Welcome to our weekly Books Digest where we round up the new books you should and shouldn’t, be reading. This week features One Kensington by Emma Dent Coad, Orderly Britain by Andrew Ward and Tim Newburn and Belonging by Amanda Thompson.
For more books, take a look through our Books Digest Archive.
One Kensington: Tales from the Frontline of the Most Unequal Borough in Britain by Emma Dent Coad (Quercus Publishing, £14.89)
In 2017, just days after Labour councillor Emma Dent Coad was elected MP of the area, Grenfell Tower set alight, taking the lives of 72 people and devastating her new constituency. The tragedy also illustrated just how divided the borough of Kensington and Chelsea is; it is one of the wealthiest parts of the UK to a site of devastation and neglect for some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Evidence of this division is everywhere in the borough. Families who cannot afford to feed themselves live a short walk from Harrods and overcrowded tower blocks exist in the shadows of ever-multiplying luxury new builds; a 20 minute bus ride across the borough can encompass a 30 year difference in life expectancy.
In One Kensington, Coad examines the neglect and mismanagement that has led to the borough being a perfect microcosm of the wealth and class division across our country. There is also hope, though, shown through the author’s passion for the area and her effort to highlight the importance of community and political organising. Coad believes in a better future, from Chelsea and Kensington, right across the country.
Orderly Britain: How Britain has resolved everyday problems, from dog fouling to double parking by Andrew Ward and Tim Newburn (Little, Brown Book Group, £13.69)
Ever wondered why Brits love to queue? Or why our roads are not lined with abandoned cars? Then this is the book for you.
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Orderly Britain is a quirky social history looking into the rules, regulations, organisation and self-governance that makes up British culture. From dog mess to smoking, drinking, parking, queuing and toilets, authors Tim Newburn and Andrew Ward offer insight into Britain’s shifting customs and try to decide whether we are a nation of compliant and uncomplaining citizens or rebellious and defiant ones.
Beginning at post-war Britain and concluding with an extended look at how the Covid-19 pandemic shifted social behaviour, Orderly Britain asks whether it is the proliferation of rules and regulations in the UK that keep us all in line, or whether it is down to something else in the British psyche.
Belonging: Natural Histories of Place, Identity and Home by Amanda Thomson (Canongate Books, £12.09)
In her latest book Belonging: Natural Histories of Place, Identity and Home, artist and writer Amanda Thomson pays homage to Scottish nature and history in a part-memoir, part-love letter to the northern landscapes of Scotland.
An intimate meditation on nature, identity and family, Thompson’s memoir is punctuated with her illustrations and photography as well as directories of words associated with nature, many of them Scottish, as a follow-up from her first book, A Scots Dictionary of Nature.
The reader is invited to think about what it really means to live with the land — not just in the sense of living in a wild and rural landscape – but in cities, suburbs and old houses too; the places that shape us in childhood and beyond.
A love letter to the natural world, Belonging is an intimate journey through the ways we can find a home – in places, language and family.