So then, who really wants to change the world
PUBLISHED: 15:26 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 07 September 2010
David Crozier looks at some of the best non-fiction books out this month including a look at how we can all change the world – and some conversations with a man who hopes to at least change the curtains at Number 10 WE VE all heard of self-help books – there are thousands of them, largely pointless tomes like Men Are From Mars But Took Ages Getting Here Because They Can t Read Maps And Wouldn t Ask the Way (or some such). My favourite is Ventriloquism For Dummies...
WE'VE all heard of self-help books - there are thousands of them, largely pointless tomes like Men Are From Mars But Took Ages Getting Here Because They Can't Read Maps And Wouldn't Ask the Way (or some such). My favourite is Ventriloquism For Dummies...
But anyway. We start this week's round-up of new and nearly new non-fiction with not so much a self help book as a help someone else book.
The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer (Picador, £8.99) is subtitled How To Play Your Part in Ending World Poverty and I urge you to read it.
Singer was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential thinkers and I'm sure we would all benefit from at least listening to what he has to say.
It's not just full of ways in which we can help others but ways in which, by helping others, our own lives are enriched. The UK's greedy bankers would certainly do well to read it. In fact, if any carry out their threat to leave the country if their undeserved bonuses are taxed, perhaps they could read it on the plane out. Maybe then they'd realise why few of us will shed a tear at their departure.
Moving on, if not very far, it's been 10 years since Canadian writer and journalist Naomi Klein wrote No Logo and it's here again now in an updated, 10th anniversary edition (Fourth Estate, £9.99).
No Logo was a book that defined a generation when it was first published in 1999.
By the time you are 21, you will have seen or heard a million advertisements. But you won't feel any better for it. And slowly but surely, we're beginning to fight back against consumerism. No Logo is a cultural manifesto for critics of unfettered capitalism. As Indonesian writer YB Mangunwijaya is quoted as saying: "You might not see things yet on the surface, but underground, it's already on fire."
Now with a new introduction from Klein, it's even more of a must-read for the early 21st century than it was for the late 20th.
From unfettered capitalism we move swiftly on to... the Conservative party.
If the polls are to be believed (and that's a big if but there you go) the MP for Witney in Oxfordshire will be our next Prime Minister.
Now we may know a little about David Cameron (for it is he) but if you want to know a lot more, you'd be well advised to read Cameron on Cameron: Conversations with Dylan Jones (Fourth Estate, £9.99). Of course there's no knowing how much is true and how much is spin but you may find yourself warming to the man far more than you want to. How can you not at least have a little time for someone who, in response to the question 'What's your favourite political joke?' answers 'Nick Clegg'.
Talking of political jokes, Boris Johnson has long been considered little more than a floppy-haired buffoon - especially after his stints on TV quiz show Have I Got News For You?
But since he became Mayor he seems to have become less of a joke (even reinventing himself at one point as a white knight on a bicycle).
Where does he get it from? Well, some of the answers may be found in his Dad, Stanley Johnson's autobiography Stanley I Presume? (Fourth Estate, £9.99).
Despite its terrible title, it's actually rather fun (Stanley himself has been on the aforementioned topical news quiz so he's no stranger to a good laugh). And the picture on the jacket leaves you in absolutely no doubt as to who his son is.
What's rather more surprising is not only that he and Boris (and family) are direct descendants of King George II but also that from exploration to poetry, from politics to spying, Stanley Johnson has lived such an extraordinary life, from growing up on his parents' idyllic Exmoor farm to retracing Marco Polo's route from London to Afghanistan by motorcycle.
The book is dripping with celebrity endorsements from Anne Robinson ("The book is a triumph") to Hampstead's very own Esther Rantzen ("irresistibly funny... this lovely book reflects its author's delightful personality.") It certainly does.