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AHRC's Summer Reading List 2018

The best books always come passed on from a friend or colleague and personal recommendation is the best guarantee of a good read. That’s why we asked you to send in your recommendations for superb summer reads published in the 13 years since the AHRC was founded.

We’ve picked some of our favourites and put them below with some top recommendations from AHRC staff to form the ultimate summer reading list. So if you’re looking for something to while away the rest of the good weather this summer, look no further.


The Invisible Crowd

The Invisible Crowd by Ellen Wiles
Recommended by Katherine Brickell
Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London

'If you're looking for a gripping novel that delves into current immigration issues but is optimistic about humanity, you've got to read The Invisible Crowd. The main character is Yonas, a young Eritrean who’s been smuggled to the UK in a boat.

We meet him working in a shellfish factory run by traffickers, but he escapes, forges a new life in London and claims asylum. Along the way he meets an amazing array of people including a bin man, a Home Office interviewer, and a woman who helps and falls for him despite the risks. It's moving, enlightening and entertaining.’

Under Another Sky

Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain by Charlotte Higgins
Recommended by Rooey Sweet Director of Partnership and Engagement, AHRC

‘Suppose the past lives on in the present’, wrote R.G. Collingwood in his autobiography; the past, does, of course, live on in the present through its physical traces and imaginative legacy and this is what drives Charlotte Higgins’ Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain.

Higgins’ book is both a beautifully written travelogue of her personal itinerary around Romano-British sites, and a reflection on how Roman Britain is remembered and interpreted.


The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight
Recommended by Clare Lawlor, Public Engagement and Learning, IWM

The ‘no-f**ks-given international best seller’ is essential holiday reading. Knight explains how to rid yourself of unwanted obligations that we’re often pressured into and feel guilty about missing e.g. extended-family weddings and instead give your time, energy and money i.e. your f**ks to the people and things that do make you happy.

From managing your ‘f**k budget’ to applying the ‘NotSorry Method’ this is the kind of self-help book that will have you laughing out loud and start caring less about this things that don’t matter so you can spend more of your time on the things that do.

To Throw Away Unopened

To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine
Recommended by Gillian Gray, Portfolio Manager for Histories, Cultures and Heritage, AHRC

Viv Albertine is a musician and songwriter and former member of ground-breaking punk band The Slits. This memoir explores her difficult relationships with her family (including a rather violent fight literally over the body of her dying mother). This is an extremely stylish, well-crafted honest account; both acerbically funny and touching in equal measure. Her advice whilst speaking at the Swindon festival of literature in May 2018, “if you ever get the chance to read your parent’s diaries…DON’T”.


The Circle

The Circle by Dave Eggers
Recommended by Harry Kerr, the Portfolio Manager for Design, Creative Arts and Digital, AHRC

This 2013 novel is a chilling take on issues of trust, transparency and social media. Mae gets a job at a powerful technology company with undisguised similarities to real-life corporations – a beautiful Californian campus, charismatic founders and enormous reach into its users’ lives – and quickly rises through its ranks. Though the costs of the protagonist’s success become higher and higher, the reader is left to decide for themselves whether they’re worthwhile


Citizen Clem

Citizen Clem by John Bew
Recommended by Mike Collins, Director of Communications

This is a remarkable biography of a very unassuming politician who helped guide the UK through world war and into the promised land of the 1945 Labour Government that fundamental changed the country. From starting out as a social worker in the East End of London to being driven round by his wife during the 1945 General Election this beautifully crafted book gets under the skin of a towering figure of 20th century politics who has often been overshadowed by other more charismatic, yet whose influence has been profound on the last seven decades of British politics.


The Wake

The Wake by by Paul Kingsnorth
Recommended by Matt Ford, freelance

For a pool-side read to blow your mind look to The Wake, a technically ambitious, hugely evocative post-apocalyptic novel located in the 11th century and written in a made-up language based on Old English. Set in the three years after the Norman invasion it follows a broken and bewildered gang of Anglo-Saxon guerilla fighters – led by Buccmaster – who keep the war going after the defeat at Hastings; they lurk in the strange, haunted fenland of eastern England, beset by visions, beholden to old gods, ever at the mercy of the harsh world around them and seemingly doomed from the first page.

The text can be a knotty challenge probably best not attempted after your third lunchtime cerveza. But once your brain slots into its poetic cadence Kingsnorth's shadow tongue draws you into his misty forests and the inner world of his hero, with all its strangenesses -- and its strange familiarity.


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