She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
While rumours had swirled for years around the conduct of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood actresses were understandably reluctant to talk on the record. Here’s the inside track on how two New York Times reporters finally got the scoop. Told with electric pace, it’s an unmissable book, looking under the bonnet of how reporting works, while never losing sight of the story’s wider implications for gender relations.
Don’t Look Back In Anger by Daniel Rachel
Anyone who recalls Britpop bands Oasis and Blur trading insults will want to spend quality time with this absorbing oral history of the 1990s as witnessed by the cultural and political figures who shaped them. It’s full of killer quotes — when New Labour summoned Damon Albarn to meet Tony Blair before the 1997 election, Alastair Campbell worried he was ‘trying to use us because Tony was cool’.
May At 10 by Anthony Seldon
Whoever comes top of the polls next Thursday will do well to learn from this epic postmortem of Theresa May’s ill-starred reign, in which the Iron Lady 2.0 was left in tears outside No.10 as she failed to whip her party into line over the B-word. Gossiping with key players behind the scenes, Seldon makes the job she signed up for sound nigh-on impossible.
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
The US author Taddeo distilled years of interviews with three American women into a triptych of true-life stories that lift the lid on their knotty and often disturbing sex lives. From a student seduced by her teacher, to a trophy wife whose husband makes her bed other men, their tales make provocative reading, not least because you wonder how much licence Taddeo has taken. Book-club catnip, basically.
Underland by Robert Macfarlane
The tag ‘nature writing’ barely scrapes the surface of what Robert Macfarlane is up to in this genre-defying journey to the centre of Earth, a labyrinthine meditation on humanity’s environmental impact as viewed from underground. High-flown stuff, for sure, but it’s not just his thesaurus that gets a workout, as Macfarlane gets hair-raisingly down and dirty in caves and other tight spots around the world.
The Ministry Of Truth by Dorian Lynskey
Hammered out in the grip of tuberculosis while on an island hideaway after World War II, George Orwell’s totalitarian dystopia Nineteen Eighty-Four remains evergreen in an era of fake news. Lynskey’s deep-dive into its creation and afterlife, Big Brother and all, shows how Orwell stripped contemporary science fiction for parts while drawing on his own experiences, from boarding at Eton to fighting General Franco in Spain.
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
(Chatto & Windus)
When Apple’s Siri launched, it was reported that the virtual assistant was able to help users find prostitutes and Viagra but not an abortion provider. It’s one of the crazier examples of what campaigner Caroline Criado Perez convincingly suggests is a ‘data bias in a world designed for men’, which affects women in myriad ways, from queueing longer for the loo to having less chance of surviving a heart attack.
The Patient Assassin by Anita Anand
(Simon & Schuster)
This utterly involving whydunnit tells the almost unbelievable story of Udham Singh, a Punjabi labourer who, in London in 1940, shot dead a former colonial official who had served in British India at the time of the Amritsar massacre of unarmed civilians 21 years earlier. It’s a cliché to praise a work of non-fiction for reading like a thriller but that’s exactly what broadcaster Anita Anand has served up here.
Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored by Jeffrey Boakye
Styled as a glossary of 83 words used around black identity, from BAME to ‘urban’, this light-footed cultural analysis riffs elegantly on subjects including Meghan Markle and Marvel’s Black Panther. Boakye, a British-Ghanaian schoolteacher, is a sharp critic, citing a Radio 1 DJ’s surprise that grime star Skepta knew the lyrics to Spandau Ballet’s Gold as an instance of how society underplays the Britishness in ‘black British’.
Commander In Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump by Rick Reilly
‘When it comes to golf, very few people can beat me,’ Donald Trump once told a rally, pointing to his haul of 18 club championships. Not so, according to this brilliantly slantwise investigation from the US sports writer Rick Reilly, who argues that the president’s boasts rest on strong-arm tactics and straight-out fibbing — such as claiming to have won at a course that hadn’t even been opened yet. Terribly sad!