource in helping the layman understand where the global economy may be heading next.

Broken Hearts – Sebastian Payne

Broken hearts by Sebastian Payne

As Boris Johnson recalls the last Christmas he enjoyed, following his crushing 2019 election, Financial Times reporter Sebastian Payne examines how the bricks of the red wall were sprayed with plasters of blue paint. In a red Mini Cooper, Payne toured ten of the constituencies that delivered his victory to the Prime Minister.

The book is also accompanied by an impressive series of interviews with most of the big names in politics of the past two decades, including Boris Johnson, Tony Blair, Keir Starmer, Neil Kinnock, Andy Burnham and Ed Milliband.

The story reads as a warning to Starmer of the difficult battle that he must regain his credibility with these voters. Demographic changes have meant that previously industrial cities have become middle classes. During this time, the nature of poverty has changed and the emotional connection with Labor has been severed.

Even as the Labor Party skyrockets in the polls at the end of the year, it’s essential reading for anyone hoping to understand how a party built on the back of a class system will struggle to regain its grip on it. the hearts and minds of the future.

Perplexity – Richard Powers

Perplexity by Richard Powers

Basically, Bewilderment is the story of a father desperate to protect a child who is too sensitive for the world as it currently stands. It follows narrator Theo Byrne, an academic astrobiologist, and his son Robin, who has behavioral issues. Robin’s mother – the wife of Theo – Alys, a bird-loving environmental activist, was killed in a car accident.

As Robin’s emotional outbursts and anger grow more extreme, they turn to unusual treatment to try and find a solution. As many reassess their relationship with the natural world, Powers uses her novel to make a statement about our emotional disconnection from people and Mother Nature.

In his efforts to influence his reader, he runs the risk of straying into the territory of moralizing storytelling. It is clearly as much an indictment of the United States who voted for Donald Trump. The fictitious president and the contempt of power for him are barely veiled.

He is nonetheless obsessive in his portrayal of a boy sensitive to all the evils that we reject, perhaps too easily.

Monogamy – Sue Miller

Monogamy by Sue Miller

Grieving is extremely subjective in the way we accept it, but universal in its startling pain. The more you have loved someone, the more painful it is when they leave. This is what Monogamy explores, with a delicate and discreet look.

The book is a tribute to the life together of Annie and Graham. With its atmosphere of cheerful dinners, intimate scenes of raising children and sharing home life, it feels so relatable it hurts. From love to heartbreak, from loyalty to trust, the book takes a serious look at the crux of it all and asks: is monogamy the only way to love?

Whether you cheat for the excitement, or “maybe even for that same dread” that comes afterwards, as Graham thinks, you can’t undo it. For Frieda, Graham’s first wife, “Love isn’t just what two people have together, it’s what two people do together, so it’s never the same.” Whether you are happy with this vision or not, there is much to think about in the book.

Chew the Fat – Jay Rayner

Chew The Fat By Jay Rayner

Food critic Jay Rayner begins “Chewing the Fat” by suggesting that it is the ideal “toilet book”, because of the time it takes to read each of the 600-word columns in the collection (Amy O’Brien writes ). But other than this conciseness, there isn’t much else to justify confining this laughing book outside the bog.

It’s hard not to nod as you read every initial and frantic chapter.

Maybe that’s because I’m in the same category of foodie as Rayner, “the kind of person who picks up the crispy bits from the bottom of the greasy pork roasting pan.” But no matter where you rank on the Richter greed scale, some of his views must be universally shared.

Can’t we all agree with him about the lack of food on UK public transport, where a long train journey is bogged down by the prospect of having to buy lunch on board? Where “buffet car sandwiches taste like profit and old age”?

Other views are more controversial, but I still can’t help but nod to each one. The buffets are “where the ingredients go to die” and “an edible Russian roulette game”.

The best chapter is undoubtedly devoted to the suppression of the concept of picnic. “The quality of a dining experience decreases in direct proportion to the distance it travels from its point of origin,” says Rayner.

Instead of the popular magazine fantasy sold to us, lofty ambitions translate into “a poached fish that crumbles faster than the face of Michael Jackson.”

In an aptly festive chapter, Rayner reminds us that, while the Omicron variant doesn’t save you from harboring irritating parents, “making Christmas lunch is a glorious way to get away from the Christmas nightmare.”

As we sit in limbo between a brief period of dining out and the prospect of being locked in our own kitchens again, Chewing the Fat is a comforting read.

A celebration of the best things to do your way and a timely reminder of everything there is to hate about other people’s kitchens.

Freedom to Think – Susie Alegre

Freedom to Think by Susie Alegre

Without a moment’s pause, we share our most intimate thoughts with multi-billion dollar tech companies. Their algorithms categorize us and jump to conclusions about who we are. They even shape our daily thoughts and actions – from how we hang out to how we vote.

But this is only the last front in an age-old struggle.

Both historic and manifest, Freedom to Think traces the history and importance of our most fundamental human right: freedom of thought.

From Galileo to Nudge Theory to Alexa, human rights lawyer Susie Alegre explores how the powerful have always sought to enter our heads, influence the way we think and shape what we buy.

Offering a daring new framework to understand how our agency is progressively undermined, Freedom to Think is a revolutionary and vital charter to reclaim our humanity and safeguard our sanity.

Alegre’s chronicles on the value of human rights, the duty of care we owe our children in the internet age, and the power of small islands in tackling climate change were featured in CityA.M.

That Deadly Coil – Andrew Doig

This Deadly Coil by Andrew Doig

There is nothing like a pandemic to force humans into an uncomfortable confrontation with their own fragility. From Black Death to Smallpox This Mortal Coil by Andrew Doig reminds us that some of mankind’s most miraculous innovations – including vaccines, statistics, and gene sequencing – were born out of society’s attempts to thwart the death.

Too often, however, life-saving inventions are accumulated rather than shared equally.

The practice of using forceps to help mothers deliver safely could have saved thousands of lives if the company that invented the tool in the 16th century had not kept it a secret for over a hundred years.

Large health inequalities still persist today in the world with a GDP closely linked to life expectancy.

The Covid-19 pandemic is no exception. Insufficient vaccine equity has made people living in the world’s poorest countries more vulnerable to the disease.

Although the latest global pandemic is barely mentioned by Doig, it’s hard to imagine a book with more insightful information on how societies fail and succeed when faced with threats to life.

About Marcia G. Hussain

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