#UniMentalHealthDay

Today is University Mental Health Day; an important point in the calendar to remember that illnesses are not always visible, and that individual struggles are not always audible. A helping hand, a sympathetic chat, and taking time out of your day to make sure that the people around you feel appreciated and cared for won’t fix every problem, but it is so important to make sure that no one feels alone. Continue reading “#UniMentalHealthDay”

Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight: White House Histories

This week I’m spotlighting three interesting non-fiction books about the White House, which each reveal three very different narratives about the building, its many presidents, and American politics more widely.

The White House is a symbol for many things in America. It is the home to presidents, their families; it is the workplace of staffers, advisors, journalists and commentators; it is the creche for First Children; it is the beating political heart of a nation. However it also embodies many of the core contradictions of the United States. The White House is a symbol of freedom, and yet it was built by slaves. It represents equality, and yet there have been no female presidents. It embodies honesty and authenticity, despite the years of presidential mishaps, cover-ups and mistakes. It is a symbol which exists out of a desire for the purity it stands for; a desire which has so far outweighed the political reality. Let’s see how the symbolic meaning of the White House continues to develop and change under President #45.

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Six No-Guilt Novels for Valentine’s Day

Romance novels get a bad rap, and it is entirely possible to find good, heart-warming stories that aren’t poorly written or saccharine sweet. However with Fifty Shades and its brethren being the most often donated texts to charity bookshops, you might assume that the reading public are looking for something with a bit more substance (and a bit less bite?).

Last year the QI Elves reported that one Oxfam shop had received so many copies of E. L. James’ work, that they had constructed a creepy book fort:

50-shades-fort

Source: http://ow.ly/QKxy308Qj4w, http://ow.ly/1hFh308QjjE

So here is a list of six much better books for you to check out on Valentine’s Day- and if you’ve got someone for whom you need to buy a last minute present, don’t say I haven’t given you plenty of great ideas.

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2016 Cundill Prize – Thomas W Laquer, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains

It may not be as famous as the Booker or the Pulitzer, but recently McGill University in Montreal announced the 2016 winner of their Cundill Prize in Historical Literature. The Cundill Prize is the largest non-fiction history prize in the world. It’s important because it reflects a genuine desire to reward historians and researchers for publications which are “determined to have had, or likely to have, a profound literary, social and intellectual impact.” The Cundill Prize website states that they aim to recognise “outstanding works of non-fiction that are grounded in scholarly research while retaining wide appeal and interest to the general public.”

Continue reading “2016 Cundill Prize – Thomas W Laquer, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains”